11 Ways to Get Yourself Noticed by the NSA!

A practical guide for getting a foothold in the terrorist marketplace.


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The Intercept just released its latest list of the Who’s Who in Muslim American government surveillance. The list includes almost 8,000 email addresses of domestic and foreign Muslims all of whom are viewed as highly valuable candidates by U.S. government agencies like the NSA. You’re probably thinking “how can I get on that list?”

Let’s face it, getting recognized in today’s media landscape is no easy task. There are just too many qualified competitors for far too few positions. Although the NSA collects every single email, it can’t really read every one in detail. So if you want your email to garner the attention it deserves, be read by top officials and highlighted in the massive database used to store information on you, follow the simple steps below on how to finally get noticed.

1)    Be brown.

This is the most important step to getting your foot in the door. Brown (particularly in an orange jumpsuit) is the new black. Don’t get me wrong, being black is no good either. But to get recognized at the top level of government, brown skin is the minimal requirement. In fact, it’s hard to admit, but looks count a lot in this industry. Candidates must look the part. Whites, in this rare case, have it harder. Remember Brandon Mayfield? He was the Oregon lawyer who in 2004 was falsely accused of involvement in the Madrid train bombings. Mayfield had to fake his fingerprints on debris found at the bombing site to show up on the authorities’ radar. Although Mayfield is Muslim, he had to work extra hard to fight for attention. So brown is good, in a bad way.

2)    Email distant relatives in foreign lands. Frequently.

Got a cousin in Kashmir you haven’t seen in 15 years? An uncle in Cairo you’re not sure is still alive? Not even sure if they have electricity, let alone a computer with a valid email address? No worries. Send the email anyway. Government agencies like to see who you’re trying to connect with. Extra attention is given to emails sent to Muslim countries with U.S. military involvement – lucky for you, that’s almost every single one! So take a jaunt through your family tree and identify that one family member no one seems to talk to anymore. That person is most likely in some form of terror training currently. More points are awarded if the email address has Muhammad in it.

3)    Use the right buzz words.

Everyone knows that words like “Allah,” “bomb,” “jihad,” and “Bebsi” can garner the interest of government agencies. And that’s the problem – everyone knows that and is using those terms to get noticed. Sure you can do a search-and-replace of “God” with “Allah” in your email, but you’ll probably end up with nonsensical comments about the comedian “Allahfrey,” the ex-NBA player and New York City basketball crossover legend “Allah ShammAllah,” or the enticing allure of “Allahiva chocolates.” You should seek, instead, to set yourself apart. Follow the example of one of The Intercept’s hot list honorees, Faisal Gill. Gill decided to go a different route – instead of sticking out, he decided to fit in. “I’ve done everything in my life to be patriotic. I served in the Navy, served in the government, was active in my community—I’ve done everything that a good citizen, in my opinion, should do,” Gill told The Intercept. And that’s how he garnered attention for both his AOL and Yahoo! email accounts. Learn from the professionals.

4)    Rant on social media.

Don’t hesitate to share your great ideas on social media. Refrain from editing yourself or questioning whether or not it is a good idea to explain in 140 characters or less why Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi will make a strong caliph. Talk about how he’s misunderstood and a much needed change from those liberal secular Al-Qaeda types. We all know he’s insane, but dropping names is always a good way to get noticed. Remember, he is your Pope! Treat him like one. Yes, he may not be as cool as Pope Francis or as officially recognized as him or even as non-violent, but let’s be real, Al-Baghdadi would easily win a holy beard off. So why not let all 30 of your Twitter followers and 300 Facebook friends know that you believe such things?

5)    Send out erotic pictures and content.

Look, government officials are no different than you and I. Their interest is piqued by the same things ours is – like pictures of women in lingerie, or love letters to Taliban boyfriends. It doesn’t all have to be erotic; images of you and your family, your baby being bathed in a tiny bathtub, or a child smiling in front of a mosque are all enough to get the right attention. Don’t be shy; snap as many selfies as you can. If you’re lucky, those pictures will end up on a decision-maker’s computer screen!

6)    Congregate often at your local mosque or halal butcher shop.

Let’s be honest; a simple email won’t do the trick these days. You need to be active to get noticed. Going to well know locations where Muslims congregate will quickly get you on the radar of organizations like the NYPD. Once there, anything you do will be seen as suspicious and surveillance-worthy! Also, befriend radical provocateurs at your local gatherings. The government leverages deals with known criminals by trading communal spying and provocation for lessened punishment of those criminals’ actual crimes. Men like Craig Monteilh, Shahed Hussain, and Mahmood Siddiqui,  who tend to look and talk in a disturbed manner, are most likely government plants. Get to know them. Network!

7)    Be hopeless and naïve.

Pop quiz! How many people have the F.B.I. arrested in connection with terrorism since 9/11? More than 150. You may think that’s a lot since you’ve probably never heard of most of the cases. That’s because the majority involve hopeless, naïve, uneducated men that are ensnared by informants planted by government agencies to identify, encourage, and empower targets to carry out terroristic activities. Yes, the F.B.I. creates its own terrorists to arrest. If you want to receive their attention, look desperate and alone. And harness the power of “yes” – be willing to do something very stupid based on a stranger’s suggestion.

8)    Take more vacations.

The NSA likes candidates who are worldly. Dust off your passport, get your visas stamped, and travel to exotic locales like Mogadishu, Fallujah, or Dearborn, Michigan. Officials love to see that not only do you have an Islamic background and enjoy going to Muslim lands, but that you’re willing to travel while Muslim too. The more you roam, the greater your chance will be of scoring a high ranking on the No Fly List – like Rahinah Ibrahim, a Ph.D. from Stanford University who had to sue the government and wait 8 years to be told she was on the list for no reason at all. But remember: always wear clean underwear. You most likely will be “randomly” strip searched. This seems like it might be a good sign of being noticed, but it’s not. Many people have to go through this process; consider it a minor tollgate to getting the right attention.

9)    Give charity to an Islamic organization.

Nothing says “I’m a top candidate” like giving money to Muslims in need. Plus, there’s a good chance that the organization you give money to is currently or will soon be on the terrorist watch list. If you have given charity in the past, but have yet to curry favor with government officials, keep giving. The charitable organization you gave to can always be retroactively added to the watch list and officials love to see how financially committed you are to helping others. So it’s a safe investment. Just ask the Holy Land five who used to run the largest legitimate Muslim charity only to be arrested and convicted on charges of material support for terrorism. You can only wish to be so fortunate!

10) Be seen.

When the bombs went off during the Boston Marathon, authorities combed the immediate area for potential suspects. This initial search allowed CNN and the NY Post to incriminate men like Abdul Rehman Ali Al-Harbi and Salah Eddine Barhoum. Though seemingly young, Al-Harbi and Barhoum are seasoned veterans at being noticed. They showed up to a popular event with brown skin, and within hours received the attention of the whole nation.

11) Do something insane (if you’re already an actual terrorist).

Let me tell you a story: there was a man who was sick and tired of constantly being ignored by government officials. Despite applying himself many times, he wasn’t getting the attention he deserved. So, he did something insane and completely un-Islamic – he kidnapped 300 young girls. Now, we all know that man to be the leader of Boko Haram. He knew he was dealing with tough competition, so he upped the ante. If you’re an actual terrorist, do something completely un-Islamic and dog-sh*t-crazy. Government officials want to see proactive go-getters who think outside of the box. Better yet, don’t think at all. Just do!

If all else fails, go about your day as a freedom-loving, U.S.-flag waving, hot dog-eating (Hebrew National brand only though) American citizen. This will surely raise the suspicion of your Fox News-watching neighbors who, with any luck, will report you to one of several government agencies.

Goodluck and Allahspeed!

For more information, consult BuzzFeed’s “28 Ways to Get That Cute NSA Agent to Spy on You” or take the “Which Muslim Terrorist Stereotype Are You?” quiz.

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  • About the autor
    Obaid H. Siddiqui

    Obaid H. Siddiqui is a freelance writer and journalist based in Philadelphia. He is a contributor to the anthology “All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim.” He can be followed on Twitter @OhSiddiqui.

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