Two prominent senators have criticized the Obama administration for releasing a strategic plan on homegrown terror that doesn”t mention radical Islam and likens domestic extremism to “gang violence” and “sexual offenses.”
The 24-page plan, released last week, follows a Defense Department letter in October that classified the Fort Hood massacre as “workplace violence.”
Sen. Susan Collins, along with Sen. Joe Lieberman, criticized that classification at a hearing earlier this week, and issued a statement questioning why the Obama administration omitted Islam from its latest document.
“We also continue to be disappointed by the administration”s refusal to identify violent Islamist extremism as our enemy,” the statement said. “To understand this threat and counter it, we must not shy away from making the sharp distinction between the peaceful religion followed by millions of law-abiding Americans and a twisted corruption of that religion used to justify violence.”
The document made clear reference to radical Islam without using the term. It repeatedly mentioned Al Qaeda, naming terrorism “inspired by” Al Qaeda and its affiliates as the top priority, while noting “free societies face threats from a range of violent extremists” and stating the plan would be applied “to prevent all forms of violent extremism.”
In the document, President Obama repeatedly has stressed that the U.S. is not “at war” with Islam. While aggressively targeting Al Qaeda leaders around the world and hammering the point in speech after speech that his goal is to dismantle Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Obama and his advisers have been cautious about using the word “Islamic” to describe the threat.
The report said: “Just as we engage and raise awareness to prevent gang violence, sexual offenses, school shootings, and other acts of violence, so too must we ensure that our communities are empowered to recognize threats of violent extremism and understand the range of government and non-government resources that can help keep their families, friends, and neighbors safe.”
Lieberman and Collins, the chairman and ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said they remain “troubled” that the administration has not assigned one agency to take the reins on “the national effort to counter violent Islamist extremism at home.”