10 UCLA J. Islamic & Near E. L. 85 (2010-2011)
From Altruists to Outlaws: The Criminalization of Traveling Islamic Volunteers

handle is hein.journals/ucjicneal10 and id is 89 raw text is: FROM ALTRUISTS TO OUTLAWS: THE
CRIMINALIZATION OF TRAVELING
ISLAMIC VOLUNTEERS
Ramzi Kassem*
INTRODUCTION
The volunteerist dimension of Islamic philanthropy, although often
overshadowed of late by its financial counterpart as a focal point of interest,
was until recently an equally vibrant expression of transnational Muslim soli-
darity. The emblematic figures of the itinerant doctor, the aid worker, the
preacher and the fighter featured prominently in the actual mobilization and
associated narratives spurred by bloody conflicts in Muslim-majority lands
such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, and Afghanistan.' Along with the
scrutiny and policing of Islamic charities and financial networks amplified by
the so-called War on Terror came a heightened military and intelligence fo-
cus on traveling Muslims who volunteered in various capacities in distant
and troubled regions. Out of place Muslims came to be regarded and
treated as combatants by various governments.2 The aforementioned em-
blematic figures were conflated into one-that of the fighter-and were
criminalized. This Article will begin to explore how that particular process
of conflation, exclusion and criminalization occurred.
A host of fascinating questions arise in this connection which fall
outside the intended scope of the inquiry at hand. One important question
* Assistant Professor of Law, City University of New York School of Law. My grati-
tude to Ash I. Bli and the student organizers of the thought-provoking UCLA conference on
the criminalization of philanthropy, and to Khaled Abou El Fadl and Susan Slyomovics for
their guidance and hospitality. I also owe thanks to Darryl Li for his thoughtful comments and
to Michael Figura, whose research and writing assistance greatly advanced this Article's pro-
gress. Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the constant support of my family and
friends.
I See JONATHAN BENTHALL & JiEROME BELLION-JOURDAN, THE CHARITABLE CRESCENT:
PouTics OF AID IN THE MUSLIM WORLD 69 (2003).
2 See Darryl Li, A Universal Enemy?: Foreign Fighters and Legal Regimes of Exclusion
and Exemption Under the Global War on Terror 41 COLUM. Hum. RTS. L. REV. 355, 374
(2010).

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