Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) suggested on Friday that the FBI was unable to ask deceased Boston marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev about Islam during its 2011 interview with him due to President Obama’s “political correctness,” thus allowing the bombing to take place.
Gohmert said on the House floor that the Obama administration has prevented intelligence officials from discussing Islam. “It was in that 9/11 commission report, before this administration took over and implemented political correctness,” he said, arguing the FBI’s training manuals were “systematically purged” in 2011 to conform to Obama’s worldview.
Obama’s whitewashing of Islam, Gohmert hinted, allowed the Tsarnaev brothers to slip through the fingers of the FBI and set off bombs in Boston:
GOHMERT: But what kind of interview must that have been of the guy who was going to blow off arms and legs and kill a child and who had dreams of killing so many more. What kind of interview must that have been when you can’t use the word jihad, you can’t talk about his Muslim faith? Did they even bring up Tamerlan’s Muslim faith in that interview? [...] Is it any wonder that the FBI came away from their interviews and said, ‘We don’t find any problems?’ Well, I guess not. [...] What kind of interviews must those have been when you can’t use the terms that let you get to the bottom of what may be a plot to kill people down the road? There’s no problem in the Justice Department, there is a problem with leadership that will not let them do their job. And it needs to change.
The facts don’t line up with Gohmert’s claims, however. In 2011 it was revealed that FBI’s counterterrorism training courses were full of misleading views about Islam, including thatmainstream Muslims are “violent” and “radical.” In response to the revelation, the FBI purged its training documents of all that mischaracterized all Muslims as being especially prone to terrorism.
When it comes to questioning Tsarnaev, the FSB — Russia’s domestic intelligence service —reached out to the United States in 2011 regarding its fears that he — an ethnic Chechen — was a security threat. In response, the FBI launched a three-month investigation into Tsarnaev, including interviews with him, his family, and his communications and internet usage. Following that review, the FBI determined there wasn’t enough evidence to continue to monitor Tsarnaev’s activities. When the FBI reported that to Russia in Oct. 2011, requesting further information about why the FSB believed Tsarnaev was a threat, Russia reportedly never responded.
Gohmert has proved no stranger to promoting wild theories related to Islam during his time in Congress. At various times, the Texan has stated that wide gun-ownership is needed to protect against Sharia law, that Obama intervened in Libya to allow al Qaeda to spread, and that the president is seeking to take credit for starting a new Ottoman Empire. Interfaith groups have called upon Gohmert in the past to drop his Islamophobia, seemingly to no effect.