Roger L. Simon

Doom and Gloom

I don’t know how this early report from ABC News Minneapolis will pan out — Man arrested with suicide note on flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul International — but, if true, it is another reminder of what bleak times we live in.

The U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Ali Mohamed Almosaleh is in federal custody in the Twin Cities. He was being detained on an immigration law violation, but federal sources confirmed there is much more than that to this investigation.

Sources confirm Almosaleh was carrying a suicide [note] when he was arrested. They say that note indicated a specific time and date for carrying out some sort of public suicide. He was also carrying CDs and DVDs, which federal sources say contained anti-American material. A source also confirms Almosaleh had something with him indicating a connection with at least one known terrorist.

“One of the first things that comes to mind is is he actually going to do something that’s the first concern,” said terrorism expert Bill Michael. “Second, if law enforcement believes he is, and now rightly so they take an overly safe approach and they try and determine what activity he might actually be planning to engage in.”

Almosaleh arrived on a KLM flight last week. A source confirmed he began his travels in Syria and stopped in Amsterdam before continuing to the Twin Cities.

A federal source would not say where Almosaleh’s final destination was, but that source did indicate it appears Almosaleh had plans to travel beyond the Twin Cities.

One federal official in Washington noted, this is a “very sensitive” investigation.

I should imagine.

The Feds (and all of us) are in a peculiar box here. By publicizing such events they only fan the flames of anti-Arab feeling but by downplaying them they lull the public consciousness. What to do? This is no simple matter. Racial prejudice is unconscionable and no one wants to restrict travel from Middle Eastern countries or to create another Manzanar, at least no one with a moral compass. But if there is another serious terror attack, calls for such things will be inevitable. They must be headed off at the pass, but how? I’m not entirely sure. But it is clear both sides must be outspoken – those of us who support the War on Terror against the prejudice and the Arab-American community against the terror. Neither have done what they should on these issues. And they’re must be honesty. I will do my part by stating clearly here my deep and abiding respect for Arab culture. And my unremitting militant opposition to those who have distorted it through terrorism.

UPDATE: An interesting comment below underlines the importance of people like Almosaleh being examined for pathogens. I believe the danger of someone infected with small pox being planted in our society was “war-gammed” even before 9/11. Let’s hope it is being followed through on, because that is an unimaginable doomsday scenario.

MORE: Fascinating discussion. In the interest of clarity, let me spell out my (admittedly fluid) position somewhat. I assume all visitors from Arab states are now being profiled on entrance to this country. It would be crazy not to do it–the question is how. To do it in a public and accusatory manner only makes a bad situation worse. I see no ultimate benefit in it.

As for the Manzanar comparison, I recognize that almost no one is calling for such a thing today. But I doubt very many were in 1938 either.