CNN Touts 'Extraordinary' al Qaeda Criticism of U.S. Gun Laws

CNN has resorted to airing a 2011 al Qaeda video highlighting America's lax gun laws as a legitimate critique of the current laws.

"You know who's watching this whole gun debate playing out in America? Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda already thinks America's gun control system is weak and American al Qaeda spokesman says it is so easy to get guns in America that wannabe terrorists should take advantage of it," warned anchor Brooke Baldwin.

CNN has made it clear that it wants stricter gun laws, by touting that 90 percent of Americans want more background checks and asking "how is it that Congress can do nothing?"

Both Michael Holmes and Suzanne Malveaux, co-hosts of CNN's Around the World, shuddered at al Qaeda's message to Muslims, even though they admitted it was inaccurate. Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn falsely claimed that citizens could easily obtain an automatic rifle. That didn't stop CNN from regarding it as a legitimate critique.

"Gosh, it's extraordinary. Isn't it?" Holmes uttered. "But the point that he's making is that it's easy to get a gun," Malveaux stated. Holmes added, "And how ironic coming from an al Qaeda spokesman."

Below is a transcript of the segments, which aired on CNN on April 11 starting at 12:10 p.m. EDT:

CNN
AROUND THE WORLD
4/11/13
[12:10 p.m. EDT]

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Well, even al Qaeda had something to say about the availability of guns in this country. A video posted by an al Qaeda spokesman in 2011 said the U.S. now is overflowing with guns that are simply easy, too easy to get, even.

MICHAEL HOLMES: Yeah, it was a video that recently surfaced on the website BuzzFeed. You may be familiar with that, and you may be familiar with the name Adam Gadahn. He is the al Qaeda spokesman who was actually born in the United States. Listen up.

(Video Clip)

ADAM GADAHN, al Qaeda spokesman: (voice over) Let's take America as an example. 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?

(End Video Clip)

HOLMES:  Gosh, it's extraordinary. Isn't it?

MALVEAUX: Al Qaeda weighing in on all of this. But you know, his remark was talking about fully automatic weapons is not true. They are legal but they are very difficult to get. And of course it's tightly regulated in this country. But the point that he's making is that it's easy to get a gun.

HOLMES: Yeah. Exactly. And how ironic coming from an al Qaeda spokesman. Now, that video is actually a message to Muslims living in the U.S. Urging them, obviously, to carry out individual attacks against Zionists, he says, and Crusaders.

(...)

CNN
NEWSROOM
4/11/13
[3:26 p.m. EDT]

BROOKE BALDWIN: You know who's watching this whole gun debate playing out in America? Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda already thinks America's gun control system is weak and American al Qaeda spokesman says it is so easy to get guns in America that wannabe terrorists should take advantage of it.

(Video Clip)

ADAM GADAHN: (voice over) Let's take America as an example. 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?

(End Video Clip)

BALDWIN: That is al Qaeda video from 2011. And the man in the video urged sympathizers living in the U.S. to carry out terrorist acts similar to what we saw in Mumbai in 2008. I want to bring in crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns in Washington. And Joe, we talk here. Now we know there will be the debate, right, on this compromise that we heard about yesterday, the expanded background checks. Would that deal help stop these American al Qaeda sympathizers from buying guns?

JOHNS: Probably not. The compromise, Brooke, would probably not keep an American al Qaeda sympathizer with a clean record from buying a gun. There are a bunch of categories, as you know, of prohibited persons in the existing law – you can't get a gun if you're, say, an illegal immigrant, under indictment, a felon. You can't have been adjudicated as mentally ill, but being an al Qaeda sympathizer isn't on the list. However, Brooke, the proposal, if made law, could make one big difference. If there's a sympathizer who actually falls into one of those prohibited categories, and they go to, say, a gun show, which is actually required to do a background check under the current Senate compromise, then in that case the sale could be prevented, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Okay. There were a lot of ifs and maybes. Sort of seemed, there. What about Democrats and Republicans, how are they approaching gun laws from a national security perspective?

JOHNS: The pro gun people have long made the case that keeping checks on firearms is a national security issue. And there's some support for that. Especially south of the border, the GAO and others have done studies suggesting guns bought without background checks can make their way into Mexico. But gun rights supporters who don't like this issue very much have probably one good argument, and that one good argument essentially is that there's no evidence of terrorists getting guns and so on. On the other hand, they've always said if criminals – if you end up making guns illegal, then only criminals are going to have guns. That, of course, would include terrorists. So that video that you showed has been around a couple of years and they've attacked the assertions made in that video pointing out that he said you can only get automatic weapons in the United States. That's not necessarily true. You can get semi-automatic weapons in the United States pretty easily. So that debate kind of goes on, Brooke.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014