The dramatic events in Boston last week have given rise to what President Obama would call a "teachable moment." The question is, will we "connect the dots"? More to the point, will our leaders, the media and the rest of us have the intellectual integrity and courage to learn the evident lessons?
The initial indicators are not encouraging. We now know that despite the unconcealed hopes of some elected officials, elite journalists and, especially, the self-appointed arbiters of "hatred" the hate-mongering Southern Poverty Law Center the suspects in the deadly attacks at the Boston Marathon and in the days that followed turned out not to be white Christian or anti-tax extremists, but Caucasians of a very different stripe. Yet their true character and motivations continue to be obscured.
Suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were jihadists born in the turbulent Russian republic of Chechnya a honing fire for terror-wielding Islamists and named, respectively, for prominent figures in that movement's distant and more recent past. Here is what we have learned from this episode about the wider war we are fighting:
The Tsarnaev brothers became "radicalized" as they embraced their Muslim faith. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that their mother encouraged this course, that the elder boy brought along his younger sibling and that they attended the Islamic Society of Boston. As a powerful video produced by Americans for Peace and Tolerance makes clear, the Islamic Society of Boston is tied closely to the Muslim Brotherhood a group that seeks to impose its supremacist Islamic code of Shariah worldwide. Shariah commands its adherents to engage in or otherwise support jihad (or holy war).
Sources at the Tsarnaevs' mosque are spinning the press with stories that Tamerlan was ejected at one point for challenging an imam's endorsement of Martin Luther King Jr. Also, shortly after the Marathon bombings, the mosque issued a press statement condemning the terrorist attack. Yet these deflections cannot be allowed to obscure the reality that this mosque like many others in America promotes Shariah and jihadism. A peer-reviewed study published in 2011 by the Middle East Quarterly found in a random sample of 100 such institutions that 80 percent of them are associated with Shariah and jihad. As such, mosques like the Islamic Society of Boston must be considered to be part of the problem.
The FBI interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 at the request of a Russian government evidently concerned about the jihadist inclinations of this Chechen expatriate. The bureau said it "did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, and those results were provided to the [Russian] government in the summer of 2011." Unfortunately, this statement seems to say more about the politically imposed limitations on the bureau's ability to understand and identify the roots in jihad of such terrorism than provide an accurate assessment of the elder Tsarnaev's behavior.
Among such political constraints is Mr. Obama's assiduous rejection of any association between terrorism and Islam. In fact, his administration has gone so far as to characterize the former as "violent extremism," "man-caused disasters" and "workplace violence." In response, the FBI has purged its files of training materials that might "offend" Muslims. That would, it seems, include any information about the direct connection among Shariah, jihad and "terrorism." Like other government agencies, moreover, the bureau has been directed to consult with "community partners" which seems to mean Muslim Brotherhood front organizations before engaging trainers or their curricula.
Then there is this: In 2012, the FBI adopted "Guiding Principles" that say, among other things, that "mere association with organizations that demonstrates both legitimate (advocacy) and illicit (violent extremism) objectives should not automatically result in a determination that the associated individual is acting in furtherance of the organization's illicit objective(s)." In other words, Tamerlan Tsarnaev could not be considered dangerous as long as his jihadist affiliates also engaged in "legitimate" (that is, nonviolent) efforts to bring about the triumph of Shariah.
This absurd justification apparently underpins as well the Obama administration's engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood, both at home and abroad, resulting in the latter's legitimization, empowerment, funding, arming and ascendancy with our help throughout the Sunni Muslim world. The strategically disastrous consequences of this policy are now becoming manifest.
Given the foregoing problems, it is hardly surprising that the American people are largely uninformed about the true nature of the threat we are facing. As a result, they are not being engaged, as they must be, in the defense of our republic against enemies foreign and domestic.
Like the U.S. government, the media and other elites, the public needs to be read in on the threat Shariah represents. Everyone should be encouraged to examine, for starters, the strategic plan of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. Dated 1991 and introduced into evidence in the Holy Land Foundation trial in 2008, this document makes plain that we face in the Brotherhood and its various front groups, operatives, mosques and cultural centers a formidable foe, determined to "destroy Western civilization from within" and by our own hands.
The American people can, if they learn from the Boston jihadi-induced teachable moment, become part of the solution to this mortal peril. We urgently need their vigilance, their constructive response with the admonition to "see something, say something" and their support for initiatives aimed at reinforcing our national protections against anti-constitutional doctrines such as Shariah. These could include curbing immigration of Shariah-adherent imams and Muslim populations; surveillance of mosques that promote this doctrine and its corollary, jihad; and removing Muslim Brotherhood-tied individuals from official and advisory positions in the U.S. government.
These are but a few of the dots that must be connected if we are to prevail over our generation's existential ideological threat to freedom.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. was an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan. He is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio.
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