Cruz Right about Empowering Law-Enforcement to Prevent Terrorist Attacks

by Andrew C. McCarthy

There is apparently consternation in the usual places — including CAIR, it should go without saying —​ regarding remarks by Ted Cruz in the aftermath of the jihadist attack in Brussels, in which at least 30 were killed and 180 wounded. Senator Cruz (on whose national-security advisory team I serve) argued, “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

This is clearly true. I addressed the same considerations in a column posted this afternoon on the homepage:

We know, nearly a quarter century after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, that jihadist cells arise and thrive in ideological enclaves; that is where the radicalization, recruitment, fundraising, plotting, and injection and protection of jihadist immigrants occurs. We cannot deny reality by rationalizing that if we admit the truth we will be misunderstood as being “at war with Islam” – as in all Muslims.

What we like to think of as “radical Islam” is actually a legitimate and rabidly anti-Western interpretation of Islam that is followed by millions of Muslims. It is irrelevant to non-Muslims in the West whether theirs is a correct or incorrect construction of Muslim scripture. The remorseless fact remains that its adherents believe it —​ with a fervor that inspires the kinds of attacks we’ve seen today and have seen over and over again. Those adherents include Muslims who lack the commitment to carry out attacks themselves but nevertheless provide moral (and other) support to those who do, and who populate the Western immigrant enclaves in which the ideology thrives.

It’s a welcome fact that there are other ways of interpreting Islam that do not endorse war and hostility against the West; those who offer these interpretations are our allies, and we should be encouraging them rather than turning to enemies such as the Muslim Brotherhood to help us conduct “community outreach.” Still, the fact that there are pro-Western Muslims and authentically tolerant interpretations of Islam does not — and cannot be allowed to —​ obscure the fact that Islamic supremacism is a mainstream construction of Islam. It is not “false” Islam, or “anti-Islam.” It is Islam that competes, violently, with other constructions of Islam.

In the Obama years, there has been a shift away from post-9/11 prevention-first counterterrorism, which relied on our police, federal law-enforcement and domestic-security agents to gather intelligence about potential threats in the Muslim communities where Islamic supremacism is endorsed —​ meaning, of course, with cooperation from non-supremacist Muslims living in those communities who are just as threatened as the rest of us are. The Obama Left and its Islamist allies (who are ideologically sympathetic to the jihadists’ sharia-promotion agenda, while assuring us they oppose the violent methods), have moved us back to a pre-9/11 paradigm that regards terrorism as a law-enforcement problem to be managed —​ meaning, for the most part, that law enforcement engages only after attacks (or, at least, when a concrete threat of attack has been discovered —​ by which point, it is often too late).

Obama and his Islamist allies claim that the post-9/11 approach tars all Muslims and creates the misimpression that we are “at war with Islam.” They contend that we must, instead, (a) deny any connection between Islam and mass-murder attacks by self-proclaimed jihadists who rely on Islamic scripture to justify them; and (b) partner with the government’s preferred Muslim groups (many of which are Islamist in orientation) by empowering them, rather than law enforcement, to be our eyes and ears in Muslim communities —​ as if they have the same training, resources, and incentive as police do to report anti-Americanism and potential threats.

What Senator Cruz is correctly arguing is that we have to recognize the reality of what the threat is and where it comes from, and we have to stick with prevention-oriented, intelligence-based counterterrorism methods that work.

We have had some domestic terrorist attacks in the U.S. as the threat has intensified during Obama’s presidency. Yet, we have not suffered the spate of attacks they have had (and will continue having) in Europe. The main reasons for the difference are that (a) we have not had as much mass immigration of an assimilation-resistant population, and (b) our police and local governments have not ceded de facto jurisdiction over communities to Muslim activists who would turn them into anti-American enclaves.

Obama policies have put us on the trajectory to repeat Europe’s self-destruction. Cruz is saying we have to defend ourselves —​ and that we are worth defending.

Pro-American Muslims can be a real asset in effective counterterrorism by joining us in helping us ostracize and marginalize radical elements – both the violent jihadists and their ideological sympathizers. But we have to prosecute the war against Islamic supremacists and protect our homeland regardless of how much or how little help we get.

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