News & Politics

If Not for the FBI's PC Willful Ignorance, at Least 70 People Wouldn't Have Been Killed

From left, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper sit together in the front row before President Barack Obama spoke about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

As if participating in the failed deep state coup against President Trump weren’t enough, the FBI has covered itself in glory once again. A new report released Wednesday documents how the feds missed opportunities to stop at least six lethal terror attacks on American soil. The report focuses on failures of “oversight” and “procedure,” but itself becomes part of the problem, in failing to note that the Bureau’s troubles go much deeper.

According to the Washington Times, those six attacks killed 70 people, and each of their perpetrators “had been on the FBI’s radar.” Nonetheless, “agents quickly closed the cases after concluding they were not national security threats, Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said in the report.”

The attackers, according to the Times, included these jihad terrorists:

⦁ Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.
⦁ Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who killed three people at the Boston Marathon in 2013.
⦁ Nidal Hasan, who massacred 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
⦁ Esteban Santiago, who killed five people in a 2017 attack at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Santiago was a convert to Islam who said that he committed his murders in the service of the Islamic State (ISIS).

Horowitz observed that “the FBI has acknowledged that various weaknesses related to its assessment process may have impacted its ability to fully investigate certain counterterrorism assessment subjects, who later committed terrorist acts in the United States.”

Of course it did, because the FBI is still institutionally committed to ignoring, downplaying, or denying the motivating ideology behind jihad terrorism. Failing to investigate suspected jihadis is all part of the same willful ignorance. The bureau doesn’t want to appear “Islamophobic” by scrutinizing these people too closely; such scrutiny would abet the impression that there is something about Islam that incites some believers to violence, and the feds have already ruled out that possibility.

The Horowitz report won’t lead to the fixing of the problem, either. It makes scant mention of Islam and jihad, and makes no attempt whatsoever either to identify or explain the importance of the motivating ideology behind jihad terror attacks. This problem goes back to the early years of the Obama administration, and is the result of Obama’s deliberately chosen policy. On October 19, 2011, Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates wrote 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 not just by Khera, but by the leaders of virtually all the 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,” as well as supposedly biased trainers (including me), and demanded that all such materials be removed, although the letter didn’t even attempt to prove that any of the objectionable material was actually inaccurate.

Brennan assured Khera that all her demands would be met. He 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 offensivethat is, any honest discussion of how Islamic jihadists use Islamic teachings to justify violence. And so it has been in the FBI and other agencies ever since.

This is what has led to the failure of the intelligence community, and a great many of the procedural errors upon which the report does focus: agents in all too many cases simply didn’t know what to look for, or how to understand the significance of the information they did have. Unless and until this is corrected, these failures of oversight and procedure will continue, no matter what safeguards are put into place.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including 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.