Orlando Attack Is a Failure of Obama’s ‘Politically Correct’ Policy, Analysts Say

FBI knew since 2013 shooter linked to violent jihad

Orlando attack
Family members wait for word from police after arriving down the street from a shooting involving multiple fatalities at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla. / AP
June 14, 2016

The Florida terrorist attack last weekend revealed multiple failures of Obama administration counterterrorism policies that critics say are hamstrung by liberal "political correctness."

Security analysts said the attack exposed failures of the administration’s counterterrorism policies that were designed to separate Islam from the jihadist terrorism that continues to spread from the Middle East to Europe and now the United States.

The attack early Sunday by security guard Omar Mateen, 29, included a 911 call to police stating the mass shooting was conducted in support of the Islamic State terror group. A total of 49 people were killed at a crowded Orlando nightclub.

It was the worst mass shooting in American history and the deadliest terror attack since the September 11, 2001, strikes on New York City and Washington, D.C.

FBI Director James Comey defended the bureau despite the fact that agents first identified Mateen as a terror risk in May 2013 after a coworker alerted authorities that he had voiced sympathy for Islamic terrorists.

The tipoff showed that the Department of Homeland Security’s high-profile tip program, called "see something, say something" is not enough to prevent terrorist attacks.

The FBI gave up investigating Mateen after two interrogations. Mateen told agents he had made pro-terrorist comments because he felt he was a victim of religious discrimination from coworkers because he was Muslim.

"He admitted making the statements that his coworkers reported, but explained that he did it in anger because he thought his coworkers were discriminating against him and teasing him because he was Muslim. After ten months of investigation, we closed the preliminary investigation," Comey said in Washington.

Former FBI Agent John Guandolo said the FBI mistakenly closed its investigation because it had no idea how to respond to jihadist threats because the bureau does not teach agents about Islamist doctrine, such as Sharia law, that is used as a guide for terrorist operations and activities.

"This investigation was closed because FBI leadership has systematically refused to look at and teach Sharia to its agents because it is getting its advice on Islam from Muslims who are hostile to us and our system of government," Guandolo said.

Comey said the FBI would examine whether it should have handled the case differently. "So far, the honest answer is, I don’t think so," he said.

Guandolo said the FBI director was wrong.

"Fifty Americans are dead, the FBI had the killer in their sights and let him go, and the FBI director is okay with this," he said. "Not knowing something that is a requirement of your profession—like an FBI director not understanding that Sharia is the key to understanding the entire global war—is unprofessional."

Comey said Mateen declared he was conducting the attack on behalf of the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, and pledged his loyalty to the group during his 911 calls from the club.

Mateen also stated the nightclub murders were carried out in support of the two Islamists who carried out the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon that killed three people. He also was supporting a Florida terrorist who died carrying out a suicide bombing for the Syrian al Qaeda group Al Nusra Front.

Comey said the FBI was confused about Mateen’s motive because of his support for multiple groups, including the Iranian-backed Shiite terror group Hezbollah, the Sunni terror group al Qaeda, and its rival Sunni offshoot, the Islamic State.

"This is one of the more frightening comments, but it is a falsehood American intelligence officials have been regurgitating since 9/11," Guandolo said.

"The lie in the government goes like this: ‘Sunni and Shia hate each other and don't work together,’" he said. "That is wrong on so many practical levels."

Radical Shiite Iran has supplied weapons and material to Sunni al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, also Sunni, in Iraq, he said.

"Mostly, these comments demonstrate the FBI director is fundamentally ignorant of basic facts about our enemy," Guandolo said.

Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism specialist, also faulted the administration’s adoption of politically correct policies for the failures to prevent the Orlando massacre.

"Political correctness is endangering the lives of Americans," said Gorka, the Gen. Horner distinguished chair of military theory at Marine Corps University.

"I have spoken to many law enforcement officers who are angry and not just frustrated that a political matrix and narrative is being forced upon them, and they are not allowed to speak accurately and truthfully about what the threat is and who the enemy is," Gorka added.

The neighbors of San Bernardino terrorists who killed 14 people last year were cowed from fear of being labeled racists or "Islamophobes" and did not report the terrorist leanings of the two killers, Gorka noted.

"The age of political correctness should have died with the killer in Orlando," Gorka said. "Sadly, with his statement yesterday, the president has perpetuated it and so the deadly fantasy endures."

President Obama on Sunday made no reference to Islamic terrorism in his statement and instead suggested it was a hate crime directed against gays. The nightclub was frequented mainly by homosexuals.

On Monday, the president said "we’re going to have to grapple" with groups like ISIS that spread "perversions of Islam" on the internet.

In addition to missing the early danger posed by Mateen, the administration also failed to issue any public warning about possible Islamic State terrorist attacks during the Muslim observance of Ramadan that began earlier this month.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported June 3 that an Islamic State spokesman advocated in May for attacks by ISIS supporters to be carried out in the United States and Europe.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Joseph Myers, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst and counterterrorism expert, said U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are operating under rules of engagement that prevent the preemption of terror attacks.

"The fact that as a matter of Obama administration policy they have purged any references to Islam, Islamic doctrines and tenets of war and jihad from the professional terrorism lexicon leaves the FBI, DHS, DoJ, and DoD from being intellectually and physically ready to act and operate to preempt these kinds of events in the homeland," Myers said.

The purging of Islamic concepts has left American leaders and law enforcement agents confused about terrorists’ motives.

"Individual acts of jihad are a legitimate tenet of Islamic war doctrines that do not require specific sanction or outside terrorist group approval," he said, noting that "leaderless jihad" is an established tenet for both al Qaeda and ISIS.

Myers said the Orlando attack was a "catastrophic failure" for the FBI and showed its policies, procedures, and resources are inadequate to the mission of homeland security.

"This has to change now or a new organization, mandated to defeat this domestic threat, must be organized and fielded," he said.

The deadly terrorist attack was an immediate focus of presidential candidates.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump blamed politically correct policies for the failure to prevent the latest attack. He repeated his call to temporarily bar Muslims coming from areas of the world that have been linked to terrorism against the United Stats.

Trump said during a speech in New Hampshire that "the current politically correct response cripples our ability to talk and to think and act clearly."

"We're importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system and through an intelligence community held back by our president," Trump said. "Even our own FBI director has admitted that we cannot effectively check the backgrounds of people we're letting into America."

The Obama administration has hamstrung intelligence and security agencies, the New York businessman said.

"They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else. I refuse to be politically correct," Trump said.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the expected Democratic nominee, initially declined to link radical Islam to the Orlando attack. Later she acknowledged in broadcast interviews that jihadists were religiously motivated but she sought to play down that aspect of the threat.

Asked about Islam during a CNN interview, Clinton said: "Well, first of all, from my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say, and it mattered we got Bin laden, not what name we called him."

"I have clearly said whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I'm happy to say either," Clinton said, adding that she also would not "demonize, demagogue and declare war on an entire religion."

"That plays right into ISIS’ hands," she said. "This is something that we can call it radical jihadism, radical Islamism, but we also want to reach out to the vast majority of American Muslims and Muslims around this world to help us defeat this threat, which is so evil and has got to be denounced by everyone, regardless of religion."

Clinton  said she supports increasing gun laws to regulate firearms after the Orlando massacre.

Mateen, before he was killed by police, was armed with an AR-15 rifle and a Glock handgun.

A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman would not respond when asked why DHS did not issue any warnings about a possible ISIS attack during Ramadan.

Marsha Catron, the spokeswoman, said the department issued a national terrorism advisory in December that remains in place.

Since the Orlando shooting and the arrest of an armed man in Los Angeles, DHS notified state and local law enforcement "of all relevant threat information and to consider appropriate responses," Catron said.

A DHS official said, "Lone offenders and self-directed attackers present a significant challenge to our public safety as there are often very limited opportunities to identify and disrupt their plots prior to violence."

The official said that in more than 80 percent of cases involving what DHS calls "homegrown violent extremists" people close to the extremists had observed warning signs of radicalization.

Published under: ISIS , Terrorism