The controversial responses to the Brussels attacks by Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are playing right into the hands of extremist groups like ISIS, according to a former CIA counter terrorism analyst.
“It is never a good idea to do what the terrorists want you to do, yet so many people are doing exactly that. The goal of terrorist groups is not simply to kill people but to influence their target group,” said former CIA counter terrorism analyst Susan Hasler in a CNN op-ed. “They need a hateful response to those attacks to make their point. Anti-Muslim violence and rhetoric and calls for banning and registering Muslims all play beautifully into their plans.”
“Politicians such as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz harness the attacks to advance their own ambitions. They play to the psychological need to hit back, the need to do something quick and spectacular,” she writes. “Go bomb the crap out of someone — a tack which also has the advantage of using up a lot of materiel and enriching the defense contractors who contribute so heavily to political campaigns.” Hasler argues that what is needed in such circumstances are ideas that come from the “middle ground.”
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“Terrorists, anti-Muslim extremists, and the politicians who benefit from their anger are trying to make the middle ground a no man’s land. If you’re not with us, you’re against us,” she writes. “Groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda have set out to convince the global Muslim community that it is under attack by infidels and that the only solution is global jihad. Their own attacks are not enough to drive their message home.”
Trump responded to the attack on Brussels by reinforcing that his comments and policies to ban Muslims from entering the United States were correct.
“This is what I’ve been saying for a long time, and I guess it’s at least a small part of the reason why I’m the No. 1 front-runner,” he told Fox & Friends over telephone. “I mean, people are very concerned about this, and they’re very concerned about the security of this country.”
Cruz called for law enforcement to police and monitor Muslim neighborhoods. “We need law enforcement resources directed there, national security resources directed there,” he said. Trump told CNN that he backed Cruz’s suggestion, “100 percent.”
“Politicians scream talking points past each other without engaging in the type of real intellectual debate that leads to understanding and solutions,” Hasler writes. “If we are ever to reduce the danger of terrorism, we must not cede the stage to the ignorant, the angry and the opportunistic.”
Featured image: LeStudio1- 2016 (Flickr)