Two articles from The National Interest website on the real meaning of Orlando. It was another attack by soldiers of Islam on the United States in Islam's 1400-year war to conquer the world.
The continuing question is why the President of the United States refuses to recognize the threat for what it is.
Orlando Was Not an Act of Hate. It Was an Act of War.
June 15, 2016
President Barack Obama responded quickly and forcefully to the horrific mass-casualty attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning, condemning it later that day as "an act of terror and an act of hate." And his eloquent reminder that attacks on any American, "regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation," is an attack "on all of us" of course echoed the most basic truism about what defines Americans as a people.
But perhaps more important than what the president said, is what he still will not say. And it is these omissions that serve as a stark reminder that his administration remains unable or unwilling to speak openly and honestly about the nature of the threat posed by the militant Islamist movements that have grown in strength and number during his time in office. Worst of all, this lack of candor is clearly impacting our ability to effectively fight Islamic terrorism.
First and foremost, the Orlando attack was not an "act of hate"--it was an act of war. Yes, the attacker, a Muslim American named Omar Mateen, specifically targeted America's gay community. But to make that a prime focus of attention exposes a key blind spot for this administration (and for the West in general) regarding the militant Sunni (Salafist) ideology that underpins today's jihadi movements.
For nearly a century, these movements--from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, to Jamaat-e-Islami in South Asia, to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS)--have been unabashedly at war against not only the West's undue influence in the Arab and Muslim world, but against Western liberal philosophy in general, specifically the West's open and tolerant way of life. Yet the manner in which Western leaders often choose to characterize the violence perpetrated on behalf of such movements says much about their own Western preferences and biases.
Consider the statement made by Secretary of State John Kerry following last November's ISIS-inspired attacks in Paris against street cafes and a music venue, which killed 130 and injured hundreds more. Kerry described the violence as "absolutely indiscriminate," because it "wasn't to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong." This, he surmised, made it different from the Al Qaeda-directed massacre earlier in the year against the Paris satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was famous for mocking Islam (among many other things); and which he said at least offered the attackers a "rationale" because it was something that made them "really angry."
In fact, to militant Islamists there is no difference between a magazine exercising the right of religious satire and women sitting with men in a Paris café drinking wine, or young people dancing at a rock concert. Just like there is no difference between a gay nightclub that exemplifies liberal tolerance and a World Trade Center that represents global capitalism. They are all equal targets in a war against American and Western global power and liberal ideology.
Secondly, in the aftermath of the Orlando attack, President Obama again doubled-down on his reluctance to simply describe the threat for what it is, out of fear it will spark a backlash against Muslim communities. While this is certainly understandable, particularly in the age of Trump, it is ultimately counterproductive. The vast majority of Muslims worldwide--and especially in the United States--are both moderate and also well aware there are longstanding militant strains within their religion that, unfortunately, have been growing in power and appeal.
But instead of calling it out by name--which would strengthen, rather than weaken America's partnership with the moderate Muslim world--Obama continues to fall back on vacuous descriptions of the threat, as he did on Monday following an FBI briefing. Despite the fact that Mateen had declared his allegiance to ISIS during the rampage, and that Obama himself called it an "act of terror," as to the attacker's motivation the president would say only that it "appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information." That would be like saying on December 7, 1941 that Pearl Harbor was attacked by "violent people."
Obama eventually acknowledged what everyone already knew--that Mateen dedicated the attack to ISIS--but he again tried to downplay its meaning, saying it was merely done "at the last minute," and that Mateen was part of no "larger plot." In fact, ISIS online recruiters specifically instruct would-be foot soldiers to not declare their allegiance until the moment of attack (as also seen in the San Bernardino case), to reduce the possibility of preattack detection. And the "larger plot" is the ideology of ISIS, Al Qaeda, and all the other militant Islamist groups dedicated to a global war against apostates in Muslim lands and infidels in the West.
Finally, while some may take comfort that Mateen seemed to have multiple personal triggers pointing him toward radicalization and violence--that is actually the most dangerous part of the story: the more powerful (and seemingly "successful") the Islamist ideology being spun and promoted by ISIS and like-minded groups, the greater the numbers (and diversity) of the recruits it will be able to net across countries and communities, including inside the United States.
Confronting a "Perfect Storm"
The Obama administration continues to insist that any references to warfare, or to the link between Islamic radicalism and today's escalating terrorist threats, simply plays into the hands of the terrorists, by making it appear that "we are at war with an entire religion." But this is actually quite odd coming from a president who has used the most aggressive wartime powers imaginable--such as hundreds of covert drone strikes inside at least eight sovereign countries--killing many thousands of suspected Muslim radicals (along with hundreds of innocent Muslim civilians).
More important, however, is that the strategy of perennially downplaying the threat, or of saying one thing and doing another, is clearly not working. President Obama's own director of national intelligence, James Clapper, recently testified that Sunni militant movements now have "more groups, members, and safe havens than at any point in history," and that radical Islamist networks are currently operating in at least forty countries worldwide. The United States, he said, now faces "the highest threat level since the 9/11 attacks" (and that was prior to the Orlando attack).
What has developed over the past five years is a gathering perfect storm of vast swaths of ungoverned jihadi territory across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia; tens of thousands of local and foreign fighters being physically trained in jihadi training camps; untold numbers more being inspired and potentially recruited as foot soldiers over social media; and a high-profile strategy by ISIS and other groups to specifically target the West in order to spark a direct military confrontation--with many of the groups openly competing to see which can carry out the biggest and boldest attack that serves as a "tipping point."
Simply admitting that these radical Islamist movements are "at war" against the United States and the West will not solve the problem. Nor will it mean that our responses must be mostly on the military side of the spectrum--indeed soft power, like bridge-building with the moderate Muslim world, and heavy reliance on civilian criminal-justice systems, remains integral.
But it may help us finally recognize that even the best proposals aimed at "preventing attacks" inside the United States--like beefing-up overseas and domestic intelligence, or granting the FBI greater tools to track and detain suspected lone wolves--are merely Band-Aid solutions unless we directly target and ultimately destroy the most capable jihadi groups and the militant Islamist ideology that serves as their inspiration.
President Obama likes to point out that groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS pose no "existential threat" to America. But, as shown in Orlando this week, if left to fester and grow, they do pose a direct threat to America's sense of freedom and way of life. The big question is: what is the "tipping point" for such attacks, and what would the next day look like? It is up to the American president to make sure we never find out.
Stuart Gottlieb teaches U.S. Foreign Policy, Counterterrorism, and International Security at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where he is also a member of the Saltzman Institute of War & Peace Studies. He formerly served as a foreign policy adviser and speechwriter in the U.S. Senate (1999-2003).
Trump's Temporary Muslim Ban Shows He's Serious about Defeating Radical Islam
June 22, 2016
In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Orlando, President Barack Obama, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and House Speaker Paul Ryan found themselves united in outrage. Unequivocally, they issued their condemnations: "Dangerous," "shameful," and "pathological."
Their target, however, was not the radical Islamic ideology that inspired the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. No, the politicians were referring to GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald J. Trump and his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States. It was yet another example of elevating self-righteousness over reality and delusions over solutions.
Obama, Clinton, Ryan and numerous Trump haters behave as if religion is irrelevant or at best tangential to the bloodbath perpetrated by Islamic terrorists. While leftists like Obama and Clinton would much rather bash Republicans than identify radical Islam by name, Republicans like Ryan act as if blaming radical Islam is enough, and refuse to acknowledge the insidiousness of this evil in the Islamic faith or in Muslim communities in general.
By contrast, the bombastic and undisciplined Trump looks like a profile in courage. After Orlando, he reminded fellow Americans, "Many of the principles of Radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions." From Paris to Sydney, Fort Hood to Chattanooga, San Bernardino to Orlando, lone-wolf Islamic terrorists have repeatedly proven him right.
Instead of reiterating by rote that Islam is a religion of peace, as Washington politicians do, Trump is raising tough questions about why numerous Islamic governments and Muslim believers are decidedly not peaceful. Thus far, Trump haters have made no honest attempt to offer viable answers.
Perhaps that is because reality can be quite inconvenient. Across the Middle East and wide swaths of Africa and Asia, sharia, Islam's moral code and religious law, reigns. The regimes that subscribe to it do not uphold the freedom of religion, subjugate women as second-class citizens and outlaw homosexuality as an offense punishable by death.
While not every Muslim-majority country governs by these beliefs, the separation of church and state, a key concept enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, is one that numerous experts have declared in conflict with Islam. Furthermore, even moderate Muslim countries like Malaysia and Indonesia recognize Islam as the official state religion, and have enacted domestic laws and policies that restrict religious freedom even though the concept is enshrined in their respective constitutions.
Worse yet, sharia law rears its ugly head right here in America too. By one count, about twenty-six women die each year in this country as a result of Islamic "honor killings" perpetrated by their relatives.
What career politicians refuse to recognize and what Trump intuitively grasps is that the lines between radical Islam and regular Islam are blurrier than they appear. Of course, peaceful and patriotic Muslims have helped built America just like every other immigrant group, but outspoken, moderate Muslims in the West who openly stand up against the dark side of their faith are few and far between. Indeed, polling shows that a majority of Muslims living in the United States wish to have the choice of being governed by sharia law and judged by sharia courts. More disturbing, nearly a quarter of Muslims in America believe it is legitimate to use violence to punish those who give offense to Islam.
Meanwhile, just because some Muslims are portrayed as moderate and patriotic does not make them so. For example, President George W. Bush stood with supposedly peace-loving Muslim Americans after 9/11, but one of those individuals was actually the executive director of the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim group that federal prosecutors in subsequent years would name as an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal conspiracy to funnel financing to foreign terrorists.
Before the complicated and unsettling reality about Islamic terrorism and its ideology, leaders like Obama and Clinton have routinely opted for political correctness and cowardice. Soon after the president assumed office, his administration ceased referring to this country's war against the jihadists as the "Global War on Terror" and gave it the bland, politically correct moniker of "Overseas Contingency Operation." When a deranged Major Nidal Malik Hasan fatally shot thirteen Americans on an Army base in Fort Hood, the administration designated the attack--carried out in the name of Islam--as an incident of "workplace violence." When ISIS showed the world it was not the "JV team" Obama had described, his administration convened a "Summit on Countering Violent Extremism" and went out of its way to avoid mentioning Islam, a word ISIS has never hesitated to use. Unable to refute Trump for pointing out the administration's political correctness, Obama recently just chose to mock him.
For his part, Speaker Ryan has argued that the smarter way to go than a temporary Muslim ban is to impose "a security test, not a religious test." Given the bloodshed and horror that have been perpetrated in the name of Islam in the modern era and given the infiltration by terrorists of the massive Syrian refugee influx to Europe, Americans can be forgiven for remaining worried and fearful despite Ryan's reassurances.
By contrast, Trump talks bluntly about radical Islam, its insidious influence and its grave threats to the homeland. His temporary Muslim ban may be overly inclusive, but he is not pretending that America's war with radical Islam is merely a security problem.
It is no surprise that Clinton and Obama have eagerly expressed their anti-Trump indignations. The left long ago abandoned any pretense of honesty when talking about race, ethnicity, gender or foreign religions. It is no surprise either to see Ryan engage in regular Trump condemnations. After all, the right has more often than not succumbed to the left's paradigm of identity politics while meekly mouthing objections to the specifics.
Were Trump to cease discussing a Muslim ban but focus on what he began proposing more recently (i.e., temporarily banning immigrants from countries that produce and harbor Islamic terrorists), would the political class talk more honestly about the threats posed by radical Islam in this country?
Of course not. That alone tells us far more about the Trump haters--and the preference for burying their heads in the sand regarding radical Islam--than about Trump himself.
Ying Ma is the author of Chinese Girl in the Ghetto and her website is http://yingma.org.
In the July 4, 2016 issue of The Weekly Standard, Steve Hayes addresses the same question: Why does the President refuse to recognize the reality of Islam's war on America?
The Weekly Standard
JUL 04, 2016 | By STEPHEN F. HAYES
At 2:35 a.m. on June 12, Omar Mateen called 911 from the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. For 30 minutes he'd been on a killing rampage and he wanted the world to know why. He spoke for less than a minute.
"In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficent," he began. "Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God." And then he announced: "I wanna let you know, I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings." The dispatcher asked for his name. "My name is--I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State." The dispatcher asked again for his name. Mateen said: "I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, may God protect him, on behalf of the Islamic State."
In two other calls, both of them much longer, Mateen declared himself an "Islamic soldier" and reported that he was carrying out the shootings in order to avenge the deaths of Muslims in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
Patience Carter heard one side of those 911 calls from her position near the killer in the bathroom of the Pulse nightclub. "The motive was very clear to us," she told reporters. "Through the conversation with 911, he said that the reason why he was doing this was because he wanted America to stop bombing his country," she said. "So, the motive was very clear to us, who were laying in our own blood and other people's blood, who were injured, who were shot, that we knew what his motive was, and he wasn't going to stop killing people until he was killed, until he felt like his message got out there."
To make sure that message was unmistakable, Mateen posted on Facebook during the massacre. "I pledge my alliance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi . . . may Allah accept me," Mateen wrote in one post. "The real Muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west. . . . You kill innocent women and children by doing us airstrikes . . . now taste the Islamic state vengeance."
This information was available to law enforcement--and to the White House--almost immediately after the attack on the nightclub. And yet, some 36 hours later, when President Barack Obama spoke to reporters, he said that the shooter had pledged loyalty to ISIS only "at the last minute." Obama insisted that the reason behind the slaughter was a mystery: "I think we don't yet know the motivations."
In the days that followed, we learned more about Mateen and his history of radicalism. Mateen's father was a longtime Taliban sympathizer. A decade before Mateen's attack in Orlando, he threatened to shoot a classmate at a cookout when his hamburger apparently touched some pork by accident. Mateen attended a mosque with a Florida man who would later become a suicide bomber in Syria. In part because of that connection, the FBI investigated Mateen twice as a possible jihadist threat. Perhaps the most chilling piece of information to emerge is that Mateen had told coworkers that he hoped to be "martyred" in an FBI raid on his home.
All of which means the president is wrong, and willfully so. We know Omar Mateen's motivation. He was a committed jihadist. He killed in the name of Islam. None of this suggests that there weren't other factors. Perhaps there were. But it's not necessary to understand them all in order to recognize the most obvious.
The Obama administration efforts to ignore inconvenient realities reached the point of self-parody last week, when the Department of Justice released bowdlerized transcripts of the 911 calls the killer made from the Pulse nightclub.
"I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi of the Islamic State" became, after FBI censoring, "I pledge of allegiance to [omitted]."
"I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him, on behalf of the Islamic State" became "I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted]."
The FBI said its redactions were meant to deny ISIS a propaganda victory. But seven years of the Obama administration's non-war on terror point to a different explanation. Truths that complicate Obama's ideological objectives are simply cast aside in favor of his preferred reality.
"Underwear Bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab confessed to working with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Three days later President Obama described him as an "isolated extremist." When Faisal Shahzad tried to bomb Times Square, then-secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was quick to dismiss it as an amateurish "one-off" attack, never mind the involvement of the Pakistani Taliban.
The president doesn't want to answer for a deadly al Qaeda attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi six weeks before the election? Claim it wasn't al Qaeda and claim it wasn't a planned attack. The Obama campaign doesn't want anything to complicate its 2012 campaign narrative that "al Qaeda is on the run"? Refuse to release the "small college library" full of documents captured at Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. Is the DNI assessment of Iran's involvement in terrorism complicating efforts to win support for a nuclear deal? Simply have them rewrite it and leave out the damning evidence.
State Department leaders don't like video evidence of Fox News correspondent James Rosen catching the spokesman in a lie? Edit it out of the recording. Disagree with the assessments from the intelligence community that some Guantánamo detainees are too dangerous to release? Ignore them and transfer those detainees anyway.
The Obama administration's efforts to shape our perception of the threats we face doesn't make the actual threats go away. And yet the president did it again last week, saying that jihadists pledged to fight and die for ISIS "are not religious warriors." It would be bad enough if he were just trying to fool us. Worse is the possibility that he's fooling himself.