News & Politics

Surprise: Bloomberg Refuses to Apologize for Counterterror Program

Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg addresses supporters during a campaign stop in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The main impression that Michael Bloomberg has given the world as a presidential candidate is one of weakness. He has fumbled awkwardly when fielding questions about his crude remarks about women. He allowed himself to be bullied into apologizing for New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk program, despite the fact that crime levels have risen significantly since it was scrapped. No one would have been surprised if he succumbed to pressure and renounced New York’s post-9/11 counterterror program of surveillance in Muslim communities. Instead, against all expectations, on Thursday he defended it.

In an interview on PBS NewsHour, Bloomberg said: “We sent to some officers into some mosques to listen to the sermon that the imam gave. We were very careful. And the authorities that looked at us said, yes, you complied with the law. But we had every intention of going every place we could legally to get as much information to protect this country. We had just lost 3,000 people at 9/11. Of course we’re supposed to do that.”

That’s true. Of course the mayor of a major city that has just been hit with a catastrophic jihad terror attack should take realistic and effective steps to prevent another such attack. This shouldn’t even be controversial; it’s a sign of the effectiveness of the sinister campaign to paint all resistance to jihad violence as “Islamophobia” that anyone is upset with Bloomberg about this. “There were imams who publicly at that time were urging the terrorism. And so of course that’s where you gonna go. That does not, incidentally, mean that all Muslims are terrorists or all terrorists are Muslims. But the people who flew those airplanes came from the Middle East.”

What did this terrible program do? The New York Post explains: “Basically, cops (mainly Muslims themselves) merely went to Muslim areas to become more familiar with them and gain background info for future investigations or leads on possible attacks.”

As if that weren’t innocuous enough, the Post adds that “despite three lawsuits, no court ever found fault with the program, and the NYPD never admitted to any wrongdoing, even in settlements pushed by Mayor Bill de Blasio after he won on a cop-bashing platform.”

The judge in one of those lawsuits said that the plaintiffs had not proven that “they were targeted solely because of their religion.” He said that the “more likely explanation for the surveillance was to locate budding terrorist conspiracies.”

Who could object to that? Arab American Institute Executive Director Maya Berry fumed: “The NYPD literally mapped our communities across three states, causing systemic self-censoring, distrust of any interaction with the government, and untold harm to our communities. One’s ethnicity or faith is not grounds for law enforcement scrutiny.”

All right. But ten years ago, 9/11 plotters Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin As-Shibh, Walid bin ‘Attash, Mustafa Ahmed AI-Hawsawi, and ‘Ali ‘abd Al-‘Aziz ‘Ali published a document entitled “The Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations.” In it, they wrote: “Many thanks to God, for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims. Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion. These actions are our offerings to God. In addition, it is the imposed reality on Muslims in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, in the land of the two holy sites [Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia], and in the rest of the world, where Muslims are suffering from your brutality, terrorism, killing of the innocent, and occupying their lands and their holy sites. Nevertheless, it would have been the greatest religious duty to fight you over your infidelity. However, today, we fight you over defending Muslims, their land, their holy sites, and their religion as a whole.”

If the masterminds of the 9/11 plot explained their actions solely in terms of their faith, and people of the same faith have committed 36,000 terror attacks around the world since 9/11, was Bloomberg really wrong to focus on people of that faith in endeavoring to prevent further terror attacks?

What would Maya Berry offer as an alternative to New York’s program? Perhaps a program of surveillance of “white nationalists”? There is a great deal to criticize about Mike Bloomberg, and a Bloomberg presidency would be catastrophic for the United States, but he was right – and uncharacteristically strong-willed – to refuse to apologize for protecting New Yorkers after the jihad terror attack in that city that changed the course of the nation and the world.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.