Reporters from Reuters claimed to have seen documents from President-elect Donald Trump's transition team asking to Obama administration departments for the names of bureaucrats who work against violent extremist groups. The requests to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security seek information on government programs that counter a spectrum of extremists, including violent Muslim sects both within the United States and abroad.
The president-elect has long criticized President Barack Obama for the latter’s refusal to name Islamic terrorism as a threat against the United States and its allies, while also denouncing what he has said is the Obama administration’s inadequate response to terrorism. Reuters quoted one government official as expressing fear that Trump will upend Obama’s counter-terrorism policies and that bureaucrats like himself will be put on the shelf. Earlier this month, the Trump team asked the Department of Energy for the names of bureaucrats working on climate change issues.
When the White House expressed disapproval of what was considered the targeting of civil servants, the Energy Department refused to name names for the Trump transition team.
An email from the Trump camp to the State Department on Dec. 9 demanded a list of positions on its Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism. Reuters quoted the email: "Please indicate names of people serving in those roles and status (political or career)," the email said, referring to political appointees and career civil servants. The Trump team has been refused the names of members of an interagency task force on countering extremism.
The task force is under the leadership of DHS and the Department of Justice, and has representatives from the FBI and other agencies.
The difference between the Obama administration and the Trump team with regard to the threat posed by Islamic terrorism could hardly be more stark. For example, Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is to serve as the new White House national security adviser, tweeted earlier this year: "Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL."
Regarding the recent terrorist attack in Germany that caused the death of 12 people, Trump tweeted today “The terrorist who killed so many people in Germany said just before crime, ‘by God's will we will slaughter you pigs, I swear, we will slaughter you.’ This is a purely religious threat, which turned into reality. Such hatred! When will the U.S., and all countries, fight back?”
Within the Obama administration, officials aver that the new Trump administration will focus its efforts on Muslim terrorism rather than the more generalized approach advanced by Obama.
On December 22, John Kirby spoke for the State Department and said that the agency may possibly provide names on an organizational basis. He said that he is not aware of any denied requests. Following the release of the Reuters report, the national office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) twice linked to the article on its Twitter page. CAIR has often been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood: a group that has been involved in repeated acts of terrorism and intimidation of Christians in Egypt and was briefly in power after toppling U.S. ally and client, President Hosni Mubarak. CAIR is also an unindicted co-conspirator in an investigation into Muslim terrorist fundraising in the United States.
In November 2015, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced legislation to the Senate designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, while explicitly identifying CAIR as an entity of the Muslim Brotherhood entities and includes evidence linking CAIR to a network that supports the Hamas terror network. The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Ron Johnson (R-WI), endorsed a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
CAIR has been quite critical of the president-elect, contending that he has expressed xenophobic and racist remarks about immigrants and Muslims.