Arif Alikhan

Arif Alikhan

: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security


* Former deputy mayor of Homeland Security and Public Safety for the City of Los Angeles
* Was responsible for derailing the LAPD’s plan to monitor activities within the Los Angeles Muslim community
* Was appointed as assistant secretary for the Office of Policy Development in Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security in 2009
* Became a Professor of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism in 2010

Born in Canada in 1968, and raised in California by Indian and Pakistani parents, Arif Alikhan graduated from UC-Irvine in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in social ecology. Three years later, he received a J.D. from Loyola Law School and was admitted to the California State Bar. He then clerked for U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew of California’s Central District from 1993-94.

Alikhan subsequently served as an associate in the law firm of Irell and Manella, LLP (1994-96); a prosecutor in the office of the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney (1997-2001); head of the Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California (2001-05); an adjunct professor of law at the University of Southern California (2003-04); and overseer of the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Program at the U.S. Department of Justice (2005-06).

In 2006, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Alikhan, a devout Sunni Muslim, as the city’s Deputy Mayor of Homeland Security and Public Safety, a position he would hold until 2009. During his tenure in that post, Alikhan was responsible for derailing the Los Angeles Police Department’s efforts to monitor activities within the city’s Muslim community, where numerous radical mosques and madrassas were known to exist, and where some of the 9/11 hijackers had received assistance from local residents. By Alikhan’s telling, such surveillance was rooted in “Islamophobia.”

In April 2009, Alikhan participated in a fundraiser for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an organization affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Later that month, the Secretary of President Barack Obama‘s Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Janet Napolitano, appointed Alikhan as Assistant Secretary for DHS’s Office of Policy Development. Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations‘ Los Angeles branch, praised Alikhan for his “well-deserved” appointment to DHS.

In early June 2009, Alikhan spoke at a banquet/fundraiser for the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC). A noteworthy fellow speaker was Agha Saeed, who had previously defended Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian during the latter’s prosecution on terrorism charges. At the ISCSC event, Saeed lamented the “Islamophobia” allegedly pervading post-9/11 America, and he demanded that the Justice Department stop monitoring U.S. mosques for evidence of extremism.

In November 2010, Alikhan stepped down from his DHS position and took a job as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs in Washington, D.C., a position he would hold for one year.

Between 2009 and 2011, several media reports stated that Alikhan had once referred to the terrorist group Hezbollah as a “liberation movement.” In June 2011, Alikhan called the allegation “absolutely false,” saying: “I have never stated, nor do I believe, that Hezbollah is a liberation movement. It is a terrorist organization and I have never made any statement to the contrary. In fact, I have spent the vast majority of my professional career as a public servant dedicated to protecting the United States from the harm that criminal and terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah, seek to inflict on our country.”

From November 2011 through March 2014, Alikhan was the Deputy Executive Director for Homeland Security & Law Enforcement at Los Angeles World Airports.

In January 2013, the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) reported: “Alikhan is a founder of the World Islamic Organization, which [the Egyptian magazine Rose El-Youssef] identifies as a [Muslim] Brotherhood ‘subsidiary.’  [IPT] suggests that Alikhan was responsible for the ‘file of Islamic states’ in the White House and that he provides the direct link between the Obama administration and the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011.”

Since March 2014, Alikhan has worked as a Special Assistant and Director in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy.

Additional Resources:

Further Reading: “Arif Alikhan” (; “Egyptian Magazine: Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrates Obama Administration” (Investigative Project on Terrorism, 1-3-2013).

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