The Ideology Problem in Timbuktu Is Not al-Qaeda’s Making — It Is Classical Islam

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy:

Andrew’s post describing the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Mali is essential, if excruciating, reading. Beyond the monstrously cruel but all too usual punishments being imposed, I’m struck by two things, which really show how willful blindness leads inexorably to spring fever: The Guardian attributes the atrocious penalties to the “menace of al-Qaida”; it also notes, however, that the “ban [on music] comes in the context of a horrifically literal and gratuitous application of Sharia law in all aspects of daily life.”

Much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, al Qaeda did not make up sharia law. Islam did. And in the West, it is a key tenet of due process that law is imposed literally — ambiguous laws violate the principle that people of ordinary intelligence must be on fair notice of what is prohibited. There’s nothing “gratuitous” about applying as it is written.

16044762We can keep our heads tucked snug in the sand, or we can recognize the source of the problem. As I detail in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, the literalist construction of sharia that al Qaeda’s local franchise is enforcing in Mali is “literal” because it comes from Islamic scripture, not from some purportedly “extremist” fabrication of Islam. Moreover, while it seems only militant jihadists proudly urge this construction in practice, it is enthusiastically endorsed in principle by two of the most influential institutions in the Islamic Middle East: al Azhar University and the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

Don’t just take my word for it. Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law is not some al Qaeda pamphlet. It is a renowned explication of sharia’s reliance (1)provisions and their undeniable roots in Muslim scripture. In the English translation, before you get to chapter and verse, there are formal endorsements from the International Institute of Islamic Thought — a U.S.-based Muslim Brotherhood think-tank begun in the early eighties (and to which American administrations of both parties have resorted as an exemplar of “moderation”) — and from the Islamic Research Academy at al Azhar University, the ancient seat of Sunni learning to which President Obama famously turned to co-sponsor his cloyingly deceptive 2009 speech on relations between Islam and the West (“We certify,” the famed scholars wrote, that the “translation corresponds to the Arabic original and conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni Community…. There is no objection to printing it and circulating it…. May Allah give you success in serving Sacred Knowledge and the religion.” There could be no more coveted stamp of scholarly approval in Islam.).

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Reliance is also endorsed by Islamic authorities in Jordan (leading influences on a largely Palestinian population that may well overthrow the pro-Western monarchy) and Syria (leading influences on the “rebels” on whose side interventionists — including both presidential candidates — would have us jump to abet the Muslim Brotherhood’s ongoing campaign to oust the minority Alawite Assad regime).

Here, as I summarize in Spring Fever – quoted verbatim and supported by citations — is what Reliance has to say about the arts:

It is forbidden to make pictures of “animate life,” for doing so “imitates the creative act of Allah Most High”; “Whoever makes a picture, Allah shall torture him with it on the Day of Judgment until he can breathe life into it, and he will never be able to.” (Reliance w50.0 & ff.)

“Musical instruments of all types are unlawful.” Singing is generally prohibited (for “song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage), and “[o]n the Day of Resurrection Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.” However, if unaccompanied by musical instruments, song and poetry drawn from Islamic scripture and encouraging obedience to Allah are permissible. Ironically, although music is generally forbidden, dancing is permissible “unless it is languid, like the movements of the effeminate.” (Reliance r40.0 &ff.)

Those sharia provisions are complemented by these — again, endorsed by al-Azhar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and our “moderate” “allies” in the region:

Apostasy from Islam is “the ugliest form of unbelief” for which the penalty is death (“When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed”). (Reliance o8.0 & ff.)

Apostasy occurs not only when a Muslim renounces Islam but also, among other things, when a Muslim appears to worship an idol, when he is heard “to speak words that imply unbelief,” when he makes statements that appear to deny or revile Allah or the prophet Mohammed, when he is heard “to deny the obligatory character of something which by consensus of Muslims is part of Islam,” and when he is heard “to be sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law.” (Reliance o8.7; see also p9.0 & ff.)

[Note: These latter prohibitions against denying or reviling any aspect of Islam, Allah or the prophet are the basis for imposing death for blasphemy. The call to kill apostates for such offenses obviously applies with equal or greater force to non-Muslims, who are pervasively treated worse than Muslims by sharia (see, e.g., Sura 9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold forbidden which had been forbidden by Allah and his Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the people of the book [i.e., Christians and Jews], until they pay the jizya [the poll tax imposed on non-believers for the privilege of living in the Islamic state] and feel themselves subdued.”)]

“Jihad means to war against non-Muslims.” (Reliance o9.0.)

It is an annual requirement to donate a portion of one’s income to the betterment of the ummah (an obligation called zakat, which is usually, and inaccurately, translated as “charity” –zakat can only be given to Muslims and is designed strictly to fortify the Muslim community, not benefit the less fortunate generally); of this annual donation, one-eighth must be given to “those fighting for Allah, meaning people engaged in Islamic military operations for whom no salary has been allotted in the army roster…. They are given enough to suffice them for the operation even if they are affluent; of weapons, mounts, clothing and expenses.” (Reliance, h8.1-17.)

Non-Muslims are permitted to live in an Islamic state only if they follow the rules of Islam, pay the non-Muslim poll tax, and comply with various adhesive conditions designed to remind them that they have been subdued, such as wearing distinctive clothing, keeping to one side of the street, not being greeted with “Peace be with you” (“as-Salamu alaykum”), not being permitted to build as high as or higher than Muslims, and being forbidden to build new churches, recite prayers aloud, “or make public displays of their funerals or feast-days.” (Reliance o11.0 & ff.)

Offenses committed against Muslims, including murder, are more serious than offenses committed against non-Muslims. (Reliance o1.0 & ff; p2.0-1.)

The penalty for spying against Muslims is death. (Reliancep50.0 & ff; p.74.0& ff.)

The penalty for fornication is to be stoned to death, unless one is without the “capacity to remain chaste,” in which case the penalty is “being scourged one hundred stripes and banished to a distance of at least 81 km./50mi. for one year.” (Relianceo12.0 & ff.)

The penalty for homosexual activity (“sodomy and lesbianism”) is death. (Reliance p17.0 & ff.)

A Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man; a Muslim man may marry up to four women, who may be Muslim, Christian, or Jewish (but no apostates from Islam). (Reliance m6.0 & ff. – Marriage.)

A woman is required to be obedient to her husband and is prohibited from leaving the marital home without permission; if permitted to go out, she must conceal her figure or alter it “to a form unlikely to draw looks from men or attract them.” (Reliancep42.0 & ff.)

A non-Muslim may not be awarded custody of a Muslim child. (Reliance m13.2-3.)

A woman has no right of custody of her child from a previous marriage when she remarries “because married life will occupy her with fulfilling the rights of her husband and prevent her from tending to the child.” (Reliance m13.4.)

The penalty for theft is amputation of the right hand. (Relianceo14.0.)

The penalty for drinking alcohol is “to be scourged forty stripes.” (Reliance o16.3; p.14.2.)

The penalty for accepting interest (“usurious gain”) is death (i.e., to be considered in a state of war against Allah). (Reliancep7.0 & ff.)

The testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man. (Relianceo24.7.)

If a case involves an allegation of fornication (including rape), “then it requires four male witnesses.” (Reliance o24.9.)

The establishment of a caliphate is obligatory, and the caliph must be Muslim and male. “The Prophet … said, “Men are already destroyed when they obey women.” (Reliance o25.0 & ff; see also p28.0, on Mohammed’s condemnation of “masculine women and effeminate men.”)

This is not al Qaeda doctrine. This is sharia, authoritatively explained and endorsed. It is not the construction of Islam that many Muslims in the West wish to live under. But it is the mainstream supremacist Islam of the Middle East, which Islamic leaders — including those who come to the West to preach it — would not dream of discrediting, even if they are not as enthusiastic as al Qaeda where imposing it is concerned.

The State Department and the leading foreign policy voices of both major American political parties say sharia is perfectly compatible with “democracy” and the Western conception of human rights — of liberty and equality. Sure it is. And then you wonder why the Obama administration opens a consulate in Benghazi, one of the most perilous places in the world for Americans, refuses to safeguard it despite multiple pleas for beefed up security, and then fraudulently claims a pluperfectly predictable atrocity was caused by a video no one ever saw. If you’re going to live in a dreamworld, better get used to nightmare consequences.

As War Heats Up, Obama Dismantles War Approach to Counterterrorism

abc_obama_words_090331_mnPJ Media, By Andrew C. McCarthy:

Last week, while Republicans popped open the champagne over the electorate’s emphatic rejection of the Obama left’s policies, Mr. Obama significantly advanced one he’s been pushing – against public opinion and with haltingly incremental success – since the first hours of his presidency. Lost amid Shellacking 2.0 – and between the sudden dump of over 60,000 previously withheld Fast & Furious documents and the president’s reaffirmation of his executive illegal-alien amnesty vow – was the administration’s further dismantling of the post-9/11 counterterrorism paradigm.

With nearly no one noticing, the administration transferred a long-held terrorist detainee out of Guantanamo Bay. Fawzi al-Odah was returned to his native Kuwait, another Gulf halfway house between Gitmo and return to the jihad. He had been detained under the laws of war for over a dozen years because he was assessed as posing a continuing danger. Naturally, his release was instantly heralded by an al Qaeda leader in Syria – indeed, by a top figure in what the administration refers to as the Khorasan group, the al Qaeda component plotting attacks against the U.S. and the West. And astoundingly, it appears that al Qaeda knew Odah’s release was coming before the American people were informed.

Odah’s transfer comes just as the president, forced to confront the increased jihadist threat from al Qaeda and ISIS, has escalated the number of American troops (as “advisers” only, of course) and continues conducting an aerial bombing campaign. It fulfills a prediction made this past summer by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and other commentators (including your humble correspondent): The release in July of five Taliban commanders in exchange for the deserter Bowe Bergdahl was intended to help Obama achieve the vow to close Guantanamo Bay, made on his first day in office. (Actually, Obama promised to close Gitmo within a year. He is five years behind schedule because Americans hate the idea, igniting strong congressional opposition.)

The laws of war, the foundation of Bush-Cheney post-9/11 counterterrorism, provide for detention without trial of enemy combatants until the conclusion of hostilities. Hostilities are not close to being over – as Obama quite obviously recognizes since our forces continue to conduct lethal attacks. We know, moreover, that a very high percentage of former detainees return to the jihad. The CIA has conceded that it could be 20 percent, but the truth is it’s no doubt higher – our intelligence community has no idea who goes back to the jihad unless they encounter the terrorist on the battlefield or are in the unusual position of having good intelligence about about what he’s up to. We do know that former Gitmo detainees regularly resurface as al Qaeda leaders in places like in Yemen, Iraq and Libya.

Yet, by releasing the Taliban commanders – the “worst of the worst” … and at a time when the Taliban was (just as it is) still conducting terrorist operations against our troops – Obama established a very high ceiling. By acceding to the release of high-ranking Taliban operatives despite the heightening threat, the administration makes it far more difficult to rationalize the continued detention without trial of virtually any other Gitmo detainee. By comparison, the Taliban commanders were bound to be worse.

Bear in mind, moreover, that the Obama administration is threaded with lawyers who used to represent terrorist detainees (voluntarily … for free!). These lawyers well know that many of the detainees are still bringing the same kinds of lawsuits these lawyers used to help them bring: challenges to their detention without trial. By springing the most dangerous terrorists, the administration plainly strengthens the litigation position of lesser players still held at Gitmo. While courts are reluctant to issue outright release orders – there being debate about the extent of their authority to do so – they certainly can and do ratchet up pressure on the government to get the terrorists out of Gitmo (i.e., to find countries willing to take them and effect transfer). Indeed, in al-Odah’s own case, while declining to invalidate the terrorist’s law-of-war detention, a federal judge in Virginia admonished that the time was coming that the executive branch would be obliged to release the detainees. Less than three months later, al-Odah was sent home.

Expect a quickening of the pace. Obama is patently pushing to reduce the number of detainees at Gitmo, now estimated at 148, to one low enough to justify, at least in his own mind, transferring the remainder into the United States. Gitmo would then be shuttered.

Knowing how ballistic this would make voters, congressional Republicans have succeeded in enacting laws that prohibit the executive branch from moving the detainees into U.S. prisons. But our imperious president is notorious for riding roughshod over federal laws not to his liking. He has never been stopped by mere law; he has been brushed back only by concern about political damage that might hurt him and Democrats in elections.

Except … now he doesn’t have anymore elections to worry about. All that is left for the next two years-plus is the imperative to implement as much of his agenda as his enormous raw power allows.

The Lone-Wolf Canard

20141025_axNYcterroristZaleThompsonNo one self-radicalizes. Terrorists are radicalized by a scripturally based doctrine.

By Andrew C. McCarthy:

In Modern Times, his sweeping history of the 20th century, Paul Johnson recounts how Einstein’s theory of relativity, a strictly scientific principle, was contorted into relativism, a loopy social phenomenon, through a permanent campaign of serpentine rhetoric. It is, as Roger Kimball explains in The Fortunes of Permanence, a classic example of how a sensible concept or term of art that helps us grasp some narrow aspect of reality can end up distorting reality when ripped from its moorings and broadly applied.

Another good example is “lone wolf.”

Since Thursday afternoon, newscasters have incessantly told us that the late and unlamented Zale Thompson was a “lone wolf.” Thompson was the 32-year-old Muslim from Queens who attacked four New York City police officers with a hatchet on Thursday, breaking one’s arm and critically wounding another with a gash to the head.

Reading off the familiar script, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton insisted that “nothing we know at this time would indicate” a connection to terrorism. This, despite Thompson’s Facebook page on which he portrayed himself as a mujahed warrior superimposed on Koranic verses and called for “guerilla warfare” against the United States. Evidently, it is just one of those “violent extremism” coincidences that this “lone wolf” strike – translation: non-terrorist strike – occurred soon after the Islamic State urged Muslims in the West to “attack the soldiers of the tyrants and their police force.”

In addition to Americans, Europeans, and Australians, the Islamic State lists the “infidels” of Canada among its enemy “tyrants.” Thompson’s “lone wolf” jihad followed hard upon two separate “lone wolf” attacks in Canada this week. First, Martin Couture-Rouleau plowed a car into two soldiers, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Then, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo to death at the National War Memorial in Ottawa before spraying bullets inside Parliament (but fortunately killing no one else). Each “lone wolf” was killed in the aftermath, and each was reportedly a “recent convert to Islam.”

These latest atrocities follow last month’s decapitation of a woman at an Oklahoma food-distribution center by Alton Nolen, another “recent convert to Islam” whose Facebook page was a shrine to Osama bin Laden and the Islamic State. At the time, Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro noted that the Oklahoma attack was the latest of seven in the last few years by Muslim men acting alone. The count rises to eight if one accepts the Obama administration’s “workplace violence” rendition of the Fort Hood massacre, to wit: jihadist Nidal Hassan was a “lone wolf” – and therefore somehow not a terrorist – despite both his motive to prevent the U.S. soldiers he killed from fighting Taliban terrorists and his string of pre-massacre consultations with al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki (the imam who had ministered to the wolf-pack known as the 9/11 suicide-hijackers). At any rate, there are now so many “lone” jihadists we should probably start saying “clone wolf” instead.

So rote have the airbrushed news accounts of these incidents become that we could recite them in our sleep – which is exactly the condition those who write them hope to leave us in. We are to believe it is beside the point that the assailants happen to be Muslims. Sure, some may have been “inspired” by the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, but journalists, taking their cues from government officials, stress that the murderers lack “operational” ties to any recognized terrorist organization. So, presto, each is sloughed off as a “lone wolf.”

That once useful term of art is now used to convey two carefully crafted, politically correct narratives. For government officials and investigators, the “lone wolf” label has come to mean the atrocity in question cannot be categorized as “terrorism,” no matter how many “Allahu Akbars!” are shouted as bullets fly, bombs blast, or heads roll. For the commentariat, “lone wolf” signifies that the Muslim in question – whether a lifer or a “recent convert” – has “self-radicalized,” spontaneously becoming a wanton, irrational killer.

These two story lines transparently suggest that the government has quelled al-Qaeda and that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Though President Obama frequently makes both claims, they are delusional.

“Lone wolf” is actually a surveillance-law concept that signifies the antithesis of the government’s newfangled “no terrorism here” usage. Moreover, the term is utterly useless to our understanding of how, and by what, Muslims are “radicalized.”

The “lone wolf” concept goes back to the alarm that gripped the nation right after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks. That alarm was heightened by the discovery that incompetent surveillance practices prevented the government from interrupting the plot. So after 9/11, national-security surveillance law was overhauled.

Unlike ordinary criminal investigations, which focus on penal law offenses, national-security investigations target agents of “foreign powers.” Legally, an international terrorist organization qualifies as a foreign power. So if investigators can show a person is tied to an outfit like al-Qaeda, they can get court permission to eavesdrop on him.

As a practical matter, though, many terrorism investigations do not unfold that way. Sometimes, investigators develop evidence that someone is preparing to conduct terrorist activity (e.g., he buys explosive components, he cases a bridge) before they can figure out whether he is connected to a known terrorist organization. Since involvement by a foreign power was the necessary predicate for national-security surveillance, the government’s inability to establish al-Qaeda’s role in the plot would result in the denial of authority to eavesdrop on the apparent terrorist – even though he might be on the verge of striking.

To prevent such a critical intelligence gap, Congress enacted “lone wolf” surveillance authority as part of the PATRIOT Act (see here, pp. 5-6). Significantly, the statute makes precisely the opposite assumption that government officials now make when they label someone a “lone wolf.” The law says that if a person is engaged in what appears to be terrorist activity, the involvement of a foreign terrorist organization should be presumed and need not be established. So as conceived and codified, the lone-wolf designation means the government should regard a suspect as a terrorist, not strain against all evidence and logic to regard him as a non-terrorist.

Under the federal statutory definition, “international terrorism” happens when a person engages in activity intended to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.” If a person’s actions fit this definition, that is terrorism. That he may not have sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda or the Islamic State is immaterial . . . and the fact that he is a Muslim is not a reason to look the other way.

Read more: Family Security Matters

We Need to Call It Terrorism

Sources identify the suspected shooter as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Sources identify the suspected shooter as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

PJ Media, By Andrew C. McCarthy, October 22, 2014:

Within three days there have been two jihadist attacks in Canada, carried out by Canadian citizens who recently converted to Islam. No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility, at least as yet. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed no reluctance in calling the terrorists … terrorists.

Bravo!

Whether the attackers were incited by the summons to jihad from groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, or were actual members of such groups, there should be no question thatthese were terrorist attacks. The Obama administration’s practice of denying that terrorist attacks are terrorist attacks has been profoundly foolish – and it was good to hear the president seem to inch away from it today.

The point of this cockamamie denial approach is part political correctness and part plain politics.

President Obama has repeatedly claimed to have “decimated” al Qaeda and put it “on the path to defeat.” Actually, the terror network is on the rise. Furthermore, it is now rivaled by ISIS, a jihadist organization that may be even stronger. Denying obvious instances of terrorism, such as the jihadist mass-murder at Fort Hood, is a transparent effort to conceal the obvious falsity of the president’s claims. If these attacks are not really terrorism, the reasoning goes, then there must be less terrorism; therefore, the pretense of defeating terror networks can be spun as validated. As I’ve said before, it is a way of miniaturizing the threat.

It is more than that, though. Terrorism is fueled by an ideology. It is rooted, quite literally, in Islamic scripture. To cite one of many examples, in the Koran’s sura 8:12, Allah instructs Muslims: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them.” Thus, Omar Abdel Rahman, the infamous “Blind Sheikh” I prosecuted for terrorism in the nineties, used to exhort followers:

Why do we fear the word “terrorist”? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. . . . The Koran mentions the words “to strike terror,” therefore we don’t fear to be described with “terrorism.” . . . We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.

The United States government tried to portray Abdel Rahman as deranged and representative of no mainstream current of Islamic thought. In point of fact, he was a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence graduated from al-Azhar University in Cairo, the seat of Sunni learning for over a millennium. His capacity to command terrorists, although he was physically incapable of committing terrorist acts, stemmed from his indisputable mastery of sharia and Islamic doctrine – subjects I daresay he knew a good deal more about than President Obama. He was spokesman for a well-known interpretation of Islam that, as the Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayad Jamal al-Din recently acknowledged, has existed for 1,400 years.

A Muslim who commits an atrocious act with the purpose of becoming Allah’s instrument for “instilling terror into the hearts of the unbelievers” has committed terrorism. A Muslim who employs violence with the intention of “intimidating or coercing a civilian population; influencing the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or affecting the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping,” to borrow from the federal statutory definition of international terrorism, has engaged interrorism. He need neither be wearing an al Qaeda team jersey nor be formally sworn in as a member of ISIS for us to state this palpable fact with confidence.

Shouldn’t we be able to agree on at least that much?

The Khorosan Group Does Not Exist

pic_giant_092714_SM_Barack-Obama-Khorasan-Group-GBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

We’re being had. Again.

For six years, President Obama has endeavored to will the country into accepting two pillars of his alternative national-security reality. First, he claims to have dealt decisively with the terrorist threat, rendering it a disparate series of ragtag jayvees. Second, he asserts that the threat is unrelated to Islam, which is innately peaceful, moderate, and opposed to the wanton “violent extremists” who purport to act in its name.

Now, the president has been compelled to act against a jihad that has neither ended nor been “decimated.” The jihad, in fact, has inevitably intensified under his counterfactual worldview, which holds that empowering Islamic supremacists is the path to security and stability. Yet even as war intensifies in Iraq and Syria — even as jihadists continue advancing, continue killing and capturing hapless opposition forces on the ground despite Obama’s futile air raids — the president won’t let go of the charade.

Hence, Obama gives us theKhorosan Group.The who?

There is a reason that no one had heard of such a group until a nanosecond ago, when the “Khorosan Group” suddenly went from anonymity to the “imminent threat” that became the rationale for an emergency air war there was supposedly no time to ask Congress to authorize.

You haven’t heard of the Khorosan Group because there isn’t one. It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorosan — the –Iranian–​Afghan border region — had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.

The “Khorosan Group” is al-Qaeda. It is simply a faction within the global terror network’s Syrian franchise, “Jabhat al-Nusra.” Its leader, Mushin al-Fadhli (believed to have been killed in this week’s U.S.-led air strikes), was an intimate of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the emir of al-Qaeda who dispatched him to the jihad in Syria. Except that if you listen to administration officials long enough, you come away thinking that Zawahiri is not really al-Qaeda, either. Instead, he’s something the administration is at pains to call “core al-Qaeda.”

“Core al-Qaeda,” you are to understand, is different from “Jabhat al-Nusra,” which in turn is distinct from “al-Qaeda in Iraq” (formerly “al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia,” now the “Islamic State” al-Qaeda spin-off that is, itself, formerly “al-Qaeda in Iraq and al-Sham” or “al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant”). That al-Qaeda, don’t you know, is a different outfit from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula . . . which, of course, should never be mistaken for “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” “Boko Haram,” “Ansar al-Sharia,” or the latest entry, “al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.”

Coming soon, “al-Qaeda on Hollywood and Vine.” In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if, come 2015, Obama issued an executive order decreeing twelve new jihad jayvees stretching from al-Qaeda in January through al-Qaeda in December.

Except you’ll hear only about the jayvees, not the jihad. You see, there is a purpose behind this dizzying proliferation of names assigned to what, in reality, is a global network with multiple tentacles and occasional internecine rivalries.

As these columns have long contended, Obama has not quelled our enemies; he hasminiaturized them. The jihad and the sharia supremacism that fuels it form the glue that unites the parts into a whole — a worldwide, ideologically connected movement rooted in Islamic scripture that can project power on the scale of a nation-state and that seeks to conquer the West. The president does not want us to see the threat this way.

For a product of the radical Left like Obama, terrorism is a regrettable but understandable consequence of American arrogance. That it happens to involve Muslims is just the coincidental fallout of Western imperialism in the Middle East, not the doctrinal command of a belief system that perceives itself as engaged in an inter-civilizational conflict. For the Left, America has to be the culprit. Despite its inbred pathologies, which we had no role in cultivating, Islam must be the victim, not the cause. As you’ll hear from Obama’s Islamist allies, who often double as Democrat activists, the problem is “Islamophobia,” not Muslim terrorism.

This is a gross distortion of reality, so the Left has to do some very heavy lifting to pull it off. Since the Islamic-supremacist ideology that unites the jihadists won’t disappear, it has to be denied and purged. The “real” jihad becomes the “internal struggle to become a better person.” The scriptural and scholarly underpinnings of Islamic supremacism must be bleached out of the materials used to train our national-security agents, and the instructors who resist going along with the program must be ostracized. The global terror network must be atomized into discrete, disconnected cells moved to violence by parochial political or territorial disputes, with no overarching unity or hegemonic ambition. That way, they can be limned as a manageable law-enforcement problem fit for the courts to address, not a national-security challenge requiring the armed forces.

The president has been telling us for years that he handled al-Qaeda by killing bin Laden. He has been telling us for weeks that the Islamic State — an al-Qaeda renegade that will soon reconcile with the mother ship for the greater good of unity in the anti-American jihad — is a regional nuisance that posed no threat to the United States. In recent days, however, reality intruded on this fiction. Suddenly, tens of thousands of terrorists, armed to the teeth, were demolishing American-trained armies, beheading American journalists, and threatening American targets.

Read more at National Review

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Cultural Jihad did some fact checking:

 

  •   A Wikipedia check showed entries and sources no older than September 2014
  •  The group is not listed by the Dept of State as a designated terrorist organization
  •  The group’s reported leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli is listed on the National Counter-terrorism website as part of  al-Qaeda but no mention of  a Khorosan/Khurasan Group.

 

The Islamic State . . . of Saudi Arabia

pic_giant_092014_SM_John-Kerry-King-AbdullahNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Sep. 20.2014:

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.

Also see:

Obama’s Go-To ‘Moderate Islamist’

pic_giant_091714_SM_-Mohamed-ElibiaryNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, SEPTEMBER 17, 2014:

On Monday, I had a follow-up to last week’s column on why members of the Obama administration and other transnational progressives deny that the Islamic State is Islamic — viz., because they want to ally with what they call “moderate Islamists.” If Americans grasp that “moderate Islamists” and violent jihadists share the same basic ideology, such an alliance becomes politically untenable.

Case in point: The curious tale of Mohamed Elibiary, the Obama administration’s go-to “moderate Islamist” for counterterrorism advice.

The “moderate Islamist” folly has both domestic and international components, and the Obama administration is far from alone in it. On the foreign-policy side of the equation, see David French’s excellent post on Monday highlighting how the administration (echoed by the GOP’s McCain wing) is again calling for the arming of the purportedly “moderate Syrian rebels” — and don’t miss continuing coverage of these U.S.-backed “moderates” as they collude with terrorists from al-Qaedaand the Islamic State. When that same strategy was applied in Libya, it gave us the Benghazi Massacre, contributed to the rise of the Islamic State, and left the country in jihadist clutches.

My Monday follow-up column dealt with the domestic side of our government’s “moderate Islamist” charade: the appearance last week of several administration officials with a number of their Islamist advisers — leaders of enterprises linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. These organizations and institutions continue to have Obama’s ear even though some were proved in court to have conspired in the Brotherhood’s conspiracy to provide material support to Hamas, its Palestinian terrorist branch, through a “charity” known as the Holy Land Foundation.

Now the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reports on Mr. Elibiary, Obama’s appointee to the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council . . . though not for long. The administration has quietly announced that Elibiary is about to be cashiered.

Obama and then–DHS secretary Janet Napolitano made Elibiary a key counterterrorism adviser even though he had been a regular contributor to the very Holy Land Foundation charity the Justice Department had prosecuted. The HLF, it turns out, was established by Elibiary’s longtime friend Shukri Abu Baker. The latter was among the defendants convicted of using the “charity” to finance Hamas — he is serving a 65-year sentence from the prosecution that Elibiary dismisses as Islamophobic persecution.

Elibiary’s intriguing credentials also include his appearance at a 2004 conference in Dallas that paid “Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In addition, he has publicly praised the Islamic-supremacist writings of Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb, so inspirational to Osama bin Laden, Omar Abdel Rahman (the Blind Sheikh), and other infamous terrorists.

As I’ve previously recounted, Elibiary was tapped by the Obama Homeland Security Department for its expert working group on “Violent Extremism” (because we wouldn’t want to call it “Jihadist Terrorism”). It was this panel that formulated the president’s vaunted counterterrorism strategy, which envisions having law-enforcement agents pare back their intelligence-gathering activities and take their marching orders from “community partners” (i.e., local Islamist organizations).

Elibiary’s star has fallen because even this Islamist-friendly administration is embarrassed over his commentary about the “inevitable” return of the Muslim “caliphate.” Islamic-supremacist rhetoric is not out of the ordinary for this, shall we say, nuanced counterterrorism expert, but it was a tad untimely: Elibiary’s tweets are being praised by Islamic State affiliates, potentially facilitating their recruitment of young Muslims into the anti-American jihad.

That’s not all. There are also allegations, broken by investigative journalist Patrick Poole in 2011, that Elibiary used the access to sensitive information afforded by his DHS position to obtain documents that he is said to have peddled to the media for purposes of manufacturing a claim of “Islamophobia” (what else?) against Texas governor Rick Perry.

Congressman Louie Gohmert (R., Texas), among others, has been pressing the administration for an explanation regarding both the leak allegations and how Elibiary managed to get a security clearance. Representative Gohmert, you may recall, is also one of the five House conservatives who asked how Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, managed to get a security clearance despite her extensive (and not very moderate) Islamist connections. For their trouble, the five were vigorously attacked by Senator McCain, who took time out from calling for arming the “moderate Islamists” in Libya — or was it in Syria? — to defend Ms. Abedin on the Senate floor.

Obama’s DHS denied any wrongdoing by Elibiary after what it claimed was a full investigation. Nevertheless, Mr. Kredo reports that when Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act claim for details about this investigation, DHS said it did not have any. After the usual Obama-administration foot-dragging, DHS finally acknowledged in a 2013 letter that it could not find any “investigative records regarding the alleged mishandling” of sensitive information by Elibiary.

Was there a real investigation by the Obama administration of its Islamist counterterrorism adviser? We don’t know. We just know it has suddenly been announced that Elibiary won’t be reappointed.

By the way, the Obama administration also consulted with Muslim “experts” when it purged information about Islamic-supremacist ideology from the materials used to train our law-enforcement, intelligence, and military personnel. I know you’ll be shocked to hear this, but the administration refuses to identify its expert consultants — in fact, the administration took the astonishing step of classifying their identities when Congress started asking questions.

But don’t worry: We can rest assured that the experts Obama put in charge of what our national-security agents get to learn about our enemies are very “moderate Islamists.”

— 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.

The Islamic State Is Nothing New

pic_giant_090314_SM_ISIS-FightersBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

The beheading of yet another Western journalist, Steven Sotloff, has ignited another round of commentary suggesting that the Islamic State is the worst terrorist network ever. There is value in this: The current jihadist threat to the United States and the West is more dire than the threat that existed just prior to the 9/11 attacks, so anything that increases pressure for a sea change in our Islamic-supremacist-enabling government’s policies helps. Nevertheless, the perception that the Islamic State is something new and different and aberrational compared with the Islamic-supremacist threat we’ve been living with for three decades is wrong, perhaps dangerously so.

Decapitation is not a new jihadist terror method, and it is far from unique to the Islamic State. Indeed, I noted here over the weekend that it has recently been used by Islamic-supremacist elements of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Armyagainst the Islamic State. It was only a few years ago that al-Qaeda beheaded Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg. Jihadists behead their victims (very much including other Muslims) all the time — as Tom Joscelyn notes at the indispensable Long War Journal, the al-Qaeda-tied Ansar al Jerusalem just beheaded four Egyptians suspected of spying for Israel.

Yet, the recent Islamic State beheadings, in addition to other cruelties, is fueling commentary portraying the Islamic State as more barbaric and threatening than al-Qaeda. This misses the point. The Islamic State is al-Qaeda. It is the evolution of the ruthless al-Qaeda division that grew up in Iraq under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In order to make the Islamic State seem different from al-Qaeda — i.e., to make it seem like something that has spontaneously appeared, rather than something Obama ignored and empowered — some reporting claims there are “ideological” and “doctrinal” differences between the two. This is true in only the most technical sense, a sense that is essentially irrelevant vis à vis the West.

What is going on among the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood (including Hamas), and other factions is a power struggle for leadership of the Sunni side of the global Islamic-supremacist movement. Because of the audience to which these actors play, some of their differences are framed as sharia-based. Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda leaders (who are allied against Assad in Syria and were allied with the Islamic State until fairly recently) contend, for example, that the Islamic State’s unilateral declaration of a caliphate transgresses Islamic principles that call for consultation and consensus among sharia-adherent Muslims. They argue that Islamic-supremacist groups should work cooperatively in the formation of local or regional emirates, with an eye toward eventually assembling the global caliphate.

From our perspective, so what? Both sides regard the West as the enemy to be conquered. Their differences are germane only to the extent that sharia fidelity, in addition to sheer brute force, will determine who comes out on top in their intramural warfare. As we have been observing here for years with respect to al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood, their disputes are mostly tactical; their splits on the finer points of Islamic-supremacist ideology bear only on how they regard each other. When it comes to the West, both see us as the enemy — and they put aside their differences to attack us.

The same has also always been true of the ideological/doctrinal divide between Sunni and Shiite jihadists. For example, al-Qaeda has had cooperative and operational relations with Iran since the early 1990s. Iran collaborated with al-Qaeda in the 1996 Khobar Towers attack that killed 19 U.S. airmen; probably in the 9/11 attacks; certainly in the aftermath of 9/11; and in the Iraq and Afghan insurgencies. Al-Qaeda would not be what it is today without state sponsorship, particularly from Iran. The Islamic State might not exist at all.

The point is that al-Qaeda has never been anything close to the totality of the jihadist threat. Nor, now, is the Islamic State. The challenge has always been Islamic supremacism: the ideology, the jihadists that are the point of the spear, and the state sponsors that enable jihadists to project power. The challenge cannot be met effectively by focusing on one element to the exclusion of others.

Read more at National Review

 

McCarthy: Obama Administration ‘Ideologically Entrenched’ in Not Calling IS a Serious Threat

National Review:

Andrew recently wrote about the growing threat of the Islamic State in the Middle East, “Obama’s America Is September 10th America.”

Carter and Robinson: The Hamas Jihad’s Useful Idiots

Former US President Jimmy Carter Visits South Koreaby Andrew C. McCarthy:

Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson have jointly penned a characteristically appalling op-ed in Foreign Policy magazine assigning primary blame to Israel for the war in the Middle East. The key to ending the violence, they contend, is for the United States and the European Union to recognize the Hamas terrorist organization as a legitimate “political force.”

According to the authors, the latest outbreak of fighting was triggered neither by Hamas’s murder of three Israeli teenagers nor its firing of thousands of missiles into Israel. Rather, they proceed from the premise that Israel is the culprit, for what Carter and Robinson deceitfully describe as:

[Its] deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government’s deployment in Gaza.

This surely reflects Obama administration thinking, as well. Obama’s presidency has aptly been called the second (and now third) Carter term — a downward spiral from the shambles made of American foreign policy in the late seventies. Mrs. Robinson is the former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner for human rights, whose pro-terrorist sympathies and anti-Israel animus were ably chronicled several years back by Michael Rubin. (See “Mary Robinson, War Criminal?”) In 2001, she led the notorious Durban conference (the “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Zenophobia and Related Intolerance”) that was so rabidly anti-Semitic the American delegation stormed out. Yet, eight years later under a new, hard-Left administration, there stood Robinson in the White House being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Of course, anyone who grasps the details of the “unity government” and Hamas’s strategy in agreeing to it quickly realizes it is the antithesis of “a promising move toward peace.” In fact, Hamas is simply applying the Hezbollah model to the Palestinian territories. In Lebanon, the Hezbollah terrorist organization — Iran’s forward jihadist militia and oft-time Hamas mentor — agreed to participate in a unity government while maintaining the independence of its jihadist military and intelligence apparatus. That is exactly what Hamas has done.

As this excellent analysis by Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute relates, Hamas’s agreement to join its rival Fatah in a unity government does not relinquish control of either its 20,000-strong jihadist force, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, or its internal intelligence and security apparatus. These forces are already far stronger than the Palestinian Authority’s security forces under the control of Fatah (which Hamas routed and ejected from Gaza in 2007).

Note, moreover, the stealthy hand of Iran in the mix. Hamas has had to come crawling back to the mullahs, hat in hand. After angering Tehran (and thus losing much of its funding and weapons support) by jumping on the Sunni side of the Syrian civil war, Hamas saw its preferred patron, the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian regime, overthrown. The terrorist organization now finds itself opposed by the new anti-Brotherhood government in Cairo, and thus on the outs with that government’s backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Isolated more than ever, Hamas is working hard to get back in Iran’s good graces. Its leaders conducted extensive meetings with top Iranian and Hezbollah officials prior to agreeing to cede governing authority over Gaza to the unity government. Carter and Robinson claim that this was a “major concession.” In truth, it was a coup, as Iran’s enthusiastic endorsement of the pact attests.

Read more at PJ Media

How Not To Indict a Terrorist

pic_giant_070514_SM_How-Not-to-Indict-a-TerroristBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

What happens when the president who has politicized law-enforcement to a degree unprecedented in American history meets a terrorist responsible for killing Americans he has recklessly failed to protect, decimating his pretensions about “decimating” al-Qaeda?

What happens is: You get the most politicized terrorism indictment ever produced by the Justice Department. Behold United States v. Khatallah, Case No. 14 Crim. 141, quietly unsealed in a Washington courtroom last Saturday while the country dozed off into summer-vacation mode.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, of course, is the only suspect apprehended in connection with the Benghazi massacre, a terrorist attack on a still-mysterious U.S. diplomatic installation. J. Christopher Stevens, the United States ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans — State Department official Sean Smith and two former Navy SEALs, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty — were killed. Until recently, such attacks have been known as acts of war carried out by the enemy. In the age of Obama, they are now known as “crimes” for which “defendants” like Khatallah are “brought to justice” — rather than brought to Gitmo. Meaning: They are whisked into our country when no one’s paying much attention. The red carpet is rolled out at a federal courthouse, where the “defendant” is given Miranda warnings, taxpayer-funded counsel, and all the rights of the American citizens they plot to kill, including lavish discovery-of-intelligence files relevant to their civilian trial.

Gold-plated due process for our enemies begins with the constitutional right to an indictment returned by a grand jury, providing the “defendant” with notice of the charges against him. In Khatallah’s case, the first thing you’ll notice is that the indictment is tiny: less than two pages long — 15 measly lines of text once you discount the caption, citations, and signature lines. This is a startling departure from Justice Department indictments in jihadist terror cases, a turn to brevity that cannot be explained solely by Obama’s banning of words like “jihadist” from the government lexicon.

Read more at National Review

Dr. K, Wrong, Though Sincere

20110304_Krauthammer_OBAMAby ANDREW C. MCCARTHY:

This week on Fox News (here and here), the estimable Charles Krauthammer argued in favor of President Obama’s decision to swap detainees with a terrorist organization, indulging the administration’s portrayal of a “prisoner of war” exchange though the trade involves unlawful-combatant jihadists (two of them wanted for mass-murder war crimes) and a deserter.

I respectfully disagree.

Charles’s theory is that the West routinely engages in these sorts of swaps and should do so, despite always coming out on the short end, because it is a beneficial exhibition of the higher value we place on human life. I do not for a moment doubt Dr. K’s sincerity in stressing the value of human life, but I believe he is confounding the value and the exhibition – the high-minded display of good intentions. After all, as we shall see, his argument is a loser from a humanitarian perspective.

Charles appears to find the demonstration of our veneration of life beneficial because the so-called war on terror is, in part, a war of ideas. That is, even though these typically one-sided exchanges are a tactical victory for the terrorists, our cause is advanced over the long haul because the superiority of our values attracts convincible people to our side.

It is a nice thought, of a piece with the Lawyer Left pipe dream that we advance our security by bringing terrorists into our civilian criminal-justice system and abandoning such heavy-handed practices as coercive interrogation, military commissions, and indefinite law-of-war detention. Here’s the problem: These pieties do not correlate to real-world experience. Irresolute responses to barbarism beget more barbarism.

It is delusional to believe that most people in the Muslim Middle East view the conflict through our self-absorbed lens and perceive a contest between savage and noble principles. They have their own lens, and through it they see the strong horse versus the weak horse. You don’t win a war of ideas against a culture that brays, “We love death more than you love life!” by showing them how much you love life. To think otherwise is an example of what Roger Simon wrote about this week: the elevation of moral narcissism over objective reality.

Charles Krauthammer, of course, is no pie-in-the-sky progressive. So not surprisingly, he also cites a more concrete benefit of demonstrating our reverence for human life: It breeds a knowledge that we never abandon our captured troops, which is essential to the esprit de corps of the world’s most effective fighting force.

In principle, I agree. But in the Bergdahl-Taliban situation, the principle is inapposite. Charles, it turns out, is conflating some importantly distinct concepts. To begin with, there is a huge difference between how detainees are treated (a) in the midst of hostilities and (b) in an armistice at the conclusion of hostilities.

While combat is still raging – especially combat by terrorist methods that violate civilized norms – detainees should be held until the conclusion of hostilities unless there is some strategic advantage in releasing them. There can be no strategic advantage in replenishing the Taliban with five of its most capable commanders at a time when the Taliban, along with its al-Qaeda and Haqqani confederates, is still conducting offensive jihadist operations against both our troops in harm’s way and civilians.

On that score, it would not matter if the deserter Bowe Bergdahl were, instead, a heroic Audie Murphy. Indeed, as my old boss Rudy Giuliani observed on Sean Hannity’s program this week, an honorable American prisoner of war would not want to be released if the price were freeing five terrorists who would then gravely endanger his fellow troops.

Moreover, in stressing how a detainee swap satisfies the admirable objective of retrieving our captive troops, Charles misses the other side of the humanitarian ledger. The laws of war permit detention of enemy combatants until the conclusion of hostilities not to punish the captives but to promote peace. The theory is that depleting the enemy’s resources creates an incentive on the enemy’s part to seek a truce and bring the war to a swifter end with less bloodshed.

To the contrary, releasing enemy combatants while the war is still raging fortifies the enemy, incentivizes the enemy to extend the war, and causes more carnage. If we are going to talk about our values and the veneration of human life, it makes no sense to account for the marginal humanitarian benefit of obtaining the return of our captured troops while ignoring the humanitarian catastrophe of returning enemy detainees to a hot battlefield. That is especially so if the detainees in question are terrorists, who target civilians.

This is not to say that we forget about our captured troops. Far from it. We routinely divert military resources that could be devoted to other strategic wartime objectives in order to conduct combat rescue operations. But we do not “rescue” our captured troops by negotiating with terrorist organizations and releasing their captured operatives so the enemy can sustain itself and kill more American troops.

If we were talking about a settlement to conclude hostilities, Charles would have a point. When war ends, with it ends the law-of-war justification for detaining enemy combatants without trial. At that point, even detainees who continue to pose a threat must be released unless they can be charged with war crimes or other offenses. The five Taliban commanders, however, were not exchanged in a final settlement that ends the war. They are going back to a very lethal jihad.

The absurdity here is that President Obama seems to think he can bring a war to an end, abracadabra, by saying so. In reality, the war is not close to being over from the enemy’s point of view – they are continuing to fight. Under such circumstances, Obama can end the war only by surrendering. In effect, that is what he is doing, albeit in slow motion and under the camouflage of a risible Afghan “reconciliation process.” (Translation: The Taliban retakes the country in a way that is made to look like a political settlement rather than a jihadist coup.)

Read more: Family Security Matters

Can Islamism Evolve?

lightBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

Like everything Daniel Pipes writes, his column this week about the prospects of Islamism is interesting and admirably honest. If every public intellectual were as willing as Daniel to check his premises regularly and modify them when new facts call them into question, our discourse would be a lot more civil and edifying.

His column is about “Islamism,” which is the ideology I (among others) call “Islamic supremacism” — a.k.a “radical” or “extremist” Islam, or even “sharia-ism” in the recent coinage of my friend Joy Brighton . . . all of us, it should be conceded, grappling for the pitch-perfect term that (we hope) justifies sidestepping the gnawing question whether Islam itself inevitably breeds aggressive Muslim groups even if it is otherwise widely construed, or at least practiced, benignly.

Daniel has previously rejected the possibility that Islamism, which is innately dictatorial, could evolve into something that approximates pluralistic democracy. He now surveys recent developments and concludes it is conceivable — not likely, but conceivable — that Islamism could evolve and improve.

To me, the developments Daniel cites are just glimmers here and there along a mostly discouraging trajectory. I will make three points, more in reaction than in direct response to his observations.

1. Only our own lower expectations of what liberal democracy is make it possible to speculate that Islamism could become borderline democratic. While Daniel mines some hopeful signs that Islamism — or at least branches of it — could be progressing away from unyielding authoritarianism, the parallel phenomenon (which is not the subject of his column) is that Western democracy is regressing away from a culture of individual liberty protected by limited government. If it now seems conceivable that Islamism could democratize, it can only be owing to modern democracy’s accommodation of more centralized and intrusive government.

2. The only conclusion of Daniel’s that I have a real quarrel with is his assertion that

Islamism has significantly evolved over the past 13 years. As recently as 2001, its adherents were synonymous with criminals, terrorists, and revolutionaries.

I think this conflates Islamism with our perception of Islamism. Personally, I don’t believe Islamism has materially changed at all. Instead, beginning about 21 years ago with the bombing of the World Trade Center, there was a vigorous effort on the part of progressive policy-makers and thinkers — an effort that still persists — to convince the public that the only “radical” Muslims were violent jihadists (who were incongruously portrayed as both “extremist” Muslims and practitioners of a “false Islam”). All other Muslims, we were told, were “moderates,” no matter how immoderate their beliefs. There was very little public understanding of sharia — the Islamic societal framework and legal system — and of the fact that imposing its implementation is the rationale for both jihadist terror and the non-violent agitations of Islamist groups.

What has changed over the past 13 years is not Islamism. Thanks to the good work of people like Daniel — I have tried to do my share, too — the public has begun to learn that Islamists include not only terrorists but Islamic supremacists who seek to impose and inculcate sharia standards by such other means as lawfare, legislation, the classroom, the media, popular culture, etc. There is nothing new in this variegated approach; it is the same plan for ground-up revolution that Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna laid out nearly a century ago. There is, however, more popular awareness today that not every non-terrorist Muslim activist is a “moderate.”

Daniel recalls his observation all those years ago that many Islamists “are peaceable in appearance, but they all must be considered potential killers.” He says “these words ring archaic now,” but, to me, they simply reflect the still valid insight that terrorist and non-terrorist Islamists share objectives even if their methods differ. I don’t think there has been any real evolution just because we are in a time when many Islamists, as Daniel says, “find the ballot box a more effective means to power than the gun.”

It has always been the case that some Islamists pursue the sharia agenda by barbaric means and others by political and legal processes. The only difference today lies in the nature of their opportunities. In Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Islamists got the chance to obtain by popular vote what they had previously sought by terrorism — control of the government. And what happened when the Muslim Brotherhood took over? Terrorists were sprung from captivity. Islamist Egypt seamlessly became a hospitable place for jihadists to organize against Israel and the United States. Islamists — both violent and ostensibly non-violent — put their differences aside and allied against the West.

’Twas ever thus. Daniel is surely right that “some reforms of Islam are already underway” (my italics). But that hardly means Islamism is reforming in any substantial way. Indeed, the link in Daniel’s assertion about ongoing Islamic reform takes the reader to an excellent essay he wrote for Commentary last year, which portrays the reform of Islam as what is required “if Islamism is to be defeated,” not as a phenomenon happening in Islamism itself.

Read more at National Review

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Daniel Pipes has written a reply: Islamism’s Trajectory

The Roots of CAIR’s Intimidation Campaign

pic_giant_041214_SM_The-Roots-of-CAIRs-Intimidation-Campaignby ANDREW C. MCCARTHY:

Author’s Note: This week, capitulating to Islamic-supremacist agitation led by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Brandeis University reneged on its announced plan to present an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the heroic human-rights activist. In my 2010 book, The Grand Jihad, I devoted a chapter to the origins and purposes of CAIR, its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Hamas-support network, and its aim to silence critics of Islamic supremacism. In light of the continuing success of this campaign – despite a federal terrorism-financing prosecution that exposed CAIR’s unsavory background – it is worth revisiting that history. What follows is an adapted excerpt from that chapter.

In January 1993, a new, left-leaning U.S. administration, inclined to be more sympathetic to the Islamist clause, came to power. But before he could bat an eye, President Bill Clinton was confronted by the murder and depraved mutilation of American soldiers in Somalia. A few weeks later, on February 26, jihadists bombed the World Trade Center. The public was angry and appeasing Islamists would have to wait.

Yasser Arafat, however, sensed opportunity. The terrorist intifada launched at the end of 1987 had been a successful gambit for the Palestine Liberation Organization chief. Within a year, even as the body count mounted, the weak-kneed “international community” was granting the PLO the right to participate (though not to vote) in U.N. General Assembly sessions. And when Arafat made the usual show of “renouncing” terrorism – even as he was orchestrating terrorist attacks in conjunction with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other Islamist factions – the United States recognized him as the Palestinians’ legitimate leader, just as the Europeans had done. Arafat blundered in 1991, throwing in his lot with Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War, and that seemed to bury him with the Bush 41 administration. But Clinton’s election was a new lease on life.

Anxious to chase the holy grail of Middle East peace and suddenly in need of demonstrating toughness against jihadist terror, the new “progressive” president was made to order for the wily Marxist terror master. If Arafat could resell his “I renounce terrorism” carpet yet again, chances were he could cash in. And so he did, purporting to commit the Palestinians to the 1993 Oslo Accords – an empty promise of peaceful coexistence exchanged for hundreds of millions in aid (much of which he pocketed), an open invitation to the Clinton White House (where he became a regular visitor), international recognition (as a statesman, no less!), and a ludicrous Nobel Peace Prize (forever degrading a once prestigious honor into a punch line).

The Muslim Brotherhood, for one, was not amused. Islamists had murdered Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981 for striking a peace pact with Israel. Sure, they knew Arafat and understood what chicanery he was up to. But acceptance of the Zionist entity’s right to exist was utterly unacceptable, even if done as a ploy.

Israel, the Brotherhood also realized, would not be the only thing squeezed by Clinton at Arafat’s urging. After a shaky start, the new president was winning global plaudits for his Orwellian “peace process.” Clinton must have known that Arafat was stringing him along, but with the theater of negotiation and ostensible progress drawing rave reviews, that was a problem for another day. The immediate concern was that Hamas jihadists could spoil the show with their implacable jihad, their blunt insistence that nothing less than Israel’s obliteration would satisfy them. That gave the fledgling administration a powerful incentive to crack down on them. Arafat would be the beneficiary as the Americans squeezed his rivals for power.

A ‘Media Twinkle’ in Philadelphia
Though the United States had been a cash cow for Hamas, it was thus a perilous time for the organization when 25 of its members and supporters gathered at a Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia on October 27, 1993. They were unaware that the FBI was monitoring their deliberations. The confab was a brainstorming exercise: How best to back Hamas and derail Oslo while concealing these activities from the American government?

A little more background to the Philadelphia meeting: For nearly two decades until his extradition in 1997, Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook was the most consequential Muslim Brotherhood operative in the United States. Now living in Egypt, he remains to this day deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau. In the early Nineties, he actually ran the terrorist organization from his home in Virginia.

During his time in the U.S., Marzook formed several organizations to promote the Palestinian jihad against Israel. In 1981, for public-relations purposes, he established the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) in conjunction with two other jihadists: future Hamas chief Khalid al-Mishal and Sami al-Arian (the latter was eventually convicted of conspiring to support Palestinian Islamic Jihad).

In December 1987, the intifada was launched and Hamas was born. Marzook immediately formed the “Palestine Committee” to serve as an umbrella organization, directing the various pro-Hamas initiatives that were developing. He brought under its wing both the IAP (which concentrated on “the political and media fronts”) and a fundraising entity he had established. That entity would eventually be called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) – though it was then known as the “Occupied Land Committee.” The reorganization would better enable the Palestine Committee to comply with the Muslim Brotherhood’s instructions to “increase the financial and the moral support for Hamas,” to “fight surrendering solutions” (like Oslo), and to publicize “the savagery of the Jews.”

It was under the auspices of the Palestine Committee that the 1993 Philadelphia meeting was convened. It was clear even then that Marzook’s Hamas network was anticipating the birth of yet another organization. The Palestine Committee’s amended by-laws declared that an as-yet-unnamed entity was already in the larval stage, “operat[ing] through” the IAP, and soon to “become an official organization for political work, and its headquarters will be in Washington, insha Allah.”

In the United States, the “political work” was crucial. The overarching mission, of course, was quite clear. As the IAP had explained in a December 1988 edition of its Arabic magazine, Ila Filastin, “The call for jihad in the name of Allah is the only path for liberation of Palestine and all the Muslim lands. We promise Allah, continuing the jihad way and the martyrdom’s way.” But while blatant summonses to jihad might stir the faithful in Islamic countries openly hostile to Jews, they were not going to fly in America – and even less so in an America whose financial heart had just been shaken by the jihadist bombing of the World Trade Center. The Brotherhood’s approach in the U.S. would have to be more subtle.

That was where the new organization would come in, as those gathered in Philadelphia – including Marzook’s brother-in-law and HLF co-founder Ghassan Elashi – explained. Although the Brotherhood had ideological depth and impressive fundraising mechanisms, Marzook had long been concerned that his network lacked the media and political savvy needed to advance an agenda in modern America. Now more than ever, they needed what HLF’s Shukri Abu Baker called “a media twinkle.”

In the U.S., Hamas was now perceived as the principal enemy of the popular “peace process.” After all, its charter explicitly called (and continues to call) for Israel’s annihilation by violent jihad. Therefore, its known supporters – the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, the IAP, and the others – were tainted in the American mind as terror-abettors, hostile to U.S. interests. As one attendee urged in Philadelphia, “We must form a new organization for activism which will be neutral, because we are placed in a corner. . . . It is known who we are. We are marked.” The new entity, by contrast, would have a clean slate. Maybe it could steal a page out of Arafat’s “hear what I say, don’t watch what I do” playbook. The new entity’s Islamism and Hamas promotion would have to be less “conspicuous.” It would need to couch its rhetoric in sweet nothings like “social justice,” “due process,” and “resistance.” If it did those things, though, it might be more attractive . . . and effective. A Muslim organization posing as a civil-rights activist while soft-pedaling its jihadist sympathies might be able to snow the American political class, the courts, the media, and the academy. It might make real inroads with the transnational progressives who dominated the Clinton administration.

Read more: Family Security Matters

Egypt: Are Elections “Democracy”?

by Andrew C. McCarthy:

From reading the American press, you would believe that if Middle Eastern Muslims were allowed to govern themselves by having free elections, this would be the route to democracy. This is a fallacy that we have been following now as a matter of American foreign policy for many administrations and many years. You cannot tell me that, after the same Egyptians voted two-to-one to have an intense Sharia constitution, eight months later they suddenly did not want Sharia any more. What they decided was that they did not want Morsi any more.

If here is ever to be anything approximating democratic transformation in Egypt the only way it is going it happen is if Egypt has a respected institution, such as the military, that governs the country, with the help of whatever technocratic officials it needs to run the country day-to-day, and where the forces of secular democracy at least have a chance to compete — which means growing these institutions to cultivate a respect for minority rights and individual liberty.

The good news is that the Egyptians will not be able to keep their Sharia constitution, at least not the way the Muslim Brotherhood designed it. But the way it was covered in the United States, this was not reflected as good news.

What is going on in Egypt now, while I wouldn’t go up in a balloon over it, is much more of a ray of hope than anything that we have had previously in what has been called the Arab Spring — a misnomer, if ever there was one. We actually knew quite a bit about how Egyptians wanted to be governed before Mubarak fell thanks to polling that was done there – in fact, done not only in Egypt but across the Middle East, from Egypt all the way to Indonesia.

There was pretty authoritative polling, for example, done by the University of Maryland in 2007 in conjunction with an outfit called World Public Opinion. It indicated that, depending on where you asked the questions, upwards of two‑thirds, and in some places over 80% of Muslim populations across the Middle East, wanted to live under Sharia, Islam’s legal code and societal framework.

 

An veiled woman casts her ballot in the second round of Egypt’s presidential election, in 2012. (Image source: Jonathan Rashad/Flickr)

Let me briefly address what Sharia is. There is no division in Islam – at least in classical Islam, Islamic supremacism, which is the Islam of the Middle East – between the secular and sacred realms. Sharia has ambition to be a total societal system.

To call it just a legal code really does not do it justice, because its ambition is to govern everything from the great things to the small things, from the matters of economy, military relations, the setting up of a government or caliphate, down to interpersonal relations and even matters of hygiene. It is a soup to nuts framework for how life is to be lived – it is not only, in many countries, about girls being prohibited from attending school, but about the many other ways in which girls and women are suppressed, not only their education, but professionally and in interpersonal relations as well.

From the Islamic perspective there is a belief that Islam has to be imposed, and that Sharia is the necessary precondition for Islamizing a society. The first World Trade Center bombing was really our first significant exposure in the United States to radical Islam conducting terrorists attacks on our shores in what turned out to be a systematic way over time.

It is interesting to me that 20 years after the World Trade Center bombing we still do not have a good understanding in the United States of what Jihad is. If you listen to the apologists for Islamic supremacists who are featured frequently in the media, you would think that it is an internal struggle for personal betterment; that it doesn’t have any military component. If you listen to them long enough, you would come away thinking that it wasn’t anything more meaningful than remembering to brush after every meal.

But Jihad is essentially a military concept, and people on our side, or on the national security side, of this debate have it wrong when they say it is everywhere and always a military concept.

What it is — everywhere and always — is the advancement of Sharia. It is about the implementation of Sharia. Whether jihad is done violently or non‑violently, the point is to implant Sharia because Sharia is seen as the necessary building block for Islamizing a society.

In the Middle East, it should tell us a lot that people across the region and in Egypt by upwards of two‑thirds said that they wanted to be governed under Sharia law. It should have given us a real clue about what was apt to happen once Mubarak fell and what, in fact, did happen once Mubarak fell. For all the hullabaloo about “democracy” and “democracy promotion,” the first election in Egypt — about two months after Mubarak was ousted — got very little coverage. I think it was the most important of all of the elections they had – then and thereafter. The media did not cover it much in the United States and in the West; it was dismissed as a procedural election about scheduling and something to do vaguely with constitutional amendments.

Read more at Gatestone Institute