In the 1975 comedy film “The Return of the Pink Panther,” the late Peter Sellers played a bumbling French police officer, Inspector Clouseau. In the opening scene, while walking his beat, Clouseau eyes an organ grinder on a street corner with a monkey chained to his musical instrument. Clouseau approaches the grinder, asking him if he has a license for his monkey. Sellers’ unique pronunciation of the words “monkey” and “license” lead to a hilarious exchange in which the grinder is unable to understand what Clouseau is asking. An argument ensues during which Clouseau — so focused on the minor license infraction — is oblivious to a bank robbery occurring in the background. Having robbed the bank, the robbers run by Clouseau, accidentally dropping a bag of money. Still intently focused on the grinder’s misdemeanor, Clouseau picks the bag up, returning it to the disbelieving thieves. As Clouseau continues haranguing the grinder, the thieves — their felony complete — make their escape.
The moral is simple: Focus on the small picture at the risk of losing sight of the big one.
This in mind, we turn to the first-ever Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) delivered last month to Congress.
The purpose of the report is “to outline the strategic framework to guide the activities of participants in homeland security toward a common end.”
By definition, “strategic” means “important or essential in relation to a plan of action"—such as something essential to the effective conduct of war. Applying this definition, one would expect to extract from the QHSR a focused understanding of what exactly poses the greatest threat to our Homeland, including an understanding of the motivation for it.
In describing the threat, the QHSR uses the term “terrorist” 66 times and the words “extremist” or “violent extremism” 14 times. While there are many different kinds of terrorist threats in the world, the QHSR makes mention only five times of “al-Qaeda” and no mention of words more descriptive of the exact threat and its motivation. Purposely avoided are words like “Islamic extremists” or “Islamists” — a glaring omission as these terrorists’ sole motivation is to eliminate all non-Muslims.
Readers may recall last April, DHS had no hesitation warning law enforcement officers across the country of possible future violent acts of domestic “right-wing extremism” from “disgruntled military veterans,” motivated by a poor economy and volatile political climate. Willing last year to attach an extremist stigma to our returning, courageous warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to explain their possible extremist motivation, DHS fails to clearly define from where the major threat to our Nation emanates today and the motivation for it.
Additionally, DHS still fails to focus any concern within the QHSR on an issue raised by a 2006 Department of Justice (DOJ) document never made available to the American public. That document revealed the existence of 35 Islamist terrorist training camps in the US, housing as many as 3000 followers. The document was based on an Islamist training video, “Soldiers of Allah,” obtained by the Christian Action Network (CAN) and turned over to DOJ. It profiled the man responsible for the camps — a man hoping one day to unleash the terrorist beast against America — Pakistani Sheik Muburak Gilani. Unbelievably, DOJ remains silent about the video. Consequently, CAN has sought to do what DOJ and DHS have failed to do — educate Americans on Gilani and the threat he poses to our country.
Heading a group known as Jamaat ul-Fuqra/Muslims of America, Gilani makes clear his intentions on the video: “We are fighting to destroy the enemy. We are dealing with evil at its roots and its roots are America.” CAN’s video shows Gilani chillingly advising trainees on how to kill American infidels: “Act like you are his friend. Then kill him.” (This approach undoubtedly was applied in 2002 to Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, enticed into meeting with Gilani, when kidnapped and later beheaded.) The video covers weapons training, kidnapping techniques, use of explosive devices, sabotage, etc.
All the above is detailed in a CAN-produced documentary, “Homegrown Jihad: The Terrorist Camps Around the U.S.,” which aired a year ago. The film prompted FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to issue a warning that “terrorists are prepared to conduct Mumbai-style attacks on U.S. soil” using “homegrown radicals, rather than foreign terrorists.” Amazingly, despite the documentary and Mueller’s warning, Gilani’s group is yet to be listed on US State Department’s Terrorist Watch List — and DHS has yet to warn us about it.
CAN should be saluted for its effort to educate the American public about this threat while DHS should be chastised for failing not to. Its failure only de-sensitizes Americans to the terrorist beast, lurking in the shadows here at home, waiting to pounce upon an unsuspecting American public.
When DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano gave her first testimony before Congress, she suggested not using the word “terrorism” — instead calling terrorist acts “man-caused disasters.” Considering this, plus a 2006 survey revealing 16% of Americans believe 9/11 was a US Government — vice a terrorist — conspiracy, shows we have a long way to go in educating Americans about the terrorist beast. Softening terrorism’s true intent by calling it a “man-caused disaster” and failing to bring the beast out of the shadows by identifying it as an “Islamist” threat do little to advance this educational effort.
Interestingly, the same week the QHSR was delivered to Congress failing to make any mention of an “Islamist” threat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on CNN to rebut charges of weakness on Islamist terrorism. She stated, “…Most of us believe the greater threats are the transnational non-state networks, primarily the extremists, the fundamentalist Islamic extremists who are connected” to al-Qaeda overseas. Clearly, DHS and the State Department are not on the same page.
Unfortunately, Inspector Clouseau is alive and well at DHS, choosing to fight a battle of semantics and political correctness while ignoring the terrorist beast snarling in the background.