Chelsea Bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami: an Introduction to the Conflict between Law Enforcement and Civil Liberty Organizations

On September 17 and 18, 2016, New Jersey resident Ahmad Khan Rahami planted nearly a dozen improvised, homemade pipe and pressure cooker bombs at three locations throughout New Jersey and New York City.  Amazingly, only the bomb he planted on West 23rd Street in Manhattan resulted in injuries when it exploded, and even more astounding was the fact that none of the nearly thirty victims were killed.

The criminal complaint against Rahami suggests that investigators discovered a social media account belonging to him, one in which the user listed jihad related videos as some of his “favorites.”  When Rahami was arrested in Linden, NJ on September 19 (after a shoot-out with police), investigators recovered his handwritten journal.  Some of the entries in the journal expressed a clear solidarity with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine.  Rahami also expressed a desire to conduct jihad and to become a martyr, but feared that he would be thwarted by the FBI and Homeland Security.  “Gun shots to your police,” he writes as he concludes his journal, along with passages lauding Anwar al-Awlaki and “Brother” Osama bin Laden.

So Rahami quite clearly is an Islamic terrorist, and his fears of getting caught were not unfounded since his own father told the Elizabeth, NJ Police Department in August 2014 that he was exactly that: a terrorist.  Rahami had stabbed his brother in a domestic violence incident at the time, Elizabeth PD responded, at which point Rahami’s father told them of his suspicions.  Elizabeth PD in turn notified the FBI, who looked into Rahami by utilizing only the first, most basic, and least intrusive level of all of their investigative measures: an “assessment”.  As part of their assessment, they reviewed a report stemming from a customs screening and a National Targeting Center notification, which had flagged Rahami because he spent nearly a year in Pakistan.  They interviewed Rahami’s father.  They declined to interview Rahami himself, since at the time he was in jail for the stabbing and they would have had to go through his lawyer.  In the end, their barebones assessment apparently could not turn up the three weeks he spent in Afghanistan, the time he spent in locations linked to al Qaeda while in Pakistan, and it could not determine whether he had tried to enter into Syria and make contact with ISIS when he went to Turkey – in short, it could not turn up any evidence that Rahami was a terrorist.   They closed their assessment in September 2014, and Rahami was not added to any terrorist watch list or no-fly list.  Two years later, he blew up the bombs.

So how could this naturalized American citizen who was clearly becoming radicalized over the span of the past decade go down this path and elude the FBI?  Some might argue that it is because the FBI – and the country’s security apparatus in general – is bloated, ineffective, and borderline incompetent, missing real threats as a result of their intelligence collection being too broad.  This argument is championed by civil liberty organizations.  However, there is another argument that suggests it is those very civil liberty organizations who protect and enhance civil liberty laws that hinder law enforcement in their terror investigations.  The reason why Rahami was subject to a mere assessment rather than to a more intrusive predicated investigation is the result of decades’ worth of civil liberty organizations successfully legally binding the hands of the FBI, all under the pretense of protecting our privacy and liberties.  Basically, civil liberty organizations would likely have claimed that the FBI would have violated Rahami’s civil rights if they were to investigate him further.  So while it is clear that the assessment was totally incapable of digging deep enough to find out that Rahami truly was a terrorist and a more intrusive investigation was required, the FBI could have been successfully sued and punished if they had proceeded with one.  Any terrorist who has good luck or has half a brain can successfully exploit this civil liberties “loophole”.

Lawyers working for civil liberty organizations spend their careers trying to make sure that civil rights and liberties are never compromised in any way.  It is not their job to stop terrorists from being able to exploit civil liberty laws.  It is not their job to stop terrorism.  In fact, they take it upon themselves to always make Muslims look good and to seldom acknowledge the existence of Islamic terrorism – this is evident in how after every Muslim terrorist attack that occurs, they never focus on condemning the attack and they never focus on the victims of the attack; they instead focus on immediately changing the narrative back to protecting Muslims from “Islamophobia.”  (Islamophobia is a real issue, but hardly ever in the way civil liberty organizations suggest.)  One very big reason for this is because almost all of these groups are headed by old leftists who were radicalized in the 1960s and 1970s and they still harbor political grudges against the “imperialist” United States government, the COINTELPRO FBI, and the “racist” NYPD.

This is part of the reason why the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its New York chapter, the NYCLU, took up a law suit against the City of New York in 2013, seeking to challenge the legality of purported surveillance tactics utilized against Muslims during NYPD investigations.  They found an ally in NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – a Democrat progressive and a quasi-communist who travelled to Nicaragua in the 1980s to support the Sandinistas, who honeymooned in Cuba in the 1990s, and became NYC mayor in 2014 after running a campaign that demonized the NYPD for their alleged infractions against Muslims.  Instead of battling the law suit – which probably would have resulted in a significant refutation of the allegations made against the NYPD – he decided to settle it upon taking office in order to further ingratiate himself with his political base.  (de Blasio also decided to drop the appeal against the law suit that found the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices unconstitutional for its alleged discrimination against people of color.  The Bloomberg administration filed the appeal, and the appeals court panel went so far as to remove from the case the judge who made the original ruling, Shira Scheindlin, because she was deemed to be biased against the NYPD – and de Blasio just dropped it as soon as he took office.)

The scary part of the settlement lies in how the NYPD was hit with more restrictions on what it can do with regards to investigating Muslims they feel may potentially be terrorists – which mirrors the difficulties that the FBI faced in investigating Rahami.  The part of the settlement that could be seen as speaking to the ACLU’s deep-rooted hatred of law enforcement, however, is how the NYPD was forced to remove from its web site a report it had researched and published in 2007 called “Radicalization in the West: the Homegrown Threat.”

The report was written in part by senior NYPD intelligence analyst Mitchell Silber, who attained a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Columbia University, specializing in Middle East studies.  His report was intended to be used as a teaching tool to inform law enforcement professionals about some of the ways in which people living in the West could become terrorists.  In the case of Rahami and in the age of the ISIS lone wolf, this is more relevant today than it was back in 2007.  The contents of the report could at best help law enforcement prevent terrorism, at worst it could just provide the public with valuable information.  Of course, the ACLU argued that the report was completely factually wrong and was totally Islamophobic.  Especially considering that the report can still be found on the Internet, forcing the NYPD to remove their own report from their own website was nothing more than a political act.  This part of the settlement did nothing to preserve civil liberties, it did nothing to make this city safer.  While they argue that they wanted it gone because it apparently promoted Islamophobia, the possibility that they wanted it gone because of their hatred for law enforcement clearly cannot be dismissed.

Maybe it is time that we as a nation stopped supporting the ACLU, the NYCLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and all of the other radical left remnants entrenched in a legal battle against our government; a battle waged not truly in the name of justice, not truly in our name, but rather in the name of their political agenda.  Maybe it is time that we as a nation stopped supporting Lynne Stewart, Martin Stolar, Ramsey Clark, Jethro Eisenstein, Dennis Cunningham, Michael J. Kennedy, Donna Lieberman, Lamis Deek, Shira Scheindlin, Bill de Blasio, and all of the other leftist lawyers and politicians complicit in this.  Maybe it is time that we as a nation instead sought to establish civil liberty organizations that don’t have political agendas and grudges, and that can sanely balance our rights and our security.

Seeing how the ACLU has decided that they are going to represent Rahami when he goes to trial – seeing that they want to protect him and not us, the victims of his terror – it should be as clear as day that they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The Ties Between “Islamophobia,” Political Correctness, and our Nation’s Security

One of the right’s many criticisms against President Obama and other Democrats is that they believe the Democrats refuse to acknowledge how Islam is at the center of the biggest threat to the safety and security of the United States and of Western civilization in general.  The right’s main talking point here is that Democrats seldom use the term “radical Islam” when they speak about terrorism.

If the right wants to be taken more seriously with regards to this criticism, they should always stress that they don’t think Islam itself is the problem, and that the problem instead lies in a violent and hateful misinterpretation of the religion.  This is the reality and any sensible human being understands this.  Considering that there is a plethora of insensible humans in this country who don’t understand this distinction – and I hope (but do not believe) that none of these particular individuals are politicians – naturally there is some bigotry against Muslims.

This bigotry gives credence to the notion of “Islamophobia,” which essentially means an irrational fear of Muslims.  Muslim groups and leftists in solidarity have taken up this cause with extreme gusto.  I believe that the right should focus less on how Democrats may or may not say “radical Islam,” and more on how these elements exploit Islamophobia.

I believe that the left and Muslim groups use Islamophobia less as a means to combat the bigotry that exists against Muslims in this country and more as a means to shift the attention away from the fact that some Muslims commit violent, hateful acts of terrorism.  Islamophobia proponents refuse to acknowledge Islamic violence for what it is – the biggest threat to the safety and security of this country and Western civilization – because they fear the inadvertent repercussion of possibly making the anti-Muslim bigots feel vindicated.  You cannot cure ignorance with denial, however.  Islamophobia therefore takes little to no steps in effectuating any type of significant, positive change; it doesn’t really bring Muslims and non-Muslims closer (outside of the solidarity leftists), it does nothing to truly challenge or educate anti-Muslim bigots, and it certainly does nothing at all to stop terrorism perpetrated by Muslims.

The most recent example of this exploitation of Islamophobia came at a rally at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.  The rally was held in solidarity with the victims of the Islamic State-inspired mass shooting at the Pulse Orlando Night Club, a LGBTQ haven in Florida.  While most of the focus was on the victims, there were multiple signs about Islamophobia strewn throughout the mass of people, and there was at least one speaker who insisted on talking about the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry.  To say the least, raising the notion of Islamophobia at a rally commemorating the victims of a terrorist attack is inappropriate.  Again, it does nothing to stop an irrational fear of Muslims as much as it simply attempts to insulate nonviolent Muslims from their violent counterparts.  It is somewhat counterproductive.

And of course, Mayor de Blasio, and all of the other local, mostly Democratic politicians in attendance did nothing – in the name of political correctness – to address this inappropriate move.  One cannot help but to wonder that if those politicians are willing to apply this passivity in this instance, is it also possible that their political correctness could in some way be a detriment to the safety and security of this city?

The answer, clearly, is of course.  Maybe it isn’t yet a very severe fault in our nation’s security, but it is a fault nonetheless, one that could possibly grow greater if left unchallenged.  And this is precisely the essence of the right’s criticisms against Democrats who refuse to use the term “radical Islam”.