If Saleh Ali hadn’t been pulled over by a traffic cop for having an expired vehicle registration, the consequences could have been explosive.
Lt. Adam Hawley of the Brea, California police department said: “During the traffic stop, the officer keyed in on a couple of suspicious items in the car he believed to be an explosive device. He detained the driver out of an abundance of caution, locked down a little bit of the area and called out sheriff's bomb squad deputies.”
The bomb squad destroyed the IEDs, and Ali is being held at the Orange County Jail on $500,000 bail. According to the Orange County Register, he has been “charged with one count of transporting a destructive device and two counts of possessing a destructive device.”
But there is no need for anyone to be concerned. Hawley added: “At this point, we don’t have any evidence to support that he was part of any terrorist organization.”
Hawley did not address the possibility that Ali might have been looking for an opportunity to act upon the call that the Islamic State (ISIS) issued in September 2014:
So O muwahhid, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons, and troops of the tawaghit. Strike their police, security, and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents. Destroy their beds. Embitter their lives for them and busy them with themselves. If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be….If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him….
It is an ongoing source of frustration for people who are informed about the jihad threat that authorities in the West routinely claim that random acts of violence committed by Muslims are not actually incidences of terrorism at all. In claiming this, authorities are frequently motivated by a desire to minimize the terror threat in their own countries, particularly when those authorities are responsible for increasing that threat by pursuing reckless and irresponsible policies of mass Muslim migration.
Authorities might also discount terrorism in instances such as the case of Saleh Ali because they simply don’t understand the phenomenon. They assume that Islam is a religion of peace, because they have been constantly warned that they must believe this or be charged with “racism” and “Islamophobia.” Then on the basis of that assumption, they further assume that the only problem with terror in connection with Muslims are “extremist” groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. If, therefore, Saleh Ali or others like him are not carrying al-Qaeda or ISIS membership cards, and their phone records don’t show them making multiple calls to Iraq or Syria, authorities assume that they have no connection to terrorism.
The idea that a Muslim such as Saleh Ali could read the Qur’an’s calls to “kill them wherever you find them” (2:191, 4:89, 9:5) and perhaps come across the ISIS call for individual Muslims to commit random acts of violence, or a similar call from al-Qaeda or some other jihad group, and act upon it despite having no connection whatsoever with any terrorist group doesn’t enter their minds. Authorities don’t even allow this to enter their minds. If they did, they would have to admit that the problem of terrorism is far larger than they have admitted up to now, and that their entire approach to it has been wrongheaded. It’s far easier simply to tell the public that Saleh Ali has no ties to terrorist organizations, and go back to sleep. What could possibly go wrong?
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His new book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.