Top Hillary Clinton aides were upset a Muslim man was publicly named as the shooter in a 2015 massacre that left 14 people dead, and a longtime Clinton confidant even expressed regret that the terrorist wasn’t a white man, according to purported emails released by WikiLeaks on Sunday.
The emails were part of a trove of messages stolen from the gmail account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, who has had a long association with the Democratic presidential nominee and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. The email chain began on Dec. 2, when digital operative Matt Ortega forwarded a tweet from MSNBC host Christopher Hayes that named one of the shooters in the San Bernardino, Calif., attack as Sayeed Farook. Consultant Karen Finney forwarded the email to Podesta, commenting, “Damn.”
Podesta responded: “Better if a guy named Sayeed Farouk [sic] was reporting that a guy named Christopher Hayes was the shooter.”
Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, gunned down 14 people and injured 22 in a terror attack during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2. The attackers pledged their allegiance to ISIS before dying in a shootout with police later in the day.
But Podesta’s written lament of the shooter’s ethnicity underscores a long-running aversion in the Clinton campaign – and many in the Democratic party at large – to associating terrorist acts with any aspect of the Islamic religion.
In a 154-page debate prep book that was developed two months after the San Bernardino attacks, and also unearthed in the WikiLeaks document dump, topic 47 is devoted to “Should we call this Islamic terrorism?” Nowhere in the suggested seven-point answer does “Islamic terrorism” make an appearance. Instead, it’s suggested that Clinton call the enemy “radical jihadists.”
“Now, of course there are those who twist Islam to justify mass murder,” point three begins. “But we can’t buy into the same narrative that these barbaric, radical jihadists use to recruit new followers. Declaring war on Islam or demonizing the Muslim-American community is not only counter to our values – it plays right into the terrorists’ hands.”
Point seven states: “Radical jihadists underestimate us. We won’t turn on each other or turn on our principles. We will keep our country safe and strong, free and tolerant. And we will defeat those who threaten us.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made a concerted effort to note that Clinton and President Obama don’t use Trump’s preferred descriptive term, “Radical Islamic terrorism.” Obama held a lengthy press conference earlier this year to specifically address why he refused to link Islam and terrorism. But in the wake of the Orlando nightclub terror attack in June, and amid more Trump prodding, Clinton relented somewhat.
“Whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I’m happy to say either,” she said at the time. “I think they mean the same thing.”
The latest email release was the ninth day this month that emails from Podesta's account were revealed on WikiLeaks. So far, about 12,000 of 50,000 alleged emails have been released.