Runners will take their marks Monday at the start of the 2014 Boston Marathon, no doubt with last year’s cruel memories still fresh in their minds. Since Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev exploded two pressure cooker bombs at the finish line in 2013, killing three people and injuring almost 300 others, can participants feel any safer running the route this time around? Author and terror expert Robert Spencer thinks the answer is a tragic "no." Tuesday I had the chance to speak with Spencer about his new book, Arab Winter Comes to America. In both his book and during our conversation, he gave our country a poor grade for its efforts to stop terrorism. His harshest critique for the current state of Americans’ safety, was that political correctness under the Obama administration has left the United States vulnerable to attacks.
It’s been a year since the Boston Bombing. Would you say we are any safer in America?
“We are less safe, because the Boston bombing was a massive failure on the part of the FBI. They were told Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a follower of radical Islam. The Russians told us they were jihad. If the FBI had been able to investigate, maybe they’d look a little harder and could have thwarted the bombing.They didn’t find anything, so they stopped the investigation. [...] Islam stopped being mentioned in counterterror training.”
Would you say the Boston bombing victims were also victims of political correctness?
“Absolutely. 100 percent.”
How easy is it for a terrorist to enter our country and become an American citizen?
“As easy as saying it to me just now was.”
In a piece he penned at Jihad Watch, Spencer noted that just this week Somali Muslims protest counter-terror efforts in Kenya. He noted that, while Kenyan police might be cracking down too hard on Muslims after recent bombings, these charges of police injustice are similar to charges Muslim groups have made in the U.S. — that the FBI and police target Muslims indiscriminately:
So we see Muslims ostensibly opposing jihad terrorism, and yet protesting against counter-terror efforts in the U.S., Israel, Kenya and elsewhere. One might almost get the impression that these charges of brutality and disproportion are always leveled against any counter-jihad action, as a tactic to clear away all obstacles before the advancing jihad.
Spencer wondered how the US could stand to allow radical protesters within our borders.
“This is nothing short of grotesque. What kind of people are these allowed into our country?”
How many “extreme” Muslims would you say are in the US?
“There’s no telling - the situation is so fluid.”
Another example of someone with radical Islamist views who wreaked havoc on our country, was Nidal Malik Hasan. Hasan, who was a major in the United States Army, had touted his extreme views prior to murdering 13 people, yet our government did not act:
The US was waging a "war on Islam", Nidal Hasan explained to fellow graduate students at a military medical college in Maryland, before mounting a defence of Osama bin Laden and endorsing suicide bombers.
As his disgusted audience "erupted", he was halted by their lecturer after just two minutes. Yet two years later Hasan, still a member of the Army he had denounced, would violently conclude his demonstration.
What does one have to do before he or she is denied rights in our country?
“You’re innocent until proven guilty. But this (Hasan terrorist act) is an example of a politically correct culture, where’s there’s Islamophobia in the media. This could have been a career ender for them if they reported it. Career suicide.”
Media bias is something you talk about in your book. What if the Boston bombing had been carried out by Christian extremists? Would there be a difference in how the media covered it?
“It would’ve been a huge thing. They would’ve started an investigation of what’s going on in churches.”
What are a few of the unanswered questions about the Boston bombers?
“What are the connections of the Boston bombers to the Chechen jihad? Did they receive training? If so, who did they receive training from? How were they able to elude police, throw bombs back?”
The answers to those questions likely lie behind the dangerous veil of political correctness.