Sunday, June 24, 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: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18