(ANTIMEDIA) Amid the chaos that swept airports across the United States over the weekend, families were kept apart and sick, elderly individuals with documentation were turned away. At the same time, terrorists around the world rejoiced as the United States confirmed what they have long asserted: the United States is at war with Islam.
As Stuart Shapiro, professor and director of the Public Policy Program at the Bloustein School at Rutgers University, recently explained in The Hill:
“An organization that was on the run in Syria and Iraq has just been handed an amazing recruiting tool: A written proclamation from the U.S. president that everything they’ve been saying all these years about the United States being at war with Muslims is true.
“This recruiting tool is likely to be effective in messages consumed by individuals like those who perpetrated the awful attacks in Fort Hood, Orlando and San Bernardino. So while we will be keeping out individuals who mean the United States no harm and indeed are in many cases the victims of those who do, we will have handed our enemies an important weapon.”
Shapiro makes two important points: one, that ISIS can now further assert that the United States hates Muslims, driving a wedge between moderate Muslims and the West, and two, that the most recent gruesome terror attacks that have plagued the United States have been committed by natural-born citizens who became radicalized. The shooters at Fort Hood, Orlando, and San Bernardino (with the exception of Syed Rizwan Farook wife, who came from Pakistan) were all American — not individuals who came in via the visa or refugee program. Farook’s wife entered the U.S. with a visa from Pakistan.
A 2013 report by the Heritage Foundation, a right-leaning think tank, further confirms the futility of the ban. They noted that of 154 attempted terror attacks since September 11th, 77 had been perpetrated by U.S. citizens. Thirty-three came from the U.K. The next highest country of origin was Pakistan, which was not included in Trump’s recent executive order ( Barack Obama did exert a great deal of effort drone bombing that country). Though Afghanistan, which was included in the ban, had four nationals who attempted attacks, that country was followed closely by Haiti, Saudi Arabia, and Albania — none of which were banned. Those countries came in ahead of Yemen, Iran, and Iraq, which were banned (though some supporters of the executive order have asserted the list Trump used was crafted by Obama, the language of the legal authority Trump claims to have appears to allow him to include any country he pleases).
The inconsistencies among the banned countries speak for themselves, and ISIS is already using the order as a recruiting tool. The Washington Post notes that jihadists were posting on Telegram, an encrypted messaging platform, that “Trump was fulfilling the prediction of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born leader and preacher who famously said that the ‘West would eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.’” Obama killed al-Awlaki without trial (setting a dangerous precedent for President Trump). He also had his sixteen-year-old son, Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki killed, and just this week, a raid ordered by Trump killed Abdul Rahman’s eight-year-old sister.
One post said the new president’s ban “clearly revealed the truth and harsh reality behind the American government’s hatred toward Muslims.”
But one need not listen to the sentiments of terrorists and the Post, a tried and true establishment outlet. The statements they reported echo previous sentiments from ISIS and Osama bin Laden before them. According to a 2015 essay in Dabiq, the Islamic State’s official magazine, the “grayzone,” wherein Muslims can co-exist peacefully with Westerners, is deteriorating. This makes it easier to recruit jihadists.
“The grayzone is critically endangered, rather on the brink of extinction. Its endangerment began with the blessed operations of September 11th, as these operations manifested two camps before the world for mankind to choose between, a camp of Islam– without the body of Khilāfah to represent it at the time – and a camp of kufr – the crusader coalition,” they wrote. [emphasis added]
Even bin Laden noted this dynamic. “The world today is divided into two camps. Bush spoke the truth when he said, ‘Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.’ Meaning, either you are with the crusade or you are with Islam,” the famous terrorist leader said.
This divide is only further deepened when the United States projects broad disdain for Islam, whether through warfare, after attack by terrorists, or with Trump’s recent ban.
Though many have claimed the ban is based on nationality and “danger” rather than religion, Trump’s indication that Christians will be given priority easily demonstrates the intent is to make it more difficult for Muslims, specifically, to enter the country. This is line with his campaign rhetoric.
But even neoconservative Republican Senator John McCain, who criticized the ban — and in doing so drew the ire of the president himself — admitted the potential effects. “The effect will probably in some areas give ISIS some more propaganda,” he said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
According to Robert Richer, a former chief of the CIA’s Near East division, the ban was a “strategic mistake.”
“This was a win for jihadists and other anti-U.S. forces,” he said. “It fuels the belief out there that Americans are anti-Islam. Otherwise, it accomplishes nothing, because the ones we are most concerned about can still get to the United States.” Considering countries like Saudi Arabia (where the majority of 9/11 hijackers originated), Qatar, and Turkey – which have all been demonstrated to support violent extremism — were left off the list, Richer appears to be right.
And considering Trump has continued air strikes and violence and seeks to expand the already massive U.S. military while provoking Iran — a country included on the ban list that has had more than its share of unwarranted U.S. intervention — this ban is yet more fodder for extremism. Add that to Trump’s fervent support for torture and the effect these practices have on prisoners — and others — and the anti-terror leader is setting the stage for further radicalism and terror attacks.
As Shapiro concluded, “By allegedly trying to decrease the risk of a terrorist attack, we may have increased it.”