Joseph Klein: Obama’s Summit of Jihad Denial

What is President Obama doing this week in the face of the unrelenting wave of jihadist-inspired terrorist attacks, the latest of which occurred in Copenhagen and on the bloodied Mediterranean shore of Libya while Obama played golf in California?  He is holding a politically correct summit conference on “countering violent extremism,” a three-day community circles talkfest beginning on February 17.

Vice President Joe Biden kicked off the conference. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is delivering the closing address. In between these bookends are sessions discussing community-based ways to prevent violent extremism from taking root, including presentations on pilot programs in three cities where law enforcement officials are purportedly developing partnerships with Muslim community leaders — Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. 

According to President Obama, “community leaders from Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Boston will highlight innovative partnerships in their cities that are helping empower communities to protect their loved ones from extremist ideologies.”

A question that immediately arises is who are these partnerships with? The very same Islamist organizations that are part of the problem in the first place? Does Obama have in mind as potential partners organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the jihadist movement that the Obama administration has assiduously courted since the early days of its first term?

When, for example, the conference planners decided to invite the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) to participate in the three-city pilot program presentations, represented by its executive director Nicole Mossalam, did they consider the fact that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, attended a mosque in Cambridge run by the Islamic Society of Boston?  Were they aware of an e-mail from ISB, sent to congregants shortly after the bombing, urging them to contact ISB and the ACLU first before speaking with the FBI? Did they know that one of ISB’s former prominent trustees wrote a letter to the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Al-Arabi shortly after 9/11 expressing his “absolute confidence that over the next few years, Islam will spread in America and in the entire world Allah willing, much more quickly than it has spread in the past”? (As quoted by Middle East Media Research Institute, November 18, 2001.) Were they aware of a lawsuit brought by ISB to discourage unfavorable reporting about the organization in the media, which ISB then dropped? More importantly, would any of this have made a difference in view of the Obama administration’s zeal to placate Islamists and avoid any possible slight that might offend them?

President Obama, the nation’s community-organizer-in-chief, is speaking twice during his summit conference. His first address on February 18th was to a meeting of state and local officials, private industry representatives, and members of civil society, focused on domestic actions at the community level to deal with violent extremism. For the umpteenth time, he intoned that “we are not at war with Islam, we are at war with those who have perverted Islam.” And, evidencing his continued denial of reality, he claimed that “we all know there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist.”

On February 19th the president is addressing a ministerial level meeting focusing on an array of international multi-stakeholder actions that can be taken to counter violent extremism. Attendees will include over 60 countries’ representatives, as well as the High Representative and Vice President of the European Union, the UN Secretary General, and senior officials from regional organizations and other multinational bodies, as well as representatives from the private sector and from civil society.

President Obama’s second speech will be followed by a panel that focuses, according to a senior administration official, on “economic opportunities to include expanding professional training for youth, as well as how the private sector can be engaged in a wealth of activities related to countering and preventing violent extremism.”

Indeed, the three-day conference is full of panel discussions, only one of which appears to be devoted specifically to a discussion of what a senior administration official described as “strategic communications, social media.” It is part of a session whose subject is “weakening the legitimacy and the resonance of the brand of violent extremism.” The particular “brand of violent extremism” that is the most brutal, terrifying and widespread – Islamic jihad – is the elephant in the room that will not be acknowledged.

The final panel on the last day of the summit will reprise the community theme, devoted to a discussion of “secure and resilient communities” including “community-police relations and community-security force relations as a critical element of prevention.”

Overall, according to the White House, the summit is intended to build upon the strategy paper the White House released in August of 2011, entitled “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.”  That paper featured “community-based problem solving as an effective model of organizing communities and government to counter violent extremism in the homeland.”

Said one senior administration official in describing the community-based model at the heart of the summit’s agenda: “It is, at its core, a bottom-up approach. It puts communities with civic leaders, with religious authorities, with community power brokers, teachers, health providers, et cetera, in the driver’s seat.”

Consider for a moment whether the horrors that occurred just this past weekend alone are adequately described by the label “violent extremism,” or whether they could have been prevented by “community-based problem solving.” Two people were slain in Denmark – one attending a freedom of speech seminar and the other outside a Jewish synagogue. In Nigeria, a female suicide bomber took the lives of ten people and wounded thirty. ISIS released a video showing twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded in Libya. Following the beheadings, an ISIS leader declared: “And we will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission, the promise of our Prophet, peace be upon him.”

Using the banal phrase “violent extremism” to describe such barbaric acts serves only to relieve the perpetrators of guilt for the genocide and crimes against humanity they committed. It also shears the evil acts off from their common ideological source. The mission of President Obama’s summit is not to devise what should be a global strategy to counter the evil of the global jihad movement. For such a strategy one would have to look at the kind ofdetailed plan laid out by the Center for Security Policy. The Obama summit’s mission instead is to provide community leaders with ideas and tools to reach the most susceptible in their communities who feel alienated from the communities in which they live. The objective is to marshal community resources, with the help of the federal government, to persuade such disaffected individuals, often youths who may have already committed lesser crimes, to turn away from the lure of extreme violence as an outlet for expressing their frustrations.

Obama prepped for his summit by meeting with a group of Islamists behind closed doors on February 4th. This meeting was held at the request of Muslim Advocates, an Islamist group that has demanded a stop to what it considers unwarranted law enforcement surveillance of Muslim Americans and criticized the FBI for racial and religious profiling. Obama administration officials who attended the meeting included Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. In addition to the Muslim Advocates’ executive director, Farhana Khera, two of the Islamists who attended were the past and current presidents of the Islamic Society of North America (Mohamed Magid and Azhar Azeez, respectively), which was reportedly established by U.S-based members of the Muslim Brotherhood and was named on a list of “unindicted co-conspirators” in the federal terrorism prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.

“This meeting could not have come at a better time,” said Farhana Khera, who was well aware of the president’s summit conference on “countering violent extremism” to be held two weeks later.

In its press release describing the February 4th meeting, Muslim Advocates said:  “Participants at the roundtable discussed a range of issues, including racial and religious profiling, anti-Muslim hate and discrimination, and the need for greater representation of American Muslims in government and the federal judiciary.”

Thus, just two weeks before his summit meeting on countering violent extremism, President Obama met with Islamists who believe they are the true victims of hate and violent extremism. Obama told them to urge Muslim Americans “to remain civically engaged in their communities,” previewing the summit’s kumbaya agenda.

Yet the Muslim Advocates group is still not satisfied. It issued a press release on February 17th complaining about what it regarded as too much emphasis on Muslim Americans at the summit and announcing that its Legal Director Glenn Katon is attending the summit on February 18th. They said that “extremist violence cannot be predicted by any religious, ideological, ethnic, or racial profile.” Apparently, Muslim Advocates have not been listening hard enough to President Obama’s speeches and statements. His consistent message is precisely the same as theirs.

Indeed, Obama’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month explained the assumptions that underpin his approach to “countering violent extremism.” Citing past misdeeds done centuries ago in the name of Christ such as the Crusades and slavery, Obama told the guests at the National Prayer Breakfast that violent extremism is “not unique to one group or one religion.”  We are all susceptible to “a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith,” Obama said at the prayer breakfast. In his worldview, since all of us have a “sinful tendency” towards “violent extremism,” it is wrong to single out any particular faith and its adherents as having more of a problem in restraining such tendencies than any other belief system.

Obama doubled down on this theme when he wrote, in an op ed piece appearing in the Los Angeles Times on February 17th, that there are “hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions.” He did refer to the murdered Egyptian “Christians” this time around. The fact that Jews in Paris and Copenhagen were killed just because they were Jews went unmentioned. But Obama did go out of his way to say that “many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid” after “three young people, who were Muslim Americans, were brutally killed in Chapel Hill, N.C.”

The fact is there is only one religion in the world today whose texts and ideas, blessed over the centuries and today by prominent Islamic scholars and religious figures, are providing the fertile soil for the jihadists’ spreading of a religious-based war and the justification for their acts of genocide committed against “non-believers.” Egyptian President al-Sisi said last month at Al-Azhar University, the oldest and most prestigious Sunni religious school, that the “corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years” are “antagonizing the entire world.” Egypt’s foreign minister used the phrase “violent political Islam” in his speech to the United Nations Security Council on February 18th in which he called for action by the international community to fight the scourge taking so many innocent lives.

However, President Obama operates in his own parallel universe. He thinks the media “overstates the risks of terrorism.” The terrorists are just “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots” he said, who act “randomly” like those who shot “a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” Not to worry, he assures us, because he will deal with the problem “the same way a big city mayor’s got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive.”

Diagnose the problem wrong and you will inevitably come up with an entirely wrong strategy to resolve it.

If, as Obama believes, we are simply dealing with random acts of violence by disconnected bunches of violent malcontents, then the solution is simply a matter of containing the most vicious extremists through some whac-a-mole military strikes, while dealing with the rest of the problem through effective community-sensitive law enforcement and community outreach. The result is the kind of tripe uttered earlier this week by State Department spokesperson Marie Harf on the Obama administration’s favorite cable network MSNBC. She said that, in dealing with ISIS and the people ISIS attracts, “We cannot win that war by killing them.”  Her solution includes providing “job opportunities for these people.”

We are in the midst of a war against jihadists whose rapidly spreading Islamic supremacist ideology threatens freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression – indeed, the dignity and freedom of every human being who does not believe in or submit to the jihadists’ ideology of Islamic supremacism. Time is of the essence to convene a real summit meeting that can turn the tide before it is too late, not indulge in community circles. That means bringing together heads of state and government leaders from countries willing to do whatever it takes to defeat the jihadist enemies of civilization in all of their manifestations.