Christie: Hamas-Linked Mosque “Not Radical Jihadists”

(Photo © Alex Hanson / flickr)

(Photo © Alex Hanson / flickr)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Feb. 4, 2016:

GOP presidential candidate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is still praising a Hamas-linked mosque in his state, saying, “The folks in the local mosque in Paterson, the ones I interact with, they are not radical Islamic jihadists.” He is referring to the Islamic Center of Passaic County—and he’s praised its imam for years even though the Department of Homeland Security is seeking his deportation for his links to Hamas.

You can read our profile of the mosque and its leadership, including Imam Mohammad Qatanani, here.

He was arrested and convicted by Israel for his links to Hamas and then went to NJ to help lead a mosque founded and led by Mohammed El-Mezain, a Hamas operative sentenced to 15 years in prison for financing the terrorist group. El-Mezain was also the chairman of the Holy Land Foundation, which was shut down for being a Muslim Brothehood/Hamas front.

Qatanani has used his position to preach extremism. The Department of Homeland Security has been seeking Qatanani’s deportation since 2006.

A July 29, 2008 court filing explains, “It is certainly suspicious when a person who has been convicted of being a member of, and providing services, to Hamas, who has personal ties to a Hamas militant leader, and a Hamas fundraiser also sends undisclosed cash to the West Bank.” It described his explanation for his financial transfers as “highly dubious.”

On November 22, 2015, the mosque held a memorial for “the martyred niece of Sheik Qatanani who died yesterday in Palestine.” This means she was killed in a confrontation with Israel. A Facebook user commented under the announcement, “We are pround [sic] about her, she was defending for Al Aqsa [Jerusalem].”

His 16-year-old niece Ashraqat Taha Al-Qatanani was killed during a spate of stabbing attacks in Israel. She took out a knife in front of a military base near civilians and an Israeli civilian hit her with his car to stop the impending attack. She was shot sometime after that. Her father, Sheikh Taha Qatanani, did not deny her intentions. He said, “She talked about stabbing to her brother the day before but no one took her seriously. If she tried to stab, she did what she wanted.”

In an interview with Hezbollah’s media outlet, her father praised her for having “inherited the love of the resistance and the love of Sayyed Nasrallah from me,” apparently referring to the leader of the Hezbollah terrorist group whose lectures she listened to. He recalled her visiting him in prison and “until the last night before her martyrdom she kept on drawing the veiled face of a resistance fighter.” Nasrallah called Sheikh Qatanani directly after she died.

In honor of her death, her father refers to her as “Ashraqat Palestine.” He said, “don’t deny that Ashraqat Palestine inspired me to become more active. She burst the struggle stock inside of me… and maybe forced me to return to the choice of resistance.”

The reporter said she left behind a martyrdom note before attempting the attack. And “As for the knife revolt (intifada) that the Palestinian youth initiated, she did not only support it, but even considered that ‘the end of the occupation is near, God willing’.”

When the Department of Homeland Security began trying to deport Imam Mohammad Qatanani, Christie’s Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna testified as a character witness on Qatanani’s behalf. After Christie was elected as governor, he appointed McKenna as NJ’s director of homeland security, a position he held from January 2010 until February 2012. In September 2008, Christie attended an event at the ICPC and praised Qatanani as a “man of great goodwill.”

Christie received negative attention for this and invited Qatanani to an Iftar (post-Ramadan fasting) dinner at the Governor’s Mansion on July 24, 2012. He defended Qatanani and blasted his critics as anti-Muslim bigots, which apparently would include the Department of Homeland Security.

In 2014, Clarion project asked Christie at a townhall in NJ about his praise for Qatanani and how he attacked the integrity of Qatanani’s critics. His response was to blatantly lie and claim he only said critics of his appointment of a Muslim judge are bigots and to downplay his praise for Qatanani. Christie said to “stop reading some of those websites that put this stuff out,” unaware that Clarion Project was one of the sites to which he was referring.

Video of his remarks in 2012 shows him boasting to his Muslim audience about how he’s being attacked by anti-Muslim bigots for two actions: The appointment of a Muslim as a judge and his friendship with Qatanani.

“And, of course, my association over the years and my kind words over the years about Imam Qatanani. He’s here tonight, welcome sir. Glad you could be here,” Christie is seen saying.

He then again said Qatanani has “tried to be a force for good” and this is known by “those of us who have gotten to know and work with him over the years.”

It gets worse.

In 2012, Clarion Project discovered Qatanani and others with extremist histories were on his attorney general’s Muslim outreach committee. They remained there even after we broke the story. And then we found out the committee was given briefings on police training and—shockingly– even presentations on how non-profits can win homeland-security grants.

And still, even now—even after Qatanani’s Hezbollah-supporting niece died in a terrorist attack in Israel and after all this evidence is out—Christie is still citing Qatanani’s Hamas-linked mosque as an example of moderation.

Ironically, in an interview around the same time as his statementidentifying ICPC as a positive example, Christie said, “The fact is, what you need to be fearful of is not having the intelligence to know the difference between a jihadist and a peaceful Muslim.”

Christie’s right—it’s critical that a policy-maker, especially involved in national security, be able to differentiate between a moderate Muslim and a jihadist like a cleric identified by the Department of Homeland Security as a Hamas-affiliated extremist.

ISIS: The Latest Phase of the Jihad

Hoover Institution’s Strategika, by Raymond Ibrahim, Feb. 5, 2016:

The best way to understand the Islamic State (ISIS) is to see it as the next phase of al-Qaeda. All Sunni Islamic jihadi groups—Boko Haram, ISIS, Taliban, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda, even Hamas—share the same motivations based on a literal and orthodox reading of Islamic history and doctrine: resurrecting a caliphate (which existed in various forms from 632 to 1924) that implements and spreads the totality of sharia, or Islamic law.

ggAccordingly, ISIS’s notorious atrocities—beheading, crucifixion, sexual enslavement, and destruction of non-Sunni places of worship—are being committed by other jihadi groups (e.g., Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, both of which pledged allegiance to ISIS) and even by some Muslim governments (e.g., Saudi Arabia) and individual Muslims around the world.

Conversely, although al-Qaeda (AQ) adheres to the same sharia that ISIS implements, it has long waged a propaganda war against the West. AQ portrays all terrorist attacks on the West, including 9/11, as mere payback for the West’s unjust polices against Muslims, including support for Israel and Arab dictators.[1]

To maintain this “grievance” narrative, AQ knows that the innately supremacist and violent aspects of sharia—for example ISIS’ destruction of churches and subjugation of “infidel” Christian minorities—need to be curtailed or hidden from the Western world.  Otherwise AQ’s efforts of portraying jihadis as “freedom fighters” resisting an oppressive West risk being undermined.[2]

Regardless, AQ’s strategy of turning Western opinion appears to have borne fruit in one pivotal area: canceling longtime Western support for secular Arab dictators. In the context of the “Arab Spring,” the Obama administration turned its back on America’s Egyptian ally of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak; helped ISIS-affiliated jihadis overthrow Libya’s Gaddafi (even though he was complying with Washington); and continues supporting ISIS-affiliated “moderates”[3] to overthrow Syria’s Assad. Idealists in both government and media forgot a primary reason the U.S. had formerly supported secular Arab dictators: they single-mindedly opposed the jihadis.

The result has been a new and emboldened phase of the jihad, a.k.a., ISIS. Born and entrenched in precisely those nations that U.S. leadership brought “freedom and democracy” to—Iraq, Syria, and Libya—ISIS (or al-Qaeda 2.0) is now indifferent to Western opinion. By widely broadcasting its savage triumphalism in the name of Islam, ISIS forfeits the “grievance card” but plays the “strength” card, thus inspiring millions of Muslims. According to the Pew Research Center, in 11 countries alone, at least 63 million and as many as 287 million Muslims support ISIS.[4]

Yet even ISIS works in stages. When criticized by Muslims for killing fellow Muslims and not attacking Israel—the supreme enemy—ISIS responded by saying it was following the pattern of the historic caliphate founded in 632.[5] Then, Caliph Abu Bakr beheaded and crucified tens of thousands of Muslims for apostatizing. Only after the rebel tribes were brought back into the fold of Islam were they set loose to conquer European/Christian territories during history’s early Muslim conquests (634–750). Indeed, it is believed that ISIS’ caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took this name to signify his focus, that is, terrorizing all “hypocrites” and “apostates” until they unify under the caliphate’s banner.

It still remains to be seen whether ISIS’ strategy—inspiring Muslims but losing Western opinion—will succeed. According to polls, “Islamophobia” is on the rise in the West, especially after the rise of ISIS, prompting several politicians to speak more candidly about the catalysts for terrorist violence.

The Obama administration’s weak responses feed into AQ’s narrative that Islamic terrorism at least in part reflects Islamic grievance; and it refuses to connect the actions of any jihadi organization—whether ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, et al—to Islamic teaching.

Time will tell whether the next administration will remain willfully ignorant of the nature of its jihadi enemy—which is fatal in war according to Sun Tzu’s ancient dictum, “know your enemy”—or whether reality will trump political correctness.

[1] See “An Analysis of Al-Qa’ida’s Worldview: Reciprocal Treatment or Religious Obligation?” Also, The Al Qaeda Reader, which separates the organization’s communiqués into two groups: “Propaganda” messages to the West portraying jihadi terrorists as mere freedom fighters, and “Theology” messages to fellow Muslims, preaching the same Islam of ISIS.

[2] See “Al-Qaeda: Defender of Christians?” for a more elaborate explanation of this theme.

[3] For the Syrian Free Army’s role: “Largest Massacre of Christians in Syria Ignored.”

[4]Pew poll: Between 63 million and 287 million ISIS supporters in just 11 countries.”

[5]New Islamic Caliphate Declares Jihad on … Muslims.”

President Obama’s Speech at Islamic Center of Baltimore: A Fact Check

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Breitbart, by Clare Lopez, Feb.5, 2016:

Perhaps it’s because he was making faces in Qur’an class instead of paying attention to his teacher. Or maybe he just has a selective memory about what he was taught as a young Muslim student in Indonesia.

Whatever the reason, President Barack Obama got a lot of things factually wrong in his 3 February 2016 speech at the Islamic Center of Baltimore. Things that are basic to doctrinal Islam are not only knowable because they are readily available in English but, it might be argued, obligatory that an American commander-in-chief should know in fulfillment of his oath to defend the Constitution against “all enemies foreign and domestic.”

First, Mr. President, a mosque is not simply the Muslim version of a church, synagogue or temple. Because of the example of Muhammad, who is called the perfect man in the Qur’an (believed by Muslims to be the exact words of Allah), we know that mosques are established not only as places of prayer and worship, but also as centers for indoctrination, the dispensing of shariah justice, the stockpiling of weapons, and the launching of jihad. If in doubt about any of this, please check with the French police, who recently have been conducting raids on mosques and Islamic Centers in the wake of horrific jihadist attacks in Paris.

The president must have missed more than one lesson on Arabic grammar, too. When he claims that “the word itself, Islam, comes from salam—peace,” he is mistaken. While the words “Islam” and “salam” share the same three root letters—s, l, m—they are, in fact, very different words with completely different meanings. While “salam” indeed means “peace” in Arabic, “Islam” means “submission.” Submission to what? To Allah and Islamic Law. A “Muslim” is a person who submits. Surely the president knows this. Or maybe the White House Arabic language translator needs to be replaced.

Unfortunately, in pursuit of that submission, Islamic doctrine obligates Muslim conquest of the Dar al-Harb (places not yet subjugated to shariah). We know this not only from the example of Muhammad’s own life as taught to Muslim students from the 1st grade, but also from the Qur’an and hadiths. For example, Qur’an verse 9:29 says: “Fight those who believe not… until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” The Qur’an is quite clear in verse 3:85 as well: ‘Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam will never have it accepted of him…’ Islamic Law defines jihad quite simply: “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims.”

This is not cherry-picking Qur’anic verses. This is Islamic doctrine as uniformly presented in the Qur’an, hadiths, biography of Muhammad, and Islamic Law. It is the agreed consensus of all authoritative Islamic scholars throughout the centuries. We may wish that more Muslim scholars would teach the prohibition of terror (jihad). But of course, they cannot teach what is contrary to Islamic doctrine. For the Qur’an itself commands Muslims to “make ready your strength to the utmost of your power… to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy.” (Q 8:60)

And when the President purports to quote the Qur’an about killing an innocent, he either willfully or out of ignorance is misquoting Islamic scripture. In fact, Qur’an verse 5:32cites from a Jewish commentary on the Talmud: “On that account, We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person—unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land—it would be as if he slew the whole people…” This is the definition of killing without right in Islam. The takeaway here is that a Muslim may not kill except those who themselves have killed without right or perpetrated “mischief in the land”—which may include failing to accept Islam. What the President and others too often leave out is the next verse, Q 5:33, which lays out the punishments for those who disobey 5:32. They are: “death, crucifixion, amputation of the hand and foot on opposite sides or exile from the land.” The President might be asked why he left those out, when they are precisely the punishments the Islamic State (IS) is applying to those under its control in faithful obedience to what they believe is the word of Allah. This isn’t an IS version or interpretation of the Qur’an. It is what the Qur’an actually says.

These are just a few of the things the President might have said, were his intention to be accurate about the enemy we fight. He might have added that we are not actually fighting terrorism: we are fighting to defend the Constitution from attack by forces of jihad seeking to impose shariah. This does not mean we must be at war with all Muslims. But all those who fight or support the Global Jihad Movement are on the wrong side of our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the way of life Americans treasure because, unlike Islamic doctrine, they enshrine principles of individual liberty, equality before man-made law, government by consent of the governed, and the right to freedoms of belief and speech.

Those, Mr. President, are the “first things” principles we Americans are willing to fight and die for. American Muslims who accept and defend them are patriots, too—but unfortunately, these are not principles to be found anywhere in the authoritative Islamic canon—and Americans need to know that.

Clare M. Lopez is Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

From AQ to ISIS: The New Deadlier Face of Jihad

isis 5

Dr. Sebastian Gorka gave this excellent lecture to a Marine Corps audience in March 2015.

Secure Freedom Radio: Patrick Poole on Obama’s outreach to the wrong Muslims

Getty Images

Getty Images


Secure Freedom Radio, by Frank Gaffney, Feb. 4, 2016:

With Patrick Poole

PATRICK POOLE, National Security and Terrorism Correspondent for PJ Media:

Why is America Reaching Out to the Wrong Muslims?

Frank Gaffney spoke to Patrick Poole on the radio today. Poole is the National Security and Terrorism Correspondent for PJ Media.

Gaffney began by asking Poole about Obama’s recent visit to a mosque in Baltimore. Poole responded:

“This is kind of emblematic of the failure of the Obama administration’s handling of violent extremism or CVE (countering violent extremist) policies which go back to the latter half of the Bush administration where we see this engagement with known bad actors in the Muslim community, promoting them as moderates that are supposedly going to help us de-radicalize yet in fact we’re seeing from an empirical point of view, we’re seeing more terrorists now than we’ve ever seen before.”

Poole then noted the irony of Obama having to travel all the way to Baltimore for a mosque visit because local mosques in the DC area had too many red flags associated with them. Gaffney noted that even the mosque in Baltimore has an imam who has been controversial. Poole reminded us that the Islamic Society which runs the mosque in Baltimore is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Gaffney suggests that America has essentially been suborned by enemy operatives from the Muslim Brotherhood . Poole agrees and suggests that this group has somehow become acceptable as a group with which our government believes it can work.

That seems unreal when you learn the truth about the Muslim Brotherhood. Poole explained:

“The Muslim Brotherhood’s endgame is identical to that of Al-Qaeda,  the Islamic State and a number of these other terrorist groups… to re-establish the caliphate and impose Sharia Law.”

As Gaffney correctly pointed out, it seems like Obama is reaching out to “the wrong Muslims.”

Many Americans probably don’t know that there was even a petition launched for the White House on Change.org to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization that was signed by over 200,000 Americans which the administration brushed aside claiming there was no evidence that the Brotherhood was committed to violence.

What we have is a situation not unlike what Europe is facing.  Through increased Muslim immigration, jihadists are being embedded in our society. Some are waging cultural jihad and when that fails, militant jihad.

At the same time, we’ve got progressive leaders like New York City mayor Bill de Blasio shutting down surveillance of mosques in the name of political correctness which Poole suggests could cost American lives. Of the people who are against surveillance, Poole says:

“They’re creating the conditions which Muslims are going to be subject to more inspection because we hear these advocates saying, who basically use the Muslim community as a human shield for the extremists, and when something happens, much as it did after 9/11 when most of the surveillance took place in New York… when the next event happens it will be the whole Muslim community rather than these hot spots of jihad. It’s not rocket science.”

Gaffney makes the excellent point that if we keep reaching out to the wrong Muslim groups, it leaves very little space for the type of Muslims we want living in America who reject Sharia Law and don’t want to live under it themselves.

Gaffney and Poole concluded their discussion by noting the irony of Egypt’s rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood as our administration seems to embrace them. Poole, who has visited Egypt numerous times said that he’s often asked by the people there why we are working with the Muslim Brotherhood after millions of Egyptians protested them.

Why indeed?

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

  • President Obama’s visit to the Baltimore mosque is emblematic of the Administration’s CVE (countering violent extremism policies)
  • Islamic societies in this country and what we know about their relationships to the Muslim Brotherhood
  • America has been suborned by enemy operatives

(PART TWO): Podcast (podcast2): Play in new window | Download

  • How does the Muslim Brotherhood differ from terror organizations like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State?
  • Systematic outreach of the Obama administration to the wrong Muslims
  • Obama administration’s response to public petition to make the Muslim Brotherhood a designated terror organization

(PART THREE): Podcast (podcast3): Play in new window | Download

  • DHS and State Department shutting down investigation that could have uncovered critical evidence in preventing the San Bernardino attacks
  • CVE encouraging domestic terrorism
  • Civilization jihad becoming militant in the US similar to what’s happening in Europe

(PART FOUR): Podcast (podcast4): Play in new window | Download

  • Censorship of NYPD’s radicalization report
  • Is mosque surveillance necessary?
  • How Muslim communities are used as shields for radicals
  • President el-Sisi’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

(PART FIVE): Podcast (podcast5): Play in new window | Download

  • Conflagration between the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood
  • President el-Sisi’s speech at Al-Azhar University
  • The Obama administration’s embrace of radicals domestically and around the world

Learning from Barack and Hillary’s Libyan Adventure

President Obama delivers a statement on the US consulate attack in Benghazi, September 12, 2012.

President Obama delivers a statement on the US consulate attack in Benghazi, September 12, 2012.

Religious Freedom Coalition, by Andrew Harrod, PhD, Feb. 4, 2016:

To learn more about the September 11, 2012, attack upon the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, portrayed in themovie 13 Hours:  The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, read Architects of Disaster:  The Destruction of Libya by Pete Hoekstra.  The former congressman insightfully analyzes the “naiveté run amok” concerning global jihad of President Barack Obama and “his chief foreign policy lieutenant, Hillary Clinton—who hopes to be the next commander-in-chief.”

Hoekstra, former House Intelligence Committee chairman, examines how this attack “was the culmination of a foreign policy on Islamic terrorism that was grounded in wishful thinking and self-delusion” concerning “moderate” Islamists.  This Obama administration definition often required “nothing more than a group’s professed commitment to nonviolence, however unsavory the group’s ultimate objectives.”  During the 2011 overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Obama cooperated with “countless salafi-jihadist veterans of the global Al Qaeda.”  American policymakers were “seemingly content to buy jihadists’ assurances that they would pursue jihad solely in their homeland.”

Hoekstra remains at a loss to justify the Libya campaign’s estimated 9,700 NATO airstrikes and 20,000 tons of weapons delivered by Qatar, mostly to jihadists like those that brutally killed the fallen Gaddafi.  Although the Libyan campaign was supposedly a humanitarian intervention, “sensational reports of humanitarian abuses, having been largely generated by Gaddafi’s opposition, were vastly overstated.”  In the face of Gaddafi’s imminent victory, the foreign intervention was “not seeking to bring the killing to a halt or to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the war, but rather to help the losing side win—by definition a prolongation of the conflict.”

Hoekstra fully recognizes that “Muammar Gaddafi was a monster, but he was our monster” at the time of his overthrow.  Hoekstra had first visited Libya with a 2003 congressional delegation specifically requested by President George W. Bush to determine whether Gaddafi genuinely sought better relations with the West.  Hoekstra had multiple meetings with Gaddafi during two subsequent official visits.

“Gaddafi was obviously driven by his instinct for self-preservation,” Hoekstra writes, but the transformation of American-Libyan relations under a despot previously notorious for international terrorism “was nothing short of stunning.”  After “September 11, 2001, Gaddafi had emerged as one of America’s greatest assets in one of the world’s most dangerous regions, northern Africa—strategically located between the tinder box of the Sahel and the soft underbelly of southern Europe.”  Additionally, “human rights conditions in Libya generally improved during this period.”

Contrastingly, a chaotic post-Gaddafi “Libya is today a central nexus for training and equipping jihadists across the Middle East,” notes Hoekstra.  Along with shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, “Islamic terrorists almost surely got their hands on the remnants of Gaddafi’s chemical weapons arsenal.”  Libya exemplifies how Obama has “thrown out dictators only to embrace far worse.  American foreign policy has been turned upside-down.”

“Gaddafi, for all his sordid history, was infinitely wiser than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton” concerning Islam, notes Hoekstra.  “Gaddafi appreciated—in ways few Americans could—how vast were the jihadists’ global ambitions” and that “their scorn for democracy and individual rights dwarfed even his own.”  Accordingly, under him the Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood “was never allowed the opportunity to expand its influence by building a substantial social welfare network,” in contrast to neighboring Egypt.

Hoekstra finds a certain precedent for Obama administration Islam fantasies in President George W. Bush, who “repeatedly proclaimed Islam a ‘religion of peace.’”  Bush wanted “to avoid being seen as attacking the overwhelming majority of Muslims, who go about their lives peaceably,” yet “such a formulation also left too many things unsaid.”  This “refusal of the Bush administration to take seriously or understand the realities of Muslim culture” led him “to grossly underestimate the enormous obstacles that it faced in seeking to foster Western-style democracies in that part of the world.”

Hoekstra contrasts the “heads of state and chief intelligence leaders of just about every country that bordered Iraq” that he visited before the 2003 invasion.  “Almost to a person they said the same thing:  ‘You’re making a huge mistake.  You don’t know what you will be unleashing.’”  Today “Iraq is a disaster of incalculable proportions…We owned Iraq for a time, but we left before the job of rebuilding was done—assuming that it could have ever been completed.”  Similarly, the “Afghanistan we are now leaving is little different from the Afghanistan we inherited.”

“If such countries are ever to change fundamentally, we must understand that their change will be a long and exceedingly slow process” and “locally driven, not imposed by outsiders,” Hoekstra concludes.  He recalls a 2007 Jordan visit in which during “three days I talked with the Iraqi Sunni chieftains, and over and over I heard the same thing.”  “We have a system of local government that has worked thousands of years:  It is called the tribal system,” they stated, “if you think that you can impose democratic electoral reforms at the local level, we will continue to fight you.”  “General David Petraeus took heed,” writes Hoekstra, with a “surge” campaign making explicitly “clear to the local Sunnis that America was suspending efforts at democratization at the local level…and the rest is history.”

“Failing to grasp the fundamental lesson of those earlier experiences—that once broken, a nation is very difficult to put back together—President Obama broke Libya,” Hoekstra writes.  He is amazed that the “chief celebrant of Gaddafi’s murder,” Clinton, “actually gloated on camera: ‘We came, we saw, he died.’”  “It is an image that will likely haunt her presidential campaign and should,” Hoekstra notes.

“Geopolitical affairs are rarely black or white,” Hoekstra soberly concludes from his years on the intelligence committee.  He “traveled to more than eighty countries, sometimes meeting with leaders rightly reputed as being among the harshest and most oppressive in the world,” yet “they were the lesser of two evils…the devil we knew.”  “The world needs a strong America—an America that understands who it is, what it will do, and what its power can, and cannot, achieve.”

Andrew E. Harrod is a researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project, an organization combating the misuse of human rights law against Western societies. He can be followed on twitter at @AEHarrod.

Dutch Intelligence Report Exposes Horrors of Daily Life Under ISIS

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
February 4, 2016

1349When the leaders of ISIS declared the caliphate of the Islamic State in June 2014, the world already had a strong idea of who they were: a jihadist group so violent, so barbaric, so extreme, that even al-Qaida, with whom they had once been affiliated, wanted nothing more to do with them.

But as the world soon learned, it would get even worse.

The founding of the Islamic State brought some of the most inhumane violence of modern civilization: captives held in cages and burned alive; beheadings captured on video and broadcast on the Internet; mass enslavement and rape of non-Muslim women; and the genocide of Iraq’s Yazidi tribe.

Coupled with this has been a perverse propaganda campaign that makes the Caliphate look like a teenage summer camp, aimed at recruiting Westerners to join the jihad and enjoy life in their idyllic, Allah-blessed commune-on-the-sea. And for thousands of Western Muslims, it has worked, either by inducing them to make the journey, or hijrah, to Syria and Iraq, or by motivating them to carry out terrorist attacks on Western towns and cities.

This is what we know.

What we have not known has been the reality of life in the Islamic State, including the social order, the availability of housing and health care and other basic necessities and the treatment of women and children.

A new report by the Dutch Intelligence Service (AIVD) now shines a spotlight into the heart of the Islamic State, its workings, and the psychology of its leaders. The picture it paints is no less terrifying than one might expect, a society increasingly paranoid and totalitarian, devoid of human empathy, lacking in the most vital resources, and yet somehow, still surviving through a combination of propaganda, lies, oppression, violence, and the profound power of delusion.

It is that delusion which seems most apparent in the AIVD report: the myth of a life of comfort and companionship and a coziness with God that ISIS’s propaganda promulgates, promotes, and perpetuates on social media; the delusion of those who manage to equate murder and enslavement with religious duty and moral good; and those delusions with which ISIS leaders fill the minds of children raised in their domain – and so, build and secure the future of their narrative and their jihad.

“Violence is inherent to ISIS,” the report says. “On a daily basis, it is practiced, glorified, and preached.” Through that violence has emerged a state (such as it is) that is at once overbearing, tyrannical, and powerful and yet, at its core, vulnerable, fragile, and afraid.

Following are highlights of the AIVD report, which was compiled on the basis of 18 months of research.

DAILY LIFE

While many Westerners make hijrah not to fight, per se, but for the glory of living in a true Muslim state, the reality that greets them is not what they likely anticipate, the AIVD reveals. Constant bombardments from Assad troops, allied forces, and Russia mean that every day is lived in perpetual fear and danger. The trauma this brings to children, especially, and particularly those who travel to the caliphate with their parents from the West, is incalculable.

Moreover, despite photographs ISIS distributes on the Internet of houses with exquisite views and happy families, most homes are in disrepair. There are food shortages. Medical care is as minimal as one might expect in a war zone that receives no legal imports or medicines, where there are excruciatingly few doctors or nurses, and daily streams of wounded. Electricity is also scarce; most homes can rely on only an hour or two of power every day.

And while all men receive a state salary (with supplements for wives and children), those salaries were recently halved – an unwelcome development for Caliphate citizens at a time when oil income has fallen and prices for basic necessities, especially food, skyrocket.

MEN

Men and women are separated on arrival, according to the AIVD. Men are required to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph, before being interrogated to ensure they aren’t spies. They are then sent into military training. Though not all men sign up to fight, all must be prepared to join the battle if called upon and participate actively “in ISIS-led executions, torture, and rape.”

From here, they are generally able to select their own roles, be it as marketing advisers, bus drivers, doctors, or warriors. Some, however, are assigned roles. Reports the AIVD, “specifically-selected men can be trained by ISIS and sent back to stage attacks in Europe.”

WOMEN

While many women make hijrah with the idea of joining in battle, in actuality women are forbidden to participate in what is viewed as men’s work. They also cannot work closely with men who are not family, a law that further bars them from the battlefield.

They have their own parts to play in the Caliphate, the most important of which is childbearing: as many and as fast as possible. Reports the AIVD, “Mothers are [then] required to raise their sons to be ISIS fighters. Daughters, for their part, are to marry fighters and, with the same purpose as their own mothers, to bear children.”

In addition, women can play an active role in recruiting, largely through social media. Others join the all-women Al-Khansaa brigade, which enforces sharia law as it applies to women, be it their manner of dress or their public behavior. “If a woman is apprehended by the brigade and convicted, then another woman carries out the punishment,” the AIVD report explains. “Hence even Western women who have joined Al-Khansaa will execute the lashings of women who have, according to ISIS, violated rules and boundaries.”

CHILDREN

It is the children, however, who suffer most in the Islamic State – children whose lives are made of daily confrontations with death and agony and fear. Nonetheless, shockingly more and more Western families are making their way to ISIS territory with their children, or with pregnant mothers wishing to give birth there. And then there are the children born not just to ISIS brides, but to rape victims and sexual slaves such as the Yazidis.

But where most boys of 7- or 8 years of age may go on fishing trips with their fathers or play soccer in local parks, these frequently are brought to observe public executions and beatings. Parents may pose their child with the head of a beheaded enemy. At school, they learn English, Arabic, and the tenets of ISIS doctrine alongside lessons in the use of firearms and “execution practice.” By the age of 9, girls are expected to cover themselves in public, while their male schoolmates are ushered off to training camps to learn to fight.

“Children take an increasingly frequent role in ISIS propaganda,” states the report. “In various execution videos made by the group in the first half of 2015, boys between the ages of ten and twelve served as executioner, shooting or beheading prisoners. The use of children in propaganda fits the strategy of ISIS, which largely hopes to use media images to shock and so, gain attention. Through this propaganda, which is often picked up by regular mass media, it becomes clear that parents who travel to the ISIS territory have a fully realistic view of what awaits their children when they get there.”

The Overview

Increasingly, it appears that life in the Caliphate is becoming tougher. A growing paranoia and fear that disillusioned fighters might leave and counter their propaganda with the truth – not to mention a concern about spies attacking from within – haunts ISIS leaders. They are cracking down in response. It is becoming harder and harder to leave the Islamic State, even for temporary, medical reasons.

Similarly, contact between residents of the Caliphate and those on the outside is being increasingly controlled. “Since July, 2015, it is no longer permissible to use wireless internet in Raqqah,” according to the report. “The Internet can only be accessed through ISIS-approved Internet cafes, where careful watch is kept over which sites are visited. In some cases, permission must be granted by a military leader or emir to spread information to the outside. Whoever fails to observe these rules must appear before a sharia court.”

Such measures ensure that the myth of an idyllic state continues, along with the flow of new warriors and the women who will give birth to them.

Ultimately, concludes the intelligence agency, “the so-called caliphate of ISIS stands far from what the organization purports it to be. The region that is occupied by ISIS is not a holy state or ideal society in its infancy. ISIS functions as a totalitarian regime. Whoever emigrates to the ISIS territory makes a conscious, deliberate choice to take part in an organization, an institution that commits terrorist activities and conducts attacks in Europe. In practice, this means that men as well as women who join the Islamic State, armed or otherwise, take part in ISIS’s jihad.”

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Sharia as the Jihad’s Point of Coordination

arabwaveFrontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, Feb. 4, 2016:

Stephen Coughlin has a really important paper out and you should read it all, but I just want to highlight one area.

The three entities (the ummah, dawah and jihadi) do not have to act along formal chains of command to interoperate successfully. This is because they each execute according to their own functional orientation to Islam that reconciles through a common understanding of Islamic law.

And further

To appreciate the strategy, it should be visualized along the lines of the starfish rather than the spider: Cut an appendage from a starfish, and the severed part can grow into a fully functional starfish. Cut off a spider’s head, and all appendages become useless. In terms of command relationships, we in the West tend to think like spiders. While the Soviet Union was a spider; the Islamic Movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and ISIS are starfish.

These are very important points that need to be understood to grasp the larger scope of the struggle. Finally…

To say the threat arises out of Islam is to say that it emanates from shariah. Hence, the arrow in the diagram reflects the recognition that the three lines of operation emanate from Islam through a common understanding of shariah. For this reason, shariah also provides a common reference point based on Islamic legal concepts recognized as settled. This doctrinal framework is commonly understood and easily communicated in the Islamic world. For this observation to be valid, one does not have to prove that the underlying Islamic law reflects “true Islam,” or even that most Muslims agree with it.

As I’ve said, read the whole thing, but this needs to be kept in mind, particularly when arguing with the “ISIS is not real Islam” or “Hamas is not real Islam” school of deniers.

Why does the SPLC hate the Center for Security Policy?

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CSP, by Frank Gaffney, Feb. 4, 2015:

Why are the SPLC and its Islamist friends so determined to suppress the Center for Security Policy? The answer appears to be CSP’s effectiveness, which is, in turn, animated by our love of freedom:

  • CSP’s love of freedom — not a desire to hate — puts us in opposition to Muslims who adhere to the supremacist Islamic shariah doctrine, and therefore are freedom’s enemies. We have no quarrel with Muslims whose faith practice is not shariah-adherent. They have as much to fear from the jihadists among them as do the rest of us. We are proud to work with non-supremacist Muslims to expose and help defeat our mutual enemies.
  • The Center for Security Policy’s love of freedom – not some irrational fear of Islam or fictitious “Islamophobia” – prompts us actually to do as we are officially told we must: “See something, say something.” In fact, when we see evidence of encroaching shariah, particularly that being insinuated stealthily by the SPLC’s friends in the Muslim Brotherhood, we not only say something about it. We do something about it, by working to counter and ultimately eliminate this civilization jihad and its motivating Islamist
  • CSP’s love of freedom also obliges us to respond appropriately to what is – far from some unfounded “conspiracy theory” – proof of an actual and perilous conspiracy to destroy the Constitution that guarantees our liberties and the government constituted to defend them.

In defending freedom against such adversaries, the Center for Security Policy proudly and indefatigably stands with:

  • the untold millions of non-Muslims and Muslims oppressed by Islamists around the globe;
  • the families of those who have been slaughtered or brutalized world-wide in the name of shariah and its jihad;
  • women, who have the right be treated as human beings, not as animals or property;
  • homosexuals who have the right not to be thrown off roofs or hung for their sexual preferences;
  • Christian, Jewish and other religious minorities subjected to forced expulsions and expropriation, torture, rape and murder; and
  • Muslim reformers who share our determination to prevent Islamic supremacists from imposing their abhorrent “man-made” shariah doctrine in our country – whether through violent jihad, or the Muslim Brotherhood’s preferred, stealthy “civilization jihad” kind.

We have no doubt where the vast majority of Americans come down in any choice between freedom and its enemies, foreign and domestic. Those who thoughtlessly or maliciously repeat, promote and otherwise disseminate the hate-mongering of the Southern Poverty Law Center are on the wrong side of that choice. The Center for Security Policy is not.

Q & A

Is the Center for Security Policy “anti-Muslim”?

Absolutely not. The Center for Security Policy stands against enemies of the United States, its Constitution and the freedoms guaranteed thereby – without regard to their ethnicity, geography, ideology or religious associations. Foremost among such enemies at the moment are Islamic supremacists, also known as shariah-adherent Muslims, also known as jihadists.

This subset of the followers of Islam are the ultimate hate-group. They hate Muslims who do not adhere to shariah. They hate women. They hate gays and lesbians. They hate followers of other religions. They hate democracy and any “man-made” law or government not submissive to their Quran. They hate anyone – including authors, songwriters and artists – whose free expression defies their totalitarian program of thought control.

The Center for Security Policy stands in defense of the billions of people around the world who are endangered or victimized by these hateful “Islamist phobias.”

Is the Center for Security Policy “Islamophobic”?

Absolutely not. To be clear, the term “Islamophobia” was first coined twenty-years ago by Islamists and their leftist enablers for use as an instrument of political warfare. They wield it to suppress the freedom of expression of their adversaries.

Specifically, by falsely accusing those who are critical of Islamic supremacism, shariah and jihad of having an unreasoned fear (i.e., a “phobia”) of Muslims, the perpetrators of this smear are trying to impose what amount to shariah blasphemy restrictions – a prohibition on any expression that “offends” them. What is more, by threatening, explicitly or implicitly, violence against those who give such offense, the Islamists are actually trying to instill fear in their enemies – non-Muslim and Muslim alike – in order to terrify them into submission. To ignore that reality would be irrational, and quite possibly fatal.

The Center for Security Policy has no fear of law-abiding, patriotic, tolerant, non-shariah-adherent Muslims. To the contrary, it views them as potentially invaluable partners in opposing the jihadists – violent and stealthy – in their midst.

Does the Center for Security Policy believe there is an Islamist conspiracy to infiltrate and subvert the United States from within?

Eight years ago, the U.S. government established in federal court during the largest terrorism financing trial in the country’s history, U.S. v Holy Land Foundation, that, for more than fifty years now, the Muslim Brotherhood has engaged in a conspiracy with the mission – in the Brotherhood’s own words – of “destroying Western civilization from within.” (See:http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2013/05/25/an-explanatory-memorandum-from-the-archives-of-the-muslim-brotherhood-in-america/.)

It is national security malpractice to ignore this reality and maliciously deceptive and/or delusional to portray those who refuse to do so as “conspiracy theorists.”

The Center for Security Policy has comprehensively documented the extent to which the Islamic supremacists are succeeding in penetrating virtually every major civil society and governing institution in furtherance of this conspiracy. (Publications in the Center’s Civilization Jihad Reader Series may be downloaded for free at www.SecureFreedom.org.) We are determined to expose, root out and neutralize such subversive influence operations in America.

In light of these facts, how should responsible journalists, public policy professionals and the American people more generally regard criticisms of the Center for Security Policy issued by the likes of the Southern Poverty Law Center?

The SPLC’s assertions are utterly without foundation. They show a willingness to say and do anything to further a transparently political agenda. Such partisan, and often unhinged, criticisms are nothing more than efforts to incite hatred against, and thereby silence, their opposition.

Given the facts, those who cite or otherwise repeat such unfounded assertions are either witting partners in that odious, indefensible effort, or useful idiots who should know better – and desist.

President Obama Chose Terror-Tied Mosque for First U.S. Visit, Snubs Reformers

omCSP, by Kevin Samolsky, Feb. 3, 2015:

February 3, 2016, President Obama visited an American Mosque for the first time. However, the visit has been marked with criticism since the mosque is known to have ties to terrorist organizations.

The Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) has been around for several decades, but those who come through and preach inside its doors have been known to support terrorist organizations.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism lists one particular individual of interest as Mohamad Adam el-Sheikh, a Sudan native who actively participated in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sudanese branch. El-Sheikh served as imam for the ISB twice, 1983-1989 and 1994-2003. During his time with ISB el-Sheikh also served as a regional director for the Islamic American Relief Agency, which has been cited by the Treasury Department as having ties to Al Qaeda (AQ).

Not only was El-Sheikh employed with IARA, but also during his time at ISB, the mosque actively issued an action alert calling on its members to support Chechen jihadists financially, through IARA. The alert also encouraged financial support to other known terror finance entities: Qoqoz.net (a website tied to the Al Qaeda-linked Caucasus Emirate), Benevolence International Foundation (designated as a terror finance entity by the Treasury Department) and Islamic Relief Worldwide, an Islamic charity suspected of terror finance ties and designated by Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The action alert also called for support for the American Muslim Council, an organization founded by convicted Al Qaeda financier Abdurrahman Alamoudi.

While serving as imam, El-Sheikh helped found the Northern Virginia-based Dar Al-Hijrah mosque. This mosque was once led by Anwar al Awlaki, an American al Qaeda affiliate who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011, and was attended by Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood shooter. However, these are not the only notable individuals linked to terrorism who have passed through or served at the mosque:

  • Mohammed Al-Hanooti, named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, served as imam in 1999. Al-Hanooti was also active in the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts in Palestine. Al-Hanooti served as President of the Islamic Association Palestine where he raised around $6 million for Hamas-linked entitles.
  • Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, convicted in 2005 of providing material support to the al-Qaeda terrorist network, and conspiracy to assassinate President Bush, served as an Islamic studies teacher and camp counselor for the mosque.
  • A member of Dar Al-Hijrah’s Executive Committee, Abelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar, was convicted in November 2007 of contempt and obstruction of justice for refusal to testify before a grand jury with regard to Hamas.

In 2004, El-Sheikh spoke about the Islamic justification for suicide bombing, telling theWashington Post, “if certain Muslims are to be cornered where they cannot defend themselves, except through these kinds of means, and their local religious leaders issued fatwas to permit that, then it becomes acceptable as an exceptional rule, but should not be taken as a principle.”

This was not the only controversial statement made by an ISB member. Yaseen Shaikh, a resident scholar of ISB, was videoed giving a sermon condemning homosexuality. It would seem odd that President Obama would honor this group despite his stance on gay rights.

The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch lists as the most damning tie to ISB as Maqbool Patel, the long-time ISB President. Maqbool has been an activist for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a group associated with the American Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Southeast Asia’s Jamaat-e-Islami. Just this past December Patel spoke at an ICNA convention in Baltimore.

The President has claimed he seeks set and example for tolerance and inclusion, but even members of the Islamic community are outraged by the visit. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told Fox News on Sunday “As a Muslim American I’m just insulted, this is disgraceful that this is one of the mosques — or the mosque — that he’s chosen to visit.”

It is troubling to think that the Obama Administration did not look into the mosque’s history. There are several examples the Administration could have drawn from, but instead they chose to look past this and try to promote tolerance and inclusion with a group that has spoken out against gay rights and justifies terror.

Also see:

Sharia and Non-Muslims

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Political Islam, by Bill Warner, Feb 3 2016:

Sharia law is the most important part of Islamic doctrine. Sharia is Islam; Islam is Sharia. Sharia includes law, but it also includes how to raise a family, theology, philosophy and every aspect of daily living. Sharia law includes pronouncements for both Muslims and non-Muslims (Kafirs). Sharia is a manual for a civilization.

Sharia does not allow free speech. It is forbidden to make a joke about Mohammed. Blasphemy is forbidden. The US is following Sharia when it allows the UN to determine that Muslim refugees come to America and not Christians.
We have Sharia compliant textbooks now in Tennessee. We hesitate to anger Muslims or criticize Islam. In Europe Islamic rape is accepted behavior.

Sharia says that our Constitution is manmade and a product of ignorance. Sharia is Allah’s law and must replace all other governments. Countries that adhere to all of Sharia are Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen.

WATCH Pamela Geller on Tomi Lahren’s premiere show: Islam, jihad, islamofauxbia, migrant crisis

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Atlas Shrugs, by Pamela Geller, Feb. 1, 2016:

I was Tomi Lahren’s first guest on the premiere of her show on The Blaze TV. We discuss a wide range of jihad related subjects – the migrant crisis, the myth of islamophobia, President Obama, the GOP debate’s Nabeela Noor, mosque closures and more.

MIGRANT CRISIS: Immigration jihad. This is a Hijra, emigration for the sake of Allah, to conquer and Islamize the new land – evidence is the warning from Isis and the fact that most migrants are young Muslim men – if they were really refugees they wouldn’t have left their families in a war zone

In Cologne they were acting according to Islamic law regarding treatment of Infidel women

MOSQUES: Mosques must be monitored – 4 separate studies since 1998 show that 80% of US mosques teach hatred of unbelievers and the need to replace constitution with sharia. The San Bernardinon amd Garland jihadis and others have been active in their mosques – what is taught there. Trumps proposal makes sense – no one who has called him a bigot has offered any way to distinguish jihadis from peaceful migrants

ISLAMOFAUXBIA: Islamophobia is a propaganda term designed to intimidate people into being afraid to oppose jihad terror. It is a thought crushing devise –a tactic of Islamic supremacists to label any opposition to jihad terror and sharia oppression bigotry – it is not bigotry to stand for freedom and individual rights.

FREE SPEECH: It is more threatened than anyone realizes – the attacks on me after Garland show that people don’t understand the principle that is at stake – if we limit speech we invite tyranny.

Iraqi Journalist Dispels Myth that ISIS Has No Ties to Islam

by IPT News  •  Feb 3, 2016

 Fadel Boula

Fadel Boula

Iraqi journalist Fadel Boula challenged the claim that the Islamic State (ISIS) and other jihadi organizations have no relationship to Islam, in an article featured in Iraq’s Al-Akhbar newspaper and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Boula argued that these terrorist organizations follow a radical Salafi ideology and believe their objectives coincide with Allah’s will and the core tenets of Islam.

“Since its inception, this movement of terror has espoused a Salafi ideology that champions religious extremism, and brainwashed people of all ages have rallied around its flag, [people who were] trained to kill themselves and kill others in order to attain martyrdom,” Boula wrote in the November article, “Does Terror Truly Have No Religion?”

Scholars and observers in the West frequently discount the role of religion when analyzing Islamist terrorist organizations, claiming that religion is simply evoked to galvanize supporters as a means for political ends. That overlooks the firm belief in radical interpretations of Islam shared by the leaders and the rank-and-file within these terrorist movements. They often use political means to achieve religious objectives.

“The terror that is shaking the world today is not a natural disaster like a tornado, a thunderstorm or an earthquake, and it is not perpetrated by savage tribes,” Boula wrote. “It is perpetrated by people who enlist [because they are] inspired by a religious ideology. [These people] advocate enforcing and spreading [this ideology as a set of] dogmatic principles that must be imposed by the force of the sword, and which [mandate] killing, expulsion and destruction wherever they go.”

He described how early ISIS expansion throughout Syria and Iraq emulated pre-modern Islamic conquests.

“The invaders attacked the populace of Mosul and eastern Syria, arrested them by the hundreds, and took a sword to their necks, and later singled out the Christians among them and offered them two options: either convert to Islam or pay the poll tax, as happened to their forefathers when the Arabs attacked their lands in the days of the Caliph ‘Umar Al-Khattab [583-644 AD]. When [the Christians] rejected this humiliation, [ISIS] seized their property, expelled them from their historic home, the province of Ninveh, and sent them to wander destitute under the skies, seeking rescue and safety.”

Some Western leaders, including President Obama and his administration, continue to pretend that ISIS is “not Islamic.” However, a basic understanding of ISIS’ Salafi origins and inspirations confirm that the terrorist organization and its affiliates maintain religious and political objectives that are rooted in extremist interpretations of Islam.

‘Gender Apartheid’: NYT Op-Ed Calls Obama Mosque Visit a Setback for Muslim Women’s Rights

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Breitbart, Feb. 3, 2016:

A New York Times op-ed argues that Obama’s visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque “demonstrates tacit acceptance of a form of gender apartheid.”

From the New York Times:

As President and Michelle Obama argued decades ago in the context of the U.S. civil rights movement, separate is indeed unequal. To Muslim women’s rights activists fighting for equal access to mosques as part of a broader campaign for reform — from equal education for women and girls to freedom from so-called “honor killings” — the president’s visit to a mosque that practices such blatant inequity represents a step backwards. While it may be meant to convey a message of religious inclusiveness to American Muslims,  the visit demonstrates tacit acceptance of a form of discrimination that amounts to gender apartheid. For that reason, we will be standing outside the mosque on Johnnycake Road, as close as the Secret Service allows, to protest the separate and unequal standards inside and advocate for equal rights.

We believe it is the role of government to protect women’s rights within religion, if a place of worship gets federal nonprofit benefits, just as it protects civil rights in the secular space. Places of worship in the U.S. would not be allowed tax-exempt status if, for example, they were to seat African Americans in segregated spaces. To condone the mosque’s gender segregation is particularly ironic coming days after the White House announced efforts to win equal pay for women and increased workplace benefits for women in the military.

President Obama should be aware that on any given day a woman or girl worshiping in the mosque would be dispatched away from the musallah where he will stand to speak out against “Islamophobia,” to the “prayer room for females,” as one worshipper described it. In much the same way that he wants to mitigate Americans seeing Muslims as the “other,” we have to challenge the Muslim systems that segregate women as the “other.” He should know that promoting women’s rights in mosques is a key part of fighting the ideology of extremism — a fight that he asked American Muslims to help wage in an address to the nation in December. A theology of Islamic feminism is our best answer to the extremism of ISIS, al-Qaeda and other Muslim militant groups. Even the most conservative of Islamic scholars acknowledge that, in the 7thcentury, the sunnah, or tradition of the prophet Muhammad, was to allow women to pray in the main hall of his mosque in Medina without any barrier in front of them.

“While the free world awaits a Muslim reformation, the leader of the free world shows blatant disregard for gender equality by visiting a mosque that treats females like second-class citizens,” says Raheel Raza, a Pakistani-Canadian activist, author and cofounder of the Muslim Reform Movement, a new initiative that we support, advocating for peace, women’s rights and secular governance.  “This makes our work as activists extremely difficult because equality is one of the main tenets of our reform movement.”

The president has an opportunity to shine light in a place once associated with the darkest extremes of Islam. His motorcade will re-trace the path of al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki: FBI surveillance notes document that al-Awlaki, then a local imam, drove down Johnnycake Road to enter the Islamic Society of Baltimore at 5:56 p.m. on the evening of November 11, 2001. (A copy of the notes was released under the Freedom of Information Act).

Today, in an estimated two-thirds of mosques around the United States, women and girls are segregated in dark basements, sparse balconies, separate rooms and even behind shower curtains in the “sisters’ section,” listening to Friday sermons piped in through shaky sound systems and watching them, if we are lucky, via TV screens. It’s too often only on “interfaith” occasions like the president’s visit that women and girls get to step forward into the “brothers’ section.”

Read the rest of the story here.

***

‘Not Who We Are’: At Mosque, Obama Laments ‘Inexcusable’ Anti-Muslim Rhetoric (insider.foxnews.com)

Also see:

Passenger Sucked Out of Plane at 14,000 Feet After Suspected Bomb Blasts Hole in Side of Jet

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 photo, a hole is photographed in a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway of the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia. A gaping hole in the commercial airliner forced it to make an emergency landing at Mogadishu’s international airport late Tuesday, officials and witnesses said. (AP Photo)

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 photo, a hole is photographed in a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway of the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia. A gaping hole in the commercial airliner forced it to make an emergency landing at Mogadishu’s international airport late Tuesday, officials and witnesses said. (AP Photo)

The Blaze, by Dave Urbanski, Feb. 3, 2016:

A passenger was ejected from a commercial plane when an explosion blew a hole in aircraft’s side just after takeoff over Somalia on Tuesday, sources told CNN.

Two other people were injured, but the pilot was able to safely land the Daallo Airlines plane back at Mogadishu International Airport, the network reported.

An airport official told CNN the Airbus A321-111 was between 12,000 and 14,000 feet in the air at the time of the explosion. A source told the network Somali authorities indicated one passenger was blown or ejected from a hole in the side of the plane after the explosion.

A hole is photographed in a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway after an emergency landing at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016. (Awale Kullane,via AP)

A hole is photographed in a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway after an emergency landing at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016. (Awale Kullane,via AP)

Somalia’s National News Agency reported that one passenger died after falling from Flight D3159, CNN reported, adding that Somali authorities discovered a body near Mogadishu believed to have fallen from the aircraft.

A hole is photographed in a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway after an emergency landing at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016. (Awale Kullane,via AP)

A hole is photographed in a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway after an emergency landing at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016. (Awale Kullane,via AP)

Mohamed Hassan, a police officer in Balad, an agricultural town about 18 miles north of Mogadishu, said residents had found the body of a man who might have fallen from a plane.

Cellphone video taken aboard the plane pans from passengers, some wearing oxygen masks, in seats toward the back of the airliner in flight, and then swivels to the empty front area with a hole in the side of the cabin. There is a loud sound of rushing air. The video was taken by Awale Kullane, Somalia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, and obtained by The Associated Press.

Another source told CNN that damage tests positively indicated explosive residue — but civil aviation authority officials said Wednesday they had found no evidence so far of a criminal act.

More from CNN:

If this was a bomb, no group immediately took responsibility.

Al-Shabaab has been behind some of the worst violence in recent years in and around Somalia. Some of it targeted tourists, such as last month’s deadly attack on a beachside restaurant-hotel complex in Mogadishu. Young people also have been targets, as shown in the massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University College. And the general public hasn’t escaped the group’s violence, as evidenced in a 2013 assault on an upscale mall in Nairobi.

Yet this Islamist extremist group has recently gotten competition from ISIS, with a high-ranking Al-Shabaab member and spiritual leader pledging allegiance to the rival group last fall.

Flights in and out of Mogadishu International Airport were suspended briefly Tuesday because of the Daallo Airlines incident.

That airport is home to offices of the United Nations, African Union and many diplomatic missions, including those of the United States and European Union.

Daallo Airlines is based in the United Arab Emirates and has flights to Djibouti, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.

The plane’s veteran pilot, Serbian captain Vlatko Vodopivec, told the Associated Press that he and others were told the explosion was caused by a bomb. ”It was my first bomb,” he said. “I hope it will be the last.”

The 64-year-old said the engines and hydraulics functioned normally after the blast so he had no problem flying the aircraft back to Mogadishu.

“Smoke came into the cockpit, but it was mostly concentrated in the back of the aircraft,” he said in a telephone interview from a U.N. military base in Mogadishu before he was to fly to Athens, Greece. “The stewardesses did a great job calming down the passengers and following the emergency procedure.”

Investigators moved the plane from the runway to a private hangar. Foreign technical experts were involved in the inquiry, said Ali Mohamoud, an aviation official at the Mogadishu airport.

Two passengers on board the flight that was headed to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa said they heard a loud bang that left a hole in the passenger cabin.

Awale Kullane, Somalia’s deputy ambassador to the U.N. who was on board the flight, said on Facebook that he “heard a loud noise and couldn’t see anything but smoke for a few seconds.” When visibility returned they realized “quite a chunk” of the plane was missing, he wrote.