Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Muslims' key role in snagging terror suspect

It was the Muslim community that helped the FBI snag terror suspect Sami Osmakac, the man accused of planning to bomb public buildings in the Tampa Bay area. That should not be forgotten as this case unfolds. Too often the threats of an extremist are extended to the broader Muslim community, which can lead to prejudice and discrimination. Just look at the objections to the Muslim leader who was invited to speak at a Hillsborough high school history class. Osmakac's case is a reminder that the Muslim community often partners with law enforcement, identifying dangerous extremists. The nation would be less safe without that help.

The allegations against Osmakac, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kosovo, are stunning. According to the federal complaint, Osmakac plotted to carry out car bomb attacks, including at nightclubs in Ybor City. His intention, according to the FBI, was to do something "terrifying" in order to avenge the perceived mistreatment of Muslims. But Osmakac was considered no friend of the Tampa Bay Muslim community. His extremist rhetoric and intimidating behavior had already made him an outcast.

Osmakac was apparently banned by two area mosques, and police were called by the Islamic Society of Pinellas County, a mosque in Pinellas Park, to issue a trespass warning against him. Ahmed Bedier, founder of United Voices for America, a nonprofit group promoting Muslim participation in politics, said that he reported Osmakac to police and the FBI due to his behavior. And thanks to an informant, who contacted the FBI in September to say that Osmakac had come to his or her business trying to find a flag that represented al-Qaida, Osmakac fully registered on the FBI's radar, according to the federal complaint. That informant became a linchpin of the investigation, introducing Osmakac to a connection who was an FBI undercover agent, so federal agents could track his activities.

It is these efforts by the larger Muslim community to subdue Osmakac and alert authorities that should stick in the mind when his name gets mentioned. That would help to prevent another distasteful incident like the one at Steinbrenner High School in Hillsborough County.

After history teacher Kelly Miliziano invited Hassan Shibly of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to speak to her class about stereotypes, human rights and other topics, an objection was raised. David Caton of the Florida Family Association, a one-man force of anti-Muslim bigotry, wants the Hillsborough County School Board to end visits by Shibly. Recently Caton launched a campaign against the reality television series All-American Muslim that resulted in some advertisers dropping the show. His anti-Muslim views are well-known and should be disregarded, which appears to be what the Hillsborough School Board intends to do.

The Osmakac case will bring out the fearmongers like Caton who will use it to spread venomous claims about all Muslims. But what it really demonstrates is that all Americans face the threat of terrorism together and will defeat it together, too.

Comments
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18