By Zohaib Zafar
The recent Lower Manhattan terrorist attack committed by an Uzbek immigrant has sparked debate about immigration to the United States as well as how to best fight terrorism committed in the name of Islam. President Trump has proposed to end family-based immigration. Unfortunately, this is not likely to make a difference. The Uzbek terrorist was not radicalized before he came to America. He was radicalized after immigrating. Additionally, even if he had been radicalized in Uzbekistan, he could have committed a terrorist attack in his native country or in another prosperous nation in the West to where he could have also migrated. When we engage in debates about terrorism, we must acknowledge its complexity — that we are winning the war against ISIL and that this recent attack was the first attack committed by a Muslim on American soil this year. It would be ill-advised to change our way of life at this point since we are so close to eradicating terrorism committed by so-called Muslims.
Trump can prevent terrorism by preventing extremist Islamic ideology from spreading in the first place. Wahhabism — one of the most pervasive extremist ideologies — originates from Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is spread with the support of Saudi petrodollars and has reached much of the Muslim and Western world. Through our economic and political ties with Saudi Arabia, we indirectly help the spread of Wahhabism. If we exert pressure on Saudi Arabia, we can slow the spread of Wahhabism and make real progress against extremism in the name of Islam. However, the United States under Trump has strengthened the relationship with Saudi Arabia. President Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Even if these weapons do not end up in the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIL, President Trump has sent a signal to Saudi Arabia that they can continue to harbor so-called Muslim extremists who incite hatred against the West.
Furthermore, Muslim Americans should become comfortable with active monitoring of mosques. There is nothing in American law or Islam that prohibits this. The Khalifa of Islam, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, proposed this a couple of years ago and led by example. All of His Holiness’s sermons have been broadcasted since he became the Khalifa in 2003 through an international TV channel, MTA and are translated into dozens of languages. It is no coincidence that none of His Holiness’s tens of millions of followers have ever been involved or implicated in acts of terror.
Eight people lost their lives in the recent Lower Manhattan terrorist attack. We must pray for them and their families. We must also pray that the 11 people who were injured in the terrorist attack make a full recovery, and we must remember that America is infinitely stronger than the coward who committed this terrorist attack.