New York City's Mayor Stresses The Importance Of Trust Between Communities And Counter-Terrorism Efforts

"We're all wearing the same uniform if you think about it."

In the aftermath of the October 31 terror attack in New York City that killed eight and wounded about a dozen others, the city's mayor, Bill de Blasio, made a key point about how maintaining good relationships with all communities, including immigrant communities, is a crucial part of an effective counter-terrorism strategy.

During an interview just one day after the attack with the co-hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe, de Blasio revealed 20 plots aimed at New York City have been foiled in the 16 years since 9/11 thanks to the tireless work of the NYPD and the FBI. However, de Blasio also noted that "everyday New Yorkers" play a critical role in keeping the Big Apple — which he described as the number one terror target in America — safe.

"'If you see something, say something' is not an idle phrase," de Blasio explained, referring to the popular Homeland Security/MTA mantra. "Everyone can help our police to protect us. Any tip might be the lifesaver."


When co-host Mika Brzezinski pointed out "everyday New Yorkers" hail from all over the world and have diverse backgrounds, de Blasio wholeheartedly agreed.  "The NYPD believes deeply in building close relationships with every community," he declared, adding that there are 900 Muslim officers in the NYPD who protect all New Yorkers and visitors to the city. "Because we're deep into communities, we get the flow of information."

"This is really the way forward for our country," he added, insinuating marginalizing these communities has the potential to do more harm than good. "We need to be able to encourage everyone to come forward — we're all wearing the same uniform if you think about it — and if every community feels connected, and invested, and willing to come forward to the police, including our immigrant communities, that's what actually keeps us safe."

The NYC Mayor's stance is decidedly different from that the tenor of today's politics, in which policies and initiatives that target immigrants are being actively debated.

Past studies offer credence to the idea that maintaining good relationships is actually much more beneficial in the long run. As Afghan diplomat Ahmad Naveed Noormal and conflict resolutions scholar Karina Y. Valenzuela pointed out in a piece for HuffPost, making immigrant and refugee populations feel included via open discussions and projects means they are less likely to be in a vulnerable place where they might be recruited by a terrorist group. Conversely, the pair also noted that one of the main reasons immigrant young people are vulnerable to recruitment by ISIS is they're not fully absorbed or welcomed as citizens in their host countries.

As several Muslim advocacy groups noted after Tuesday's attack, now is the time for unity, not divisiveness. 


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.