Published on Sep 20, 2014 by RightSightings2
New ISIS Propaganda Video Appears to Have U.S. Or Canadian Narrator
Published on Sep 20, 2014 by RightSightings2
New ISIS Propaganda Video Appears to Have U.S. Or Canadian Narrator
(Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Iran had a role to play in a global coalition to tackle Islamic State militants who have seized swaths of Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.
“It must be comprehensive and include close collaboration across multiple lines of effort. It’s about taking out an entire network, decimating and discrediting a militant cult masquerading as a religious movement,” he said. “There is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran.”
Kerry’s remarks appeared to represent a shift away from previous U.S. statements indicating a reluctance to cooperate with Iran to confront the threat of Islamic State. The United States cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran during a hostage crisis after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The United States, president of the U.N. Security Council for September, called the meeting on Iraq as it builds an international military, political and financial coalition to defeat the radical Sunni Muslim group.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this week said he had rejected an offer by Washington for talks on fighting Islamic State. Kerry said he refused to be drawn into a “back and forth” with Iran over the issue.
Shi’ite Muslim-dominated Iran is a key ally of the governments in Iraq and Syria.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the only country in the region that is both capable of and has shown unqualified determination to help the Iraqi government and coordinate with it to assist all those threatened by ISIL,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the council.
“Any real and genuine initiative to remedy regional predicaments needs to originate from within the region and be based on regional cooperation. Combating extremism is not an exception,” he said, repeating Tehran’s official view.
Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are expected to hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly next week where Islamic State and Tehran’s nuclear program will likely be among key topics of discussion.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said 40 nations have pledged help to a coalition against Islamic State. French jets struck a suspected Islamic State target in Iraq for the first time on Friday, joining a U.S. bombing campaign that started a month ago when Iraq asked for help.
“In 2003, acting against Iraq was something that divided this council; in 2014, acting for Iraq and against the (Islamic State) … terrorists is a duty for all of us,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the U.N. Security Council, referring to French opposition to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The U.N. Security Council on Friday adopted a statement urging “the international community, in accordance with international law, to further strengthen and expand support for the government of Iraq as it fights ISIL (Islamic State) and associated armed groups.”
The U.N. special envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said the United Nations estimates some 8,500 have been killed during clashes in Iraq since January and more than 16,000 injured.
“ISIL is a scourge that has brought untold sorrow to the people of Iraq and Syria,” Mladenov told the Security Council. “They have shown contempt for equality, fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person.”
The United States is also planning to carry out air strikes against Islamic State in Syria, while the U.S. Congress on Thursday gave final approval to Obama’s plan for training and arming moderate Syrian rebels to take on the militants.
Other Western powers have been more reluctant to launch military strikes in Syria, which could be seen to bolster President Bashar al-Assad. Western states have repeatedly called for Assad’s departure over his crackdown on popular protests in 2011 that sparked a civil war, now in its fourth year.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin warned that any action by an international coalition against Islamic State should be in line with international law and the U.N. Charter.
He said Russia, long an ally of the Syrian government, was “extremely concerned” about possible air strikes against the militants in Syria without the Damascus government’s approval.
“International counter terrorist operations should be carried out either with the approval of the sovereign government or with the approval of the U.N. Security Council,” Churkin told the council.
“Any other options are considered illegal and undermine international and regional stability,” he said.
Washington Free Beacon, By Alana Goodman:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) could lead to a “massive loss of life” in the United States if it is not stopped, but added that he still believes Iran’s nuclear ambitions pose a greater threat to the U.S. than the Islamic State, in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon last week.
The senator also tied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Obama administration’s Iran policy, and warned the White House against using a military campaign against ISIL as an excuse to appease Tehran.
“As grave as the threat from ISIS is, in my view the most significant threat to U.S. national security remains the threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability,” said Cruz. “The incoherence of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy will come to full flower if the peril of ISIS is used as an excuse to further appease Iran and facilitate their acquiring nuclear weapon capability.”
He added that “everything President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have done have increased the chances of Iran acquiring nuclear weapon capability, and have perversely increased the chances of future military conflict.”
While Cruz has not said whether he will run for president in 2016, his response to one question suggested that the possibility is on his mind.
“What should a strong president do [to prevent a nuclear Iran]? Well number one, I’ve introduced legislation in the Senate, comprehensive Iran sanctions legislation that demonstrates the direction I believe we should be taking,” said Cruz.
Although he noted that he remains supportive of a new sanctions legislation introduced by Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, he called the proposals “weak sauce.”
“Kirk-Menendez on its face is pretty weak sauce. It lays out future contingencies in which ultimately sanctions will be re-imposed. That’s not a rational way to negotiate with religious extremists like [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei,” said Cruz.
“The legislation I’ve introduced would immediately re-impose sanctions on Iran, would strengthen those sanctions to make them as crippling as humanly possible, and then it lays out a clear path to how Iran can lift those sanctions.”
Cruz said both ISIL and the Iranian regime are “radical Islamic terrorists who want to kill us. The one thing on which they agree is killing Americans.”
His comments echoed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said earlier this month that Tehran posed a more significant geo-strategic threat than ISIL.
Still, the senator warned that failing to confront ISIL could lead to massive U.S. casualties.
“If we don’t act now and if they are able to consolidate power and control of a nation state with massive oil revenues, the inevitable consequence of that will be a significant and perhaps even massive loss of life here in the United States,” said Cruz.
He criticized the idea of arming Syria’s anti-Assad rebels, saying that many of them were allied with ISIL, and the Obama administration had not provided a clear plan on how to keep the weapons from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.
Cruz also defended his opposition to U.S. military action against the Syrian regime last summer.
“Had the administration gotten what it wanted last summer, there’s a very real chance ISIS would be stronger today than it is right now,” said Cruz.
The potential 2016 presidential hopeful sought to strike a middle ground between the non-interventionist wing of the Republican Party and those who supported President Bush’s “freedom agenda.”
“We have a job to do, and it’s not transform distant countries into democratic utopias,” said Cruz. “It’s not turn Iraq into Switzerland. It’s to prevent people who want to kill Americans from killing Americans.”
“I think it is unquestionably right that we are tired of sending our sons and daughters to distant lands to engage with nation-building,” he added. “But I think it is a profound misreading of the American spirit to confuse that with Americans being unwilling to defend themselves, being unwilling to stand up to serious and real national security threats, and to stand up with overwhelming force.”
by Paul Alster
Special to IPT News
September 19, 2014
The international community is allowing the rise of ISIS to distract it from the far more dangerous prospect of a nuclear Iran, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz warned Wednesday. The comments followed his visit last week to the United States, where he met with senior State Department figures William Burns and Wendy Sherman.
“The Iranians are getting almost everything but giving almost nothing,” Steinitz told a Jerusalem news conference in which he expressed his belief that Iran is being far from truthful in its ongoing P5+1 nuclear talks. “Although it is important to defeat ISIS [Islamic State], if Iran gets nuclear weapons, it’s a different world for decades. This is the main threat to global security and should be the priority… I went [to Washington] concerned and I came back concerned,” Steinitz added. “I didn’t hear anything… that gave me hope.”
Senior Israeli military and intelligence figures have issued similar warnings in recent months, indicating that while Iran under President Hassan Rouhani offers the veneer of a more moderate regime, little has changed in Tehran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s firebrand supreme leader, still calls all the shots.
A recently published 80-point International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s compliance – or non-compliance – indicates that Steinitz has genuine grounds for concern. Among its key findings:
19. “Contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran has not suspended all of its enrichment related activities in the declared facilities…”
49. “Iran is conducting a number of activities at UCF, EUPP, FMP and the Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant (FPFP) at Esfahan … which are in contravention of its obligations to suspend all enrichment related activities and heavy water related projects…”
62. “The Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”
67. “[A]t a particular location at the Parchin site, the Agency has observed through satellite imagery ongoing construction activity that appears to show the removal/replacement or refurbishment of the site’s two main buildings’ external wall structures … These activities are likely to have further undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification. It remains important for Iran to provide answers to the Agency’s questions and access to the particular location in question.”
Of the main points in the report’s summary, the following is undoubtedly of significant concern:
75. “While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
Iranian failure to comply with the interim P5+1 deal struck last year by the U.S. and other leading nations should mark the end of negotiations, said Steinitz, one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest allies. Allowing the talks to stumble along gives Iran the benefit of continued relief from international sanctions that dealt a crippling blow to the Iranian economy.
“From our point of view, President Obama’s very important principle and statement that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal,’ is by no means a failure,” Steinitz said. “In a sense, it’s a kind of success… It means standing up for your principles and not sacrificing global security.”
Israeli military officials share concern that Iran is threatens that security through its astonishing subterfuge and double-dealing – presenting a benign face to the world while continuing to support terror organizations such as Hamas in Gaza and Hizballah in southern Lebanon.
In a recent exclusive interview, a senior Israeli naval officer (speaking to the IPT on condition of anonymity), outlined the extent to which Iran continues to try evading international efforts to stem its attempts to arm its proxy armies.
“It is a war against this axis [Iran, Hamas, and Hizballah], and this war on the seas is continuing at the same time as these [P5+1] talks are going on,” the navy official said. “I’m happy that these talks are going on because maybe, maybe, it’s a channel to stop this madness. But at the same time, I know that I will not go back home and rest because of the talks. I will keep working.”
“[Iran] not only uses every possible way to pass on weapons, but they are also passing on information and instructions on how to produce weapons in Gaza. We know for sure that even if rockets and weapons reached Gaza tunnels via the Sinai deserts, they weren’t produced in the Sinai desert. They probably arrived by the sea and came from Iran via the Red Sea ports, or Egypt – of course without the knowledge of Egypt itself.”
In recent years, the Israeli navy has intercepted huge Iranian arms shipments on vessels such as the Frankop (2009), the Victoria (2011), and earlier this year the Klos-C, whose cache of M-302 missiles, mortars, and masses of ammunition were hidden under its legitimate cement cargo.
“We know for sure that … weapons have passed through ports on ships that had no knowledge they were carrying this lethal cargo,” the officer explained. “We know they are using containers that are transported from one ship to another, some of which sometimes stand for days or weeks out in the blazing sun waiting for a ship to take it. If one of these [unstable] containers blows up a lot of innocent people will get hurt. All the time Iran uses innocent people and they don’t care how many of those innocent people get hurt, as long as they achieve their mission.”
“My men and ships are out there and we have been kept busy, not only with Iran, but with a lot of people who are not willing to accept the State of Israel. [Syrian dictator Bashar al-]Assad is a little more occupied now than in the past and I don’t believe he has aspirations about war with Israel, but he will do whatever he can by using proxies such as Hizballah that will keep Israel and its army occupied.”
Continuing concerns over Iranian deception, together with the new threat posed to Middle Eastern stability posed by the swift rise of ISIS, have brought about an apparent change – if not in public, then seemingly in private – in alliances of convenience between states which formerly would have balked at the thought of working together, the senior officer said.
“If someone in your neighborhood is slaughtering and torturing – like what happened to the American reporters – you understand that you will do everything for him not to be your neighbor,” he said. “You will join hands with a neighbor with whom you may never have been friendly before to make sure the crazy neighbor won’t do you any harm.”
“I won’t go into specific details on cooperation” he adds, “but I will say for sure that every sane human being that is living around here just wants to have a family, a peaceful life, and a place of work. I hope that one day we will see this happen and … I will go out with my flotilla and join hands with the Egyptian navy, Saudi Arabian navy, everyone around us, to make sure we will keep those people out of the Middle East.”
Paul Alster is an Israel-based contributor to FoxNews.com and The Jerusalem Report and blogs at paulalster.com. He can be followed on Twitter: @paul_alster
IPT, by Steven Emerson
Interview on CNBC
September 18, 2014
Host Tyler Mathisen: Authorities in Australia staging the largest counterterrorism operation in the country’s history Thursday to disrupt a gruesome plan by Islamic militants living in the country to carry out random public executions or demonstration killings. Australian media reporting the suspects wanted to kidnap and behead a member of the public and drape the body in an ISIA flag. Australia just the latest example of radicalized Islamic militants waging terror from within on the home front. We’ve already seen murderous attacks in Belgium and England. Steve Emerson is an author and executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and Ghaffar Hussain is a director at Quilliam, a counterterrorism think tank in London. Welcome to both of you. Mr. Hussein, let me begin with you. How close a call was this?
Ghaffar Hussain: From what I’m hearing, it was pretty close. The Australian police intercepted a phone call which suggested that these individuals, or one individual is a quite high-ranking member of ISIS, and he had been given instructions to now carry out this attack in response to, or as a tactical response from the ISIS point of view to the fact that the Australians are now sending troops to the region to help in the international effort to defeat isis. So I suppose we’re starting to see a number of things ISIS doing now, all of which are aimed to kind of prevent or the international coalition which has been a real game changer in holding back ISIS in Iraq.
Mathisen: Mr. Emerson, react to what Mr. Hussain just said, but also put in context the idea that the biggest terror threats may now come from within, not from without, and who are these people? Are they nationals of Australia or people who have gotten in via a passport? What?
Steve Emerson: Well after 9/11, the biggest threat was from al Qaeda [was] sending in operatives or trying to remotely detonate planes through operational devices that could remain undetected. Then we went through a period of homegrown terrorists who weren’t directed by al Qaeda but were recruited online or by the Muslim leaders in their own community. Now we’re into jihad 3.0 where we have people who are volunteering to battle Syria or the West in Iraq and in Syria, gaining the incredible experience of fighting, and then possibly returning back to their own countries in Europe, Australia or the United States. Now you have to remember that the people who are being recruited get vetted before they go to Turkey, which is the infiltration route. Then they get vetted at the border between Turkey and Syria to see who is willing to die and who is willing to be the most vicious. So when they return back to their home countries, you already have a preselected number of jihadis who are willing to die or carry out vicious acts of violence like beheadings. We haven’t experienced that in the US yet, but it certainly has been experienced in Belgium, Germany. It’s been experienced in Britain and now in Australia.
Mathisen: Mr. Hussain, how easy or difficult is it to track these individuals who as Mr. Emerson just described have a rather circuitous path, often moving through Turkey into Syria, into Iraq? How easy is it to track them so that when they try to come back into the United States or Great Britain, they can be identified, detained, investigated?
Hussain: Well, it’s not straightforward to stop people going or people returning. Turkey is a very popular holiday destination for many British people. And millions go there every year. It’s very easy to get a cheap, low-budget flight to Turkey and then get a coach across to the border and cross over. And if someone’s done that for a few weeks or even longer and decides to come back, unless they’ve popped up on social media and talked openly about what they’ve been doing, we’re not going to really know what they’ve been doing, these individuals. So it is very worrying that it is quite easy, in my opinion, to get back into Europe, certainly Britain or America, certainly very easy to get back into Europe, European territory, from Turkey and from Syria. And part of the problem is the fact that the Turkish government has actually turned a blind eye to these individuals because they have their own tactical objectives of overthrowing the Assad regime. And in the past they have not done enough to secure that border. So many individuals are getting the know-how, getting the motivation from individuals they come across online and then arranging to meet them at the Syrian border so they can go over and join ISIS.
Mathisen: We’re very tight on time. Mr. Hussain, thank you very much. Steve Emerson, where is the risk most prevalent and what would you expect the next sort of terror target to be? Would it be those kinds of streetnappings, or would it be the kind of attack that we saw in the shopping mall in Nairobi about a year ago? Very quickly.
Emerson: I think it would be the latter. I think we’re probably going to see–[although] it’s impossible to predict, a freelance–a homegrown terrorist returning from Iraq or Syria who decides to detonate a bomb someplace remotely or carry out a suicide bombing on his own like we saw in Belgium and in France in the last two years.
Mathisen: Is Europe more vulnerable than the United States, or can you tell?
Emerson: Europe is more vulnerable because there are ten times more numbers of jihadi volunteers, up to 5,000, who have gone over to Iraq and Syria. In the United States, only about 200 to 300 have. But that number is growing, unfortunately.
Mathisen: Gentlemen, we thank you both for your perspectives on this very chilling topic.
The beheadings over the last several weeks were intended to terrorize, to intimidate, to coerce obedience, and to enforce a construction of sharia law that, being scripturally rooted, is draconian and repressive.
And let’s not kid ourselves: We know there will be more beheadings in the coming weeks, and on into the future. Apostates from Islam, homosexuals, and perceived blasphemers will face brutal persecution and death. Women will be treated as chattel and face institutionalized abuse. Islamic-supremacist ideology, with its incitements to jihad and conquest, with its virulent hostility toward the West, will spew from the mosques onto the streets. We will continue to be confronted by a country-sized breeding ground for anti-American terrorists.
The Islamic State? Sorry, no. I was talking about . . . our “moderate Islamist” ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
But the confusion is understandable.
Islamic State terrorists have infamously decapitated three of their prisoners in recent weeks. That is five fewer than the Saudi government decapitated in August alone. Indeed, it is three fewer beheadings than were carried out in September by the Free Syrian Army — the “moderate Islamists” that congressional Republicans have now joined Obama Democrats in supporting with arms and training underwritten by American taxpayer dollars.
The Obama administration regards the Saudi government as America’s key partner in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. The increasingly delusional Secretary of State John Kerry reasons that this is because the fight is more ideological than military. Get it? The world’s leading propagators of the ideology that breeds violent jihad are our best asset in an ideological struggle against violent jihadists.
Aloof as ever from irony, Mr. Kerry gave this assessment while visiting King Abdullah in Riyadh on, of all days, September 11 — the thirteenth anniversary of the day when 15 Saudis joined four other terrorists in mass-murdering nearly 3,000 Americans in furtherance of the Islamic-supremacist ideology on which they were reared. The 19 were, of course, members of al-Qaeda, the jihadist network sprung from Saudi Arabia and its fundamentalist “Wahhabi” Islam.
Secretary Kerry and President Obama, like British prime minister David Cameron, insist that the Islamic State, an al-Qaeda-launched jihadist faction, is not Islamic. Evidently, this is owing to the terrorists’ savage tactics. In essence, however, they are the same tactics practiced by our “moderate Islamist” allies.
Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam: the birthplace of Mohammed, the site of the Hijra by which Islam marks time — the migration from Mecca to Medina under siege by Mohammed and his followers. The Saudi king is formally known as the “Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques” (in Mecca and Medina); he is the guardian host of theHaj pilgrimage that Islam makes mandatory for able-bodied believers. The despotic Saudi kingdom is governed by Islamic law — sharia. No other law is deemed necessary and no contrary law is permissible.
It is thus under the authority of sharia that the Saudis routinely behead prisoners.
I happen to own the edition of the Koran “with English Translation of ‘The Meanings and Commentary,’” published at the “King Fahd Holy Qur-an Printing Complex” — Fahd was Abdullah’s brother and predecessor. As the introductory pages explain, this version is produced under the auspices of the regime’s “Ministry of Hajj and Endowments.” In its sura (or chapter) 47, Allah commands Muslims, “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks.”
The accompanying English commentary helpfully explains:
When once the fight (Jihad) is entered upon, carry it out with the utmost vigor, and strike home your blows at the most vital points (smite at their necks), both literally and figuratively. You cannot wage war with kid gloves. [Italicized parentheticals in original.]
Sura 8 underscores the point with another of Allah’s exhortations: “I am with you: Give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: Smite ye above their necks and smite ye all their fingertips off them.”
Following the 9/11 attacks, Americans Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg were among prisoners notoriously decapitated by al-Qaeda. Reacting to their beheadings, Timothy Furnish, a U.S. Army veteran with a doctorate in Islamic history, wrote a comprehensive Middle East Quarterly essay on “Beheading in the Name of Islam.” As Dr. Furnish recounted,
The practice of beheading non-Muslim captives extends back to the Prophet himself. Ibn Ishaq (d. 768 C.E.), the earliest biographer of Muhammad, is recorded as saying that the Prophet ordered the execution by decapitation of 700 men of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina for allegedly plotting against him.
As is always the case, the prophet’s example has been emulated by Muslims through the centuries. When Muslims conquered central Spain in the eleventh century, for example, the caliph had 24,000 corpses beheaded; the remains were piled into makeshift minarets atop which muezzins sang the praises of Allah. In more modern times, Furnish adds, “The Ottoman Empire was the decapitation state par excellence” — employing the practice to terrorize enemies for centuries, including, to take just one of many examples, beheading hundreds of British soldiers captured in Egypt in 1807.
A pity Sheikh Cameron was not around back then to correct the caliphate’s understanding of Islam.
The Saudis behead prisoners for such “offenses” as apostasy. You see, our “moderate Islamist” allies brook no dissent and permit no freedom of conscience. In this, the world’s most identifiably Islamic regime is no different from its Shiite counterpart (and regional competitor) in Tehran — to which President Obama respectfully refers by its preferred name, “the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Sharia is the law there, too. While the regime is said to have repealed the punishment of decapitation, it still prescribes stoning, flogging, and amputation for various violations, such as adultery and petty theft.
Such cruel — but not at all unusual — punishments are designed to enforce a societal system that, as I’ve previously outlined, degrades and dehumanizes women, while subjecting apostates and homosexuals to death and non-Muslims to systematic discrimination.
As night follows day, young Muslims schooled in the ideology promoted in Saudi Arabia gravitate to jihadist networks such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. As recited in Reliance of the Traveller, an authoritative sharia manual endorsed by scholars at the ancient al-Azhar University in Egypt and the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Saudi Arabia, “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims.” They are simply acting on what “moderate Islamists” have been teaching them.
And now Republicans in Congress have joined Democrats to support President Obama’s hare-brained scheme to train 5,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels. As every sentient person knows, a force of that size will have no chance of defeating the Islamic State or al-Qaeda — even if we charitably assume that many in its ranks do not defect to those organizations, as they have been wont to do. The rebels will similarly have no chance against the Iran-backed Assad regime. In sum, our government, nearly $18 trillion in debt, will expend another $500 million to school 5,000 “moderate Islamists” in military tactics that cannot win the war in Syria but could eventually be used in the jihad against the United States. Welcome to Libya . . . the Sequel.
Oh, and did I mention that the training of these “moderate” rebels will take place in “moderate” Saudi Arabia?
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.
Hot Air, by Ed Morrissey, Sep.19,2014:
At first blush, this report looks like common sense. After all, the Edward Snowden cache’s exposure of espionage and surveillance on our allies in Europe created no small amount of humiliation for all sides, and at least publicly, impacted our diplomatic and security relationships. A pause to determine the legitimate intelligence needs of the US, as opposed to a desire to just grab everything possible, makes sense under the circumstances — assuming it doesn’t blind us altogether to the issues in Europe.
That, however, might have been the result, at least according to Associated Press sources:
Under the stand-down order, case officers in Europe largely have been forbidden from undertaking “unilateral operations” such as meeting with sources they have recruited within allied governments. Such clandestine meetings are the bedrock of spying.
CIA officers are still allowed to meet with their counterparts in the host country’s intelligence service, conduct joint operations with host country services and conduct operations with the approval of the host government. Recently, unilateral operations targeting third country nationals — Russians in France, for example — were restarted. But most meetings with sources who are host nationals remain on hold, as do new recruitments.
The CIA declined to comment.
James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, said during a public event Thursday that the U.S. is assuming more risk because it has stopped spying on “specific targets,” though he didn’t spell out details.
Spying stand-downs are common after an operation is compromised, but “never this long or this deep,” said a former CIA official, who, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because it’s illegal to discuss classified material or activities. The pause, which has been in effect for about two months, was ordered by senior CIA officials through secret cables.
Needless to say, this is an odd time to go dark, and not just because of Russia and their own operations in Europe. The US needs to keep a close eye on the impact of ISIS in Europe, both in terms of recruitment to the battlegrounds of Syria and Iraq but also penetration into the governments of our allies. Assuming that ISIS isn’t attempting that kind of penetration may work out well in the short run while they’re desperate for fighters (and young women), but it won’t be long before the terrorists realize the value in having sympathizers burrow into the bureaucracies of the West, especially in national-security organizations.
The timing of this revelation is rather curious, too. James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, revealed earlier this week that the CIA missed significant signals in the rise of ISIS and in the collapse of Iraq’s military. In both cases, Clapper admitted, the CIA didn’t calculate the will to fight on either side properly:
The United States has made the same mistake in evaluating fighters from the Islamic State that it did in Vietnam — underestimating the enemy’s will, according to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.
Clapper’s comments came in a telephone interview Wednesday, in which he summarized the elements of a new National Intelligence Strategyreleased this week. Clapper also answered some broader questions about intelligence issues confronting the country. …
“What we didn’t do was predict the will to fight. That’s always a problem. We didn’t do it in Vietnam. We underestimated the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese and overestimated the will of the South Vietnamese. In this case, we underestimated ISIL [the Islamic State] and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army. . . . I didn’t see the collapse of the Iraqi security force in the north coming. I didn’t see that. It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable.”
It’s not that imponderable. Plenty of people warned over the last several years that an American withdrawal from Iraq would have a negative impact on Iraqi military morale. The abandonment of Sunni tribal leaders to the Shi’ite-dominant government of Nouri al-Maliki was also eminently “ponderable,” even while Barack Obama insisted that the Iraq we left behind was stable and secure. Maliki’s purge of Sunni military and political leaders wasn’t much of a secret, or at least shouldn’t have been to the CIA. The question is less of “imponderables” than of a determination to see the situation in Iraq only through the context of an Obama policy success, at least at the policy-developing levels of the intel community and the White House.
Given that DNI Clapper is now offering mea culpas about being blindsided on the capabilities of both friend and foe, this seems like a very odd — and bad — time to have the CIA closing its eyes even more.
Fox News host Shepard Smith gave White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest a sustained grilling on the Obama administration’s ISIL strategy and congressional authorization to arm “moderate” Syrian rebels.
Smith posed several difficult questions to Earnest during the Press Secretary’s inaugural Fox News appearance, and when Earnest provided unsatisfying answers, Shep went on a tirade:
When the Bush administration was doing this, these questions were asked from this desk and now that you are doing it, these are fair questions that deserve answers. We have a coalition of the Muslim world? I don’t see it.
No one from Saudi Arabia, no one from Jordan–it has its own problems, Turkey has its own problems. We are not getting help from any of those nations, and to suggest that these people, with great respect, from Syria, who are not organized, and the Pentagon says it will take a year to train, and the Iraqi army, which has already folded and given away the weapons, are going to come together and fight ISIL for us and with us seems like, as the president once put it, something of a fantasy.
Smith not only expressed doubt that the Obama administration’s ‘fantasy’ strategy would not work, he said “I will bet every penny that I ever make at this network” that Saudi Arabia and Jordan would not commit to a coalition.
“That’s a substantial bet,” Earnest said.
“It is a big bet,” Smith said. “And it’s a good bet, because it’s not gonna happen, and the whole world knows it.”
Flashes of disagreement over how to fight the Islamic State are mounting between President Obama and U.S. military leaders, the latest sign of strain in what often has been an awkward and uneasy relationship.
Even as the administration has received congressional backing for its strategy, with the Senate voting Thursday to approve a plan to arm and train Syrian rebels, a series of military leaders have criticized the president’s approach against the Islamic State militant group.
Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who served under Obama until last year, became the latest high-profile skeptic on Thursday, telling the House Intelligence Committee that a blanket prohibition on ground combat was tying the military’s hands. “Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility,” he said. “We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.”
Mattis’s comments came two days after Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took the rare step of publicly suggesting that a policy already set by the commander in chief could be reconsidered.
Despite Obama’s promise that he would not deploy ground combat forces, Dempsey made clear that he didn’t want to rule out the possibility, if only to deploy small teams in limited circumstances. He also acknowledged that Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander for the Middle East, had already recommended doing so in the case of at least one battle in Iraq but was overruled.
Read more at Washington Post
Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.
Chairman Rohrabacher, Ranking Member Keating and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the threat posed by Islamist foreign fighters returning home to Europe. We have been asked to answer the question, “How are European countries addressing the threat, and how can the US assist in those efforts to thwart future terrorist attacks?” I offer my thoughts in more detail below.
But I begin by recalling the 9/11 Commission’s warning with respect to failed states. “In the twentieth century,” the Commission’s final report reads, “strategists focused on the world’s great industrial heartlands.” In the twenty-first century, however, “the focus is in the opposite direction, toward remote regions and failing states.” A few sentences later, the Commission continues:
If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home. Similarly, if we are paying insufficient attention to Afghanistan, the rule of the Taliban or warlords or narcotraffickers may reemerge and its countryside could once again offer refuge to al Qaeda, or its successor.
Those words were written more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, they still ring true today, not just for the US, but also for Europe. Except, we no longer have to worry about just Iraq becoming a failed state. We now have to contend with a failed state in Syria as well. And Syria is not “remote.” It is much easier for foreign fighters to travel to Syria today than it was for new jihadists to get to Afghanistan in the 1980s. This is one reason that there are likely more foreign fighters in Syria than there were in Afghanistan at the height of the jihad against the Soviets. Estimates vary, but the total number of foreign recruits in Syria easily tops 10,000. A CIA source recently told CNN “that more than 15,000 foreign fighters, including 2,000 Westerners, have gone to Syria.” They “come from more than 80 countries.”
This, of course, is an unprecedented security challenge and one that counterterrorism and intelligence officials will be dealing with for some time to come. It requires exceptional international cooperation to track the threats to Europe and elsewhere emerging out of Iraq and Syria. My thoughts below are focused on what I consider to be some of the key aspects of dealing with this threat.
At the moment, most people are understandably focused on the Islamic State (often called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, or ISIS). There is certainly a strong possibility that some foreign fighters will return from fighting in the Islamic State’s ranks to commit an act of terror at home, either on their own accord or under the direction of senior terrorists.
However, I also want to focus our attention today one of the other significant threat streams coming out of Syria. Al-Qaeda’s official branch in the country, Jabhat al-Nusrah, has experienced al-Qaeda veterans in its ranks. I think they pose more of a near-term threat when it comes to launching catastrophic attacks in the West than do their Islamic State counterparts. And even though al-Nusrah and the Islamic State have been at odds, we should not rule out the possibility that parts of each organization could come together against their common enemies in the West. Indeed, two of al-Qaeda’s leading branches are currently encouraging the jihadists in Syria to broker a truce, such that they focus their efforts against the US and its allies. There is also a large incentive for terrorists in both organizations to separately lash out at the West, portraying any such attacks as an act of retaliation for the American-led bombings.
Read more at Long War Journal
A Democratic congressman tried to use the might of the federal government to crush an investigation into reports that an Islamic terrorist group is using the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez as a base for launching an attack on the U.S. using car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).
The Islamofascist group in question is the extraordinarily brutal Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) that has been conquering swathes of the Middle East with the long-term goal of establishing an Islamic Caliphate. (ISIS is also known as the Islamic State group and by the Obama-preferred acronym ISIL, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.)
U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, Texas, contacted the local offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) “in an effort to identify—and evidently intimidate—sources that may have been used by” Judicial Watch, federal law enforcement sources told the nonprofit good-government group.
Judicial Watch, which has been legally recognized by the courts as a media outlet, reported on the terrorist conspiracy on August 29. Citing high-level federal law enforcement, intelligence, and other sources, the group reported that the federal government was bracing for an imminent terrorist attack on the southern U.S. border.
Agents in the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice are all reportedly on alert and have been directed “to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat,” Judicial Watch reports.
O’Rourke’s office denies wrongdoing, but according to Judicial Watch the congressman’s telephone calls were followed by “a memo that came down through the chain of command threatening to terminate or criminally charge any agent who speaks to media of any kind.”
According to the Obama administration, Islamic terrorists are not operating in Ciudad Juarez. But the administration isn’t known for truth-telling. The White House has long downplayed the wave of violent crime, much of it committed by drug cartels, that rages along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The U.S. Border Patrol instructed its officers to steer clear of the most crime-infested portions of the border because they’re “too dangerous” and patrolling them could lead to an “international incident” involving a cross-border shooting, Judicial Watch previously reported.
Yet a parade of Democratic politicians including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have declared the southern border to be secure despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Read more at Frontpage
Published on Sep 18, 2014 by BuckleyProgramAtYale
These individuals under surveillance, ‘being tracked’ by the FBI
Washington Free Beacon, By Adam Kredo, September 19, 2014:
Rep. Tim Bishop (D., N.Y.) warned during a recent speech that up to 40 radicalized U.S. citizens who have fought alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) have already returned to the United States, where they could pose a terrorist threat.
Bishop claims that of the 100 or so Americans who have traveled to the Middle East to join ISIL’s ranks, some 40 have returned and are currently being surveilled by the FBI, according to his remarks, which were filmed and uploaded to YouTube last week.
“One of the concerns is the number of U.S. citizens who have left our country to go join up with ISIS,” Bishop said during the speech. “It is believed there have been some number up to 100 that have done that.”
“It is also believed that some 40 of those who left this country to join up with ISIS have now returned to our country,” Bishop said, eliciting shocked responses from some in the crowd.
These 40 individuals, Bishop said, “are under FBI attention and surveillance. So they are known and being tracked by the FBI.”
Lawmakers have warned that radicalized ISIL fighters could clandestinely enter the United States through the porous southern border.
U.S. officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other security agencies have said that while the southern border poses a risk, they are more concerned about lone wolf attacks in which an isolated radicalized individual with sympathy to ISIL carries out a solo terror attack.
Bishop said that while ISIL poses and extreme threat, it is not yet capable of attacking the United States, though that could change as the group grows in strength and resources.
“It is a very, very complex and very, very dangerous threat and I think the plan that the president outlined the other night [in his national speech] is a good plan,” Bishop maintained.
President Obama “is correct to recognize the threat, and it clearly is a threat to the stability of the Middle East, a region that is already remarkably unstable,” Bishop said.
“It is not yet a threat to the homeland, but there is a concern that it could metastasize in such a way that it could become a threat to the homeland,” Bishop said, echoing concerns expressed by lawmakers on both sides of the isle.
“But at the present time, the intelligence is ISIS does not present a threat to the homeland, although that is not something that will remain static going out into the future,” Bishop said, describing the regional upheaval as “more of a political conflict in the Arab world then a sectarian conflict” between Muslims.
DHS has said that while there is no evidence of a direct threat by ISIL to the United States, it is aware that the group’s affiliates have been discussing the possibility of crossing the southern border.
“There have been Twitter, social media exchanges among ISIL adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility,” Francis Taylor, under secretary for intelligence and analysis at DHS, told senators during a recent hearing.
Other U.S. officials also have discussed the possibility of an ISIL adherent carrying out an attack on the United States.
“We remain mindful of the possibility that an ISIL-sympathizer—perhaps motivated by online propaganda—could conduct a limited, self-directed attack here at home with no warning,” Matthew Olsen, director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, said in a speech earlier this month.
“We have seen ISIL use a range of media to tout its military capabilities, executions of captured soldiers, and consecutive battlefield victories,” Olsen said. “More recently, the group’s supporters have sustained this momentum on social media by encouraging attacks in the U.S. and against U.S. interests in retaliation for our airstrikes. ISIL has used this propaganda campaign to draw foreign fighters to the group, including many from Western countries.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his aides swear the Syrian “rebels” he was pictured last year with weren’t ISIS members or supporters, and the mainstream media is by and large buying the 2008 GOP presidential nominee’s story.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has endured brutal criticism—media fact checkers, reporters, and political figures have shredded him—for questioning just who McCain posed with.
But a closer look at the situation tells perhaps a different story than McCain’s office or the mainstream media have pushed.
The criticism of McCain centers around how the Arizona senator met with Syrian rebel leaders in May 2013 when he visited the country. McCain posed for photographs with those people, and since then rumors have sprouted up across the Internet that he met with ISIS or some other terrorist kidnappers or nefarious forces.
“The people in the pictures with Senator McCain in Syria included General Salim Idris, then-Chief of Staff of the Supreme Military Command of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Mouaz Moustafa, the Executive Director of the DC-based Syrian Emergency Task Force (which supports the moderate opposition and helped arrange some of the trip), and fighters and commanders from the Northern Storm Brigade, a FSA-aligned group,” McCain’s spokesman Brian Rogers told Breitbart News.
Rogers said that the senator and his team aren’t naming the “fighters and commanders from the Northern Storm Brigade, a FSA-aligned group,” because “ISIS actually threatened to kill them all, and we don’t want to put their lives at risk.” Rogers provided Breitbart News with a link to the ISIS threat to those fighters.
“ISIS targeted the Northern Storm because ISIS considers them apostates and because Northern Storm met with Sen. McCain,” Rogers said. “ISIS actually wrote out a statement that accused Northern Storm of treachery for reasons including: ‘Meeting with U.S. Senator John McCain in the hangar and making a contract with him against the Islamists.’ The statement goes on to demand that Northern Storm surrender and repent to ISIS or be killed.”
“ISIS actually killed many Northern Storm members, and we’re not going to put them at any further risk by naming them,” Rogers added.
But there’s just one problem with McCain’s office’s story. Now, McCain’s team says the senator didn’t meet with any bad figures but declines to name them, for what seems to be a legitimate reason—although those who are publicly leading combat against ISIS and against Bashar Al-Assad’s regime are probably publicly known figures there.
Just last year, however, McCain’s office had no clue who the senator met. When allegations surfaced that the senator may have met with terrorists who kidnapped someone, Rogers—McCain’s communications director—went on the record to multiple media outlets to say he didn’t know who he was meeting with, and if he did meet with kidnapper terrorists, that would be regrettable.
“None of the individuals the senator planned to meet with was named Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim,” Rogers told CNN in late May 2013, right after the trip. “A number of other Syrian commanders joined the meeting, but none of them identified himself as Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim.”
Rogers added later in his statement to CNN that he and the senator did not know who he was meeting with.
“A number of the Syrians who greeted Senator McCain upon his arrival in Syria asked to take pictures with him, and, as always, the senator complied,” Rogers said. “If the individual photographed with Senator McCain is in fact Mohamed Nour, that is regrettable. But it would be ludicrous to suggest that the Senator in any way condones the kidnapping of Lebanese Shia pilgrims or has any communication with those responsible. Senator McCain condemns such heinous actions in the strongest possible terms.”
Of course it’s ludicrous to suggest that McCain would condone the act of kidnapping, and nobody serious is suggesting that. The point many critics of McCain’s policies—including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—are making is that Americans have no way of knowing which team any one of these figures is on.
“Here’s the problem,” Paul said in an interview with The Daily Beast this week. “He [McCain] did meet with ISIS, and had his picture taken, and didn’t know it was happening at the time. That really shows you the quandary of determining who are the moderates and who aren’t. If you don’t speak Arabic, and you don’t understand that some people will lie to you—I really think that we don’t have a good handle on who are the moderates and who aren’t, and I think the objective evidence is that the ones doing most of the fighting and most of the battles among the rebels in Syria are the radical Islamists.”
Paul has been roundly criticized for the remarks, starting with the publication he made them to. The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi wrote that Paul’s statement means he “repeated a thoroughly debunked rumor.” The Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave Paul “Four Pinocchios,” its highest rating of dishonesty, for the statement. Kessler wrote that this story is one where he regrets “we are limited to just Four Pinocchios,” because there is “zero evidence that any of the men that McCain met with in Syria are linked to the Islamic State.”
Despite this pile-on by the media and political establishment, Paul has a serious point here, though. McCain really didn’t know who he was meeting with, and even if they were the supposedly “moderate” Free Syrian Army, who’s to know that they aren’t elements of the Free Syrian Army working alongside ISIS?
Patrick Poole, an esteemed national security reporter and expert on radical Islam for PJ Media, has reported that the Free Syrian Army’s commanders have admitted in public to working alongside ISIS. “As President Obama laid out his ‘strategy’ last night for dealing with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and as bipartisan leadership in Congress pushes to approve as much as $4 billion to arm Syrian ‘rebels,’ it should be noted that the keystone to his anti-Assad policy — the ‘vetted moderate’ Free Syrian Army (FSA) — is now admitting that they, too, are working with the Islamic State,” Poole wrote on Sept. 10.
Poole cites the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star, which quotes a Free Syrian Army brigade commander as saying he is working with the “Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate — both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.”
Read more at Breitbart