“We are not at war with Islam,” the president has said. Make that “the presidents (plural) have said.” George W. Bush was as clear and unequivocating as Barack Obama in distinguishing between terrorism and the religion of Islam.
But at least Bush understood that his first obligation was to do whatever it took to keep Americans safe from further 911s.
A set of anti-terrorism training guidelines released by Department of Homeland Security and obtained last week by The Daily Caller suggest that the Obama administration has a different understanding of its job.
According to experts on Islam and terrorism who reviewed the guidelines, they exert undo pressure on law enforcement personnel to ignore Islamic beliefs when investigating terror crimes.
Andrew McCarthy, a former New York prosecutor, assessed the impact of such an approach as it pertained to a recent act of terrorism:
The Boston Marathon was bombed by a jihadist who had been investigated by the FBI … [and was confirmed in 2011 to be] an Islamist, which would have been hard not to do since he does not appear to have made any secret of it.
[But before the bombing,] the FBI closed its file [on Tamerlan Tsarnaev] because it found this did not constitute ‘derogatory information.’
McCarthy is one of several security experts who believe that a culture of excessive concern for the sensibilities of Muslim supremacists is preventing law enforcement agencies from pursuing jihadists planning deadly attacks. Under the DHS guidelines, “agents are admonished to discount the possibility that an Islamist’s constitutionally protected abhorrence of the United States might possibly lead to violence.”
Robert Spencer, an authority on Islamic doctrine who is heavily criticized by Islamic groups in the United States, called the lack of diligence in the case of the Boston bombers a fiasco, adding that bad training such as this degrades security. He noted that even though FBI had interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, its agents were unable to identify him in crowd photographs taken before and after the bomb strike.
If it hadn’t been for the Islamic Society of Boston, which asked the main mosque in the city for help in identifying the suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers might never have been brought to justice. DHS policy prevented the FBI from reaching out to clerics at the mosque.
Apart from its wrongheadedness, the Obama administration’s olive branch has had a paradoxical effect, if anything emboldening those who would murder innocent Americans in the name of Islam. The March issue of a magazine titled “Azan: A Call to Jihad” contained a full-page spread of in which a likeness of Obama appeared superimposed with a bulls-eye over it, encouraging Muslims the world over to target the president. The text on the image reads:
Wanted: Dead only. Barack Obama, Mass Murderer. Reward: In the Hereafter.