Political correctness and a "willful blindness" are preventing the FBI from rooting out Islamic jihadists that continue to make headlines in her home state of Minnesota, says Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann.
In an exclusive interview with WND, Bachmann responded to news this week that two Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area had left to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS. One had obtained a security clearance at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where he held a job cleaning jets for Delta Airlines. Both men died on the battlefield in Syria.
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On Thursday, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported a 19-year-old Somali woman from St. Paul left her home two weeks ago and traveled to Syria to fight with ISIS. The woman reportedly used a borrowed passport and may have left with two other women from the St. Paul area.
"We need our FBI to be vigilant in places like Minnesota where we've had a long history of terrorist financing and recruitment for fighters to join the Islamic State," Bachmann told WND. "But we also need to be aware that we could see recruitment of people to commit terrorist acts here in the United States, from people coming back in with U.S.passports."
She said that's why she's introducing a bill to fast-track her legislation to revoke the citizenship of any American who returns to the U.S. after fighting with the Islamic State.
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The Minneapolis area has become home to more than 50,000 Somalis since the early 1990s. They have been brought there by the U.S. State Department through the Refugee Resettlement Program authorized by the Refugee Act of 1980. In a report earlier this week, WND detailed how several Christian charities work as contractors for the federal government to resettle the refugees using taxpayer-funded grants.
Since 2007, the FBI says 20 to 25 young men from the Somali community in the Twin Cities have left the state to fight with terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Others have been tried and convicted for sending money to Islamic terrorist groups.
Thursday's report was the first of young women being recruited in Minnesota. KSTP 5, the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, on Friday quoted leaders of the local Somali community explaining that the vast majority of Somalis in Minnesota are proud Americans and do not associate with terrorists.
'War has been declared'
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But Bachmann says more needs to be done both at home and abroad, not just to crack down on ISIS but to wipe it out completely.
She likens President Obama's response to ISIS to that of a high-school football match-up in which one side does not have its head in the game.
"War has been declared on us," she said. "It's like a high-school football team and they've got their helmets on and they're heading for the goal post and the other team hasn't even come out of the locker room yet."
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a televised interview Wednesday, said the number of Americans who have joined up with ISIS was "at least 100," a substantial increase from earlier estimates of anywhere from 12 to 70. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., told the Star-Tribune that he was informed by the FBI that 12 of those 100 fighters left from his state.
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Yet, Bachmann said the FBI often fights the war at home with one hand tied behind its back, while the State Department is guilty of "willful blindness" to religious extremism around the globe.
"We've been told through political correctness for over a decade that this has nothing to do with religion, but this has everything to do with religion. Political correctness has gotten people killed and until we take off the blinders we are not going to defeat this enemy," Bachmann said. "What we've seen these last two weeks is the face of Islamic jihad. This isn't people who are rebelling against poverty or against so-called American imperialism. Or our Constitution. They couldn't care less. All you have to do is look at their statements. They kill people who refuse to swear allegiance to their god."
Not only has ISIS forced Iraqi Christians to convert to Islam or die, they have also been forced to join the jihad, Bachmann said.
"In Iraq, we saw innocent women and children were actually buried alive by these animals."
Obama too brotherly with the Brotherhood?
Bachmann believes the Obama administration has been too cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood. She has introduced legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, that would declare the Muslim Brotherhood an international terrorist organization. She said there are several Muslim Brotherhood front groups operating in the United States, and they have proved to have great influence with the White House.
She references a letter sent in 2011 to Obama's then-deputy national security adviser for counter-terrorism, John Brennan, by 57 Islamic organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, requesting that the FBI purge its training manuals of all references to Islam deemed discriminatory against Muslims. She said Brennan dutifully carried out the purge.
"I have that letter and I have his reply and his reply was basically that 'we agree with you that there is Islamophobia and a purge is already in progress,'" Bachmann said. "I believe I was the only member of Congress who read every word on every page that was purged from the manuals."
But it doesn't stop there.
A new letter surfaced in late August, signed this time by 70 Islamic organizations, led by CAIR and ISNA, demanding that all federal, state and local law enforcement purge training manuals of any language deemed offensive to Muslims. Bachmann said this follows a pattern of the Muslim Brotherhood front organizations, "playing the victim" during a major news event exposing the brutal nature of Islamic radicals – in this case the beheadings by ISIS of U.S. journalists and the news that at least 100 Americans have joined ISIS overseas.
The letter, sent to Lisa Monaco, Obama's adviser for Homeland Security and counter-terrorism, further demands that a task force, to include members from the same Muslim Brotherhood front groups making the demands, be established to root out any bias against Muslims found in the law enforcement agencies. It also demands that federal funding be withdrawn from any state or local police agency that uses "discriminatory" training practices.
"Every time there is a terrible tragedy, you'll find that Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the U.S. shout that they are the victims," Bachmann said. "CAIR and ISNA, their pattern is to portray themselves as victims so it is very odd that these groups, now 70, would come out again. So I'll be putting a letter together and asking others to sign on and asking our current FBI director … will the FBI again censor itself, and won't this have a chilling effect on FBI agents' ability to recognize Islamic terrorism and Islamic jihad if they fail to understand Muslim ideology, which is Muslim Brotherhood ideology, because these are Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the U.S., and I know for a fact at least several of them that signed the letter are front groups."
Failing to confront ISIS leader
Bachmann said the U.S. State Department has also "bent over backward never, never, never to offend Islamic religious doctrine. That is wrong. We should be offended by Islamic doctrine, and we need to describe the enemy for who he is and defeat them."
She said it's important for Americans to know that the leader of ISIS, Abu-Bakr Ibrahim Baghdadi, was released by President Obama from an American prison at Camp Bucca in Iraq in 2009.
Bachmann, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said it became clear as early as late last year that Baghdadi was organizing a formidable army and becoming a serious threat to the stability of Iraq.
"He's a very interesting person. He's 43 and has a doctorate degree. He knows Iraq very well. He's been in al-Qaida for decades. He was number three for al-Qaida in Iraq," said Bachmann, who spent the August break traveling to Turkey and Jordan to learn more about the ISIS threat. "When Obama chose to remove all U.S. residual forces out of Iraq in 2011, that was his moment of opportunity.
"Even though we'd spent nearly $1 trillion on Iraq, we didn't retain even one Air Force base," Bachmann continued. "So he began to have a field day and started a campaign of car bombings to demonstrate fear and send a political message to President Nouri al-Maliki that he could defeat them. I'm on the Intelligence Committee. We knew about this threat. President Obama knew about this threat because we knew about this threat. Months and months ago, into last year."
Bachmann points to a speech made by Baghdadi in January in which he stated, "Soon we'll be in direct confrontation, so watch out for us, for we are with you, watching."
That statement was "very telling," she said, noting that the ISIS leader calls himself Caliph Ibrahim Bagdadi, the ruler over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL.
"His organization is now called ISIL by the State Department. That's what he wants," Bachmann said. "The Levant is larger than Iraq and Syria, so that gives more credit to Baghdadi. He wants to be the leader over all of Jordan, Gaza, Israel, too. So it is odd to me that our State Department would use that term. They intend to defeat the U.S. and defeat the West and they intend to do that by bringing terrorist action here."
Bachmann said the U.S. should find Baghdadi and kill him.
"And find every one of his leaders and kill them. And kill them till they wave the white flag," she said. "Now can an Army and Air Force and Navy of our size accomplish that? Yes it can. We need to take the full force of the U.S. military and defeat this 12,000-man army now."
Two of those who recently died fighting for ISIS in Syria have come from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, where thousands of Islamic refugees have been resettled from the war-torn African nation of Somalia since the early 1990s. Portions of Minneapolis have been dubbed "Little Mogadishu" for their high concentrations of Somali refugees. Several thousand new refugees are brought in each year by the federal government, which delivers resettlement services through grants made to Christian charitable organizations like Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities and World Relief Minnesota.
The Somali families tend to be large, and the roughly 25,000 transplants have mushroomed into more than 50,000 Somalis living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Some estimate the population of east Africans there could be as high as 85,000.
With that burgeoning Muslim population have come mosques and Islamic schools, funded largely with Saudi Arabian money and recruiters for radical Sunni Muslim terror groups like ISIS in Syria and al-Shabab in Somalia.
The FBI has been investigating, on and off, the Minneapolis community's ties to Middle Eastern terrorist groups since 2007. That investigation is now officially back on, a FBI spokesman told WND, and the agency has confirmed that up to 25 Somali-Americans from Minnesota have left the country to fight with militant Islamic jihadists overseas.
One of those was 29-year-old Abdirahmaan Muhumed, who had obtained a security clearance giving him access to jetliners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where he was employed cleaning airplanes for Delta Airlines before he left the U.S. to fight for ISIS.
Another, Douglas McAuthur McCain, was killed in Syria weeks ago. He was a close friend of another foreign fighter, Troy Kastigar, who was killed in 2009 after joining al-Shabab in Somalia. All three hailed from Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Kyle Loven, spokesman for the FBI's Minnesota field office, said 20 to 25 Somalis have left the state to become fighters with Islamic militants overseas but he would not say how many more have turned up missing from their Minnesota homes.
"I'm not able to get into that. We have pending investigations here. As far as specific numbers or persons who may have gone missing I'm not in a position to get into that," he told WND.
Loven also declined to say who was paying for these young fighters' flights out of the United States.
"These are active investigations that are ongoing," he said. "We have active investigations into that, yes, but that's all I can say."
'Nationalism' can no longer be blamed
When many young Somalis in Minnesota headed to Somalia to fight with al-Shabab in 2007 and 2009, the FBI attributed it to nationalistic fervor.
Some analysts believed it wasn't their motive then and point out it certainly can't be now as a wave joins ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Loven did not deny local mosques in Minnesota could be part of the problem of spreading jihadist theology, but he refused to pinpoint any particular mosque or imam.
"These are the types of questions we are hoping to answer, because our hope is we are going to be able to identify those who are at risk of succumbing to that propaganda," Loven said. "What we are finding generally from our investigation into these travelers is they are young, disaffected and generally withdrawn when it comes to society, and most of these travelers have these common characteristics. But what makes an individual actually make the decision to go fight? That's something we're still in the process of reviewing and trying to come up with a firm answer."
Loven refused to say if the mosques were being directly monitored for signs of radical teachings.
"Again, you're asking me questions I simply can't get into the details to what our agents look into," he said. "But suffice it to say, we do work extensively with religious leaders and community leaders and citizens who are concerned, because the vast majority of those in the Somali community, they don't want to see their young people travel overseas to engage in this type of fighting."