On Monday, Frank Figliuzzi, the former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, appeared on MSNBC and compared President Trump to a “Muslim cleric that’s playing the beheading videos and radicalizing you.”
Last week, Figliuzzi wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in which he stated, “Instinct and experience tell me we’re headed for trouble in the form of white hate violence stoked by a racially divisive president. He has chosen a reelection strategy based on appealing to the kinds of hatred, fear, and ignorance that can lead to violence.”
Speaking to Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC on Monday, Figliuzzi stated:
What I see is uncanny parallels between the radicalization you see in Islamic, violent extremism, radicalization to commit jihad, to go to jihad, and then what we’re seeing in the white hate movement. It is radicalization, and so how do you stop it? We’re talking about health care, we’re talking about mental health, we’re talking about guns. And yes, we need to talk about all that, but one way to stop it is for that driving radicalizer — on the Islamic side, that Muslim cleric that’s playing the beheading videos and radicalizing you — that guy has to come out and say, “I renounce this, I reject it, I was wrong, I don’t need you anymore. Stop it. It’s not American.” And we didn’t hear that today. This press conference today by the president, to use a baseball phrase, was a swing and a miss. He spoke in collective language and passive voice, not in first person. He didn’t say, “I renounce and reject,” he said, instructed us to reject it, “the nation must condemn racism.” Well, guess what? We condemned it already. But how about you? You are the radicalizer in chief. We didn’t hear that today.
Figliuzzi also spoke to MSNBC’s Brian Williams, where he doubled down on his “radicalizer” characterization and offered his take on the White House’s “ignorance of the adversary” when they announced flags would fly at half-mast until August 8:
What were the warning signs for me, Brian? Ironically, they weren’t from my experience in domestic terrorism but rather they were from my experience in international terrorism and radicalization to Islamic jihad. You see the same things happening now in white hate groups, in white supremacy groups, where not only is the internet facilitating the speed of radicalization but our leader, our chief executive, is seen as almost a mentor and a radicalizer. And unfortunately today we did not hear from that person that these extremists and unstable people look to. He spoke in the passive voice, in the collective voice; we didn’t hear first person from him. We didn’t hear, “I condemn white hate ideology.” We heard the nation must condemn it. Well, the nation does condemn it. But we didn’t hear what we needed to hear, so what happens is the extremists interpret what the president read off the script today as something he needed to say, something he didn’t really want to say.
Now I’m not going to imply that he did this deliberately, but I am using this as an example of the ignorance of the adversary that’s being demonstrated by the White House: the numbers 8/8 are very significant in white supremacy and neo-Nazi movement. Why? Because the letter H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, and to them, the numbers 8/8 stand together for Heil Hitler. So we’re going to be raising the flag back up at dusk on 8/8. No one’s thinking about this; no one’s giving him the advice, or he’s rejecting the advice.