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‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ becomes an important issue in the ongoing 2016 US Campaign

President Barack Obama has consistently refused to describe attacks by Muslims in the U.S. as "radical Islamic terrorism,"

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President Barack Obama, left, speaks to members of the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 13, 2016. source: VOA
  • The fight over how to describe Muslim terrorist acts in the US has affected the country’s 2016 presidential race in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history
  • President Barack Obama has consistently refused to describe attacks by Muslims in the U.S. as “radical Islamic terrorism”
  • Clinton said she had no problem using the term “radical Islamism” as the impetus behind terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims

The fight over how to describe Muslim terrorist acts in the United States has quickly consumed the country’s 2016 presidential race in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump offering divergent thoughts.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat nearing the end of two terms as the American leader, has consistently refused to describe attacks by Muslims in the U.S. as “radical Islamic terrorism,” so as not to denounce the entire Muslim religion and its 1.6 billion adherents around the world.

He maintained that stance, even as U.S. authorities say an American-born Muslim who was the son of Afghan parents shot 49 people to death and injured 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday. In the hours after the mayhem ended with police killing the suspect, Omar Saddiqui Mateen, Obama described Mateen’s assault as “an act of terror and an act of hate.”

Obama’s Republican critics have often belittled his parsing of the language in describing terrorist attacks, saying it represents weakness in combating a mortal threat to Americans, even as he has ordered a steady round of armed drone attacks against suspected terrorists in the Mideast.
Donald Trump. wikimedia commoms
Donald Trump. wikimedia commoms

Trump, the brash billionaire real-estate mogul who surged to the top of the Republican presidential field with a call to block Muslims from entering the country, dared Obama to change his language about Muslim-launched attacks as the extent of the Orlando carnage became known.

“Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism?” Trump tweeted Sunday, June 12. “If he doesn’t he should resign immediately in disgrace.”

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In another tweet, Trump said, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Clinton changes rhetoric

Until Monday, Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state during Obama’s first term in office from 2009 to 2013, had also rejected use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” But in the wake of the Orlando attack, she altered her description of such terrorist actions.

Clinton, in several news show interviews, said she had no problem using the term “radical Islamism” as the impetus behind terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. But she said that words mattered less than actions to combat terrorism and that the United States cannot “demonize, demagogue and declare war on an entire religion.”

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“I have clearly said many, many times we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism or radical Islamism, whatever you call it,” she told one interviewer.

“And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got bin Laden, not what name we called him,” Clinton said.

Clinton, seeking to become the first female U.S. president, said that if Trump “is somehow suggesting I don’t call this for what it is, he hasn’t been listening. I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will.” (VOA)

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US Places Sanctions on Chechen Group, Russians, for Alleged Rights Abuses

The sanctions against the Terek Special Rapid Response Team in the Chechen Republic and the five were announced by the U.S. Treasury

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US, Chechen Group, Russians
FILE - The U.S. Treasury Building in Washington. VOA

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on a Chechen group and five people, including at least three Russians, over allegations of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and the torture of LGBTI people.

The sanctions against the Terek Special Rapid Response Team in the Chechen Republic and the five were announced by the U.S. Treasury under the Magnitsky Act. They included suspects in the deaths of Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky and Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

The 2012 Magnitsky Act is named after the 37-year-old Russian auditor and imposes visa bans and asset freezes on officials linked to his death in prison 2009.

Those targeted on Thursday included Elena Anatolievna Trikulya and Gennady Vyacheslavovich Karlov, members of the Russian state’s Investigative Committee, who the U.S. said “participated in efforts to conceal the legal liability for the detention, abuse or death” of Magnitsky.

US, Sanctions, Chechen Group
United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on a Chechen group and five people ver allegations of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and the torture of LGBTI people. Pixabay

Abuzayed Vismuradov, commander of the Terek Special Rapid Response Team in Chechnya, was accused of “being responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” against those seeking to expose illegal activity by Russian government officials.

Detention, torture

The U.S. Treasury said Vismuradov was in charge of an operation that “illegally detained and tortured individuals on the basis of their actual or perceived LGBTI status.”

LGBTI is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.

The Treasury named Sergey Leonidovich Kossiev as being responsible for extrajudicial killings and torture as head of a penal colony in the Republic of Karelia. The fifth person, Ruslan Geremeyev, was accused of acting on behalf of the head of Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, in a matter relating to extrajudicial killings and torture.

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The Treasury statement said Russian investigators had twice tried to bring charges against Geremeyev as the possible organizer of the 2015 slaying of Nemtsov, but were blocked by the head of the Investigative Committee.

Nemtsov, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics, was shot and killed near the Kremlin in 2015.

In 2017, a court sentenced a man to 20 years in jail for his murder, but Nemtsov’s allies called the investigation a cover-up and said those who ordered the assassination remained at large.

The Russian Embassy in Washington said in a statement that U.S. sanctions under the Magnitsky Act “are at odds with the international law.” It said Russia would respond with “reciprocal measures.”

US, Sanctions, Chechen Group
Vismuradov was in charge of an operation that “illegally detained and tortured individuals on the basis of their actual or perceived LGBTI status.”. Pixabay

The Magnitsky sanctions have been a point of tension between Moscow and Washington, which are far apart on a wide range of global issues and U.S. allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections.

Pompeo visit

The latest U.S. move followed a frosty visit to Russia this week by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said Washington would brook no interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and wanted Moscow to take action to show there would be no repeat of its 2016 meddling.

Magnitsky was arrested and died after discovering a $230 million tax fraud scheme, according to U.S. authorities. His supporters say the Russian state killed him by denying him adequate medical care after he was imprisoned on tax evasion charges. The Kremlin denies the allegation.

The Treasury statement said officials in Chechnya had launched a series of purges of people they believed to be LGBTI and several were believed to have died as a result.

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“They have rounded up dozens of people on these grounds, some of whom have disappeared, with others returned to their families barely alive from beatings and with their captors outing them to families and encouraging the families to carry out so-called honor killings,” the statement said. (VOA)