Top Democrat says Muslim-Americans key to stopping future attacks (Yahoo! News)
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Yahoo News that stopping future atrocities like the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., requires making Muslim-American more “comfortable” about going to the authorities.
In an interview broadcast Wednesday on SiriusXM, Schiff also said that he would look into past FBI investigations of the alleged shooter that failed to turn up credible evidence that he posed a real risk.
U.S. officials have said online propaganda linked to the so-called Islamic State helped inflame the suspect, leading him to carry out an attack “inspired” by the terrorist army but not planned or controlled by the group, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Yahoo News asked Schiff how U.S. authorities could stop that kind of attack.
“It’s very difficult,” the California lawmaker replied.
First, “a lot of the motivation, a lot of the inspiration” comes from ISIS holding land and perpetuating the notion that it controls a modern-day caliphate, so “the military effort is very important,” he said. Second, he argued that there must be a fight for social media, including taking down ISIS-linked accounts and counter-messaging by the United States.
Third, Schiff explained, “we need to further intensify our work with the American Muslim community to that people feel comfortable reporting to law-enforcement if someone is at risk of radicalization.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has to find a way “so that family members don’t think every time they call the Bureau about a loved one who may be becoming radicalized, that it means they’re simply going to be sent to jail,” he said.
There is an existing effort to achieve this goal but it “can be intensified,” Schiff said.
It’s not clear whether this would have helped prevent the attack in Orlando, which left 49 victims dead and authorities searching for answers. There have been unconfirmed news reports, anonymously sourced, that the alleged shooter’s wife knew, or should have known, about the shooting ahead of time. And there have been reports of missed red flags in other high-profile shootings, like the one in San Bernardino, Calif.
Schiff said Congress would be looking at the way the FBI handled its past investigations into the shooter’s past comments claiming ties to terrorist groups. But the lawmaker indicated that the investigations appear not to have yielded any information or evidence that could lead to arrest or prosecution.
“They ran a confidential source against this person to see whether he had any active intent to go beyond these expressions of radicalism,” Schiff said. “Nothing materialized.”
“Sometimes when you run a source against a target, they will make their expressions of criminal intent very clear and they’ll take overt steps to carry out a plot,” he added.
“Other times it becomes clear that the person has no intent to commit harm, and there’s no basis to continue investigation,” Schiff continued. “Here, apparently, the use of the confidential source did not result in additional evidence that could be used to either keep the file open or bring charges.”
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