Should U.S., U.K. Profile at Airports?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," August 15, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: A new suspect is nabbed across the pond in the alleged plot to bomb airplanes headed for the U.S. — the 25 person now arrested in the case. British police aren't saying much about it, but we know this person was detained in the Thames Valley area of West London.

Meantime, travelers continue to face security delays at Britain's main airports and soon may come under closer scrutiny than others, specifically Muslims.

Ahmed Younis joins us now. He is the national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

So Ahmed, this is coming out of Britain from fairly high-placed sources and, in a way, places you wouldn't expect. The Times of London, for instance, saying, look, we have to say to British Muslims, it is British Muslims that we have a problem with. And so when we see British Muslims, 17 to 35 at the airport, we're probably going to call them over and go through, and ask them questions and give them a little more scrutiny.

What's wrong with that?

AHMED YOUNIS, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: What's wrong with that is that it won't work. It's just basic, simple religious or racial profiling. It's been proved, at least within the United States, to not work, to not help law enforcement find more criminals, and it leads the government down a slippery slope.

I mean, if we're racially profiling them today, well, what can we do tomorrow to the utmost extreme of having, for example, interment camps, so we make sure that individuals are not supporting Japan.

GIBSON: Well, Ahmed, if you don't go that far, and I don't think the Brits are suggesting anything like that, it's just to say, it has become apparent that young Muslim men are angry at Tony Blair's foreign policy or George Bush's foreign policy or the Brits not complaining about Israel enough or something, and they are the ones who are concocting these plots, so we should look at them.

YOUNIS: What's more apparent at a larger number is young Muslim Brits that are serving as a very stiff opposition to the recruitment of extremists within Muslim mosques, within Muslim communities, and the ability of extremist organizations to bring more young people in them.

I mean, let's not forget, in order to have a successful counterterrorism strategy, Muslims have to be at the front lines. And if Muslims are continuously subjugated to racism and discrimination by their own governments, it's going to be very hard for us to convince young Muslims in the U.K. or in the U.S. to have a sense of ownership over their societies and ensure that their societies are safe.

In the U.K. and here in the United States last Friday, we had a press conference with the FBI saying that the Muslim community is standing in stiff opposition to anyone that would attempt to radicalize our youth or engage in acts of terrorism here at home. So it's really not, John, about political correctness. It's really about effective counterterrorism strategy.

GIBSON: But Ahmed, if that's the attitude of most Muslim youth, then why wouldn't those same people want people just like them to be looked at a little closely? I mean, if you get on a plane, Ahmed, and you get blown up by a young Muslim, you're just as dead as somebody who is not a Muslim like yourself.

YOUNIS: Don't forget that the majority of the victims of terrorism conducted by Muslims are Muslims, and so the example that you just used is an excellent example.

Believe you me, if someone could show me that we will not, you know, trample on our constitutional principles, and at the same time we will be able to defend our country by engaging in racial profiling, I would say, well, maybe we should do so for the sake of the nation. But it's been made clear from the president to Mr. Ashcroft to Mr. Ridge to Mr. Gonzales, we all agree racial profiling simply doesn't work.

GIBSON: OK, that's a fine argument for here because we have a Constitution. But Britain does not. And Britain apparently is going to go ahead.

YOUNIS: Well, the war of hearts and minds is only going to be won when American Muslims and British Muslims are at the forefront. And the article that you and I have both read does not say that they're going to go ahead. It says that there are some people in society that say it's a good idea and that the Muslim community at large has said, no, this will disenfranchise our youth from the mainstream of society, from the mainstream of the pluralism, and it will be more likely that young people will become radicalized.

We need Muslims to defend the West. We need Muslims to fight for the integrity of the religion itself globally, and we cannot have that cadre of individuals if we continuously subject them to discriminatory activity, no different than a young black man in suburban Washington that's driving a nice car.

GIBSON: Ahmed Younis, national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, thanks a lot.

YOUNIS: Thanks, John.

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