Muslim Casualties of the Justice Department's War Since 9/11: Some Government Statistics

By Abdul Malik Mujahid

President George W. Bush has repeatedly declared that the war on terrorism would not be a “war on immigrants” or a “war against Islam”. However, the US Justice Department has done precisely the opposite by making it a war against Muslim immigrants and Muslim Americans.

Republican conservative Dick Armey, a former House majority leader said it best: “The Justice Department… seems to be running amok.…This agency right now is the biggest threat to personal liberty in the country.”[1] However, few Americans are aware of the department's misdeeds.

This article is an initial effort to develop a statistical picture of this post-9/11 tragedy. Here are some statistics given by the US government and reported in the media. 

Muslims and Brown Skinned People Affected by the Govt. Policies:

Government Action: Government Statistics:
FBI: raided/interrogated/investigated
Detained or Arrested 6,483[3]
Deported 3,208[4]
In process of deportation 13,434[5]
Voluntary deportation unknown
Fled the country in fear unknown[6]
Asylum Seekers from targeted Muslim
countries which are now automatically
Detained at the airport for hours because
of inclusion on a “no fly list” other lists
or suspicion[8]
Subpoenas & search warrants 18,000[9] 
NSEERS: Specially Registered, interviewed,
fingerprinted, & photographed:
Under Surveillance through libraries unknown[11]
Electronic Surveillance unknown[12]
Gone underground unknown
Total   212,638

If the average Muslim household is made up of three persons, the same as the general US average, the number of those directly and indirectly affected by these government policies will be 637,914.

The Actual Numbers Are Far Higher:

As early as October 17, 2001, US Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a directive limiting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).[13] On April 22, 2002, Ashcroft issued an interim regulation forbidding any state or county jail from releasing information about INS detainees housed in their facilities.[14] The battle for information is now being fought in the courts by newspapers and human rights organizations. But secrecy is the norm when it comes to what is being done to the Muslim community in the US.

Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights Watch, and American Lawyers for Human Rights, all have taken up the issue of civil liberties. However, none of them have devoted any resources to statistically comprehend the total magnitude of the problem, and have limited their complaints to the original 1,200 detainees of September 11, 2001 or the 900 or so foreign detainees jailed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

 On November 8, 2001, facing criticism that it had arrested so many people but had charged none with any terrorist-related crimes, the Justice Department simply announced that it will not issue a tally of its detentions.[15] But as the arrests have continued, using Georgetown University Professor David Cole’s formula, if detentions had continued at the initial rate of approximately 600 a month, there would be more than 14,500 arrests after 24 months. It is likely that the rate of arrests dropped off after the first few weeks, but it is also possible that it remained high, considering multiple dragnet initiatives were carried out after 9/11 .[16]

It will, nevertheless, remain difficult to calculate the total number of Muslim and brown-skinned detainees until a truth commission is established to collect all the data from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies of all arrests and temporary detentions, made even if detainees were not charged with anything.  

[1] New Republic, October 21, 2002

[2] Here is how we have reached a total of 27,000 attributed to the government:

5,000 from the first announced round: (accessed 6/24/2003).

3,000 from the second announced round: March 19, 2002: Memorandum from U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, TO: All US Attorneys, from Kenneth L. Wainstein, Director, entitled "Interview Report", dated 3-19-02.

6,000 Muslim were targeted to be detained from the list of 340,000 absconders list as  "Absconder Apprehension Initiative",: [Office of Deputy Attorney General, Subject: Guidance for Absconder Apprehension Initiative, dated 1-25-02]

10,000  Iraqis interviewed: (accessed 6/24/2003)

3,000 lost Iraqis: (accessed 6/24/2003).

Many of these interview efforts did not result in the actual interview of the person sought. However, many resulted in interrogating or tracking others who might lead to them.

[3] Officially arrested: The government does occasionally give out a number totaling to 6,483 in the following way:

Detained during Special Registration: 2,783
AP June 16, 2003

Arrested absconders from Muslim countries
who were targeted to be kept in detention
instead of deportation: 1,100

Arrested based on the new entry system: 1,400
Attorney General Prepared Remarks On The National Security, Entry-Exit Registration System, June 6, 2002 (accessed 6/24/2003)

Arrested in 9/11 investigations: 1,200

[4] Thomas Ginsberg, Targeted deportations rise, Philadelphia Enquirer, Jun. 18, 2003

[5] Thomas Ginsberg, Targeted deportations rise, Philadelphia Enquirer, Jun. 18, 2003

[6] The Washington Post attributes a $9 billion dollar increase in foreign deposits to Pakistan as a result of Pakistanis fleeing from Brooklyn, New York, where at least 15,000 out of a community of 120,000 have fled according to the government of Pakistan. Michael Powell, An Exodus Grows in Brooklyn: 9/11 Still Rippling Through Pakistani Neighborhood, Washington Post, May 29, 2003; Page A01

Similarly, due to immigrant flight the business on Chicago's Devon Avenue, the largest South Asian neighborhood in the Midwest, is down by 40 to 50 percent, with dozens of businesses shutting down.

If the figure of 15,000 Pakistanis who fled from New York is correct, then it is possible that all immigrants from the 25 targeted countries who returned to their own countries or fled to other ones may be even higher than 50,000.

[9] Chisun Lee, Ashcroft's New Ally, Village Voice, April 16 - 22, 2003

[11] In a nationwide survey of 1,020 public libraries in January and February 2002, the University of Illinois found that 85 – or 8.3 percent – had been asked for information about patrons by the law enforcement agencies as quoted in a report by ACLU of Northern California: (accessed on 6/24/03).

[12] ACLU reports that hundreds of thousands of customer records have been subpoenaed from Internet Service Providers. “In the name of Homeland Security, Telecom Firms are Deluged With Subpoenas,” Newhouse News Service, 04/10/02. Also see “Seeking Terrorist Plots, FBI is Tracking Hundreds of Muslims,” New York Times, 10/6/02. Figures from San Francisco EEOC office as of 9/23/02

[14] [67 FR 19508, 4-22-02] as quoted in (accessed 6/25/2003)

[15] Amy Goldstein & Dan Eggen, U.S. to Stop Issuing Detention Tallies, Washington

Post, Nov. 9, 2001, at A16

[16] David Cole, The New McCarthyism: Repeating History in the War on Terrorism

Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, Winter 2003, see fn 101. Media continued to report the raids. During the week of August 28, 2002 alone, the FBI and the INS arrested 60 people in Queens and Brooklyn, both in New York, by raiding their homes. They were all charged with violations relating to their immigration status. See Farrukh, M.R. “Raids on Pakistani homes and arrests are at their peak: 60 arrested from Queens and Brooklyn this week” Pakistan Post, 28 August 2002. Translated from Urdu by Rehan Ansari.

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