Senate Hearing: While Feds Scrubbed References To Islam, Terrorists Escaped Notice

Senate Hearing: While Feds Scrubbed References To Islam, Terrorists Escaped Notice

A Tuesday Senate hearing Sen. Ted Cruz chaired discussed the ‘willful blindness’ of Democrats’ approach to combatting Islamist terrorism.
M.G. Oprea
By

On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz chaired an investigative hearing to determine whether law enforcement agencies are deemphasizing radical Islam while investigating terrorism in the United States. Its purpose, according to Cruz’s website, was to “investigate how the federal government has not only refused to appropriately identify the specific threat of radical Islam, but has sought to undermine the people and information who have sought to highlight the threat.”

Provocatively titled “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts to Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism,” the hearing comes just weeks after Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people in an Orlando night club and injured dozens more. In his opening remarks, Cruz said, “the consequence of the willful blindness of a policy, that is a matter of administration policy, that refuses to acknowledge the threat, means over and over again this administration has allowed the threats to go forward.”

In the weeks following the ISIS-inspired terrorist attack, Democratic leaders and media elites once again tried to blame the attacks on everything under the sun other than Islamic radicalism. White Christians, Republicans, gun laws, and anti-gay bigotry are for liberals the worst culprits.

But it’s not just the mainstream media and the far-left selling this bill of goods. Incredibly, this rhetoric has been coming from our government. President Obama made a public statement in the days after the Orlando attack doubling down on his commitment not to speak about Islam when addressing any terrorist attacks, even when they are manifestly inspired or encouraged by ISIS or other Islamist ideology.

Denying Reality Gets People Killed

Last week, the FBI released a heavily redacted transcript of Mateen’s 911 call, in which he pledged his allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The FBI had scrubbed references to ISIS and changed his use of “Allah” to “God,” as though it were a translation rather than a transcript. Most damning of all, however, was the revelation that the FBI was aware of Mateen’s presence, had interviewed him three times in the past few years, and knew he belonged to the same mosque as Moner Mohammad Abusalha, the first American suicide bomber in Syria.

Of course, this latest foray into delusion vis-à-vis the relationship between terrorism and Salafist interpretations of Islam, or what Andrew McCarthy referred to in the hearing as “Sharia supremacism,” is preceded by a long history of the Obama administration’s systemic denial of this relationship. We saw similar reactions on the Left and in our government after the Charlie Hebdo shootings, a few weeks after which Obama held a summit on “violent extremism,” as though one can be violently extreme about nothing in particular. There were similar reactions after San Bernardino, Paris, and Brussels.

The hearing Tuesday was meant to shine a spotlight on what can only be described as a systematic and willful blindness to the reality that Islamist ideology is closely linked to terrorism and radicalization. This blindness is a natural consequence of the Obama administration’s reckless national-security policy of “countering violent extremism,” or CVE. McCarthy describes the CVE as “delusionally forbid[ing] the conclusion that radical Islamic ideology has any causative effect on terrorist plotting.”

Among those who testified was Philip Haney, a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security, now turned whistleblower. He described ongoing retaliation while working at DHS for investigations he ran that put the dots together for international Islamist groups that also worked within the United States. Haney was ordered by his superiors to redact the use of Islamic terms in 876 documents, something for which none of the Democrats at the hearing expressed even the slightest bit of concern. He surmises that had his work been allowed to continue, DHS very well could have been alerted to the San Bernardino shooters.

As Long As We Keep Saying It, It Will Be True

In the hearing, Cruz repeatedly brought up Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter, who was known to have visited radical Islamic websites and been in email contact with a radical cleric. This is important because Hassan’s terrorist attack was one of the earliest occurrences of the Obama administration’s insistence that there is no such thing as Islamic terrorism, because the White House fundamentally rejects the notion that Islam inspires violence. The military officially labeled the Fort Hood shooting “workplace violence,” despite what Hassan himself claims it was.

Another major point raised in Tuesday’s hearing was the scrubbing of terms like “Islam” and “jihad” in DHS training materials over the past several years. This was compared with the 9/11 Commission report, where Islam-related words showed up more than 100 times. Notably, one of the panelists, Farhana Khera, is president of Muslim Advocates, the organization that requested in writing that these training materials be “purged” of these “bigoted” terms.

Not surprisingly, Khera spent much of her time testifying in the exact kind of doublespeak that the hearing was there to discuss. She said dangerous political rhetoric regarding Islam is teaching Americans to fear and hate their Muslim neighbors, despite other panelists arguing that Islam is not a monolithic religion and that there are multiple interpretations, including violent ones, and that these, not the peaceful ones, ought to be condemned. But Khera wasn’t listening. She said she was disturbed by what the other panelists said, calling it “garbage.”

La La La, I’m Not Listening

Panelists like Chris Gaubitz, a national security consultant at Understanding the Threat Consulting Firm, pointed out that we could kill every member of ISIS and al-Qaeda, but without addressing the spread of sharia doctrine, Islamist terrorism won’t end. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, urged an honest conversation about Islamist terrorism, arguing that by refusing to talk about it we are infantilizing Muslims by supposing they are too fragile to hear a frank discussion about Islam. According to him, “to say that Islam has no problems is just as problematic as saying Islam and Muslims are the problem”

Several Democratic senators tried to make analogies to the KKK and Christianity, arguing that just like we don’t call white-supremacist groups “radical Christians” neither should we call individuals and groups who perpetrate terrorist acts in the name of Islam “radical Muslims.” Meanwhile, Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, spent much of his time discussing how the focus on Islamic terrorism in the last 15 years has blinded us to the serious problems in our country with radical right-wing terrorists.

During the Senate hearing, Turkey’s Ataturk airport was attacked by suicide bombers, killing dozens, and al-Qaeda released a special edition of their English-language publication Inspire Guide urging lone-wolf attackers to target the “Anglo-Saxon community” so their acts won’t be misinterpreted as “hate crimes” but rather what they really are: religiously motivated terrorist attacks. How painfully ironic that Islamist terrorists are so flummoxed by the liberal West’s insistence on ignoring their motivations that they had to make an official statement to clarify things.

In the end, the hearing appeared an effort in futility. It seemed as though half the room lives in an alternate reality. But only one of those realities is real. And only one of them will win out in the end.

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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