Our Leaders Must Look At Islamism Without Flinching

Our Leaders Must Look At Islamism Without Flinching

This most recent attack in America and the heightened threat in Europe reminds us that our leaders are not doing their jobs.
M.G. Oprea
By

While we’re still reeling from the terrorist attack in Orlando on Sunday, Europe is bracing itself for a similar attack because of a confluence of events and timing. This most recent attack in America and the heightened threat in Europe reminds us that our leaders are not doing their jobs. They’re not looking at this threat head on.

Friday marked the beginning of the 2016 UEFA European soccer championship that runs until July 10. France is hosting the international tournament in stadiums throughout the country, including the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, one of the targets of the November 13 Paris attacks. An event this large, attracting so many from abroad, makes it an obvious target for a terrorist attack. France has even launched a smartphone app that alerts you if an attack is occurring near you.

One reason for heightened fear is that Germany recently arrested three men who were plotting an attack on a pedestrian shopping area in Düsseldorf. Their goal was to “kill as many passersby as possible.” The authorities in Germany were tipped off by a man named Saleh A., who turned himself in to French authorities in February. The man helped police find the three co-conspirators, but told officials there are many more people in that ISIS network.

Heightened Emphasis on Lone-Wolf Attacks

What makes officials even more concerned is that ISIS is encouraging Muslims to attack the West during the month of Ramadan. The Islamic holy month began on June 5 and ends on July 5, roughly the same period as Euro 2016. Ramadan is a time when observant Muslims fast from sunup to sundown as a way to remember the first Quranic revelation to Mohammed. It is seen as a month for self-sacrifice, which is why ISIS chose it as a way to inspire jihad.

ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in May that anyone who dies in an act of jihad during Ramadan will receive a greater reward in heaven. ISIS is particularly encouraging lone-wolf attacks. The group knows these are easier to pull off than what they did in Belgium, which involved coordination and extensive planning. ISIS called for attacks on America and Europe, urging its followers not to focus on military or “hard” targets, because these are much harder to hit. Instead they told them to just strike, as one jihadist leader in France put it, “n’importe qui”: no matter who.

The Düsseldorf plot and ISIS’ call for lone-wolf attacks are once again raising fears that ISIS members may have come to Europe during the migrant crisis last year. At the time, German officials and everyone on the Left insisted refugees aren’t terrorists just because they’re coming from Muslim countries. Of course, it wasn’t the refugees themselves that most were concerned with. It was the bad actors who would take advantage of the chaos to slip into Europe. We already know that one of the Paris attackers did just that. Two of the Düsseldorf gang came from Syria as well.

But leaders in Europe don’t want to talk about that—and this gets to the heart of why we’re going to keep seeing attacks like Paris.

Political Correctness Is Killing Us

They don’t want to admit that a policy about immigration from war-torn Syria and Iraq might destabilize their countries and lead to mass casualties, because it’s not politically correct to do so. Anything that even hints at negative comments toward minority groups, especially migrants, is seen as too heinous for words. So prime ministers and presidents across the continent, and the Atlantic, fall over themselves to reassure the world of 100 percent acceptance of everyone. No questions asked.

They also don’t want to talk about the effects of a sudden influx of Middle Eastern men. When mass sexual assaults occurred in Cologne and across Germany on New Year’s Eve, the victims described the hundreds of attackers as Middle Eastern and North African. But the government hushed it up, trying to ignore the reality they had created. What happened didn’t fit in with their narrative that we are all citizens of the world with the same values and beliefs. So they lied and said it had nothing to do with the migrant crisis. They stuck to their mantra of absolute acceptance.

We have the same problem in America, although we haven’t experienced the same mass arrival of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Here, our leaders, most notably President Obama, relentlessly ignore the realities of radical Islam. Islamic terrorism isn’t just about “hatred,” as he often tells us it is, but about actual religious beliefs. Obama likes to talk about the dangers of “extremism” but never about Islamism. The radical branch of Islam that inspires ISIS might not represent the majority of Muslims, but to dismiss it as “fringe” dangerously underplays the threat it poses, something that sadly hit home over the weekend in Florida.

We aren’t even supposed to talk about these things. David Petraeus, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, wrote in the Washington Post last month that we should avoid any rhetoric that is offensive to Muslims. His flawed logic is that it will encourage more radicalization.

Obama, in his statement on Sunday about the Orlando shooting, talked mostly of the LGBT community and gun control. Although he admitted that the FBI is treating the attack as terrorism, he didn’t express any concern over a chronic problem occurring in America and Europe or a realization that it’s all connected by one thing—a dangerous religious ideology that ISIS’s territorial claims legitimize.

This approach must stop. Our leaders don’t have the luxury of being politically correct. Their job is to be clear-eyed about national security and the things that threaten it. They don’t get to live in a fantasy world where no one gets their feelings hurt. That doesn’t mean they should make brash and simplistic statements about banning Muslims, like Donald Trump has done, and we certainly don’t want our leaders encouraging racist and xenophobic views. But they need to stop going out of their way to deny and ignore the problems lying at their feet—no matter how uncomfortable it makes them.

M. G. Oprea is a writer based in Austin, Texas. She holds a PhD in French linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. You can follow her on Twitter here.

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