While Omar Mateen was casing other gay clubs to determine where he wanted to commit jihad mass murder, law enforcement officials had no idea a jihadi might ever consider such targets.
On Sunday, the East Orlando Post reported startling words from James Copenhaver, whom it described as a “veteran investigator and former Orlando law enforcement officer.” Said Copenhaver:
I have been in this business for 30 years, and we all in law enforcement have talked about one of the theme parks getting hit by these terrorist killers. Never in all my years of training, and being involved in several investigative units, to include the FBI Task Force, would we have ever guessed a LGBT club be a target of an terrorist attack.
Why would they never have guessed?
Because the FBI and other law enforcement agencies don’t study Islam, and this is a direct result of Muslim groups demanding the removal of such material. Those who are committed to protecting us are taught to downplay and deny the motivating ideology behind jihad terror attacks.
They have no idea that the following sayings exist or what their significance is:
If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful. (Qur’an 4:16)
That seems mild, but keep reading. The Qur’an depicts Allah raining down stones upon people for engaging in homosexual activity:
We also sent Lot. He said to his people: “Do you commit lewdness such as no people in creation committed before you? For you practice your lusts on men in preference to women: you are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds. … And we rained down on them a shower of brimstone: Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!” (Qur’an 7:80)
Muhammad himself makes clear that Muslims should be the executors of the wrath of Allah by killing gays. A hadith depicts Muhammad saying:
If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done. (Abu Dawud 38:4447)
Stone the upper and the lower, stone them both. (Ibn Majah 3:20:2562)
James Copenhaver, in his 30 years in the business, never encountered that material nor was given any idea of how it might one day relate to a jihad mass murder attack.
While Copenhaver is right that this denial and willful ignorance has been going on for decades, one more recent and notorious manifestation of how it has become national policy came on October 19, 2011. That day, Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates delivered a letter to John Brennan, who was then the assistant to the president on National Security for Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism.
The letter was signed by the leaders of virtually all significant Islamic groups in the United States: 57 Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations, many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Relief USA, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
The letter denounced what it characterized as U.S. government agencies’ “use of biased, false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam.” It emphasized that this was an issue of the utmost importance:
The seriousness of this issue cannot be overstated, and we request that the White House immediately create an interagency task force to address this problem, with a fair and transparent mechanism for input from the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, including civil rights lawyers, religious leaders, and law enforcement experts.
The task force was needed because:
[W]hile recent news reports have highlighted the FBI’s use of biased experts and training materials, we have learned that this problem extends far beyond the FBI and has infected other government agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Councils, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army. Furthermore, by the FBI’s own admission, the use of bigoted and distorted materials in its trainings has not been an isolated occurrence. Since last year, reports have surfaced that the FBI, and other federal agencies, are using or supporting the use of biased trainers and materials in presentations to law enforcement officials.
Khera also complained about my work: that my books could be found in “the FBI’s library at the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia”; that a reading list accompanying a slide presentation by the FBI’s Law Enforcement Communications Unit recommended my book The Truth About Muhammad; that in July 2010 I “presented a two-hour seminar on ‘the belief system of Islamic jihadists’ to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Tidewater, Virginia”; and that I also “presented a similar lecture to the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council, which is co-hosted by the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office.”
These were supposed to be terrible materials because I was supposedly bigoted and hateful. However, many of the examples Khera adduced of “bigoted and distorted materials” involved statements that were simply accurate. The only distortion was Khera’s representation of them.
For instance, Khera stated:
A 2006 FBI intelligence report stating that individuals who convert to Islam are on the path to becoming “Homegrown Islamic Extremists,” if they exhibit any of the following behavior:
“Wearing traditional Muslim attire”
“Growing facial hair”
“Frequent attendance at a mosque or a prayer group”
“Travel to a Muslim country”
“Increased activity in a pro-Muslim social group or political cause”
Well, the FBI intelligence report Khera purported to be describing didn’t actually say that. Rather, it included these behaviors among a list of fourteen indicators that could “identify an individual going through the radicalization process.” Other indicators included:
“Travel without obvious source of funds”
“Suspicious purchases of bomb making paraphernalia or weapons”
“Large transfer of funds, from or to overseas”
“Formation of operational cells”
Khera had selectively quoted the list to give the impression that the FBI was teaching that devout observance of Islam led inevitably and in every case to “extremism.”
Despite the factual accuracy of the material about which they were complaining, the Muslim groups signing the letter demanded that the task force, among other actions:
“Purge all federal government training materials of biased materials.”
“Implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law enforcement who have been subjected to biased training.”
They wished to ensure that all law enforcement officials ever learn about Islam and jihad would be what the signatories wanted them to learn — and Brennan was amenable to that. He took Khera’s complaints as his marching orders.
In a November 3, 2011, letter to Khera that — significantly — was written on White House stationery, Brennan made no attempt to defend counter-terror materials and procedures. He instead accepted Khera’s criticisms without a murmur of protest and assured her of his readiness to comply:
Please allow me to share with you the specific steps we are taking to ensure that federal officials and state, local and tribal partners receive accurate, evidence-based information in these crucial areas.
Brennan assured Khera that all her demands would be met:
Your letter requests that “the White House immediately create an interagency task force to address this problem,” and we agree that this is necessary.
He then detailed other specific actions being undertaken, including “collecting all training materials that contain cultural or religious content, including information related to Islam or Muslims.” In reality, this material wouldn’t just be “collected”; it would be purged of anything that Farhana Khera and others like her found offensive. Honest, accurate discussion of how Islamic jihadists use Islamic teachings to justify violence would no longer be allowed.
The alacrity with which Brennan complied was unfortunate on many levels. Numerous books and presentations that gave a perfectly accurate view of Islam and jihad were purged. Brennan was complying with demands from quarters that could hardly be considered authentically moderate.
Four-and-a-half years later, this entrenched policy of the U.S. government ensured that people such as Omar Mateen simply cannot be identified as risks. The administration is bound, as a matter of policy, to ignore what in saner times would be taken as warning signs.
And so there will be many, many more jihad massacres like the one he perpetrated in Orlando Saturday night.