Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
On September 11, 2012, four Americans were murdered by Islamic terrorists in Benghazi. Ahmed Abu Khattala, the man named by the government as the ringleader of the attack, won’t have to worry about the death penalty. Even though he was being charged with crimes punishable by death including the murder of “an internationally protected” ambassador; three counts of murdering an officer and employee of the United States and four counts of killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility, the Islamist killer will not face the same fate as that of his American victims.
The same isn’t true for Dylann Storm Roof, the Charleston Church shooter, who will face the death penalty. What did Roof do that Khattala didn’t? Roof killed more people than Khattala, but both men have more than enough blood on their hands to justify the death penalty.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch insisted that, "The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision." Lynch had ruled out seeking the death penalty for Khattala, but “committed to ensuring that the defendant is held accountable”. Just not to the way that she chose to hold Roof accountable.
The prosecution charges that, "Dylann Storm Roof has expressed hatred and contempt towards African Americans, as well as other groups, and his animosity toward African Americans played a role in the murders." It is generally a safe assumption that mass murderers feel some animosity toward those whom they are murdering. And it’s not as if the lack of animosity makes murder less murderous.
Does Lynch imagine that the Benghazi Jihadists did not have “animosity” toward non-Muslims?
“We will never be at peace with the West, because Islam will always prevail,” Ahmed Abu Khattala had declared in an interview. In another interview he expressed his conviction that there was an inescapable conflict between Christians and Muslims. Shouldn’t Khattala’s indictment have noted that his victims were Christians and other non-Muslims, just as Roof’s took note of his bigoted views?
How are these expressions of homicidal Islamic supremacism any different than Roof’s views. And more specifically, why did Lynch and the Justice Department fail to mention it?
If Roof’s bigotry is an issue, why isn’t Khattala’s? Both Roof and Khattala saw a massive struggle; for Roof it was a struggle between blacks and whites, for Khattala, between Muslims and non-Muslims. Their bigoted worldviews unquestionably played a major role in the crimes that they committed.
But while the government and the media are quick to bring attention to Roof’s homicidal bigotry, they chose to cover up Khattala’s homicidal bigotry. Because not all hatred is created equal. And the Muslim bigotry that causes the mass murder of Americans, Yazidis, Coptic Christians, Jews and countless other non-Muslims may not be condemned. Its very existence cannot even be acknowledged.
The Khattala indictment informs us that he was the commander of an “Islamist extremist militia” in Benghazi whose goal was to impose Sharia law on Libya. And that is all it has to say about Islam. It is not willing to clarify the Islamic supremacist motives behind his murder of Americans.
And that goes to the root of the problem.
Under Obama, not all bigotry is equally bad. The hateful views of identity groups who are allied with the left receive a pass. Those who are viewed as the opposition receive all of the attention. The bigoted murder of Americans by Roof is deemed more serious than the bigoted murder of Americans in Benghazi because the left excludes the existence of Muslim supremacism and Islamic bigotry.
The left routinely denies the existence of bigotry by minorities, but Khattala was a supremacist in a Muslim majority country. Obama and Hillary’s illegal regime change attack on Libya empowered violent Islamist racists like Khattala to conduct a purge of non-Muslims. While the Benghazi attack was the atrocity we are most familiar with, ISIS has beheaded Coptic Christians and Islamic militias have terrorized Africans. While Obama and the left attempted to blame a Coptic Christian for the attack, rather than its Muslim perpetrators, Benghazi must be viewed within the larger context of an Islamic attempt to purge non-Muslims from Libya and from Muslim countries across the region.
Khattala’s equivalent of Roof’s Mein Kampf was the Koran and the associated Hadiths and miscellaneous texts that make up the body of Islamic thought and law. Khattala’s Hitler was Mohammed who had ordered his followers to ethnically cleanse Jews and Christians. “Two religions shall not co-exist in the Arabian Peninsula,” the dying warlord had declared. “If I live, if Allah wills, I will expel the Jews and the Christians from the Arabian Peninsula.” All these many centuries later, Islamists are obsessed with realizing Mohammed’s horrifying racist vision which is embedded deeply within Islam.
These same words of hate were cited by Osama bin Laden in his first fatwa against America. Al Qaeda was carrying on the ugly legacy of Mohammed by fighting to expel non-Muslims, in this case Americans. Benghazi was one of a series of Islamic supremacist attacks against American diplomatic facilities conducted on the anniversary of September 11. The attackers, like Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, had ties to Al Qaeda. These attacks recreated Osama bin Laden’s original African embassy bombings in the 90s. And the attackers made a point of pulling down American flags and replacing them with the black flag of the Jihad. These attacks were part of a pattern of acts of ethnic cleansing carried out against non-Muslims.
It took years after the Benghazi attacks before Ansar Al-Sharia’s ties with Al Qaeda were finally acknowledged. And a few months after the attack, while Obama and his media allies were still lying about the attack being caused by a YouTube video, the Amenas attack in Algeria was carried out by a dozen Jihadists who had been trained in Ansar Al-Sharia camps in Benghazi.
No YouTube videos were involved. Just the same old Islamic terror network hard at work.
If Roof’s junior Nazi tendencies were deemed “aggravating factors” in seeking the death penalty, why did Attorney General Lynch choose to ignore the equally aggravating factors of the bigoted and supremacist origins of Khattala’s actions? Why can’t we view Ansar Al-Sharia and Al Qaeda as being not any different than the KKK or Neo-Nazis? How long can we go on ignoring the bigotry behind Islamic terrorism?
The differing treatments of Dylann Storm Roof and Ahmed Abu Khattala show the dangerous double standard of ignoring Islamic bigotry at the cost of American lives. Ahmed Abu Khattala deserves to face the death penalty as much as Dylann Storm Roof does. And even more importantly, we must recognize that the murderous motives of Islamic terrorists and Neo-Nazis rise from the same wellspring of hate.