The Obama administration’s refusal to use the term “Islamic terrorism” has provoked widespread condemnation, but it fits perfectly with the federal government’s past approach to the war on terror, which has been to elevate the importance domestic extremism over the threat posed by Islamic terror.
In planning this week’s summit on ‘combating violent extremists’ the White House “has consistently avoided naming Islamic extremism as its central focus,” reports CNN, despite two deadly attacks carried out in the name of Islam in Paris and Copenhagen in just the last two months alone.
The New York Post’s Michael Goodwin sums up the controversy, noting that even liberal media outlets are comfortable with referring to Islamic terrorism on a routine basis.
“This is nuts. Although the Islamic State, al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban cite Islam as the basis of their death cults, Obama argues that their acts are contrary to Islam, and therefore, refuses to associate them with Islam,” writes Goodwin.
Concerns about not referring to religion in the context of terrorism were not shared by the Pope, who condemned the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Egypt by ISIS by remarking, “They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians.”
In contrast, a 192-word statement from White House press secretary Josh Earnest about the killings was completely absent the words “Christian,” “Coptic,” “Islam” or “Muslim.”
A State Department spokeswoman made matters worse during a television interview on Monday night when she suggested that a better way of dealing with ISIS militants than killing them would instead be to encourage some kind of jobs program.
“We need … to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs, whether…” Marie Harf told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, prompting widespread ridicule.
During a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, Obama seemed to almost deliberately chide Christians by drawing parallels between ISIS’ recent brutality and the 800-year-old crusades, insisting that people get off their “high horse” and recognize the “terrible deeds” Christianity had wrought in the name of religion. It hardly seemed appropriate just days after a brutal video emerged of ISIS burning Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh to death.
However, none of this behavior should really surprise us given the federal government’s past fascination with domestic extremism, which served to diminish attention paid to the far more deadly threat of Islamic terrorism.
The FBI’s most recent national terror threat assessment list completely omits Islamic terrorists, instead focusing on sovereign citizens and the militia movement.
The University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) also said that sovereign citizens were the “top concern of law enforcement.”
In 2012 that same department released a study which characterized Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists. The study, which was funded by the DHS to the tune of $12 million dollars, largely omits Islamic extremism and instead focuses on Americans who hold beliefs shared by the vast majority of conservatives and libertarians and puts them in the context of radical extremism.
Last year, it emerged that the Department of Homeland Security maintains a “hands off” list of individuals with terrorist ties, allowing them unfettered entrance to the United States. In a related story, Muslim Brotherhood members with ties to terrorism traveling through Minneapolis Airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and Dulles Airport in April 2012 were handed “port courtesies,” with the State Department telling the DHS to ensure the men “not be pulled into secondary upon arrival at a point of entry.”
Last August, over a year after the Boston bombing, the Department of Homeland Security also listed sovereign citizens as a more deadly potential terror threat than Islamic extremists, placing sovereign citizens number one on the list despite the fact that individuals who identify as such have only been involved in minor and sporadic attacks. Violent confrontations involving sovereign citizens also overwhelmingly target law enforcement officers, meaning the threat to the wider public is also far less than that posed by Islamic extremists.
PSA’s for the Department of Homeland Security’s See Something, Say Something program also failed to portray terrorists as Muslims on numerous occasions, preferring instead to depict the bad guys as white middle class Americans on most occasions.
Returning veterans have also been characterized by the federal government as a bigger threat than Islamic extremism.
An April 2009 DHS intelligence assessment listed returning vets as likely domestic terrorists. Just a month later, the New York Times reported on how Boy Scout Explorers were being trained by the DHS to kill “disgruntled Iraq war veterans” in terrorist drills.
The FBI has also repeatedly demonized returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan as a major domestic terrorist threat.
This pattern of obsessing over domestic extremism as a bigger threat than Islamic terror has characterized the Obama administration’s handling of the war on terror since Obama took office just over six years ago, so it’s little surprise that the White House still refuses to acknowledge Islamic extremism by name and for the threat it truly represents.