Monitoring Mosques Is Not the Way to Find ISIS Recruitment

When there are incidents of Islamic terrorism, demagogues on the right are quick to endorse various measures to clamp down on the freedoms of all Muslims in the name of security. One popular idea is to monitor mosques. Rep. Peter King extolled the virtue of this practice on yesterday’s edition of FOX News Sunday.

“[Civil liberties groups] can cry all they want,” King said. “The fact is that’s where the threat is coming from…this is nothing against Muslims, but the fact is that is where the threat is coming from.”

And Donald Trump, the man who invariably ends up in this blog, naturally also proposed surveillance last month, in addition to considering shutting down mosques. Though to be fair, he at least said he only wanted to monitor “certain” mosques.

However, perhaps before singing the praises of quashing civil liberties, folks like Trump and King should do research on what Daesh in reality does to recruit. In particular, King should be aware of what the intelligence on Daesh actually says, considering he is on the House Intelligence Committee.

Because, as with many other materials I have covered on this blog, the Daesh recruiting manual is readily available online.

So does the manual exhort the use of mosques for recruitment? Nope: the word “mosque” is used only three times in the entire 44-page document. And even when it is mentioned, it is not as a place to gather recruits, but as a place where Daesh members should go with their potential recruits in order to develop a bond. Besides going to the same mosque, the manual recommends building trust by working at the same job and going to the same school.

And those are not even the most effective ways to build trust with a recruit, according to the guide. That distinction goes to giving a recruit a gift, and taking a recruit to lunch or breakfast. So would Trump and King want to monitor, say, every Halal restaurant? (Knowing them, they might.)

In fact, the recruiting manual speaks much more highly of another place as being ripe for recruits. Namely, college campuses:

The university is like a place of isolation for a period of four, five, or six years and is full of youths (full of zeal, vigor, and anti-government sentiments).

The manual also says Quranic schools are good for recruits, although only some students will do.

So would Trump and King propose monitoring universities? Maybe they would.

As I said above, the manual actually goes into far more discussion of what to do to foster a relationship and educate a recruit. The manual also goes into detail about what characteristics to look for in a recruit (of which only one is that the person prays in a mosque), as well as avoid in a recruit. These are all much more important than where to find recruits.

And once the recruit is deemed sufficient to take to the “next stage,” the manual does indeed recommend going to mosque together, but goes on to mention many other places to take a recruit:

…Visit sick people whom both of you know mutually, or maybe not mutually.

…Take him on a picnic to a nice place, and it would be better if other brothers join you.

…Visit the graveyard and describe Paradise and Hell, and remind him about Judgment Day, and Zuhud (renouncing of worldly pleasures) in the Dunya.

…Participate with him in good deeds for a specific time, like taking care of a widow, or helping the blind, or any deed which you can work together in obedience to Allah.

So should we monitor every Muslim person on his or her sickbed? Spy on graveyards? Bug every picnic basket? Take account of everywhere more than one Muslim helps a widow or blind person? Because those are all places where Daesh recommends fostering a relationship with a recruit.

And if Trump and King would say yes to the above, then I say they volunteer for a new picnic surveillance program.