What’s new on the Democrats-Are-Terrorist-Lovers beat?
The Clinton campaign responded to criticism of Seddique Mateen’s attendance by claiming they did not invite him to the rally, nor were they made aware of his attendance until after the event had concluded. They failed to clarify whether they would have asked Mateen not to come if they had known ahead of time that he planned on attending.
But why should the Clinton campaign walk back Mateen’s attendance?
Omar Mateen’s father received plenty of national attention after his son’s attack in August because of the alleged influence of Mateen’s upbringing on his eventual declared loyalties to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (and others — Mateen cited various unaffiliated extremist groups). While Seddique has a history of commenting on Afghan politics, occasionally buying public access air time in California and posting YouTube videos on the subject, there’s no evidence that he was involved in the attack or knew about it ahead of time.
Still, Donald Trump has made “going after” the families and acquaintances of terrorists — just the “radical Islamic extremist” variety, though — a central premise of his national security strategy.
“And the other thing is with the terrorists, you have to take out their families,” Trump said in December. “They, they care about their lives. Don’t kid yourself. But they say they don’t care about their lives. You have to take out their families.” (Deliberately killing terrorists’ innocent family members is a war crime. Former CIA director Michael Hayden told Bill Maher after Trump’s comments that military leadership would not follow such an order.)
Trump applied similar logic to the family and acquaintances of the two San Bernardino attackers. “Many people saw this, many, many people. Muslims living with them, in the same area, they saw that house,” he said in March.
Why? Trump announced his intention to implement a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in December, and though at times he’s changed the scope of that ban to include or exclude countries “affected by terrorism” — including France and Germany, the sentiment has stayed the same: There’s “something going on,” and Islam itself is to blame.
And what easier way to find fault in an entire religion than to call attention not to radicalized individuals — the intelligence community finds that many attacks in the U.S. are carried out by “lone wolves” — but rather to the social structures that surround them?
In reality, ISIS recruiters pressure their recruits to isolate themselves from family and friends who might otherwise be able to convince them not to go through with an attack. One account from an ISIS recruit published by the New York Times last June illustrates the process by which recruiters attempt to replace the social ties in potential recruits’ lives:
Meanwhile, let’s talk about someone who was actually invited to attend the Republican National Convention as a member of the press: James Edwards, the white supremacist who the Trump campaign had previously falsely denied was given an interview with Donald Trump Jr. The campaign also initially denied white supremacist leader William Johnson was selected as a California delegate to the convention, before the media questioned the choice.
Unlike Seddique Mateen — unlike any of the less-newsworthy, innocent families of terrorist attackers targeted by the Trump campaign — Edwards, Johnson, and many others who identify with their politics were asked to participate in Trump’s nomination process.