Cawthorn says Boulder shooting ‘linked’ to Biden’s Syria airstrikes
First-term Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) said in a recent interview, without offering evidence, that he believes the man alleged to have carried out a mass shooting in a Colorado supermarket last week was inspired to violence following U.S. airstrikes in Syria, which he called a “failed policy” of the Biden administration.
Cawthorn made his remarks in an interview with a Fox News affiliate in North Carolina that was surveying lawmakers’ attitudes towards gun reform legislation in the wake of the shooting in Boulder, which left 10 people dead, including a police officer.
The youngest lawmaker in Congress said he opposes any legislation that would “restrict people from obtaining a firearm” and called for increased access to mental health services but added he believes President Biden’s policy in Syria is also to blame.
“I think this is really a failed policy by the Joe Biden administration because they just started dropping bombs on Syria last month, even though we had … we have been reaching historic peace deals in the Middle East,” Cawthorn told Fox46-WJZY on March 26. “And now the Syrian immigrant is now shooting people up in Colorado. I think the two are linked.”
Colorado authorities have said it is too early to determine what the motive was behind the March 22 shooting, allegedly carried out by 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, whose family emigrated to the U.S. from Syria in 2002.
Ali Aliwi Alissa, the suspect’s brother, told CNN he believed his brother may have been suffering from mental illness. A law enforcement official told the network that it appears nothing in the federal system would have prohibited Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa from buying a firearm.
Reached for comment Friday by The Hill, a spokesperson for the Boulder Police Department said the investigation is active and ongoing and that they are not commenting further at this time.
Alissa, who was arrested bloodied and half-clothed at the scene, has been charged with 10 counts of murder.
The shooting was one of the deadliest mass shootings in more than a year, and it directly followed one in Atlanta on March 16 where eight people were killed.
The deaths have reignited the political debate around legislation to combat the U.S. epidemic of gun violence.
Biden last month launched the first major military action of his administration, approving a U.S.-air strike against Iranian-backed militias located in Syria. The Pentagon said that one militia member was killed and two members wounded in the strike.
The president approved the mission as a retaliatory response for missile attacks that targeted bases housing American forces and contractors in Iraq. The missile attacks in Iraq were allegedly carried out by Iranian-backed militias in the country.
A spokesman for Cawthorn’s office did not offer further comment.
The North Carolina Republican was sharply critical of the strike at the time.
“The Biden Admin’s attack on Syria is a prime example of reckless military decisions. We have to END wars, not ignite them,” he tweeted.
The Biden Admin’s attack on Syria is a prime example of reckless military decisions. We have to END wars, not ignite them.
We should be crafting peace agreements, not predator strikes and bringing our troops HOME!
— Rep. Madison Cawthorn (@RepCawthorn) February 26, 2021
Cawthorn has been a lightning rod of controversy within the GOP, facing allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to Nazi sympathies and drawing scrutiny over misleading claims about the circumstances of the accident that left him partially paralyzed.
He is also a vocal supporter of former President Trump and supported Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, including speaking at the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C., that preceded the assault on the Capitol.
—Updated at 2:21 p.m.