During questioning before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a visibly nervous Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. tried valiantly not to utter the expression "radical Islam." The twisting began when Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, asked whether the men behind three recent terrorist incidents - the Fort Hood massacre, the Christmas Day bombing attempt and the Time Square bombing attempt - "might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam."
Mr. Holder said there are a "variety of reasons" why people commit terror attacks. That can be true, but in these cases there was one reason: radical Islam. The attorney general said you have to look at each case individually. That's fine, but when that is done, one comes face to face with radical Islam every time. He said that of the variety of reasons people might commit terror, "some of them are potentially religious." Yes, like radical Islam. When pressed, what Mr. Holder would finally allow is, "I certainly think that it's possible that people who espouse a radical version of Islam have had an ability to have an impact on people like [Times Square bomber Faisal] Shahzad."
Mr. Holder mentioned Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric now holed up in Yemen who has been mentioned in connection with all three attacks. Mr. Holder said that Mr. al-Awlaki "has a version of Islam that is not consistent with the teachings of [the faith]." Mr. Holder did not go into details to back up his assertion that Mr. al-Awlaki, an Islamic scholar, is somehow at odds with his own faith, nor did he pinpoint exactly what Muslim teachings he was referring to.
The Obama administration seems to have issued an internal gag order that forbids any official statements that might cast even the most extreme interpretations of the Islamic religion in a negative light. The "force protection review" of the Fort Hood massacre omitted any mention of shooter Nidal Malik Hasan's openly radical Islamic worldview or the fact that he made the jihadist war cry "Allahu Akbar!" before opening fire. Initially, the Obama administration refused to even call the massacre an act of terrorism, much less radical Islamic terrorism.
Last year, the Department of Homeland Security Domestic Extremist Lexicon, which was pulled out of circulation in the wake of controversy with other department publications, listed Jewish extremism and various forms of Christian extremism as threats but made no mention of any form of Muslim extremism. The Feb. 1, 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review discusses terrorism and violent extremism but does not mention radical Islam as a motivator, or in any context. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review likewise avoids any terminology related to Islam.
The Obama administration may not like to think of being at war with radical Islam, but the jihadists are definitely at war with the United States. Rather than running from the expression "radical Islam," the administration should be openly discussing the ideological motives of the terrorists and finding ways to delegitimize them. Instead of hedging, obfuscating and ignoring, these Democrats should confront the challenge frankly, openly and honestly. Pretending that a radical, violent strain of Islam does not exist will not make it go away. To the contrary, it will make the situation much worse.
President Obama's continuing solicitude toward the faith of Muhammad is inexplicable, and as these acts of denial continue, it is becoming dangerous. The United States will not defeat an enemy it is afraid to identify.
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