NEW YORK – In response to the attack on the Paris magazine that published editorial cartoons mocking Islam, President Obama reluctantly classified it as an act of terrorism while refusing to associate it with Islam.
“I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that has reportedly killed 12 people,” Obama said in a carefully worded statement released by the White House press office.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time. France is America’s oldest ally and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world.”
Speaking in both French and English, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed U.S. solidarity with France against the “extremism” reflected in the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo. He also took care to characterize the attack as terrorism without specifically characterizing it as “Islamic terrorism.”
French President Francois Hollande called the killings “a terrorist attack without a doubt.”
In an interview with CNN, however,White House press secretary Josh Earnest even avoided calling the attack “terrorism,” the Weekly Standard noted.
The CNN host asked: “Josh, when you talk about countering the message, you keep using the word violence. I mean, this is an act of terrorism, that’s what the president of France called it — an act of terrorism. You’re referring to ISIS and other bad actors, it doesn’t really matter who it is at the end of the day. You know you’re fighting a very large group of people of somewhat similar concern. Do you see this as an act of terrorism, and is this something that has to be condemned on that level?”
Earnest replied: “Based on what we know right now it does seem that’s what we’re confronting here. And this is an act of violence that we certainly do condemn, and if based on this investigation it turns out to be an act of terrorism, then we would condemn that in the strongest possible terms, too.”
See the CNN interview:
Andy McCarthy, the former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who led the 1995 prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, known as the “Blind Sheik,” and eleven others for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, was quick to criticize those hesitating to associate the attack with Islam.
“The media have adopted the absurd Obama reasoning that a) terrorism is unrelated to Islam, b) groups that happen to self-identify as Muslims are ‘violent extremists’ who do not represent the true Islam (that’s why we can no longer call them ‘jihadists’); and c) only violent extremists commit terrorism,” McCarthy explained in an email to WND.
“Therefore, d) when an atrocity happens, we must not call it ‘terrorism’ unless and until it has been linked to a ‘violent extremist’ group we have recognized as such (e.g., al Qaeda, ISIS),” he continued. “Consequently, (e) if we cannot link it to a violent extremist group, we deny that the act is terror and refer to it as ‘workplace violence,’ ‘lone-wolf attack,’ ‘militant extremism’ (as long as we’re careful to avoid saying what they’re being extreme about).”
After the beheading of journalist James Foley by ISIS in September, Obama declared ISIS is “not Islamic,” insisting “no religion condones the killing of innocents.”
In Paris, there appears to be no doubt the attack was perpetrated by well-trained Islamic terrorists.
A video released by France 24 shows Parisians escaping the attack on rooftops in the 11th Arrondissement of Paris, on the Right Bank of the River Seine, as masked terrorists dressed head-to-foot in black fired weapons that appear to be Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles. The terrorists could be heard shouting “Allahu Akbar,” in Arabic “Allah is the greatest,” as they fired their weapons at targets unseen in the video.
Reports that a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, was used in the attack suggested the attackers may have had military training with Middle Eastern Islamic groups.
The Daily Mail in London reported witnesses to the shooting claimed the terrorists spoke Arabic fluently and were heard shouting “the prophet has been avenged” and “Allahu Akbar.”
In a shootout with armed police, the “calm and highly disciplined” terrorists who spoke perfect French were seen to escape the scene in a hijacked car and remain at large.
Paris was put under lockdown as police evacuated the streets, searching for three terrorists that escaped from the scene of the shooting.
The Paris press has widely reported the editors of Charlie Hebdo were aware of the risk of retaliation by Islamic terrorists in response to their repeated efforts to satirize Islam and the Muhammad.
- Stéphanie Charbonnier, known as “Charb,” 47, who was the director of Charlie Hebdo since 2009. In one of his recent cartoons, he warned of an Islamic terrorist attack on Paris, commenting “Still no attacks on France. Hold On!” His favorite cartoon characters were an anarchist dog and a fascist cat.
- Jean Cabut, known as “Cabu,” 76, whose drawings appeared in numerous publications and was known for the character of the “Grand Duduche,” a rebellious dunce inspired supposedly by an actual patron of a known Paris bistro.
- George Wolinski, 80, who was considered one of the “pillars” of the publication, known especially for his numerous caricatures. He was fond of saying: “Cabu and I are really not provocateurs looking for a fight. We make designs (cartoons) that make people laugh and perhaps sometimes we go a bit too far, but the people tend to love it anyway.”
- Bernard Verlhac, known by the name “Tignous,” 47, who worked for several publications and was known to “have a passion for the news.” In 2008, he published a book on Scientology, one of the subjects he followed carefully in Paris.