SEATTLE — A Democratic representative from Washington State is asserting that an ad campaign by the Joint Terrorism Task Force is ‘offensive to Muslims’ and should be reconsidered.
Representative Jim McDermott wrote a letter to FBI Director George Mueller last week to explain his concerns about the “Faces of Global Terrorism” ad, which has been displayed on public transit buses in the Seattle area. The campaign is part of the Puget Sound Rewards for Justice program, which offers monetary rewards to those who provide “information that helps stop terrorism.” As part of the program, the FBI is displaying wanted ads on “highway billboards, airport displays, bus posters and elsewhere.”
The bus advertisements at issue feature the photographs of 16 most wanted terrorists, and state, “Stop a terrorist. Save lives. Up to $25 million reward.”
However, McDermott says that the wanted ads may be insulting to those of other religions.
“The ‘Faces of Global Terrorism’ bus ad … is not only offensive to Muslims and ethnic minorities, but it encourages racial and religious profiling,” he wrote in his letter to the FBI.
“I agree that civilian vigilance is important to the fight against extremism,” McDermott continued. “Representing terrorists, however, from only one ethnic or religious group promotes stereotypes and ignores other forms of extremism.”
He then contends that the FBI is leaving out terrorists from other ethnic groups and religions, and is therefore running the risk of stirring up animosity against Muslims.
“[T]heir faces are missing from this campaign,” McDermott wrote. “This limited representation in the ‘Faces of Global Terrorism’ bus ad will likely only serve to exacerbate the disturbing trend of hate crimes against Middle-Eastern, South Asian and Muslim Americans.”
However, some groups assert that the full wanted list, which features 32 men, largely consists of Muslims, and that the FBI is therefore not attempting to demonstrate any bias against Islam.
“Thirty of the 32 people listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list appear to be Muslim,” reported Art Moore of WND. “The two non-Muslims are a member of the revolutionary Black Liberation Army who escaped from prison after being sentenced in 1973 and an animal-rights extremist wanted for a 2003 bombing.”
McDermott asked FBI Director Mueller to rethink the ad campaign as it now stands.
“Seattle is proud of the diversity of our people,” he wrote. “I ask you to reconsider publicizing the ‘Faces of Global Terrorism’ in our city.”
The letter was also sent to Eric Holder at the United States Department of Justice, Gregory Starr of the Department of State and Laura Laughlin of the Seattle division of the FBI.
Laughlin stated in a news release earlier this month that area residents have been especially helpful in fighting terrorism on a local level.
“Members of Seattle’s community have time and time again shown themselves to be concerned about protecting their families, their neighbors and their freedom,” she said. “Many despicable plots— from illicit drug trafficking to violent acts of terrorism—have come to the FBI’s attention because vigilant Seattleites came forward with a tip.”