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Africans Fear Profiling on International Flights

Larry Miller | 1/6/2010, 4:34 p.m.

When Islamic fascists piloted passenger jets into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, it was a moment that changed how many Americans perceived people of Middle Eastern ethnicity in general and Muslims in particular. Immediately there was a social backlash during which many American Muslims and Middle Eastern immigrants faced resentment where there had been none before.

After the attempted bombing of a passenger plane by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, the question arises again within the African immigrant community. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Abdulmutallab, 23, was charged in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to destroy Northwest Airlines passenger flight 253.

The plane was making its final approach to Michigan's Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Federal authorities allege that Abdulmutallab mixed concealed chemicals in an attempt to blow up the aircraft.

He has been charged with willfully attempting to destroy an aircraft within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States and willfully placing and causing to be placed a destructive device within the proximity to the aircraft. If convicted, the defendant faces at least 20 years in federal prison.

€The actions of Abdulmutallab are those of one man and are not representative of us,€ said local businessman Lansara Koroma, a native of Sierra Leone. Koroma, who is also the founder and executive chairman of the International Forum for the Rights of Black People, also said that the actions of one man can€t affect the image of what African people have accomplished.

€African people have done so much and accomplished so much that one man can€t tarnish who we are and what we€re capable of.
This has nothing to do with us,€ Koroma said.

As the investigation into the attempted bombing continues, federal authorities have learned that there were snippets of information from intelligence sources that indicated al-Qaida operatives in Yemen were preparing a Nigerian national for a terrorist attack.

Also, according to federal investigators, Umaru Abdul Mutallab, the father of Abdulmutallab, contacted the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, on Nov. 19, and told of his son€s radicalization.

Unfortunately, there was not enough evidence to put the suspect on a no-fly list or confiscate his passport. President Barack Obama has demanded an explanation as to why no one managed to connect the dots before Abulmutallab€s attempt.

After the 911 attacks, FBI Hate Crimes Statistics Report for 2005 indicated a slight rise in incidents of American Muslims suffering post-terrorist attack retaliations.

Koroma said native Africans and African-Americans should ask themselves how Abdulmutallab managed to get as far as he did without tripping wires that would have stopped him.
€America has done more to harm Africa than Africa has done to harm America. In recent history, just look at the invasion of Somalia,€ he said.

€We need to ask ourselves why is this happening and what we can do about it. Let€s agree that the wrong people influenced him and ask ourselves why America didn€t try to destroy that leadership.€

€Even his father tried to warn officials that his son was trying to do something. They didn€t stop him. We came to this country to help make it better, but the press is endorsing the negative image when they should be encouraging good people. There is no reason to hold one country accountable for one man€s actions. We need to talk to one another and we want a forum to talk with Americans, especially African Americans.€