Orlando shooter Omar Mateen (left) and San Bernardino shooters Tashfeen Malik (center) and Syed Rizwan Farook (right)

Orlando shooter Omar Mateen (left) and San Bernardino shooters Tashfeen Malik (center) and Syed Rizwan Farook (right)

A former Department of Homeland Security official says it took him only a few hours to connect Sunday’s Islamic terrorist attack in Orlando to December’s carnage in San Bernardino, and he says the federal government’s active refusal to acknowledge reality is “handcuffing” efforts to keep the American people safe.

Philip Haney served nearly a decade at the Department of Homeland Security after its inception in 2003. His responsibilities there included investigations for Customs and Border Patrol through its National Targeting Center. While there, he played a key role in vetting people connected to Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic group with some 70 million members.

He is the author of the new book, “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad.”

In less than two days since the massacre at the Pulse club in Orlando, reports have surfaced that terrorist Omar Saddiqui Mateen was investigated multiple times by the FBI but was ultimately deemed not to be a threat, despite professing a link to the Boston Marathon bombers and the terrorist group Hezbollah.

Haney said that should have raised innumerable red flags, but he said the FBI’s own training procedures, updated in 2012, stopped common sense from taking the probe any further.

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“Just because an individual is affiliated with a known terrorist organization, we can’t automatically assume that individual is a terrorist,” Haney said.

“That’s handcuffing. That is making it virtually impossible for basic law enforcement actions to be taken,” he said. “How can you develop a case if you’re trying to go to probable cause when you’re prohibited from making an association between an individual and the organization that he may be affiliated with?”

In addition to the stifling rules, Haney said one hand of government doesn’t know what the other is doing. He said all relevant government entities are supposed to be coordinated by a joint terrorism task force, but the idea works better in concept than in reality.

“The same thing happened with the Boston bombing,” Haney noted. “There was a disconnect in the transfer of information regarding the Tsarnaev brothers prior to that event. Apparently, here was a disconnect here as well.”

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Reports that former co-workers were alarmed at Mateen’s angry rants are also chilling to Haney, especially the indications that the employer never followed up on the complaints with authorities out of fear of being politically incorrect. Haney said it’s the same story America saw in San Bernardino, when a neighbor was suspicious of what was happening at the terrorists’ home but did not report anything out of fear of being labeled Islamophobic.

Haney said the ignored warnings from co-workers also reminds him of another horrific case.

“The first thing that comes to mind when I hear about co-workers being concerned is exactly what happened with Nidal Hasan before the Fort Hood shootings. It’s like a tape recorder. We’re listening to exactly the same comments from people who raised concerns,” Haney said.

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So while FBI Director James Comey says there was no basis to continue the investigation after Mateen insisted his pro-terrorist statements were just angry falsehoods expressed in anger to his co-workers, Haney said a few hours of work on Sunday not only proved Mateen was not a lone wolf but his network of influence can be tied to the San Bernardino terrorists.

After learning that Mateen was affiliated with the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce (Florida), Haney quickly discovered a statement from the center’s imam confirming that Mateen worshiped at the mosque. He said that connection is important to establish before unraveling the rest of the thread.

“I always follow the same process,” he said. “There are individuals, and there are organizations. They are inseparable, and one always leads to the other.”

Haney then discovered the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce is affiliated with the Sharia Board of America.

“Then I find out that the Sharia Board of America is directly linked to an association called the Rahmat-e-Alam Foundation,” said Haney, who then found the foundation was linked to a very familiar group.

“I’m now realizing I’m about to touch a case that was related to the San Bernardino shootings, the case that the records were deleted from by my own government and a case that was related to the Tablighi Jamaat Initiative that I worked on at the National Targeting Center. Ultimately, the Tablighi Jamaat case was shut down by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security out of concerns that the civil liberties of Muslims would be infringed.”

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But Haney said the trail keeps going, as Rahmat-e-Alam is affiliated with the Darul Uloom Chicago.

“Now we’re overlapping with the San Bernardino case because the mosque in San Bernardino was called Darul Uloom Islammiya,” said Haney.

But there’s more.

“It turns out that the Darul Uloom Chicago organization, which is a madrassa, is directly related to the Islamic Institute of Education case that I worked on as an active-duty officer,” he said.

“All of it goes back to the Tablighi Jamaat case that I worked on at the National Targeting Center,” Haney explained. “There was only one degree of separation from the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce and that entire network that I worked on back in 2011.”

If Haney could connect that many dots in an afternoon, why couldn’t the federal government do the same?

“Did the FBI have access to any of that information? I don’t know,” he said. “Did the [Customs and Border Patrol organization] affiliates have access to this information? Yes, they did. Did anyone put the picture together? It doesn’t look like it.”

Haney stressed that these links are critical and meaningful because affiliation for Muslims is hugely important.

“In Islam, there is really no such thing as a lone-wolf individual. In Islam, the sense of community and family is an overriding awareness of everyone,” Haney said.

Fidelity to the Quran and the Hadith are other pillars of Islamic life, but he said the Islamic approach to homosexuality also cannot be ignored here.

“There is a fourth component and that the cultural, traditional worldview, that is violently opposed to homosexuality throughout the Islamic world,” he explained.

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But none of that is enough for the government to remove its blinders with respect to radical Islam, according to Haney.

He was investigated nine times while working at Homeland Security, eight times during the Obama administration. Three of those probes ran simultaneously. The government also refused to allow him to see the files relevant to his case and the shuttering of the Tablighi Jamaat investigation. He was forced to obtain them through Freedom of Information laws. He said emails among the State Department, Homeland Security and other agencies told the the real story.

“They had concerns about civil rights and civil liberties of these individuals, by the way, who are foreign nationals,” Haney said.

How did the priorities get so mixed up? Haney said it all goes back to one moment.

“Things really started going sideways after the Holy Land Foundation trial in November 2008, when it was irrefutably proven in federal court that groups like Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America (and) the North American Islamic Trust were to support for Hamas. That point is the turning point in the history of counter-terrorism,” Haney said.

“At that point, the administration had to make a conscious decision, whether to act on that law enforcement-based evidence and go forward and shut those groups down or ignore it and create a new policy, And that’s exactly what they did,” he said. “So people like me, who focused on those groups, ran headlong into the administration’s policy. Many of us suffered because of it.”

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