Politics & Policy

The Elephant in the Room

The mainstream media continue to suppress the "Islam" in Islamic terrorism.

Over the weekend, Canadian authorities apparently smashed a frightening plot involving Islamic terrorists who planned a series of bombings against sites in southern Ontario. Instinctively, the mainstream media went into its now-familiar coverage template, Phase One of which avoids like the plague any mention of the fact that accused terrorists are Muslims.

#ad#As Cliff May and I noted here on NRO, and Roger Simon detailed on his website, readers of the New York Times were told that the 17 men arrested “represent the broad strata of our society … Some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed.” In point of fact, however, they represent a very narrow stratum of Canadian society: They are Muslims, many of whom attend the same mosque, the Al-Rahman Islamic Centre for Islamic Education in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga.

Not only were all those arrested Muslims. The reported evidence against them fits to a tee the shopworn pattern of Islamic terrorism repeated for much of the last two decades. Young men were radicalized at the local mosque and its companion school by elders preaching from the Koran. They participated in paramilitary training in rural outposts. The training involved firearms and communications equipment. The plotters may have conducted surveillance on specific targets. And they ordered prodigious amounts of explosives components–in this case, tons of fertilizer in preparation for the construction of crude but deadly effective ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil) bombs.

Nonetheless, the rigorous media practice in Phase One is to suppress any reference to Islam, the single thread that runs through virtually all modern terrorism–from New York, to Virginia, to Bali, the Djerba, to Baghdad, to Mombassa, to Tel Aviv, to Nairobi, to Dar es Salaam, to Ankara, to Paris, to Riyadh, to Amman, to Sharm el-Sheikh, to Aden, to London, to Madrid, and, now, to Toronto.

Consequently, the piece of information most obviously pertinent to the public’s understanding of what could be catalyzing this global savagery is consciously withheld. Such a revelation might, after all, lead people to ask the sensible question: What is it about Islam that makes it such a fertile breeding ground for this pathology?

Instead, we are given the defendants’ nationality, or, even more vaporously, the continental region from which they emigrated to wherever they happen to be making mischief at the moment. The Times relates that the “17 men” arrested in Canada “were mainly of South Asian descent and most were in their teens or early 20’s.” Apparently, some of them had contact with two suspected Islamic terrorists who have been arrested in the United States. At least that’s the inference one draws, since we’re not exactly told whether these two were Muslims either … just that they happen to be “two people from Georgia[,] … Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 19, an American of Bangladeshi descent, and Syed Haris Ahmed, 21, a Pakistani-born American.”

Phase One of the Canadian story nicely dovetails with the Phase One reporting of another story from last week. This one involved the interruption of Islamic terrorists who may have been plotting chemical-bomb attacks in London.

Last Friday, the initial report from Sky News was careful to say only that two arrested men were “both of Bengali origin.” On Saturday, the New York Times followed with a story which grudgingly uttered, toward the very end, that the two–a pair of brothers apparently associated with a “known terrorist group”–just might be “of Pakistani descent.” Such is the state of contemporary political correctness that it’s now safe to flub a once salient multicultural distinction–whether a particular South Asian was Pakistani or Bengali (or the even more hip Bangla)–as long as it’s for the greater good of obscuring that an apparent terrorist is a Muslim.

Interestingly, the Times’s account of the London story, with all the subtlety of a U-2, shifts the narrative’s emphasis. No longer is the thrust another potential mass homicide against Westerners planned by terrorists (who happen to be Muslims) working with mass-destruction weapons. Now, it is alarm over the police shooting of a suspect (who was not seriously wounded).

Ironically, we must be grateful for these sympathetic riffs. They are the only way we ever definitively learn from the media that the sociopaths at the center of these cases adhere to the “religion of peace.” So it was that the Times saw fit, as had Sky News, to offer its pulpit to a friend of the suspects … the better to focus on the possibility that arrestees so youthful might be victims police bias and overreach:


Sky News broadcast what it said was an interview with two unidentified friends of the man who was shot. They spoke with their backs to a camera, their heads covered and faces hidden. One of the men prefaced the interview by reciting a Koranic verse. “They shot an unarmed man because he wanted to try and protect his family,” one man said. He called the wounded man “a humble guy” who had gone “to your schools, your workplaces and paid his taxes, and at 4 a.m. the police gave him a present — they gave him a hole in the chest.”The police carried out the raid, the man said, because “they want to give us Muslims a bad name.”

Yes, public discussion of Koranic verse and all things Islamic is permissible only when the coverage template moves into Phase Two. This phase is basically the group hug for Muslims–modern journalism’s act of contrition for reluctantly having to report on all these pesky arrests and plots and ANFO bombs. And somehow, the media-mined verses are never, for example, “[F]ight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)” (Sura 9:5). Rather, they are about a humble, unarmed man laid low by the infidels … while he’s dabbling in chemical explosives.

Phase Two was also in full swing Monday, as the Times returned to the Canadian plot. The conspiracy’s leaders, we were told, may have “led prayers” and given “fiery speeches,” but this doesn’t mean they “openly embrace[d] violence.” After all, it’s just Islam (many of whose fiery scriptures openly embrace violence).

And surely the police may have “framed” the defendants. The charges, you see, speak only of bomb components being ordered, not whether they were actually delivered. They describe bombing plans, not precisely identified targets.

Of course, even a feint at balance might have noted that, in the post-9/11 threat environment, the idea is to interdict before conspiracies crystallize into imminent deadliness. It might have mentioned in passing our empirical knowledge that bombs take very little time to assemble once the components have been acquired, and that targets are frequently not settled on until the last minute.

No, in Phase Two, balance is not a priority. Once the press finally summons the courage to utter that Muslims have been arrested, its primary duty is to obsess over how the “Muslim community” will react. The Times thus admonishes that “some in the Muslim community [are] skeptical about the lack of specific charges.” Indeed, “[s]ince Sept. 11,” we are advised, “several police investigations against Muslims here have unraveled after arrests were made, which has left a bitter legacy within the Muslim community.”

Naturally, there is no discussion of what the Muslim community thinks about the more important “bitter legacy”–namely, the violence that stems from within the Muslim community. There is no mention of the fact that, before and after the 9/11 attacks, numerous indicted Muslims have been convicted by impartial juries of terrorist acts and plots–to say nothing of the countless Muslims who proudly claim credit for barbaric acts while managing to evade capture. Nor is there acknowledgement that convictions for terrorism routinely follow these monotonous protestations about Muslims being framed, Muslims being entrapped, and Muslims being otherwise ensnared by “Islamophobic” authorities–such claims having been dutifully echoed ad nauseum across our 24/7 media, regardless of whether they passed the laugh test.

Meanwhile, the Times, no doubt inadvertently, provides us with a nugget that compromises the whole obfuscatory enterprise. Though the Canadian plotters are numerous, it seems that “[n]one of them had any known affiliation with Al Qaeda.”

They apparently are not members of the terror network, did not train at the Qaeda camps, and have not been directed by the Qaeda hierarchy. All they have in common with al Qaeda is their schooling in the same creed. And their conclusion that this creed commands them to murder.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

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