Few local law-enforcement officials in the United States have proven themselves more Islamist-friendly than Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, whose department has been dogged by allegations of malfeasance in office, and the Los Angeles Police Department’s top deputy handling counterterrorism issues, Michael Downing.
Downing has expressed a benign view of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian-based fundamentalist movement which seeks a global Islamic Caliphate as its ultimate objective. During a May 2011 town hall meeting, he acknowledged the group is operating in the United States, but his biggest concern was “not to demonize the Brotherhood here.”
Downing has expressed a much darker view of American critics of Islamism and shariah law, suggesting they pose a threat analogous to that of Islamic jihadists. In remarks to the “Festival of Interfaith Unity” meeting last year, Downing railed against Shariah, the Threat to America, apparently referring to this book produced by the Center for Security Policy.
“One of my greatest challenges this year is this idea of two sides of extremism: The side of fanaticism and those who want to do violence on innocent people,” Downing told attendees. “And the other side of the equation that want to instill fear in the hearts of the American people because they don’t tell the truth.”
Baca won adulation in 2010, when he testified before a congressional panel, exploding at a question about the wisdom of his close relationship with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization with documented ties to a Hamas-support network.
“CAIR is not a terrorist-supporting organization,” he said. Anyone who says different is an “amateur intelligence officer.”
He has equally warm views toward the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a group which routinely minimizes the threat posed by Muslim extremists in the United States and criticizes FBI sting operations against would-be terrorists.
Baca praised MPAC boss Salam al-Marayati during a March 2010 town hall as “a great man of thinking and wisdom,” telling him: “Thank you very much. You’ve been an incredibly important friend to me.” Baca credited Marayati with “helping me improve my thinking.”
Now those sympathies are being realized in policies which some veteran law enforcement officials warn are equally misguided.
Baca and Downing won plaudits from Islamist groups like CAIR and MPAC in recent weeks, with Downing getting praise for surveillance “reforms” that may limit law enforcement’s ability to investigate suspected radical activity and Baca for making a deal with MPAC and like-minded groups on recruiting Muslim chaplains to work in county correctional facilities.
A retired federal law enforcement officer who consults with local police agencies expressed concern that the surveillance agreement between Downing and MPAC could have a “chilling effect” on monitoring radical activities. He noted that MPAC issued a statement claiming that “Any reporting of incidents by law enforcement on individuals or groups must be connected to criminal activity.”….
…It wasn’t clear whether Downing was aware of any of this when he likened the Muslim Brotherhood’s disinformation efforts to Democratic vs. Republican ideological battles in the United States. In the same interview, Downing boasts about his knowledge of the Muslim Brotherhood. But he seemed to have been caught off-guard by a question about a Muslim Brotherhood document about a “civilization jihad” aimed at “changing life as we know it” in the West.
Downing responded with a rambling discourse mentioning Brotherhood founder Sayyid Qutb and the Muslim Student Association and the fall of the Turkish Empire but ignored the substance of the question. At the 2008 terror-finance prosecution of five former officials of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, prosecutors introduced a 1991 internal memorandum outlining the agenda of the Brotherhood-linked Palestine Committee, which created to advance the Hamas cause in the U.S.
The document spoke of a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” in which Muslims in America work to advance “a kind of grand Jihad” aimed at “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”
Downing and Baca are not the only senior law-enforcement officials in the county who appear to have a soft spot for local Islamists. In October, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck met with Muslim community leaders, including Muzzamil Siddiqui, president of the Fiqh Council of North America. The council issued a fatwa, which appeared on the LAPD website, declaring that Muslims would respect U.S. law, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, “so long as there is no conflict with Muslims obligation for obedience to God.”