How much lower will America sink before it regains its senses? Wednesday, two Muslims walked into a Christmas party at a community service center in San Bernardino, California where one worked. They were wearing body armor and video cameras and carrying automatic rifles, pipe bombs and pistols. They opened fire, killed 14, and wounded 17.
The murderers, Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik were killed by police.
Speaking to the Daily News, Farook’s father said his son, “was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim.”
Farook’s neighbor told the paper that over the past two years, Farook exchanged his Western dress for Islamic gowns and grew a beard.
These data points lead naturally to the conclusion that Farook and his wife were jihadists who killed in order to kill in the name of Islam.
But in America of December 2015, natural conclusions are considered irresponsible, at best.
In an interview with CNN following the shooting, US President Barack Obama said the massacre demonstrates that the US needs stricter gun laws. As for the motives of the shooters, Obama shrugged. “We don’t yet know the motives of the shooters,” he insisted.
In other words, while ignoring what in all likelihood drove Farooq and his wife to murder innocent people, Obama laid responsibility for the carnage at the feet of his political opponents who reject his demands for stricter limitations on gun ownership.
Here is the place to note that California has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the US.
According to the victims, Farook and his partners were able to reload their weapons and shoot without interruption for several minutes until the police arrived because there was no one to stop them.
Obama wasn’t alone in deflecting attention away from the likely motivations of the murderers.
Wednesday evening, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), held a press conference at the Islamic Center of Orange County. Farook’s brother in law, Farhan Khan was carted out before the cameras to tell the world that he for one had no idea why his brother in law opened fire.
Two other speakers at the event were Hussam Auyloush, CAIR’s regional executive director and Muzammil Siddiqi, the director of the Islamic Society of Orange County.
Auyloush insisted that he had no idea would could have possibly prompted Farook and his wife to murder those gathered at the center. Auyloush raised the prospect that they could have been mentally ill, or perhaps they just didn’t like the victims, or maybe they were garden-variety extremists.
For his part, Siddiqi insisted that Islam had nothing to do with the shooters’ decision to murder innocent people, (how he could be so certain, is unknown).
Siddiqi added that he hopes law enforcement bodies will conduct a full investigation into the “people and motives,” behind the attack.
To a degree, the very fact that Siddiqi had no compunction about stepping in front of the cameras just hours after the attack is proof that the US has lost its way.
If American elites were even semi-competent, Siddiqi would have faded into the shadows, never to emerge again 15 years ago.
Siddiqi is a known jihadist sympathizer. His close ties to jihadists have been a matter of public record since 2000.
In October 2000, Siddiqi spoke at an anti-Israel rally in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC. There he warned the American people that they must abandon their support for Israel lest “the wrath of God” be unleashed against them.
According to a profile of Siddiqi compiled by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, (IPT) in the late 1990s Siddiqi gave a speech extolling jihad and foreseeing Israel’s replacement with an Islamic state.
Among other things, Siddiqi said, “In order to gain the honor, jihad is the path, jihad is the way to receive the honor.”
Siddiqi converted Osama bin Laden’s senior aide, American jihadist Adam Gadahn. Gadahn converted to Islam at the Islamic Center of Orange County in 1995. According to a 2007 New Yorker profile, Siddiqi employed Gadahn at the Center in the years following his conversion. It was during this period that Gadahn was radicalized. He then went to Pakistan and joined al Qaida.
In 1992 Siddiqi hosted a blind sheikh named Omar Abdel Rahman at the Islamic Center. He stood beside Rahman and simultaneously translated his lecture about jihad to the audience of worshipers.
The next year, Rahman masterminded the first jihadist attack on the World Trade Center.
During the 1990s, Siddiqi served as the president of the Islamic Society of North America, a known Muslim Brotherhood front group. In 2007, ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holyland terror financing trial.
Despite all of his connections to jihadists, US authorities insist that Siddiqi is a legitimate voice. In 2007 Stephen Tidwell, then assistant director of the FBI division in Los Angeles upheld Siddiqi as a moderate.
Speaking to the IPT, Tidwell said, “We have a very strong relationship with Dr. Siddiqi.”
Hours before Obama responded to the San Bernadino massacre by lashing out at gun control opponents, Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for US Operation Inherent Resolve – the US campaign against Islamic State – rejected Russian claims that the Turkish government is collaborating with the terror state.
Warren praised the Turks as “great partners to us.”
“We flatly reject any notion that the Turks are somehow working with Islamic State. That is preposterous,” he insisted, adding, “Any thought” the Turkish government would deal or collaborate with Islamic State is “completely untrue.”
Unfortunately, a wealth of evidence indicates that it is Warren’s statement that is preposterous and completely untrue.
For nearly five years, it has been an open secret that Turkey serves as Islamic State’s logistical base. Almost all the foreigners traveling to Syria to join IS transit through Turkey.
For nearly two years, we have known that Turkey is Islamic State’s major arms supplier. And for six months we have known that they are their partners in oil exports.
In an article published this past summer in Middle East Quarterly, Burak Bekdil reported in January 2014, Turkish prosecutors acting independently from the government, dispatched forces to a border province with Syria to intercept a convoy of trucks laden with missiles, rockets and ammunition making its way to Syria. One of the truck drivers testified at the time that he and his colleagues had “carried similar loads several times before.”
The forces charged with seizing the cargo were shocked to discover the trucks were being escorted by Turkish intelligence officers.
According to Bekdil, “all hell broke loose,” after the prosecutors ordered the men arrested and the cargo seized.
The provincial governor swooped in and insisted that the convoy was traveling on direct orders from Turkish leader Recep Tayip Erdogan. Months later, the military took over the case. And today, the men who executed the arrests and cargo seizure are on trial for “international espionage.”
Bekdil reported that two months after the cargo was intercepted, a meeting took place between then foreign minister and current Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, his deputy, Feridun Sinirlioglu, the head of Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan and deputy chief of the Turkish general staff, Gen. Yasar Guler.
A recording of the meeting was leaked to social media. In the recording, Fidan is heard saying that “he had successfully sent two thousand trucks into Syria before.”
As to Islamic State oil sales to Turkey, this past May, US special forces executed their first known raid inside Syria. The commandos descended on the home of Islamic State’s financial chief Abu Sayyaf. US forces killed Sayyaf and seized his computers and hard drives.
Sayyaf directed Islamic State’s oil, gas and financial operations.
Last July the Guardian reported that the computer data revealed close, direct dealings between Turkish officials and Islamic State members. According to one senior Western official familiar with the contents of the documents, just from what had been uncovered in the initial study of the material, “the links [between Islamic State and the Turkish government] are already so clear that they could end up having profound policy implications for the relationship between us and Ankara.”
Yet Wednesday, in the face of an overwhelming mountain of evidence, the Americans rejected out-of-hand Russians allegations that Turkey is the main consumer of oil exports from Islamic State.
This past July, two senior Defense Intelligence Agency analysts assigned to US Central Command submitted a formal complaint to the Defense Department’s inspector general. The two claimed that their intelligence reports on Islamic State were doctored and distorted as they made their way up the feeding chain to Obama. Fifty intelligence analysts have stated their agreement with the allegations in the complaint.
The doctored reports systematically rendered portraits of the US campaign against Islamic State as successful and Islamic State as a nearly spent force, along the lines of the narrative presented by Obama and his advisors. According to the analysts, the picture painted by the doctored reports bore little resemblance to their far more negative conclusions.
According to the Daily Beast’s report, intelligence analysts began complaining to their superiors about the distortion of their reports in October 2014. Some of those analysts were urged to retire early, and some did.
According to the publication, “one person who knows the contents of the written complaint… said it used the word ‘Stalinist’ to describe the tone set by officials overseeing CENTCOM analysis.”
Following the jihadist attacks on Paris on November 13, Obama maintained his insistence that climate change is a graver threat to US national security than terrorism. It could be that this prioritization of concerns is playing a role in the administration’s apparent determination not to seriously fight Islamic State.
In an interview with Charlie Rose last month, former CIA director Michael Morell explained that the administration decided not to bomb Islamic State’s oil infrastructure “because we didn’t want to do environmental damage.”
According to the Guardian, Islamic State makes between one to four million dollars per day from oil sales.
Perhaps the shooters in San Bernadino were just mad at their boss. Maybe Farooq suffered from clinical depression or ADD, or PTSD, or something.
And maybe Islamic State, with its new colony Sirte in “liberated” Libya, just 400 miles from Italy, is on the run. Maybe as well, Turkey is just a patsy and Russia is really Islamic State’s largest trading partner, or maybe Israel is, or Ireland.
But if facts are to be taken seriously, then the fact is that in December 2015, the US is acting with pathological devotion to ideological narratives that bear no relationship to reality.
A version of this piece previously appeared on The Jerusalem Post.