Is the FBI too afraid at being labeled racist that it’s declining to pursue and investigate terrorism cases?
That’s the question I have after all the evidence that has bubbled up regarding terrorist Omar Mateen since the fatal shooting in Orlando early Sunday morning.
ABC News reported about six weeks ago that a gun shop alerted the FBI to a “very suspicious” man who turned out to be Mateen. He came into the shop looking for military-grade armor. When he found out they didn’t carry it, he made a call in a foreign language and then requested bulk ammunition.
On its face, you can see why FBI officials may not have pursued. The shop owner was an older white guy who they thought was racially profiling a Muslim. Probably, it was his own insecurities and Islamophobia that led to the call.
But this error keeps repeating itself in Mateen’s case.
In 2013, the sheriff in St. Lucie County became concerned with Mateen as he was working as a private security guard in the county’s courthouse. There, Mateen made many inflammatory comments, including praising the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Mateen would frequently make derogatory remarks about women and Jews — so much so that the sheriff’s courthouse supervisor requested that Mateen transfer out of his courthouse duty permanently.
The case was referred to the FBI, and again, nothing. This was after Mateen’s two reported trips to the Middle East.
Sources familiar with a classified briefing that FBI Director Jim Comey and National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen gave to House members this week said Mateen had also told his co-workers that he wanted to become a “martyr” in a terrorist operation.
He reportedly said if the FBI “raided his house and killed his wife and child, that would free him to martyr himself in an operation,” Mateen had told co-workers, according to two sources who attended the briefing, Yahoo News reported.
It’s also been discovered that Mateen was tied to a radical imam released from prison last year. He also frequented a mosque that American-born suicide bomber Monar abu Salha, who blew himself up in Syria in 2014, attended. Mateen’s association with Salha led the FBI to interview him in 2014.
Nothing came of it.
Mateen’s Facebook page was littered with anti-American, Islamic State propaganda. He vented on Facebook before and during the massacre.
“America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state [sic],” he wrote, according to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
“You kill innocent women and children by doing us airstrikes … now taste the Islamic state [sic] vengeance.”
In his final post, he promised: “In the next few days you will see attacks from the Islamic state in the usa [sic].”
Mateen was accused of domestic battery by his first wife, and his father was a supporter of the Taliban. Wouldn’t even a cursory investigation into Mateen brought any of these things to light? What are grounds for suspicion anymore? Have we become so politically correct and afraid of labels that even the FBI is scared to pursue terrorism cases?
Former NSA analyst John Schindler thinks so.
He wrote in the Observer: “There’s the rub. In 21st-century America, we have created a perverse incentive structure where fear of accusations of Islamophobia and/or racism takes priority over anything else, even preventing violence. While nobody could have foreseen the exact attack that Omar Mateen perpetrated, it’s abundantly clear that he was on track to do something awful, including murder. Yet nothing was done, even though warnings were abundant. Simply put, any American today who is accused of Islamophobia faces a ruined life with loss of employment and social stigma. Whereas the cost of not preventing mass murder is merely hurt feelings and regret.”
He continues: “The FBI was following the lead of its political masters. It’s hardly a big secret that President Obama from the moment he arrived at the White House put the kibosh on any discussion of radical Islam as a security problem, even in classified channels. In 2009, the administration banned politically loaded words like ‘jihad’ even in classified Intelligence Community assessments discussing terrorism — a message that was received loud and clear in the counterterrorism community. Missing the next 9/11 could be survived, career-wise, while accusations of Islamophobia would not be with Barack Obama in the White House.”
What a frightening possibility — that political correctness has perverted the work of the very people who are tasked with keeping us safe.
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