ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Two dozen local, state and federal law enforcement officers and Muslim leaders came together Wednesday to lay out plans to stop terrorist threats at the local level.
Several local imams of the American Muslim Leadership Council promised to be the eyes and ears of law enforcement within their religious communities.
They said they will be the ones watching and reporting any acts of extremism within local Muslim communities.
The goal of Wednesday’s meeting was to promise the public that central Florida will not become a safe haven for extremist groups and terrorists.
“I believe we all share one common threat: Terror or hate. Neither of them share a religion, or skin, or background,” said Imam Helmi Elagha, a member of the American Muslim Leadership Council.
Muslim leaders said Islamaphobia is now impacting their daily lives, especially in the wake of ISIS attacks in Paris and the San Bernardino shooting.
FBI agents found Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were in contact with an ISIS extremist before killing 14 people at an office party.
Central Florida Muslims have told their religious leaders they’re left feeling even more like a target.
“Some stated they would rather stay home because of the environment and that they feel uncomfortable,” said Elagha.
Some central Florida mosques have taken additional measures to ensure the safety of their worshippers.
Religious leaders are promising to keep watch for any signs of terrorism within their community, and law enforcement agents sent a clear message that they will keep them safe, too.
“Fear should not be an excuse for hate,” said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
The FBI is working on a program to help teach people as young as middle school-aged how to look for someone who may be heading to the path of radicalization.
<p lang="en" dir="ltr">Now: Islamic leaders and local law enforcement addressing 'Islamophobia' in wake of recent events. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Wftv?src=hash">#Wftv</a> <a href="https://t.co/MwO8bIFitI">pic.twitter.com/MwO8bIFitI</a></p>— Karla Ray (@KRayWFTV) <a href="https://twitter.com/KRayWFTV/status/677219767816712192">