Radical Islam? What’s That?

Could radical Islam be responsible for recent terrorist attacks inside the U.S.? That question doesn’t seem like too much of a poser, but it was too much for Attorney General Eric Holder when he testified before the House Judiciary Committee today. Rep. Lamar Smith tries to get Holder to acknowledge that radical Islam could have played a role in one or more of the recent attacks, but Holder apparently views it as a trick question:

It would be possible, no doubt, to assemble an administration lamer than Barack Obama’s but it would take a real effort. Here is the transcript of Holder’s exchange with Smith:

SMITH: Let me go to my next question, which is — in — in the case of all three attempts in the last year, the terrorist attempts, one of which was successful, those individuals have had ties to radical Islam. Do you feel that these individuals might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam?
HOLDER: Because of?
SMITH: Radical Islam.
HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why I think people have taken these actions. It’s — one, I think you have to look at each individual case. I mean, we are in the process now of talking to Mr. Shahzad to try to understand what it is that drove him to take the action.
SMITH: Yes, but radical Islam could have been one of the reasons?
HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why people…
SMITH: But was radical Islam one of them?
HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why people do things. Some of them are potentially religious…
SMITH: OK. But all I’m asking is if you think among those variety of reasons radical Islam might have been one of the reasons that the individuals took the steps that they did.
HOLDER: You see, you say radical Islam. I mean, I think those people who espouse a — a version of Islam that is not…
SMITH: Are you uncomfortable attributing any other actions to radical Islam? It sounds like it.
HOLDER: No, I don’t want to say anything negative about a religion that is not…
SMITH: No, no. I’m not talking about religion. I’m talking about radical Islam. I’m not talking about the general religion.
HOLDER: Right. And I’m saying that a person, like Anwar Awlaki, for instance, who has a version of Islam that is not consistent with the teachings of it…
HOLDER: … and who espouses a radical version…
SMITH: But then is — could radical Islam had motivated these individuals to take the steps that they did?
HOLDER: I certainly think that it’s possible that people who espouse a radical version of Islam have had an ability to have an impact on people like Mr. Shahzad.
SMITH: OK. And could it have been the case in one of these three instances?
HOLDER: Could that have been the case?
SMITH: Yes, could — again, could one of these three individuals have been incited by radical Islam? Apparently, you feel that that they could’ve been.
HOLDER: Well, I think potentially incited by people who have a view of Islam that is inconsistent with…
SMITH: OK. Mr. A.G., it’s hard to get an answer yes or no, but let me go on to my next question.

SCOTT adds: Tom Bevan asks a rhetorical question: “Who’s the coward now, Mr. Holder?”

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