Earlier today, Ted Cruz ripped Barack Obama for his reluctance to call out the enemies in a terrorist war against the West. “It is way past time we have a president who will acknowledge this evil and will call it by it’s name and use the full force and fury to defeat ISIS,” Cruz declared at his presser this morning. Perhaps he got a sneak peek at Obama’s first remarks on the Brussels attacks this morning, because the president may have proved Cruz’ point. While declaring the suicide bombings in the airport and subways “terrorist attacks,” Obama avoided pointing out the motivation behind them in his all-too-brief comments in Havana:
Before I begin, please indulge me — I want to comment on the terrorist attacks that have taken place in Brussels. The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the people of Belgium, and we stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people. We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium, in bringing to justice those who are responsible. And this is yet another reminder that the world must unite. We must be together, regardless of nationality, or race, or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism. We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all round the world.
Give Obama credit for acknowledging the obvious — that these were indeed terrorist attacks — rather than offer some euphemistic muddle about “violence” instead. Obama called the world to unite against “the scourge of terrorism,” but shied away from specifying the source of this violence. The prime ministers of Belgium and France have not been nearly as cautious in naming their adversaries, nor should the US be ignorant of the origin of these attacks. The AP reported earlier that Iraqi intelligence had raised red flags about this operation over the past two months, but that the capture of Salah Abdeslam moved it up and into Brussels:
An Iraqi intelligence official says sources in the Syrian city of Raqqa have told them that the Islamic State group has been planning terrorist attacks in Europe for two months which would “target airports and train stations.”
The official tells The Associated Press on Tuesday that Iraqi officials told European countries about the plans “but Brussels was not part of the plans” at the time.
He says IS militants changed the operation and moved it to Brussels “because of the detention of Salah Abdeslam” – the Paris attacks suspect arrested Friday in Brussels.
Another senior Iraqi intelligence official said “Daesh (IS) was behind this operation and it was planned in Raqqa two months ago and there are three suicide attackers who will carry out another attack.”
So why be so shy — and why be so brief? Cruz predicted as much in his presser, but I doubt that even he thought that proof would arrive so quickly. Others in Washington had much less reluctance to specify the threat. For instance, Sen. Tim Scott send out this statement:
“It is heartbreaking to see so many innocent lives taken, and we stand with the people of Belgium today. Terror groups and Islamic terrorists value death above life, and we have seen the manifestation of their values over the past six months in San Bernardino, Paris and now Brussels.”
His colleague Ben Sasse also named names:
“Brussels is the latest battlefield in the fight against violent Islam. Leadership is not found in platitudes that do not name our enemy. The American people deserve a serious, long-term strategy to defeat violent Islam.”
That’s not so tough, is it? Apparently, it is for some.
Update: It’s now official — ISIS has claimed credit for the attacks, and US intel consider the message genuine:
NBC NEWS: U.S. Counter-terrorism officials say the ISIS claim of responsibility for the Brussels attacks seems genuine. @RWindrem reports
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) March 22, 2016