New York, NY – With the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 upon us, terrorism and its perpetrators return to focus. Forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner, M.D., Chairman of the Forensic Panel, is among featured speakers such as former CIA Director James Woolsey, former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Egyptian activist Ahmed Meligy, and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on September 18 & 19 at the Eyes Only counterterrorism and law conference presented by the Israel Law Center (Shurat Hadin) in New York City. The Israel Law Center is world renowned for its spectacular antiterror litigation successes in the United States and elsewhere.
Dr. Welner’s talk is entitled: Mentally Ill or Zealot: How Social Media Informs Understanding and Assessment.
On another front, recent release of the autopsy findings of the Orlando massacre similarly evoked the stark investigative shortcomings that not only preceded the Orlando tragedy, but followed it. The Clarion Project, an eminent academic and information resource to the anti-terrorism decision-makers, returned to Dr. Welner, to draw his forensic psychiatric input on a series of unresolved questions that piqued public interest.
Professor Ryan Mauro, whose interview earlier this year with Dr. Welner on myths of Islamist extremism can be found here, conducted the two part interview which follows..
Part One: How important questions about the wife of Omar Mateen, the attacker remain unanswered.
Professor Mauro: What’s the significance of Omar Mateen’s wife’s role in Mateen’s actions based on what we currently know?
Dr. Welner: Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, was aware of his objectives to carry out a mass casualty attack, and she could have easily engaged his or her own support system to stop him from doing so.
Mrs. Salman accompanied Mateen during a visit to Disneyworld that caught the attention of Disney security in April. Salman knew Mateen was purchasing offensive weaponry. And not just any gun, but a firearm (MCX Sig Sauer) far more expensive than needed for a mass killing – even as Mateen was quite underemployed. Ms. Salman did not stand in the way of her husband’s activities that would “martyr” himself, knowing that her child would be fatherless and she would be without financial support. Or is there more?
The San Bernadino killers, who long planned the mass killing yet bore a child together, was the watershed of ISIS in America. ISIS has redefined Islamic feminism by embedding women in vital support roles in terror (martyrdom), recruitment and facilitation.
That Mateen was willing to leave a child behind and Salman accepting of same is an idea unthinkable to Americans and to terrorism in America. But it is a mindset indoctrinated in Palestinian life. Salman, born of Palestinian parents and raised with traditional Islamic restrictions, was first wed in an arranged marriage with a man from the West Bank. She divorced her first husband. Yet she stayed with Mateen, who long claimed aspirations to be a martyr.
Salman did more than stay with Mateen, she admittedly participated with him in preparations for his eventual attack, including driving him to Pulse to case the nightclub. She thus actively supported her husband’s efforts, even though she had family living nearby where she could separate herself. She agreed, with Mateen, to sign over the deed to their house two months before the attack on the Pulse nightclub.
Facilitators, collaborators, and handlers are the unseen support of Islamist suicide terror – especially in the Palestinian theater. How did Mateen get the resources for an MCX Sig Sauer? How did he pay for the upscale accommodations of his overseas travel? How does his wife anticipate supporting herself financially in the face of the attack – and having divested herself of her home?
Did he expect to survive, as had the San Bernadino attackers? And what then would have happened? How is it that we do not even know the identity of her first husband’s family? How is it that there is no public discussion about Mateen’s mosque or the influences who inspired him?
Professor Mauro: When Mateen had outbursts of extremism at work, such as declarations of support for terrorist groups, he blamed it on anti-Muslim discrimination by his colleagues, basically saying that Islamophobia casuses Islamic terrorism. Is this just a standard deflection tactic, or is there more involved with Islamists’ incessant use of the Islamophobia card?
Dr. Welner: The American dialogue about the Islamist supremacist movement and, in fact, all of Islam is not based in fact. This is because public impressions and the nature of the dialogue we have are carefully controlled by at least three sources of influence:
1) Unregulated and below-the-radar financial influence on American lawmakers by countries ruled by sharia law.
2) Intellectuals and other American media and thought-leader proxies funded by dogmatic Saudi Arabia and Qatari deep pockets. These funding resources, whose assets tie back to their respective governments, export the spread of sharia as a neoconservative would aim to export democracy. Funding now heavily influences university education, think tanks and media and promotes impression management by respected academia deliberately dissimulates and whitewashes Islamist terrorism and its broader goals.
3) CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, who have been ceded standing by the press to speak for Muslims in America despite a legacy of terror apologia and of actively teaching the Muslim community to impede law enforcement’s investigations of terror inquiries.
Islamic supremacist advocates and, more importantly, the organizations empowered to speak for Islam are very sensitive to American public opinion and the buttons to push among social activists. At a time that enhanced interrogations and waterboarding came under scrutiny in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, for example, al-Qaeda was teaching its conscripts to assert that they were tortured when they went into custody. They could rely upon an academia-media complex that grasped at any opportunity to attack a Republican president through the safe space of declared “social justice.” Al-Qaeda exploited these willing opinion soldiers to fuel public sentiment against Guantanamo Bay and to delegitimize the U.S.-led war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The Islamic supremacists have also cynically co-opted national sensitivities on other fronts. Recognizing the mainstream news media’s identification with black grievances against the police, the Islamists have successfully fused the idea of blacks targeted for their skin color to advance the notion that Muslims are victimized as a direct result of discussion of the centrality of Islam to Islamic supremacist terror incidents.
President Obama has been the highest authority to subscribe to this false canard. The President has famously disassociated Islamic supremacist terrorism from Islam, often with servile platitudes that embellish Islam’s history in America or submissive deference to “The Prophet.” The administration has promoted a CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) program that emphasizes the purported risks of “right wing terrorist” groups in America. While the facts demonstrate otherwise, an imposed groupthink has rooted out teaching and training from among law enforcement that engages the Islamist threat with any appreciation for its urgency and current relevance. References to Islamic terror have been literally erased, right down to “Allah” being airbrushed from transcripts of the Mateen 911 calls.
Political correctness extinguishes any criticism of Islam or its intolerance to alternative lifestyles. This includes speech laws in many otherwise free countries that equate criticism of Islam with hate speech, laws which are enforced particularly as they relate to Islam. With freedom controlled, even where expression is normally free, the public submits. The psychological intimidation by legal repercussion extends what is accomplished by terror or, if not, by threat of terror.
The consequences have filtered all the way through American life, as they have in Europe. A migrant gang sexual assault in Idaho of a small child is suppressed by the local authorities. Nidal Hassan’s advocacy of martyrdom is not sufficient to remove him from active military duty, and when he later embarks on a mass shooting of the troops to whom he was to apply a Hippocratic Oath, the military – which answers to the Commander-in-Chief – insists that it is a work accident. Unquestionably dangerous prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay, only to return to attack and kill American servicemen and Ankara airport-goers alike. Surveillance programs that would monitor mosques in which attendees are particularly poisoned to support terrorism shut down, despite court support of their legality and police respect for their effectiveness.
Americans who cared about their country reported concerns about Mateen to entrusted law enforcement agencies, only to have investigations shut down. All of these systemic errors feed back to the active thought control and stifling of free thinking about efforts of the Islamic supremacist movement to gain submission of non-believers.
The first of those affected are Muslims themselves, because open-mindedness is crushed by sharia advocacy as opposed to pluralism advocacy among Muslims.
The only solution is a nonviolent but defiant revolt of free speech that demands that leaders and the news and information media stop lying to our free society about terrorism and its origins.
Only from that point can collaboration then begin between the general public and Muslims who are invested in a pluralistic America to undertake a constructive anti-terror policy that wins the war that we are now losing.
We are currently losing not by terror, but by the success of our Machiavellian enemy, who has been able to buy the influence of those who do not appreciate that non-violent war is more destructive than terrorism and who exploit our inherent empathic nature as Americans as the first step on the road to submission.
Part Two: Homosexuality, the Orlando attacker, Pornography, & Islamist Terror
Professor Mauro: The FBI says there is no evidence that Omar Mateen (who attacked the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 and wounding 53) had a homosexual relationship, although attendees of the gay club say they’ve seen him there. What’s your take, as a doctor, on the possible connection between Islamist extremism, homosexual inclinations, and Islamist terrorism?
Dr. Welner: Ideological mass killings in the name of Islam are carried out principally by young men proving a commitment to their faith and who idealize destructive violence as a grand vehicle for doing so. The rewards of such ultimate sacrifice are particularly manipulated in an age group struggling with sexual deprivations so highlighted in traditional Islam.
Apart from relating to sex as unclean, Islam vehemently rejects homosexuality and condemns gays to death. Is bisexual curiosity or even experimentation necessarily incompatible with terrorism among the devout?
Precedent would demonstrate that it is not. Osama bin Laden, for all of his reputation of piety, was found to have a cache of pornography. Yasser Arafat, as noted by intelligence leaders from Romania and the United States, maintained a voracious homosexual appetite and, simultaneously, religious support for the waves of suicide bombing he organized in the name of martyrdom.
The key to both was the denial of their sexual indiscretions. Denial is very much a part of Muslim culture and of how men in particular relate to personal flaws. Denial serves psychological needs by eliminating one’s psychological conflict. This quality endows one with the ability to maintain earnest sincerity despite factual hypocrisy. Because denial erases torment and eliminates the need to resolve a personal conflict, homosexuality to have an unconscious linkage to Islamist terrorism when there is linkage at all.
Mateen’s father, Sediqque Mar Mateen, and his standing as a pro-Taliban political figure, inspire natural questions about whether Mateen killed to achieve absolution for the dishonor he brought to his father. Nevertheless, Mateen had a long history of inappropriate aggression from his earlier years. The shame his father experienced because of Mateen’s behavior was longstanding. There is no reason why Mateen would be so mindful of his father’s reputation as an adult in 2016 any more than he would be at any other time.
Like other ideologically-driven mass killers – indeed like all of them — Mateen made his agenda clear. He called a 911 operator and expressed official allegiance to the Islamic State “caliph,” Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, called a television station to express anger towards the United States for bombing in Syria and in Iraq, and communicated with victims around him and with police. For hours, while murdering others around him, Mateen had every opportunity to express antagonism toward gays and did not. Therefore, there is no evidence for homosexual hatred as Mateen’s conscious motive.
Mateen’s presence at Pulse on previous occasions and his reported engagement of gay men through dating apps has not extended into any credible accounts of an active homosexual lifestyle. How then does one integrate Mateen’s online activity and repeated presence at Pulse with his later plundering of the club? It is best to remember that other Islamist terrorist incidents have been perpetrated by actors who specifically presented a false moderation in order to embed themselves with a target who would otherwise have been inaccessible. The scenario that Mateen engaged gay men in chatrooms or partied at Pulse may have had everything to do with making himself familiar enough to partiers at Pulse to diminish suspicions that he had destructive intentions.
The mass killer is typically inexperienced in death. Dehumanizing others is essential to the process of breaking down inhibitions to kill complete strangers. This is where the Pulse nightclub, in my professional experience, comes in.
Gays and lesbians are dehumanized in Muslim religious teaching. An attack on a nightclub full of Americans would be worthy of martyrdom. An attack on a nightclub full of gay Americans would be worthy of martyrdom but easier for the inexperienced if wannabe warrior to execute insofar as the victims would be considered subhuman to begin with.
Professor Mauro: One of the oddities of the Muslim world is that there is such hostility to homosexuality, but if you talk to people who lived there or troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, often you’ll hear about widespread homosexual activity in their society, even among Islamist extremists who believe in killing gays. Based on your studies, can you explain this apparent contradiction?
Dr. Welner: Unpredictable sexual exploration is the potential byproduct of pressure to deny and to repress teen and young adult sexuality. Children, both males and females, are commonly exploited by Muslim males as an alternative to forbidden premarital heterosexual sex.
Aggressors relate to their victims in detached and unemotional terms, as vessels for their relief as opposed to emotional and sexual intimacies. This mechanical relatedness to alternative and extramarital sex enables a Muslim to deny homosexuality.
Unpublished research on inmates in Guantanamo demonstrated that detainees who had more exposure to the West maintained the most ingrained hostility toward America. It is therefore not surprising that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed studied at North Carolina A&T, for example.
Hostility toward open gays emerges from similar demonization of others for tempting to blasphemy, rather than one’s own lack of discipline or even sexual inclinations.
Homosexuality is less a threat to Islam than the demonstrative message that homosexual lifestyles are an acceptable alternative. Gay pride is a direct threat to Islam, more so than homosexual tendencies that can be denied or displaced elsewhere.
Vocal hostility toward homosexuality by traditional religion is not exclusive to Islam. There are zealots in Christianity and Judaism who later prove to have their own sex practices that contradict their preaching. What distinguishes the Islamist supremacist movement today is its political mission of imposing its will on surrounding society, which includes the submission of all beliefs and practices deemed unacceptable to Islam.
Submission by force is well on display in countries controlled by Islamic supremacists. ISIS (the Islamic State) is only new in their spectacle, which has intimidated communities into submission for fear of the atrocities otherwise awaiting them. ISIS has used the shock of defenestration of homosexuals in territories it administers to impact sex practices among host populations. But institutionalized hatred and violence toward homosexuals is well-recognized from other Islamist societies such as Iran and Hamas-run Gaza. The sectarian rivalries between the Sunni and Shia do not yield daylight when it comes to homosexuality under Islamist rule.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. He is a longtime consultant with expertise on a variety of national security issues, from maritime security to asymmetric warfare.
For more information on the September 18-19, 2016 Eyes Only counterterrorism and law conference of Shurat Hadin, please click here.