An Islamic State flag hangs amid electric wires over a street in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near the port-city of Sidon, southern Lebanon, Jan. 19, 2016. 
Photo by Ali Hashisho/Reuters

ISIS member urges allies to exploit lax American gun laws

It didn’t generate much attention, but National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, wrapping up a five-year stint at the NCTC, offered a provocative assessment of what he sees as a security threat: U.S. policies on guns.

“We find ourselves in a more dangerous situation because our population of violent extremists has no difficulty gaining access to weapons that are quite lethal,” Rasmussen said. “I wish that weren’t so.”

While it’s true that Rasmussen was appointed to lead the National Counterterrorism Center during the Obama administration, the Washington Post  noted that he’s held “senior positions at NCTC and the White House in both Republican and Democratic administrations during a 27-year career in government.”

And while we don’t often hear talk connecting gun laws to national security threats, Rasmussen’s comments didn’t come out of nowhere. In 2011, for example, an al Qaeda spokesperson, speaking English, released a video that said, “America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

Yesterday, as the Washington Post  reported, it happened again.

In a video released Wednesday by the Islamic State, a one-legged fighter identified by the group as an American calls on Muslims in the United States to “take advantage” of the country’s gun laws to obtain weapons and carry out attacks.

The fighter, identified by the nom de guerre “Abu Salih al-Amriki,” wears khaki fatigues with a holstered pistol in the online video, published by a propaganda wing of the Islamic State. He speaks in English with what sounds like a New York City-area accent.

The video showed him urging ISIS’s allies to “take advantage of the fact that you can easily obtain a rifle or a pistol in America.”

The article added, “The possibility that Islamic State followers in the United States will acquire powerful weapons by legal means has been a growing concern of American counterterrorism officials.”

This isn’t usually part of the public debate about guns. Maybe it should be?