As part of the fallout from this week’s terror attacks in Brussels, politicians far and wide have their respective assessments of the rise of Political Islam and how to fight it. It is likely little surprise that Donald Trump has proven to be one of the most vociferous participants in the public dialogue, as some of his most incendiary comments about Muslims seem to have curried favor with his political base and sustained his lead in the race for the Republican nomination.
Donald Trump’s initial comments on the Brussels attacks centered largely upon the terrorists themselves, proposing methods to keep terrorists out of the country and how to deal with them when caught. In the hours following the attacks, Trump suggested that the United States should close its borders. The candidate also called for waterboarding as well as other unspecified enhanced interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects.
But the following day, Donald Trump shifted his attention from terrorists to Muslims in general, telling an interviewer on ITV’s Good Morning Britain that Muslims in both the United States and the United Kingdom bear some of the blame for the deaths of civilians on both sides of the Atlantic.
“They’re protecting each other, but they’re really doing very bad damage — they have to open up to society and report the bad ones,” Trump said in comments published by the New York Times. “When they see trouble, they have to report it. They are absolutely not reporting it, and that’s a big problem.”
To be sure, authorities in Belgium have not publicly shared any concerns that the Brussels attacks were facilitated or abetted by Muslims outside of an ISIS-affiliated terror cell. Indeed, Trump made similar comments after the terror attacks in San Bernardino, California. As noted by Think Progress, Trump was quoted by NPR reporter Asma Khalid as claiming that an unspecified number of Muslims knew of the San Bernardino attacks before they occurred, yet turned a blind eye to an impending tragedy.
“These people in California, people knew he had bombs all over the floor, people knew it, why didn’t they turn him in?” Trump asked according to Khalid.
Trump also publicly accused the mother and sister of San Bernardino attacker Syed Farook were complicit in the attacks, admittedly coming to a conclusion regarding the situation after watching a single televised interview featuring Farook’s sister.
“I believe the that the sister of the killer, I watched her interview, I think she knew what was going on,” Trump said according to a previous report by The Hill. “I think his mother knew what was going on.”
In addition to the controversies stirred by Donald Trump’s assessments of Islam and Muslims in general, his proposed strategies on how to combat enemy combatants have also elicited scrutiny and critique from people at the forefront of the war on terror. In a recent report by The Daily Beast, U.S. intelligence officials expressed alarm at the logistic and legal implications of a Trump Administration that would openly embrace the use of torture. The reliability information obtained through the use of physical pressure is also disputed, compounding the ethical issues surrounding such techniques.
“Torture is immoral and illegal,” said Representative Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee. “It is also a great way to get people to say anything to make the pain stop, and send authorities chasing false leads. Comments by Donald Trump espousing the virtues of torture are spoken by a person with no national security experience and who obviously knows little about how to obtain reliable and accurate intelligence.”
[Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images]