Published on TheHill.com on September 30, 2014
From admittedly underestimating the power and scope of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to insisting on calling terror attacks like the Fort Hood massacre and the beheading of an Oklahoma woman acts of “workplace violence,” President Obama is adopting a strategy of defeating terrorism by denying that it is happening.
This head-in-the-sand strategy is partly willful blindness and partly a desire to avoid a terror scare before the coming midterm elections.
But the facts are clear: ISIS copycat killers are loose in the United States and administration policy only encourages more to come.
ISIS videotaped its beheadings and broadcast them throughout the world precisely to encourage these “lone wolf” acts of terrorism. We can expect more of them.
The only way to stop them is to alert the public to be on the lookout. But Obama won’t alarm voters. Eight weeks before the 2012 elections, he tried to trick us into believing that Benghazi was about a video. Now, five weeks out from the midterms, he’s trying to sell us on the idea that the Oklahoma beheading was “workplace violence.”
When Alton Nolen allegedly entered the front office of his company on Sept. 25, and stabbed and beheaded Colleen Hufford, 54, while shouting Islamic slogans, it was not an act of workplace violence but of Islamist terrorism.
At least the Oklahoma atrocity got national attention. The murder of 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin on June 5 in South Orange, N.J., by Ali Muhammad Brown was the suspect’s fourth in recent months, following the three others in Washington state. Brown said he was avenging the deaths of Muslims killed by U.S. military action in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Yet, serial terrorist that he is, Brown’s escapades have not attracted media attention. No need to alarm potential victims.
Nor does it end there.
Two weeks ago, Mufid Elfgeeh, a store owner in Rochester, N.Y., was indicted for offering to help send fighters to Syria to stand with ISIS. Unfortunately for Elfgeeh, the recruits turned out to be FBI agents. Elfgeeh also allegedly wired $600 to a Yemeni man who wanted to join ISIS and said in a Twitter post that the terror group “will one day rule the world with the will of Allah.”
But he’s no terrorist either.
Nor is Mohammad Ali Baryalei, an Australian part-time actor accused of organizing a terrorist plot in Sydney and Brisbane. He planned to behead people — chosen at random — on camera and send the video back to ISIS for public release.
Obama has finally admitted that he underestimated the power of ISIS and the threat it posed in the region. He overestimated the staying power of the Iraqi Army. These errors are, of course, not his fault, just like the underestimation of the security dangers in Benghazi were due to poor staff work.
But there is ample evidence that the staff did its work well. It was the president who bungled.
State Department official Brett McGurk told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Nov. 14, 2013, that “we face a real problem” and that ISIS was “growing roots in Syria and in Iraq.” On Jan. 23, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned of a “very precarious situation,” after ISIS took Fallujah and part of Ramadi. And Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said the Pentagon predicted in early February that ISIS would “attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.”
Obama must realize that his constant “underestimation” of the power of terrorists and their groups is an endemic flaw in his worldview. His naive rose-colored lenses do not detect evil — except, perhaps, in the Republican Party.
His optimism is costing us billions and potentially American lives in Iraq and Syria, and is certainly costing us here at home. Will somebody please explain the facts of life to this callow and inexperienced president?
(Thanks to LIGNET.com for some of this information.)
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