Attorney General Eric Holder is stereotyping Muslims in America, and his willful ignorance about the religious roots of Islamic terrorism endangers Americans and marginalizes Muslim reformers, say experts on Islamist terror groups.
That assessment was prompted by Holder’s announcement during a Tuesday congressional hearing that American Muslims “have the same desires that we all have.”
His declaration came during an answer about the training manuals used by some FBI trainers, which have drawn furious criticism from Islamist lobby groups. Those manuals, Holder said, contain training lessons that “can really undermine, really undermine, the really substantial outreach efforts that we have made and really have a negative impact on our ability to communicate effectively, as we have in the past, with this community.”
“I almost hesitate to say ‘this community,’ because the reality is that we’re talking about Americans, Americans citizens, who have the same desires that we all have, who want their kids to be safe, who want the opportunities that this great country has to offer them,” Holder added.
Holder’s blanket statement about Muslims’ desires “is ethnocentric in the sense that he is imposing his own values upon people who may have, and often demonstrably do have, vastly different perspectives,” Robert Spencer, the author of several books on Islam, told The Daily Caller.
By ignoring evidence of Islamist groups in the Muslim community, Holder is “denying the [FBI’s] agents — and, derivatively, the public — the tools necessary to distinguish authentic Islamic moderates from the Islamists who pose as moderates,” Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, told TheDC in a separate interview. McCarthy successfully tried Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven other Islamist terrorists in 1995.
“Most rank-and-file Muslims in the United States are, in fact, patriotic Americans … [but] the only way we will ever empower real moderates is by drawing that distinction and marginalizing the sharia supremacists,” McCarthy said to The Daily Caller.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Holder criticized arguments that Islam’s tenets spur violence, and that adherence to Islamic rituals and dress are a marker of “possible extremism.”
Those claims are “flat-out wrong,” Holder said.
Islamist advocates in the United States, and their allies in the U.S. progressive movement, have fiercely attacked Spencer because he cites Islamic texts that repeatedly urge attacks on people who are not Muslims. Spencer has offered to debate Holder or his advisers in public.
The diversity and divisions of opinion among Muslim Americans is highlighted by the segment of American Muslims who have volunteered to commit terror attacks and by the many Muslims who vociferously oppose those attacks. It is also carefully documented in recent surveys.
“[A] significant minority (21%) of Muslim Americans say there is a great deal (6%) or a fair amount (15%) of support for extremism in the Muslim American community,” according to an Aug. 30 Pew Research Center report.
Forty-eight percent of self-identified Muslims in the United States believe the leaders of Muslim political groups have not done enough to speak out against extremism, while 20 percent of Muslim immigrants say they would rather remain distinct from society than integrate, said the report.
Roughly 11 percent of Muslims in the U.S. believe the Council on American-Islamic Relations “most represents [their] interests,” according to survey conducted for an Islamic group by Gallup and released in August. But FBI chief Robert Mueller has refused to meet the the leadership of the CAIR since the discovery that its leadership supported a Texas-based group that smuggled money to the Hamas terror group.
The Gallup survey also reported that only 60 percent of U.S. Muslims self-identify as Americans “very strongly” or “extremely strongly.” Among non-Muslim Americans, the score was roughly 90 percent, except for atheists, whose score was 78 percent.
The support among Muslims for terror attacks was underlined Monday afternoon when a Muslim was brought into a Texas courtroom to face terror charges.
Federal prosecutor Garrett Heenan, who is Holder’s subordinate, told the court that Barry Walter Bujol “had emailed [U.S.-born Al Qaeda Imam Anwar] al-Awlaki seeking guidance regarding jihad … [who] responded by emailing a terrorist manifesto entitled, ‘42 ways of supporting jihad,’” according to an Associated Press report.
In the ten years since the 9/11 terror attacks, 40 Islamic plots to attack people and targets in the United States have been foiled, according to a count by the Heritage Foundation.
In contrast, only two German-Americans citizens participated in a planned sabotage plot during World War II, along with six Germans who had worked in the United States, even though roughly 20 percent of the country had German ancestry. There were almost no examples of cooperation by Japanese-Americans with Imperial Japan’s forces.
Since 2001, there have been few or no recorded terror plots in the United States that were prepared by religiously motivated Christians, Jews or Mormons, despite their larger populations living in the United States.
Some of Holder’s supporters in Islamic lobby groups also acknowledge significant differences within the Muslim community.
“There are good Muslims and bad Muslims, there are good FBI and bad FBI,” says a September 2011 statement by Mohamed Elibiary, a Texas-based Muslim who advises the Department of Homeland Security.
Elibiary was appointed to his advisory role despite his attendance at a 2004 Texas memorial service for Ruhollah Khomeini, the Iranian cleric who imposed a hard-line theocracy on Iran in 1979, and who directed attacks against U.S. Marines based in Lebanon in 1983.
Eilibiary’s comparison of Muslims’ diversity to FBI diversity was included in an appeal to like-minded Islamists for support in lobbying local FBI offices. The lobbying, he wrote, could sway the FBI’s counter-terrorism strategy, and also sideline “sell-out Muslims” like Arizona-based Zuhdi Jasser.
Jasser, a Muslim and a former U.S. Navy officer, argues that Islam can be reformed to accommodate Western ideas of free speech, personal freedom and church–state separation. Jasser, who founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, has also argued that White House foreign policy advisers are too solicitous of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist political groups.
However, Jasser largely been ignored by Holder’s Justice department, and by White House officials, who considered but ultimately rejected him for a seat on a diplomatic advisory board.
Elibiary’s role as a DHS advisor has been thrown into doubt since PJ Media reported Oct. 26 that he had offered sensitive information from a law-enforcement database to a media outlet. The offer was intended to bolster Elibiary’s claim that there was a “a pattern of Islamophobia” inside Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas Department of Public Safety, according to the report.
Elibiary did not respond to questions from TheDC. Holder’s office also declined to elaborate on his statements.