Denying [Islamist] Terrorism
by Daniel Pipes
Translations of this item:
Anyone following the investigation into the mid-January slaughter of the Armanious family (husband, wife, two young daughters), Copts living in Jersey City, N.J., knows who the presumptive suspects are: Islamists furious at a Christian Egyptian immigrant who dares engage in Internet polemics against Islam and who attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity.
The authorities, however, have blinded themselves to the extensive circumstantial evidence, insisting that "no facts at this point" substantiate a religious motive for the murders.
Somehow, the prosecutor missed that all four members of this quiet family were savagely executed in the ritualistic Islamist way (multiple knife attacks and near-beheading); that Jersey City has a record of Islamist activism and jihadi violence, and that the www.paltalk.com website carried a threat against Hossam Armanious: "We are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you."
Law enforcement seems more concerned to avoid an anti-Muslim backlash than to find the culprits.
This attitude of denial fits an all-too-common pattern. I previously documented a reluctance in nearby New York City to see as terrorism the 1994 Brooklyn Bridge ("road rage" was the FBI's preferred description) and the 1997 Empire State Building shootings ("many, many enemies in his mind," said Rudolph Giuliani). And the July 2002 LAX murders were initially dismissed as "a work dispute" and the October 2002 rampage of the Beltway snipers went unexplained, leaving the press to ascribe it to such factors as a "stormy [family] relationship."
These instances are part of a yet-larger pattern.
Nor is this a problem unique to American authorities.
I have cited 13 cases here and provide information on further incidents on my weblog. Why this repeated unease acknowledging Islamist terrorism by the authorities, why the shameful denial?
And for that matter, why a similar unwillingness to face facts about right-wing extremists, as in the 2002 murder by a cursing skinhead of a Hasidic Jew outside a kosher pizzeria in Toronto, which the police did not rate as a hate crime? Because terrorism has much greater implications than prescription drugs going awry, road rage, lunatics acting berserk, or freak industrial accidents. Those can be shrugged off. Islamist terrorism, in contrast, requires an analysis of jihadi motives and a focus on Muslims, steps highly unwelcome to authorities.
And so, police, prosecutors, and politicians shy away from stark realities in favor of soothing and inaccurate bromides. This ostrich-like behavior carries heavy costs; those who refuse to recognize the enemy cannot defeat him. To pretend terrorism is not occurring nearly guarantees that it will recur.
Mar. 21, 2013 update: I explain this pattern of reluctance at "Denying Islam's Role in Terror: Explaining the Denial."
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