Terrorism

Issues ››› Terrorism
  • NRATV Nonsensically Uses London Car And Knife Attack To Promote "Gun Rights" In US

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Following reports of a knife and vehicle attack in London, the National Rifle Association’s news show used the incident to promote “how important our gun rights are here in America," suggesting guns could help Americans combat such an attack. But the show's commentary ignored the reality that the United States, which has more permissive gun laws than the United Kingdom, also has a much higher homicide rate, and it is largely driven by gun violence.

    After at least four people were killed and 20 injured in the London knife and car attack, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield claimed Europeans are “unprepared for an attack” because “the government has all but disarmed” citizens and claimed that “this attack should serve as a reminder of how important our gun rights are here in America.”

    From the March 22 edition of NRATV’s Live Updates with Grant Stinchfield

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): It has happened once again, details are still being revealed but it appears terror has struck in the U.K. An attack on Parliament by a possible terrorist, he apparently used a car to run over as many as 12 people. The suspect then used a knife to stab a police officer. It is still unclear if the suspect who used the vehicle and the suspect who stabbed the cop are the same person. Parliament is in lockdown after law enforcement shot the knife wielding terrorist. This is a stark reminder that our enemies are real. They will do anything they can to destroy us and our allies, using a vehicle now seems to be the new method of choice for these evil holy warriors who kill in the name of Islam. Most citizens in Europe are unprepared for an attack like this as the government has all but disarmed law-abiding citizens. This attack should serve as a reminder of how important our gun rights are here in America.

    After a mass school shooting in 1996, the U.K. enacted highly restrictive measures on gun ownership that banned most military-style firearms and handguns. But while British gun laws are much stricter compared to those in the U.S., the European nation also has drastically lower rates of gun deaths, gun homicides, and homicides by all methods. 

    Firearms are used in more than two-thirds of homicides in the United States. High gun availability has been linked to increased gun homicide rates, with one review of academic research finding that “case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the U.S., where there are more guns, both men and women are at a higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.” (The same trend is seen in comparisons between high-income countries.)

    Academic research has also found that guns are used in the U.S. far more often to commit crimes than to stop crimes.

    A 2000 Harvard Injury Research Control Center found that as a ratio, "guns are used to threaten and intimidate far more often than they are used in self defense. Most self reported self defense gun uses may well be illegal and against the interests of society."

    In fact, the odds of needing a gun to protect yourself are so low that it’s difficult to accurately measure the number of defensive gun uses each year. Meanwhile, gun violence is so frequent in the United States that more than 100,000 gunshot injuries are recorded every year (a figure that does not include crimes committed with guns where no one is shot).

    In contrast to the lack of evidence that civilians effectively use guns to stop mass shootings, terror attacks involving firearms in the United States, often involving AR-15-style assault weapons, have proven incredibly deadly over the years. A December 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino, CA, involved a gunman shooting and killing 14 and wounding 22 at an office holiday party, and the perpetrator of a June 2016 terror attack in a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, shot and killed 49 and wounded at least 53.

  • Fox News Hosts “Professional Muslim Basher" To Attack Ninth Circuit's Stay On The Muslim Ban

    Brigitte Gabriel Is The Founder Of An Anti-Muslim Extremist Group

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On February 9, Fox News hosted Brigitte Gabriel to give commentary on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ refusal to reinstate President Trump’s Muslim. Gabriel, the founder of an anti-Muslim extremist organization, used the opportunity to propagate Islamophobic lies. 

    Gabriel is the founder of ACT! for America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says has "eagerly tapped into a groundswell of anti-Muslim rage and done what it could to fan the flames." She appeared on Fox several times after the Charlie Hebdo attack, despite her history of extreme Islamophobia. Gabriel was a guest on the January 7, 2015, edition of Hannity, where she said that Muslims in Europe "started multiplying" after World War II and did not assimilate and that Europe is "paying the price" because it "ignored the cancer growing within its body when it was at Stage Two." In her appearance on the January 8, 2015, edition of The Kelly File, she argued that the "Islamic religion" forbids Muslims to assimilate.

    In September 2014, Gabriel told an audience at the Values Voter Summit that "180 million to 300 million" Muslims are "radical Islamists who are willing to strap bombs on their bodies and walk into this room and blow us all up to smithereens." In June 2014, Gabriel berated a Muslim student who had criticized members of a Heritage Foundation panel on Islam, calling her a liar and saying, "Your loyalty is somewhere else. It's time we see more patriotism from the Muslim community and less terrorism." During the 2016 presidential campaign, Gabriel accused Hillary Clinton of trying to “appeal to the Islamic vote” because the father of a Muslim mass shooter was seen at one of her rallies. In July 2016, Gabriel also claimed that “the majority of Muslims around the world … do not believe in man-made law” and are thus “not compatible with our constitution.” A prominent Middle East expert and editor of The Oxford History of Islam called Gabriel "a professional Muslim basher." From the February 9 edition of Fox News’ The First 100 Days:

  • Trump Appeared On TV To Talk About Terrorist Attacks He Now Says Were Not Covered

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    After President Donald Trump claimed that “the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report” on terrorist attacks, the White House provided a list of 78 attacks that the administration says didn’t receive adequate attention from the media. But Trump himself appeared on at least four segments covering high-profile terrorist attacks included on the list to give his opinion, which counters his claim that the media failed to satisfactorily report on them.

  • One Type Of Terrorism Really Is Underreported -- Right-Wing Terrorism

    Many Of The Cases Trump Omitted Were Inspired By Conservative Misinformation And The American "Alt-Right"

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Following President Donald Trump’s false claim that the press purposefully fails to report on terror attacks, his team released a list of attacks that were supposedly “underreported." The list supplied, however, was entirely devoid of attacks by right-wing extremists and those inspired by the “alt-right.”

    During a February 6 speech at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the central military command based in MacDill Air Force base near Tampa, FL, Trump lied when he claimed that “the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report” on terror attacks. Trump added that the media “have their reasons” for not reporting on the events. Following the speech to military leaders, the White House released a list of 78 terror attacks that officials claim were “underreported” by the media. The list only furthered the lie. According to the audience engagement tool Chartbeat, four of the top 20 most “engaging news stories of 2015 (defined as those that held audiences’ attention for the longest) were events from the list. As CNN’s Chris Cuomo pointed out, none of the events listed “have less than 100 media hits.”

    In attacking the media for allegedly having a selection bias when it comes to terror attacks, the administration neglected numerous cases of terror inspired by right-wing extremism. In many of these cases, the terrorists had direct ties to the white nationalist movement, a key component of what has been coined the “alt-right,” or were inspired by conservative media misinformation. Here are just a few of the examples that didn’t make Trump’s list:

    “Alt-Right” Assassin Killed Six At Quebec Mosque

    Alexandre Bissonnette killed six people at a Quebec City mosque on January 29. As the BBC reported, political science professor Pierre Martin “says that Bissonette may have been influenced by a mix of global nationalist trends, the so-called ‘alt-right’, and ‘currents within Quebec itself’.” Bissonette was reportedly known to many as a “right-wing ‘troll’ who had previously been combative” online “and also openly shared attacks on women’s rights” -- another trademark of the “alt-right.”

    Dylann Roof, “Face Of The Radicalized ‘Alt-Right’” Killed Nine At Historically Black Church

    The University of Chicago’s Divinity School properly identified Dylann Roof, the man behind the June 17, 2015, shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, SC, as “the face of the radicalized ‘alt-right.’” In a confession video, Roof told an FBI agent that he committed the attack because “Blacks are raping and killing white people on the streets every day.”

    According to The Daily Beast, “whole passages from Roof’s manifesto first appeared” on the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer. The Daily Beast pointed out, “The parallels between Roof’s manifesto and the comments on The Daily Stormer … suggest that either Roof was the commenter or he visited the site often enough to have plagiarized from it for his manifesto.”

    Wired reported that Roof “searched for ‘black on white crime’ and ended up on the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens’ website,” which The Atlantic said has its roots in an organization that “aimed to be a (somewhat) more respectable alternative” to the Ku Klux Klan.

    British “White Fascist” Killed Labour MP Jo Cox

    Thomas Mair, a British man “with extreme right wing views,” according to CNN, was convicted of murdering British Labour member of parliament Jo Cox in June 2016. According to The Independent, “Reports from the trial proceedings conjure up a profile of a committed right-wing terrorist extremist, with the court hearing details of Mair’s links to white supremacist groups and witness testimony to his exhortations to ‘put Britain First.’” The article went on to say the murder was “an act of political terrorism murder committed by a white fascist.” The Daily Mail reported that jurors in the case were shown the inside of Mair’s home, where he “plotted her murder amongst far-Right literature and a dossier on the MP.”

    Man Angered By Debunked Sting Videos Killed Three At Colorado Planned Parenthood

    In 2015, Robert Lewis Dear opened fire inside a Colorado Planned Parenthood, killing three people. As Vox noted, when he was arrested Dear mentioned “baby parts,” which was “probably a reference” to the deceptively edited videos meant to slander Planned Parenthood put out by the Center for Medical Progress, which were laden with conservative misinformation. New Republic pointed out that “the narratives he learned from Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones and Bill O’Reilly and countless far-right web sites” contributed to his radicalization and his murders.

    White Supremacist Gave Nazi Salute After Targeting Jews In Missouri Shooting

    Frazier Glenn Miller, a “Missouri man with a long resume of anti-Semitism and white supremacist activism,” according to CNN, killed three people on April 13, 2014, after opening fire on two Jewish centers in Kansas City, MO. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said that just after his arrest, “Miller shouted ‘Heil Hitler’ while handcuffed in the back seat of a police car.” The Kansas City Star also reported that Miller asked the officer, “How many f------ Jews did I kill?” After his arrest, Miller said he “wanted to make damned sure I killed some Jews or attacked the Jews before I died.”

    Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino, told CNN that Miller was “among the most-over-the-top, violent white supremacists” of the 1980s, adding that he “was one of the pioneers in the modern hate world.”

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko

  • Conway's Bowling Green Massacre Claim Wasn't An "Honest Mistake"; It's Part Of A Pattern

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It turns out senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway didn’t misspeak only one time when she referenced a fictional “massacre” that unfolded in Bowling Green, KY, at the hands of two Iraqi-born men in 2011. She actually told that tall tale in at least three interviews in recent weeks, attempting to defend President Donald Trump’s ban on travel for visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. That, and to wrap the media’s knuckles for ignoring the alleged massacre.

    The latest revelation is troubling because it completely undermines Conway’s defense that when she mentioned the “massacre” on MSNBC last week, she simply made an "honest mistake" where she “misspoke one word,” and that instead of a “Bowling Green massacre” she meant to refer to the two Iraqi men as “Bowling Green terrorists.” In other words, “massacre” sprang out in a moment of on-air confusion, and then “haters” in the media blew the story out of proportion.

    If that were the case, it might be within bounds for Conway to push back on critics, even though she was reckless using “massacre.”

    But that’s not the case. Because if you look at the language Conway used on MSNBC, it’s obvious she didn’t employ “massacre” by mistake. (Her whole point was that the men were the “masterminds behind” the “massacre.”)

    We now know that Conway picked the same word more than once while peddling the Bowling Green narrative, which certainly suggests the storytelling was deliberate. (“Massacre” isn’t a word that often tumbles out of mouths of surrogates by mistake, let alone twice while telling the exact same story.)

    Why does Bowling Green matter, aside from the opportunity to mock Conway’s dishonest and dangerous fabrication? It matters because Bowling Green could offer a deeper glimpse into the alternate reality that may be developing within the White House regarding current events, and how that "reality" is being used to advance the White House's desire to demonize Muslims

    Bowling Green matters because it represents the swelling challenge the press faces in covering the Trump White House, based on its almost chronic attempts to fabricate information. And as that challenge swells, it becomes imperative that journalists not believe anything the White House tell them – ever -- before the claims are able to be independently verified.

    Writing about Conway and her Bowling Green adventure in The New York Times, media columnist Jim Rutenberg suggested her debacle represented good news for the media in their battle against Trump era fake news. Pointing to the speed and authority with which the “story fell apart so spectacularly,” Rutenberg hoped “the tale of the ‘massacre’ could be the start of something new.” (The episode certainly damaged her reputation at CNN, which reportedly declined to have her on Sunday’s State of the Union.)

    I also hope the Bowling Green debunking could be the start of something new. But I have grave doubts, simply because Trump and his advisers rarely seem chastened, even after caught telling flat out lies, or inventing news events, such as a fictional mass killing in the Bluegrass State.

    Meanwhile, look at the fabrication that sprang sprung up around Conway’s lie. Trump on Monday suggested the press purposefully ignores or downplays terror attacks. (“They have their reasons, and you understand that,” said Trump.) When pressed for examples, the White House released a list of large-scale attacks, including the December 2015 gun rampage in San Bernardino, CA, where 14 people were killed, and the November 2015 Paris terror attacks that left 130 dead and hundreds more wounded.

    But the idea that news organizations across the spectrum, both national and local, collectively choose to not cover terror attacks is nonsensical and easily refuted. The three television broadcast network evening newscasts devoted 237 minutes to the San Bernardino attack, making it the third most-covered news story of 2015, according to television news analyst Andrew Tyndall. The same analysis found the Paris attacks to be the fifth most-covered story. Overall, the rise of ISIS was the fourth most-covered story. 

    It was just more nonsense from Trump. In fact, Alex Jones’ conspiracy-loving Infowars website has been pushing the idea that the U.S. press, for political reasons, won’t report on terror attacks. (Jones has been a close media ally of Trump’s dating back to the campaign. In fact, Trump appeared on Jones' show to praise the conspiracy theorist's "amazing" reputation just hours before the San Bernardino attack.)

    In terms of the fictitious massacre, Bowling Green is emblematic of a White House that’s scooping up all kinds of dubious, unproven claims and presenting them as facts, particularly when the topic is hyping the threat of Islamic terror surrounding the travel ban. (Defending the initiative, Trump posted a fake news article on his Facebook page.)

    Meanwhile, the idea that Conway simply misspoke is categorically false. Providing additional details to the fictional massacre, here’s what she told Cosmopolitan during a January 29 interview:  

    "Why did [Obama] do that? He did that for exactly the same reasons. He did that because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills, and come back here, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers' lives away."

    In that telling, the two men “traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills” and then returned to the U.S. to unleash their “massacre,” which took “innocent soldiers’ lives” in the U.S.

    As Cosmopolitan explained, none of that is accurate.

    The good news is Conway’s awkward “massacre” fabrication was quickly and aggressively debunked, and her reputation may have suffered a long-term hit.The disturbing downside: The Conway incident isn’t a random, dismissible incident. As the Trump White House has proven repeatedly, making things up is becoming the rule, not the exception.