The Obama administration will not explain how it came to issue a visa to Hani Nour Eldin, a known member of the Egyptian terrorist organization Ga’amat al-Islamia, the Islamic Group (IG). The explanation is not forthcoming because what it portends is even more sinister than this one infuriating incident.
To call the IG a “terrorist organization” is not just purple prose. The IG is a terrorist organization that has carried out actual mass-murder attacks. There is a formal legal process under which such groups are “designated” as terrorist organizations. The IG has long been formally designated under that process. Once that process has occurred, any American citizen who tries to provide material support to members of a designated terrorist organization — i.e., any American citizen who tried to do what the Obama administration has done for Eldin — would be in jeopardy of being convicted of a serious federal felony worth upwards of 15 years’ imprisonment.
And Hani Nour Eldin is, indisputably, a member of the IG — we are not speculating here. Eldin is quite proud of his membership. He has been unabashed about it. The Obama administration, moreover, does not even attempt either to deny that Eldin is an IG member or to suggest that the issuance of a visa to him — to say nothing of the subsequent meetings he was invited to have with top American national security officials — was the result of some misunderstanding or monumental screw-up. Eldin was very intentionally brought to Washington. Despite the fact that the leader of his organization — the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman — is responsible for massive terrorist attacks against American civilians, Eldin was hosted here as if he were a politician rather than a terrorist.
So what does the administration tell us about how this could have happened — how it could be that hordes of American citizens, as to whom there is not the slightest suspicion of terrorist sympathies, are forced by the Department of Homeland Security to undergo an appallingly intrusive physical search just to board an airplane, yet a known member of a designated terrorist organization is intentionally invited to board a plane so he can enter our country, be admitted into highly secure government buildings –like the White House — where top national security officials work, and be consulted as if he were a foreign dignitary rather than a jihadist?
The Obama cabinet, in the person of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, tells us that the administration was well aware that Eldin was a terrorist organization member; yet, she maintains that he was carefully vetted by three different government agencies. The administration then made a determination that his admission did not pose a threat to the United States — i.e., that he would not personally endanger anyone he encountered and that the signal conveyed to every other terrorist in the world by Obama’s rolling out the red carpet for a member of the Blind Sheikh’s cabal would not encourage terrorism globally.
Think for a second about how lunatic that is.
Before the Obama administration came to power, the whole point of such background investigations was to determine if a person was somehow affiliated with an organization notorious for violence or criminality. That was the objective of the exercise. Once you found that there was an affiliation with terrorists, that was the end of the matter — no visa, no invitation into our country, no security clearance, no government employment, no admission to highly secure government locations or access to top government security officials, no benefit from our government, period.
Look at what has happened under Obama. Now, the government takes as a given the very thing the background investigation used to be conducted to find out: namely, that the person at issue is affiliated with known terrorists, terrorist financiers, and/or terrorist organizations. In Obama’s America, that turns out not to be the end of the investigation — it’s only the beginning. Astonishingly, it is only after you confirm that your subject has undeniable terror ties that you start vetting him for dangerousness. Terror ties are no longer a bright-line disqualifier; now they’re just a trigger for conducting more investigation — which actually means, to figure out a way to rationalize accommodating the terrorist.
As with nearly everything Obama, this is such a mind-blowing perversion of longstanding policy that we are paralyzed by the Eldin incident itself. We don’t come around to asking the vital follow-up question: What is going on here? Why is Obama working to change our basic understanding of what a background investigation is? Of what terrorism is?
Here is what you need to understand. Here is what Mitt Romney needs to be highlighting as a major campaign issue: President Obama is laboring to shift the United States away from the post-9/11 conception of counterterrorism. Our government is steadily adopting the Islamist conception that has gained so much traction on the European Left. The Islamist conception has two elements.
(a) What we refer to as “terrorism” — ideologically driven mass-casualty attacks designed to extort changes in government policy — is not actually terrorism; it is resistance. That is, violence is a legitimate, or at least quasi-legitimate reaction to government policies that progressives deem inappropriate, if not downright immoral. Why change our understanding of the concept of terrorism? Because terrorism is a universally condemnable atrocity. Resistance, by contrast, is just hardball politics — like community organizing. For the Left, engagement in “resistance” is merely an aggressive form of negotiation; it does not disqualify the aggressor from a seat at the policy table. Which brings us to …
(b) It seems like only yesterday that terrorists were seen as the pirates of yore: hostis humani generis, the enemies of mankind. No more. For transnational progressives, operatives of organizations like the IG are merely members of a political movement. Welcome to the alchemy of “Islamic democracy,” which is better understood as a laundering operation for Islamic supremacists than as a social transformation for Islamic populations.
In terms of substance, there is nothing democratic about the wave of “democracy” said to be sweeping the Middle East in the “Arab Spring.” Democracy is a culture; holding an election is a mere procedural exercise. The most antidemocratic organizations in the world conduct votes from time to time. If sharia — the Islamic comprehensive legal code — is installed by popular election rather than violence, that does not make it “democratic” in the Western sense of the term. Sharia still stands against much of what Western democracy stands for — liberty, equality, and justice.
Nevertheless, because these procedural exercises now have the effect of placing terrorist operatives in governmental positions, Obama-think urges us to see terrorist organizations as political parties pursuing ordinary policy agendas, not ideologically driven hardliners pursuing a jihad. If you listen hard enough, you can hear Neville Chamberlain bragging about Hitler’s signature on the Munich Agreement, piously crowing that the path to peace lies in dignifying a monster’s pretensions to statesmanship.
Eldin, you are to understand, is not a terrorist operative; he is an parliamentarian. That his objectives are to impose strict sharia, destroy Israel, and pressure the United States to release the Blind Sheikh is beside the point. In fact, we should be grateful that he is seeking these ends through politics and diplomacy rather than bombs and hijacked airplanes — at least for the moment.
This counterterrorism shift is not merely a misjudgment. It is a profound moral wrong. Eldin and the IG, like Hamas and Hezbollah, are savages, not politicians. No one would give a hoot what they thought about the direction of their countries but for the fact that they have murdered and maimed their way to a seat at the diplomatic table. And, in fact, they have not moderated their positions: they still deny the right of Israel to exist. They don’t simply disagree with a sovereign adversary’s policies; they maintain that this sovereign is illegitimate and must be destroyed, whether by violence, political processes, or — better — political processes leveraged by violence. To adopt the administration’s position is to guarantee more terrorism. If you illustrate to the terrorist that his methods work, why on earth would he stop using them?
The Middle East’s new Islamic supremacist rulers are not championing democracy; they are championing the imposition of repressive sharia by means of popular vote rather than extortionate killings. Ironically, it was Mubarak, the dictator, who imposed laws that promoted equality for women and prohibited such heinous sharia practices as female genital mutilation. In marked contrast, the Islamists we’re now exhorted to accept as heralds of democratic progress would put in place a legal structure that subjugates women, denies freedom of conscience, and endangers religious minorities and homosexuals. Do we actually believe the Islamists are the real “democrats” just because Islamist populations have elected them?
President Obama is not just inviting terrorists to consult with American national security officials. That’s not the half of it. Obama is determined to change our perception of what terrorism is, and to do it in a way that will encourage more savagery. The terrorism practiced by Egyptian jihadists, you’re to understand, is really just “resistance” against oppression — different only in degree, but not in kind, from ACORN’s lawlessness (“direct action”) in pursuit of “social justice.” Get used to it: It is just an aggressive form of politics … one that works because the Obamas of the world indulge it. No longer is terrorism a form of barbarism that must be ostracized and smashed. No longer is our goal to demonstrate resolve, to show would-be terrorists that their methods will earn them only condemnation and retaliation, not a seat at the table.