FPI Resources: The Orlando Attack and Islamic Extremism

June 13, 2016

In the days ahead, lawmakers and their constituents will discuss how best to prevent further terrorist attacks on American soil, following the murder by a pro-ISIS gunman of 49 patrons at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. While much about the Orlando attack and its perpetrator remains unknown, there is already substantial research on the ideological and operational aspects of attacks perpetrated by radicalized Americans. FPI has been following this issue closely and recommends the following resources for lawmakers and their staff as they address the ongoing threat:

FPI Resources

The Islamist War on Gays Comes to America - FPI Fellow James Kirchick - Tablet - June 13, 2016

"Yesterday’s massacre also complicates a fashionable leftist critique of American foreign policy, which is that the Islamist terrorism directed against the West is the result of our bad behavior overseas. In this reading, American support for Israel, its maintenance of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and various other “Islamophobic” policies abroad generates legitimate rage at the U.S. that – regrettably, though not unjustifiably — results in terrorism, which is the cri de Coeur of the unbearably oppresssed. This has always been a morally obtuse theory, and, if there’s any silver lining to yesterday’s attack, it’s that the butchery of gay people enjoying their freedom by an Islamist fanatic will hopefully shame the cretins who regularly take to the airwaves and newspaper opinion sections to hawk such reprehensible claims."

FPI Bulletin: ISIS in America – FPI Policy Director David Adesnik – Foreign Policy Initiative – January 20, 2016

“The U.S. intelligence community estimates that 250 Americans have sought to travel to the Islamic State, with 20 already killed in action. In October, the director of the FBI reported that the Bureau is pursuing 900 active investigations against homegrown violent extremists, the majority of which are linked to ISIS.”

FPI Analysis: Bush, Obama, and Islam – FPI Policy Analyst Joshua Holdenried and FPI Policy Director David Adesnik – Foreign Policy Initiative – January 6, 2016

“Both Bush and Obama worked hard to prevent Americans from reaching [the] conclusion [that Islam itself is the problem], yet their refusal to acknowledge any relationship between Islam and terrorism has generated a credibility gap, which is now being exploited by those who do believe that Islam itself is the problem.”

FPI Bulletin: San Bernardino, Terror, and Islam – FPI Policy Director David Adesnik – Foreign Policy Initiative - December 15, 2015

“By describing how certain Islamic traditions are conducive to extremism under certain circumstances, the President could show that Islam itself is not a threat while encouraging productive discussions about how to prevent further attacks.”

Additional Resources

Jihad in Orlando – Editorial – Wall Street Journal – June 12, 2016

“The distressing truth is that no amount of domestic vigilance can stop every ISIS-inspired act of terror. That’s why the only real solution is to destroy Islamic State in its havens abroad so young Muslims around the world won’t see it as the vanguard of the future. Part of President Obama’s legacy will be that Islamic State grew so dangerous on his watch, prospering in the political vacuum that was created when he chose to withdraw from Iraq and then do little in Syria. The job of the next President will be to repair the damage done by those two historic mistakes.”

[Video] – Orlando Mass Shooting and National Security – Francis Townsend – C-SPAN’s Washington Journal – June 13, 2016

“[FBI] Director [James Comey] has said repeatedly he’s got terrorism investigations in all of the 50 states. And he doesn’t have the resources to cover all of those threats and investigations equally.”

ISIS’s Persecution of the Gay Community – Counter Extremism Project – June 13, 2016

“The Orlando attack, which stands as the deadliest shooting on American soil, was also an echo of ISIS’s systematic hostility and persecution of gay individuals in Syria and Iraq.”

How Can We Fight Homegrown Terror? – Zalmay Khalilzad – The National Interest – June 12, 2016

“Washington is paying the price of its hasty withdrawal from Iraq and flawed policies in Syria, which fueled the rise of ISIS. The ability of ISIS to seize the vacuum and establish a de facto state has served as an inspiration for jihadists around the world.”

ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa – Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes – George Washington University Program on Extremism – December 2015

“The profiles of American ISIS sympathizers…are extremely diverse. Ranging from grown men who had flirted with jihadist militancy for over a decade to teenagers who have only recently converted to Islam, from the son of a Boston area police officer to a single mother of two young children, these individuals differ widely in race, age, social class, education, and family background.”

From Paper State to Caliphate: The Ideology of the Islamic State – Cole Bunzel – Brookings Institution – March 2015

“Jihadi-Salafism is a distinct ideological movement in Sunni Islam. It encompasses a global network of scholars, websites, media outlets, and, most recently, countless supporters on social media. The movement is predicated on an extremist and minoritarian reading of Islamic scripture that is also textually rigorous, deeply rooted in a premodern theological tradition, and extensively elaborated by a recognized cadre of religious authorities.”

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