Islamic terrorists who have launched attacks on American soil were perhaps able to elude law enforcement in part because the Obama administration remains blind to the nature of the enemy, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz surmises.
“Instead of acknowledging the ideology that inspires acts of terrorism by radicalized Muslims, the administration has insisted that ideology is irrelevant in identifying potential terrorists and that all terrorists are simply ‘violent extremists,’” Cruz wrote in a letter this week to the heads of the Justice Department, Homeland Security Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Of concern to Cruz is the recent example of the administration failing to identify and act on red flags in the case of New York and New Jersey bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami. Among those red flags Cruz identified in his letter were Rahami’s frequent visits to regions of “significant terrorist presence,” his marriage to a woman in a “Taliban stronghold,” and his father’s warning to the FBI that Rahami was a “terrorist.”
“But none of this was apparently enough for the FBI to deem Rahami a sufficient threat to monitor,” Cruz wrote, adding later in the missive, “Perhaps the Government’s ideological blinders explain why it found nothing suspicious with Rahami’s repeated trips to an overseas region known for Islamic radicalism, his marriage to a woman from that region, and his growing estrangement from his family in the United States.”
According to Cruz, the failings in the Rahami case are similar to those exposed following the Boston Marathon Bombings, the San Bernardino shooting and the Orlando shooting.
“For example, one of the Boston bombers — Tamerlan Tsarnaev — had traveled to Dagestan where, the Russians informed us, he may have had contact with terrorist groups,” the letter reads. “One of the San Bernardino shooters — Syed Rizwan Farook — traveled to Saudi Arabia where he met his future wife and accomplice Tashfeen Malik, whom he brought to the United States. And the Orlando shooter — Omar Mateen — had a history of violence and had even claimed to have ties to terrorists. In each of these cases, like the Rahami case, the FBI was aware of red flags and yet concluded that the individuals did not pose a threat.”
To Cruz, a key issue is that the administration is turning not paying attention to what he says is a major element in all these cases, radical Islam.
“The Government’s failure to understand the significance of the common threads that unite these cases raises serious questions about the Obama administration’s approach to counterterrorism,” he wrote.
“Perhaps the Government’s ideological blinders explain why it found nothing suspicious with Rahami’s repeated trips to an overseas region known for Islamic radicalism, his marriage to a woman from that region, and his growing estrangement from his family in the United States,” the Texas lawmakers added.
Cruz concluded his letter with a series of questions aimed at understanding the place of radical Islam, foreign travel and explicit warnings in law enforcement’s investigations of terrorist threats.
“Law enforcement, to be sure, will never be able to prevent every conceivable attack. That is an impossible standard,” Cruz wrote. “But as the facts of the [Rahami] case continue to emerge, it is clear that the federal government’s law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies are not as effective as they could be in spotting and monitoring potential terrorists.”