Hussam Ayloush of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Los Angeles Chapter said Friday that American and Western foreign policy is partly to blame for global Islamic terrorism and extremist ideology.
Ayloush appeared on CNN's New Day for an interview with host Chris Cuomo to discuss the aftermath of the recent shooting in San Bernardino, California, when he made his comment.
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The conversation focused on the shooters' reported indoctrination to radical Islam and the prospect of increased discrimination against American Muslims in the aftermath of what federal authorities are considering a possible terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
During the interview, Cuomo asked what Muslims must do to defeat this radical "insurrection" in what he termed "a battle of the soul for your [Ayloush's Islamic] faith about what will define what is Islam."
Ayloush explained in response how Muslims have been countering this extremist minority, citing that most of the Islamic State's victims have been Muslims and that the "brave Syrian people," meaning the Syrian opposition composed in part of al Qaeda affiliates, are fighting both the "barbarism" of the jihadist group and of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The CAIR-LA Director then placed partial blame on the United States and the west at-large, saying, "Let's not forget that some of our own foreign policy, as Americans, as the west, have fueled that extremism."
He went on to say the U.S. supports dictators and repressive regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere, citing Egypt as an example. He argued that these policies "push people over to the edge."
"Then they become extremists. Then they become terrorists," said Ayloush. "We are partly responsible. Terrorism is a global problem, not a Muslim problem. And the solution has to be global. Everyone has a role in it."
Cuomo did not ask a follow-up question about Ayloush's response before proceeding with the interview.
The two shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, opened fire at a holiday party for county workers on Wednesday, killing 14 people and wounding 21 others. Investigators discovered that Farook had contact with individuals who have been involved with terrorist probes. It has also been reported that Malik is Pakistani and moved to the U.S. to marry Farook after the two met in Saudi Arabia.
Authorities discovered a large arsenal of weaponry and explosives at the couple's home, which experts have cited as evidence that the couple was planning to launch an attack of some kind.