Three days after the tenth anniversary of September 11, left-wing activist Spencer Ackerman struck a blow for Muslim terrorism by denouncing FBI training materials as Islamophobic.
The training materials dealt with such topics as the doctrinal basis for Jihad and the origins of terrorism in Islamic law. The story spread into the mainstream media, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, whose leaders had endorsed terrorist groups and helped raise money for terrorists, began pressuring the FBI to recant the threat of Islamic terrorism.
In February of 2012, Amine El Khalifi was arrested for plotting to carry out a suicide bombing in the US Capitol building. Before he began his mission, he visited the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, whose former Imam was Al Qaeda leader Anwar Al Awlaki and whose parishioners included Fort Hood terrorist Nidal Hasan. At his sentencing, El Khalifi said, “I just want to say that I love Allah.”
But that did not stop the FBI from announcing a few days later that it had completed purging references to Islamic terrorism from its training materials. A month earlier, Tamerlan Tsarnaev had begun his trip to Russia and by the time he returned, the training materials meant to prepare agents for the reality of the terrorist plot that he and his brother would carry out had been buried out of sight.
Where El Khalifi had failed in Washington, the Tsarnaev brothers would succeed in Boston.
The counterterrorism information purge had been completed by the time the lead Boston bomber returned to America, but it had begun earlier under Obama.
The 9/11 Commission Report had freely used terms like “Jihad,” “Takfir” and “Islam” to define the nature and motivations of the enemy. But the 2009 National Intelligence Strategy did not mention them. Neither did the FBI counterterrorism lexicon. They had been replaced by “violent extremism.”
Violent extremism is generic. Predicting an attack requires specifics. Investigators cannot stop undefined crimes or arrest undefined suspects. The less information they have to work with, the more likely the terrorists are to succeed.
Islam is the crucial link between disparate terrorist groups from Dagestan to Thailand, from Mali to Afghanistan, from Israel to Nigeria and from the United States to Chechnya. Without the Islam factor, there was no reason to suspect that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a threat to anyone except the Russians.
The old FBI training materials had explained what Chechen, Pakistani, Egyptian and Nigerian terrorists had in common. In the new ones there was a great empty space in which facts died and lives were lost.
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