By Robert Spencer

In late April, firefighters conducting a routine inspection in a Brooklyn supermarket found 200 automobile airbags and a room lined with posters of Osama bin Laden and beheadings in Iraq. An element in the airbags can be used to make pipe bombs. The owner of the building, according to the New York Post, “served jail time in the late 1970s and early 1980s for arson, reckless endangerment, weapons possession and conspiracy, according to the records.” [1] But officials were definite: this has nothing to do with terrorism.

It doesn’t? What does it have to do with, then? Was this a local Rotary Club chapter that decided to sell pipe bombs as a fundraiser and thought that a few posters of Osama and Iraqi beheadings might liven things up?

Similarly, when explosions killed fifteen people and injured over 100 at an oil refinery in Texas City, Texas on March 23, 2005, the FBI quickly ruled out terrorism as a possible cause. [2] When a group calling itself Qaeda al-Jihad and another Islamic group both claimed responsibility, the FBI was still dismissive. [3] But then it came to light that investigators did not even visit the blast site until eight days after the explosions — and eight days after they ruled out terrorism as a possibility. One more independent-minded investigator asked, “How do you rule out one possibility when you don’t have any idea what the cause is?” [4] Still later came the revelation that initial reports of a single blast were inaccurate: there were as many as five different explosions at the refinery. [5]

It may still be possible that these blasts were accidental, and that five distinct things went wrong at the refinery to cause five separate explosions at around the same time. And maybe there was no terrorist involvement. But how did the FBI know that before even investigating?

These are just two examples of a consistent pattern. Last Thursday, federal authorities revealed the revealed the existence of a three-state scam that enabled over two thousand illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses. Michael Garcia, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, explained: “With a valid driver’s license, you establish an identity. There’s no way to identify whether that identity is valid — that you’re not on a terrorist watch list, that you’re not a criminal. It gives you a bona fide.” However, although he did not explain how he could be sure that no jihad terrorists obtained any of the fake licenses, he assured reporters that this case had no connection to terrorism.

Daniel Pipes has recently pointed out that denial and obfuscation of obvious terror-related cases has been going on for years. [6] He enumerates a number of telling examples, including these: when a Muslim named El Sayyid Nosair murdered Israeli political activist Meir Kahane in New York City on November 5, 1990, authorities ascribed the killing not to jihad but to Nosair’s depression. [7] On March 1, 1994 on the Brooklyn Bridge, a Muslim named Rashid Baz started shooting at a van filled with Hasidic boys, murdering one of them. [8] The FBI ascribed the shooting to “road rage.” [9] On July 4, 2002, at the Los Angeles International Airport counter of El Al, the Israeli national airline, a Muslim named Hesham Mohamed Ali Hadayet started shooting at people. He killed two. The FBI initially said that “there’s nothing to indicate terrorism.” However, after it came to light that Hadayet may have been involved with Al-Qaeda and was known for his hatred for Israel, the FBI finally did classify this as a terrorist act. [10]

The Beltway Snipers, who were linked to eighteen shootings and ten murders in the Washington, D.C. area in October 2002, were two converts to Islam: John Muhammad and Lee Malvo. Before they were caught investigators ascribed the crimes to an “angry white man”; the perpetrators turned out to be two black men. After they were caught, the media persistently referred to John Muhammad as John Williams, ignoring his conversion to Islam and consequent name change. And even after Malvo’s drawings of Osama bin Laden (whom he labeled a “servant of Allah”) and ramblings about “jihad” were revealed, authorities continued to downplay the possibility that the shootings had anything to do with Islam or terrorism. [11]

On August 6, 2003 in Houston, a Muslim named Mohammed Ali Alayed slashed the throat of his friend Ariel Sellouk, who was Jewish. Alayed had broken off his friendship with Sellouk when he began to become more devout in his Islam. On the night of the murder, he called him and they went out to a bar together before going back to Alayed’s apartment, where Alayed slit Sellouk’s throat, nearly beheading him. The two were not seen arguing at the bar. Although Alayed killed Sellouk after the fashion of jihadist murders in Iraq and went to a mosque after committing the murder, authorities said “could not find any evidence that Sellouk…was killed because of his race or religion.” [12] Alayed’s defense attorney noted that “there was no evidence to substantiate the hate element.” [13]

Did officials consider the possibility that Alayed’s religious awakening led to the murder? Did they make any effort to see if Alayed had read and taken to heart such passages from the Hadith as those in which the Prophet Muhammad says that “the Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him’” [14]? Or the one that says that “when judgment day arrives, Allah will give every Muslim a Jew or Christian to kill so that the Muslim will not enter into hell fire”? [15] Maybe these had nothing at all to do with Alayed’s murder of Sellouk, but it is likely that investigators made no attempt to find out. Just as they ruled out terror in the Texas refinery explosions before even visiting the site.

Most Americans do not realize that such incidents are taking place on American soil after 9/11. Are officials trying not to alarm the American public? Or is this a politically correct strategy born of the success that canny American Muslim advocacy groups have had in portraying themselves as victims since 9/11: are officials trying to protect innocent Muslims from backlash?

Whatever their motivations, they are keeping Americans in the dark about the true nature and extent of the jihadist terror threat in our own country. The consequences of that can only be negative.