Katie Pavlich: Why the WH didn’t invite the FBI to its extremism summit

The much-anticipated White House summit on combating generic extremism is over, and outside of a handful of feel-good statements and speeches, little was accomplished. 

A number of activists from various organizations were present for discussion, but one person was noticeably absent from the summit: FBI Director James Comey. 

{mosads}The FBI is one of first lines of defense in combating extremism — Islamic terror in particular — and keeping Americans at home and abroad safe. FBI input about root causes of terrorism at the White House summit would have been beneficial not only to its mission, but to ultimately defeating the enemy we face. 

“It’s our top priority — protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks,” the FBI website states. “Working closely with a range of partners, we use our growing suite of investigative and intelligence capabilities to neutralize terrorist cells and operatives here in the U.S., to help dismantle extremist networks worldwide, and to cut off financing and other forms of support provided by terrorist sympathizers.”

Comey wasn’t at the White House last week because he wasn’t invited. The reason why can be found by taking a look at the summit guest list, which included a variety of groups whose members have urged Muslims in America to shut the FBI out of their communities and to be non-cooperative with terrorism investigations.

The Council on American–Islamic Relations is once of those groups, and has a long history of telling its supporters in Muslim communities in the U.S. to avoid working with the FBI on counterterrorism and intelligence-gathering operations. In 2011, CAIR published a poster on its website showing slammed doors in the face of an FBI agent walking through a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. 

“Build a wall of resistance,” the poster read. “Don’t talk to the FBI.” 

After public backlash, CAIR eventually took the poster down, citing a “misinterpretation” — but would not apologize.  

In 2008, CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial; it has direct connections to Hamas. Over the years, many of the group’s members have been arrested and indicted on terrorism-related charges. 

As reported by Breitbart News this week, members of the Islamic Society of Boston’s radical Cambridge mosque, where the Boston bombing brothers went to worship, attended the summit. The ISB has a history of telling its members and Muslim communities in Boston not to work with the FBI. Breitbart also pointed out that 12 members of the ISB are either on the run for involvement in terrorist activity or died fighting with Islamic terrorist groups. 

While the State Department and the White House claim they want to get to the “root” of extremism, their actions speak otherwise. We cannot get to the root of any problem without identifying it for what it is: Islamic terrorism. Further, we cannot combat Islamic extremism without the FBI, and we certainly can’t solve the problem by working with groups that are part of the problem. It’s a shame the White House was willing to listen to the words and ideas of radical Islamic activists who don’t have the best interests of the country in mind while shutting out the FBI from the discussion.  

Despite administration denials and generic extremism rhetoric, the radical Islamic threat we face right at home is real, and the FBI has been issuing concerns about it for months as agents grapple with the new threats. 

“The FBI remains concerned the recent calls by ISIL [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] and its supporters on violent extremist Web forums and the recent events in Europe could continue to motivate homegrown extremists to conduct attacks in the homeland,” Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division Michael Steinbach testified in front of the House Homeland Security Committee recently. “Online supporters of ISIL have used various social media platforms to call for retaliation against the U.S. in the homeland. In one case, an Ohio-based man was arrested in January after he obtained a weapon and stated his intent to conduct an attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Using a Twitter account, the individual posted statements, videos and other content indicating support for ISIL, and he planned his attack based on this voiced support.” 

“The FBI, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, is utilizing all investigative techniques and methods to combat the threat these individuals may pose to the United States,” he continued. “In conjunction with our domestic and foreign partners, we are rigorously collecting and analyzing intelligence information as it pertains to the ongoing threat posed by ISIL, AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], and other foreign terrorist organizations.”

Here’s the frightening reality: Many of the groups invited to the White House summit on combating extremism have either been raided by the FBI or are subjects of FBI investigations into terrorism, which is exactly why the FBI wasn’t invited to the table for discussion. 

Pavlich is the news editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.

Tags FBI Islamic terrorism James Comey

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