State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf made waves Feb. 17 when she said that members of Islamic State were drawn to the terrorist organization due to a dearth of jobs. The Obama administration made it clear Monday that she did not misspeak: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Mr. Obama is urging members of Congress to draw up the “Islamic State Relief Act” (ISRA), a $1 billion jobs bill that would give jihadis a chance to change career paths.
“When the president hears ‘Allahu Akbar!’ during Islamic State propaganda videos, he hears something entirely different than most people. He doesn’t hear ‘God is the greatest!’ — he hears “Where are the jobs?” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, The Associated Press reported. “‘Jihad’ means ‘struggle.’ When the president hears ‘jihad,’ he knows that the struggle is real for high-paying, respectable jobs. Men don’t chop off heads because of some sick attempt to reconstitute the Islamic empires of old — they chop off heads because they’re not killing sales records at the local car dealership,” he added.
Mr. Earnest’s brief overview of what the president is looking for with ISRA made it clear that it would be safe for U.S. sleeper cells to “come out of the shadows” if they wanted to take advantage of educational opportunities. The president faces stiff opposition with Republicans in control of both the House and Senate.
Speaker of the House John Boehner said Monday that he did receive a brief phone call from the president, but that the two are oceans apart on what final passage of ISRA should look like.
“I can’t help but think that the president’s misreading of the threat posed by Islamic radicals has passed the point of satire and swung around the globe to a place that is wholly absurd,” the Ohio Republican said. “He’s gone from not calling the Islamic State group Islamic, to saying that job creation will curb recruitment, to finally pushing Congress for a $1 billion jobs bill — primarily for enemies, both foreign and domestic. Someone get me a bottle of antacid pills.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was quick to respond that the U.S. does distribute aid packages to foreign countries. While it would be a first to grant taxpayer dollars to terrorist organizations, lawyers at the Department of Justice assured the president that air-tight constitutional wording for ISRA exists — they just need to find it.
“There will be critics of this bill,” Mr. Earnest said, AP reported, “But 20 years from now, when a former Islamic State terrorist is standing behind this very microphone, thanks to the president’s jobs bill, who will you thank — the Republicans who fought the president every step of the way, or Mr. Obama?”
Foreign fighters in Raqqa, Syria said they would be open to taking advantage of the president’s plan, provided that classes on beheading and slavery were not prohibited. They added that professors should under no circumstances be women, Jews, or gay men.