Defenseless in the Face of Our Enemies
Andrew C. McCarthy
From National Review Online:
What keeps America from protecting itself against radical Islam?
Two weekends ago in Orlando, Fla., in the wee hours of the morning, a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub teeming with revelers. After killing and wounding scores of people, he took hostages in a restroom. He began calling police and media outlets, began crafting social-media posts, all for the point of announcing what was already clear to the nightclub denizens who’d heard him screaming, “Allahu Akbar!” — Allah is greater! — as he fired shot after shot: Omar Mateen was a stealth Muslim militant. He was an adherent of radical Islam who committed his atrocity in furtherance of its ongoing jihad against America and the West. He took time in the midst of the carnage to make bayat — a pledge of allegiance — to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of the Islamic State terror network and its proclaimed caliphate. By the time police barged in three hours later and killed Mateen in a firefight, he had murdered 49 people and wounded another 53, many quite seriously.
It should have been possible to see Omar Mateen coming. He was a first-generation American citizen, born in this country to immigrant parents from Afghanistan and raised in a troubled household — one in which the father is a visible and ardent supporter of the Taliban, the fundamentalist jihadist group that ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s, harbored al-Qaeda as it plotted and executed the 9/11 attacks, and to this day wages war against American troops as it fights to retake the country. Mateen, who was 29 when he committed his mass-murder attack, was repeatedly suspended for fighting throughout his childhood school years. Academically, he had great difficulty — despite being nominally American from birth, he was mired for years in English programs for students who speak other languages in the home. His rantings during the attack indicated that he considered Afghanistan to be his home, and that he identified, first and foremost, as a Muslim: a member of the worldwide ummah — not a citizen of the United States, the nation he volunteered to levy war against, just as the Islamic State (or ISIS) exhorts its acolytes to do. Mateen was investigated not once but twice by the FBI in the three years before he turned the Pulse nightclub into an abattoir. The first time because, while working as a security guard, he claimed to have ties to both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah — two infamous jihadist organizations that have killed more Americans than any others. Mateen also claimed mutual acquaintances with the Tsarnaev brothers, who bombed the Boston Marathon. He spoke of longing for a martyr’s death — meaning: He wanted to be killed while waging jihad against Allah’s enemies, the Americans. The FBI further learned that within a two-year period starting in 2011, Mateen had made two pilgrimages to Islamic sites in Saudi Arabia. In Islamic terms, both pilgrimages were considered lesser ones — umrah, which is not required and can be done any time of year, as opposed to hajj, the visit to Mecca, which all physically and financially capable Muslims are required to make at least once in a lifetime, during the last month of Islam’s annual lunar calendar. An investigator open to drawing commonsense conclusions about Mateen’s potential attachment to Islamic extremism (perhaps the more precise term is sharia supremacism) would be apt to note that Mateen’s trips were voluntary immersions into fundamentalism in an Islamic society in which sharia is rigorously enforced and jihadism is known to thrive. Many Muslims never make umrah at all; to make it twice in a short space of time is highly unusual. But, as we shall see, the FBI — through little fault of its own — is encouraged to shun commonsense conclusions about Islamic ideological attachments. The investigation was closed because agents concluded Mateen was not a threat: He was simply making outlandish, belligerent claims for the purpose of spooking his co-workers. (To be fair to investigators, that theory was consistent with Mateen’s provocative and anti-social behavior throughout his childhood.) The second investigation of Mateen was indirect. The actual focus of the FBI’s probe was Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who is believed to be the first American Muslim to conduct a suicide bombing as part of the Islamic State’s jihad in Syria. It turns out that Abusalha attended the same Orlando-area mosque frequented by Mateen. This fact is worth pausing over for a moment. The Washington Post’s report is telling. It informs us that Mateen and Abusalha “prayed at the same Fort Pierce, Fla., mosque” (emphasis added). This description of what the two men must have been doing in the mosque is consistent with a quarter-century of government, media, academic, and other opinion-elite sculpting of public perception: Islam, we are to believe, is a religion just like any other; a mosque, therefore, must be a house of worship like any church, temple, or synagogue in the West — nothing more than a sanctuary where believers gather for communal prayer. Of course, to the student of fundamentalist Islam and its sharia-supremacist teachings, this is sheer nonsense. There is a reason why much of the jihadist violence in the Middle East and its environs occurs on Fridays — Juma, the Muslim Sabbath, on which believers pour out of mosques after being treated to the imam’s political diatribes and incitements to jihad against Western imperialism. While there are various ways of interpreting Islam, many of them benign and reformist, sharia supremacism is not so much a religion as a radical political ideology with a religious veneer. It does not recognize a division between mosque and state, or between spiritual and political or civic spheres of life. In this aggressive, fundamentalist construction of Islam, the mosque is not a mere “house of worship” where believers gather strictly “to pray.” Far from it. The mosque is the political and ideological center of what, in the West, is an anti-assimilationist movement bent on conquest, not prayerful pluralism. Hassan al-Bannah, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential, most sophisticated sharia-supremacist movement, taught a farsighted form of ground-up revolution. It would plant its flag and grow outward in enclaves, small towns, and — eventually — big cities, districts, counties, states, provinces, and countries across the globe. And where would it plant its flag in every place it sought conquest? Bannah instructed that the mosque and its companion Islamic community center would be “the axis of the movement” wherever the movement took root. Nor does an American investigator need to be steeped in Muslim Brotherhood doctrine to grasp this — however much those of us with eyes to see might wish every American counterterrorism agent were acquainted with Brotherhood doctrine.
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