‘Workplace Violence’ Update
From The Scrapbook
Dec 19, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 14 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
On June 1, 2009, a convert to Islam named Carlos Leon Bledsoe (aka Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad) opened fired on a military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas. Muhammad killed one soldier and wounded another. His guilt and motivation have never really been in dispute. “I wasn’t insane or post traumatic nor was I forced to do this Act,” Bledsoe wrote in a letter to the judge who presided over his case, according to the New York Times. The shooting, Bledsoe added, was “justified according to Islamic Laws and the Islamic Religion. Jihad—to fight those who wage war on Islam and Muslims.” Bledsoe, who spent more than a year studying Arabic in Yemen, also claimed that he was dispatched by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Five months later, on November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Malik Hasan went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan killed 13 of his fellow Americans, wounding dozens more. There was never any real doubt about Hasan’s motivation either. Hasan openly proclaimed his jihadist beliefs. He had business cards made that labeled him an “SoA”—or “Soldier of Allah.” And in a presentation to colleagues prior to the shooting, he justified violence against American soldiers. One of the slides in Hasan’s presentation offers the standard jihadist creed: “We love death more then [sic] you love life!” Hasan also had ties to AQAP. He was an email pen-pal with Anwar al-Awlaki, the AQAP cleric who sought to inspire jihadists in the West to commit acts of terrorism. (Awlaki was killed in a drone strike earlier this year.)
The ideology that binds Hasan, Bledsoe, and an unknown number of other extremists is easy to identify. In the decade that followed September 11, 2001, Americans grew familiar with terms such as “jihadist” and “Islamist terrorist.” Americans also realize that these terms do not brand all Muslims as terrorists, nor do they defame Islam.
But if the Obama administration gets its way, the government agencies responsible for countering this ideological threat will no longer use these and similarly descriptive labels. Instead, men such as Bledsoe and Hasan will be viewed as simple criminals.
During a joint hearing of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees on December 7, several lawmakers expressed frustration with the administration’s newly restricted lexicon. Senator Susan Collins lamented that the Pentagon “is dealing with the threat of violent Islamist extremism in the context of a broader threat of workplace violence.” But the most powerful words were spoken by Daris Long, the father of Private William Andrew Long, whom Muhammad/Bledsoe killed in Little Rock. “My faith in government is diminished. It invents euphemisms. . . . Little Rock is a drive-by and Fort Hood is just workplace violence. The truth is denied,” Long explained.
The Obama administration’s new lexicon is a horrible joke. It is driven by both the politically correct desire to avoid offending Muslims and the political goal of declaring “an end” to the global war on terror.
To describe Hasan, Bledsoe, and other like-minded terrorists as “jihadists” does not defame Muslims. What defames them is the unwillingness to distinguish between Islam and Islamism. Indeed, Muslims are the primary victims of jihadism. According to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), there were more than 11,500 terrorist attacks in 72 countries in 2010, “resulting in approximately 50,000 victims, including almost 13,200 deaths.” Sunni extremists—that is, Islamists like Bledsoe and Hasan—“committed almost 60 percent of all worldwide terrorist attacks” and “caused approximately 70 percent of terrorism-related deaths.”
Were these men and women victims of drive-by shootings or incidents of workplace violence? Of course they weren’t. They are the casu-alties of a global ideological movement spearheaded by al Qaeda, its affiliates, and allies. And the overwhelming majority of them, unlike Hasan, love this life more than death.
Once you recognize that this menace is part of a worldwide ideological conflict, however, the Obama administration’s handling of what was formerly known as the war on terror is drawn into question.
In Iraq, al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias continue to terrorize the struggling democracy’s citizenry. Almost one quarter of the terrorist attacks committed in 2010 occurred inside Iraq, according to the NCTC. More than 2,700 people were killed. Yet the Obama administration did not press to keep American troops there. Instead, President Obama proudly announced that all American combat forces would soon leave Iraq—leaving Iraqis to fend for themselves.
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