[Download the report here]

On anniversary of the US military invasion of Afghanistan, new report examines 20 years of targeting of Muslim communities in the Global War on Terror.

Washington, D.C., London, and Istanbul – Today, a group of seven civil society and research organizations are releasing a report to mark 20 years of the Global War on Terror. In The Terror Trap: The Impact of the War on Terror on Muslim Communities Since 9/11, thirty international scholars provide a critical assessment of the U.S-led “counterterrorism” apparatus and its policies and tactics, which have criminalized and securitized Muslims in the U.S. and around the world.  

The report examines the various dimensions of the so-called War on Terror, and its devastating impact on communities and nations worldwide. Some of the topics explored include the racist history of targeting minorities in the U.S.; the roots of the “terrorism” industry; the role of the Islamophobia industry in exploiting post-9/11 fears; the restructuring of the national security and surveillance state; the use of torture, rendition, black sites, Guantanamo Bay prison, and drone warfare; Countering Violent Extremism programs; the destructive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; the destruction of Muslim civil liberties through the policies of infiltration, entrapment, and manufacturing crime; and further repression of American Muslims through the use of “terrorism” sentencing enhancement and discriminatory prison conditions. 

The report also documents the human impact of these policies, focusing on the widespread harm and trauma that has been caused, and often not documented, on communities, individuals, and families that were placed under suspicion. The report then seeks to provide a new way of thinking about abolishing the War on Terror as well as providing a pathway for communities to reflect on their current engagement with the structures of policing and counterterrorism. Finally, the report provides detailed recommendations signaling the need for systemic changes at almost every level. 

Released on the anniversary of the US military invasion of Afghanistan, the report seeks to use this moment to take stock of the disastrous result of the Global War on Terror, especially in relation to the countless lives lost. 

The report, The Terror Trap, will be available to read online, accompanied by a live-streamed, two-day conference on Monday, October 18 and Tuesday, October 19. Six roundtable discussions of 1½ hours, three per day, featuring a total of 24 contributors to the report––academics, activists, journalists, and survivors of the War on Terror––will begin each day at 11:30 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. EDT. A summary of conclusions and policy recommendations will end the conference. Finally, on Wednesday, October 20, The Terror Trap lead sponsor, the Coalition for Civil Freedoms, along with partner organizations, will hold a virtual congressional briefing on the impact of the War on Terror on American Muslims and present policy recommendations, including the passage of a proposed bill that would end some of the most egregious abuses of the post-9/11 era.  

The full schedule of events will be announced next week, and they are free and accessible to all. In November, CCF and its partners will initiate community briefings based on The Terror Trap in local communities around the country and in Europe. Announcements about this initiative will be forthcoming. 

With decades of experience highlighting the counterproductive targeting of Muslim communities globally, the Coalition for Civil Freedoms [1], The Bridge Initiative [2], ICNA Council for Social Justice [3], CAGE [4], the Center for Islam and Global Affairs [5], the Muslim Justice League [6] and United Voices for America [7] present new work that undermines governmental narratives on the fight against ‘terrorism’.

Dr Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CAGE and an editor of the report, said:

“Muslim communities globally have faced an unprecedented degree of surveillance, profiling and securitization. The Terror Trap captures the widespread nature of the harm that was caused in response to attacks on the U.S. in 2001. The entirely disproportionate response resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and detentions across the world, resulting in increased instability. The global War on Terror has failed in its entirety and this report signals the start of a necessary reckoning with those who have perpetuated the demonization of Muslim communities.”



Editor’s notes: 

[1] Established in 2010, the mission of the Coalition for Civil Freedoms is to defend civil liberties and freedoms, promote a fair U.S. criminal justice system, and advocate for the rights of political prisoners targeted in the “War on Terror.”

 [2] The Bridge Initiative is a multi-year research project on Islamophobia housed in Georgetown University. The Bridge Initiative aims to disseminate original and accessible research, offers engaging analysis and commentary on contemporary issues, and hosts a wide repository of educational resources to inform the general public about Islamophobia.

 [3] To cooperate with existing social justice efforts, and organize new initiatives when appropriate, to eliminate barriers to full citizenship rights and privileges, work to restore civil liberties required for a democratic society, and raise public awareness and work to remove the gross inequities of the U.S. criminal justice system.

ICNA Council for Social Justice (CSJ) is a social justice/human rights organization that strives to systematically facilitate assertive Muslim involvement in the field of human struggle for the rights of the poor and oppressed in the United States. 

 [4] CAGE is a UK based, independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the “War on Terror”. The organisation highlights and campaigns against repressive state policies, developed as part of increasing securitisation. In doing so, we strive for a world free from oppression and injustice.

 [5] The Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) is an independent, nonprofit, research and public policy institution based in Istanbul, Turkey, and affiliated with Istanbul Zaim University. Its mission is “To conduct high quality research and analysis, educate the public and policymakers, train experts, and propose novel ideas and policy recommendations regarding global policies and relations impacting the Islamic world, and the development and progress of Muslim societies.”

[6] Muslim Justice League (MJL)’s mission is to organize and advocate for communities whose rights are threatened under the national security state in the United States. Led by Muslims, our organizing brings justice for ALL communities deemed “suspect.” MJL was founded on the principles that discrimination towards any group endangers the rights of all and that Muslim advocacy is an essential force for promoting justice.

[7] A non-profit, non-partisan civic engagement organization, United Voices for America is changing the direction of political discussion in the United States. Rather than allowing a select few to drive policy-making, we work to ensure that all citizens have a seat at the table. America is stronger when all its people are engaged in the democratic process.




(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)