Clinton State Department’s “Lady Taliban” Under Active FBI Investigation

Robin L. Raphel testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2004. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Robin L. Raphel testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2004. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole On November 6, 2014

Stunning news related to a top Clinton State Department diplomat, former Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel, that the Washington Post is reporting tonight is subject to an active FBI counter-intelligence investigation:

A veteran State Department diplomat and longtime Pakistan expert is under federal investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe and has had her security clearances withdrawn, according to U.S. officials.

The FBI searched the Northwest Washington home of Robin L. Raphel last month, and her State Department office was also examined and sealed, officials said. Raphel, a fixture in Washington’s diplomatic and think-tank circles, was placed on administrative leave last month, and her contract with the State Department was allowed to expire this week.

Two U.S. officials described the investigation as a counterintelligence matter, which typically involves allegations of spying on behalf of foreign governments. The exact nature of the investigation involving Raphel remains unclear. She has not been charged.

She was the first official to hold the position of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, appointed to that position by President Bill Clinton, and later served as US Ambassador to Tunisia and Senior Vice President of the National Defense University.

In August 2009, she was appointed as deputy for US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, where she was responsible for disbursing non-military aid to Pakistan.

This appointment was controversial because Raphel had been a registered agent for the Government of Pakistan just days before her new position was announced, and because of her close association with the Taliban during the Clinton Administration, earning Raphel the moniker, “Lady Taliban.”

According to one 2009 report:

Robin Raphel, 67, who has the dubious distinction of being a lobbyist for the former military regime of General Pervez Musharraf and who also has close ties with the Taliban as part of her lobbying for UNOCAL, will be the main person overlooking the $1.5 billion aid package to Pakistan, giving rise to concerns the U.S. taxpayers monies would go down the Pakistan drain.

Raphel is widow of former US Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel who had perished in the mysterious aircrash that killed Pakistan military dictator General Ziaul Haq and top brass of his military on August 17, 1988.

Raphel was appointed last month as deputy to Mr. Richard Holbrooke, the US. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan…

He said another reason to doubt Secretary Clinton’s assertion of accountability is in the naming of Robin Raphel as a deputy to U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakstan, Richard Holbrooke.

“She had been a Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs beginning in 1993 and on her watch, the madrassas bloomed. Robin Raphel is the person who, during the Clinton presidency, squired Taliban officials around Washington as the next best hope for Afghan leadership,” Dienstag recalled.

Raphel was lobbying for the ill-fated UNOCAL pipe line project at the time.

Raphel eventually became a lobbyist at Cassidy & Associates for the military administration of General Pervez Musharraf. “She was responsible for the lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department as a registered foreign agent of Pakistan and the firm had a $1.2 million contract with the Govt of Pakistan. At this time Jezail sees this as a highly dubious appointment of a well known revolving door retread to a sensitive position,” Dienstag said.

Details of the current FBI investigation haven’t been released, but it is expected that her ties to Pakistan are likely to be focus of the matter.

Emerson on Fox News America’s Newsroom – Open Societies and Stopping Terrorism

 

Bill Hemmer: Police in Canada now say the gunman in the attack acted alone. Serious questions that remain about whether or not this was yet another instance of a so-called lone wolf attack. Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, with me now. Steve, how are you? And good morning to you. You have some sources up on Ottawa. What are you picking up now that we have not yet learned?

Steve Emerson: Canada is no different than the United States. For the last few years, last decade or so, they have experienced at least a dozen major aborted plots to attack major targets [in Canada] including government facilities as well as [other] facilities in [Canada and] the United States. All of them have been stopped with the assistance of either Canadian intelligence or US intelligence. The sound bite you played by Walid Phares was right on, was spot on. The issue is if the government can get inside our minds then they could stop acts of terrorism. But the issue is the point of activization. You can be radical but not cross the line; you are believing in a radical theology. Once you cross that line into carrying out a criminal predicate, then it’s illegal, then the government has the right to stop you. So taking away your passport isn’t going to stop you from carrying out an act of violence.

Hemmer: Yeah you’re precisely right about that. Just so our viewers know, this man’s passport was confiscated. So too are the passports of 90 other suspected Islamic radicals that the Canadians are watching right now. You mentioned Walid Phares. To our viewers who did not hear that, here’s what he said on the record last night.

Clip of Walid Phares: The pool of individuals who are like Rouleau and Bibeau, both in the United States and in Canada, is pretty big. How are we going to be able to determine which one is going to act is the real problem of counterintelligence services.

Hemmer: How we are able to determine which one will act is the real problem of counterintelligence. How do you address that Steve?

Emerson: That is the quintessential problem because when the government becomes too intrusive, when it starts listening to conversations, taking down your phone numbers, looking at the books that you read at the library, the public gets outraged, that’s invading your privacy. Yet those are all indicators, potential indicators of whether you are potentially going to carry out an act of terrorism or whether you’re interested in carrying out an act of terrorism. And yet the problem is that if you are not interested and yet the government does intrude on your privacy, everyone yells, well this is an invasion of your civil liberties. In a free society there’s always going to be this tension here. After 9/11 there was no controversy at all about passing the Patriot Act. I think it passed 99-1. Today if you had a vote in the Congress about the Patriot Act, I’m not so sure it would pass. Maybe it would pass today, but maybe it wouldn’t have passed last week.

Hemmer: It just has a way of rubbing off and the intensity we give the topic rubs off after time. We were speaking last hour with a great guest who was telling us that you need to raise the terror alert just to make sure the thing still work. They did this in Canada, I don’t know if that is something you would support here. Is that even necessary in our country?

Emerson: Well you remember we went through the color alerts. The issue of the alerts is a psychological thing; the purpose is to raise the public awareness. But the reality is, Bill, that the public awareness is raised really only through one thing – through fear. And that fear is engendered ironically through the success of attacks like the ones that were carried out in Canada over the last three days. When the FBI is successful in stopping attacks, the public doesn’t realize the magnitude of damage and death that could occur. So they’re almost victims of their own success. That’s the real irony in stopping attacks.

Hemmer: Steve, it is good to get your analysis here. Thanks for coming back with us today. Steve Emerson out of Washington, DC.

****

See videos with transcripts of all of Steve Emerson’s appearances here.

Have We Reached Peak ISISmania Yet?

ISIS3-550x282PJ Media, By Patrick Poole:

A few thoughts on the current bout of ISISmania and the systemic problems it exposes:

1) ISISmania has created a financial/legal incentive for sources (most of them “shady” to begin with) used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to manufacture info whole-cloth.

This is nothing new. Think “prison snitches.” Various foreign actors are passing along disinformation to us as well, so mountains of BS are being fed into the system from the get-go.

Imagine, for a purely hypothetical example, a member of Congress getting an authentic report from a senior agency official, but the report is later found to have originated with a non-credible source. So the member of Congress who repeated the report was actually correct that the intel had been shared with them — but the information itself wasn’t reliable.

It never should have been shared in the first place, but it’s the member of Congress who ends up with egg on their face when the agency issues its denial. No one, whether politicians or agency officials, wants to later admit they were duped, so erroneous info never gets corrected.

2) There are considerable problems on the collection and analysis sides of intel in both the intelligence community and law enforcement. In fact, very few know how to do collection — and good analysis is basically prohibited these days.

So the BS and disinfo never gets sifted out. It then gets passed on to elected officials, which is some of what we’re seeing. Then you have agencies and the administration selectively manipulate and leak according to their own respective agendas. This is how the sausage is being made in DC these days.

3) There is only so much media space, and politicians compete with each other for that space.

So they need to come up with more outlandish claims to get a bigger share of that media space. That creates a disincentive to vet the info they get and publicly talk about. No one gets on Greta by saying: “We need to keep a cool head about this stuff.”

4) Because of that, the game of “I got a secret” is more prevalent than ever before.

Those secrets might be complete equine feces, but the desire to be “in the know,” whether they actually are or not, and the temptation to show that you’re “in the know,” is strong.

5) Congress has no mechanism to vet what the agencies and administration tells them.

 

Back in the 1990s there wase a House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare that gave Congress direct access to the intelligence and SPECOPS worlds to be able to know if what the admin at the time — regardless of party — was saying was true or not.

That’s gone. Congress itself has no internal vetting system to speak of. They are at the mercy of the Executive Branch.

6) The threats are escalating so rapidly, no one in D.C. wants to be holding the bag when something actually happens.

They’ve learned from 9/11 that they don’t want to be the one saying: “Yeah, I knew about it but never said anything publicly.” Everyone wants a chair when the music stops, so they are all trying to lay down their markers now to show they were trying to do something about it beforehand — whether they actually were or not.

Understand, much of this has nothing to do with actually preventing terrorism, but with political posturing.

7) Don’t even get me going about people in the D.C. media/foreign policy establishment — e.g., the think tanks.

There are some solid policy analysts out there doing very good work, but much of it goes unrecognized or never gets considered. That said, the vast majority of these analysts won’t do anything that gets them disinvited to a D.C. cocktail party or criticized by the cool kids on Twitter.

An M.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins/Georgetown/Harvard doesn’t mean that you have the slightest idea of what you’re talking about. Analysis takes years of study and practice — but try telling that to your average 25-year-old policy wonk. And yet these are the characters that drive much the narrative, increasingly so as social media favored by the younger crowd drives much of the news cycle these days.

8) Because so much BS is being slung about, it is actually crowding out good intel.

There are actual border threats from various terrorist groups and actors currently being investigated. But none of that info will ever see the light of day because people inside the system know it will get lumped in with all the disinformation grabbing the headlines right now.

9) Because this administration seeks to maintain an iron grip over the flow of information, virtually any leak is subject to some variety of mole hunt.

It may not lead to official discipline, but perhaps to the imposition of other unofficial forms of discipline, like getting cut out of the loop, which is the kiss of death. That said, I personally know of whistleblowers getting hammered right now by their agencies for calling attention to these kinds of threats, or for trying to get information to Congress.

And Congress has still not created substantive legal protections for whistleblowers, so that creates a severe disincentive for accurate info making its way out.

(Note that the Democrats control the gavel in the Senate, and the impotent and incompetent GOP leadership that governs the House consistently refuses to exercise their oversight powers (particularly committee chairmen). That’s why it is taking YEARS for info related to the litany of Obama administration scandals from coming to light. And when the info becomes public, it is frequently due to groups outside the political establishment. Judicial Watch has done the yeomans work in this regard — not Congress — on the IRS, Fast and Furious, et al.)

10) Elections in four weeks increase all of these by an order of magnitude. So I’m not sure we’ve reached peak ISISmania yet.

There are actual threats to the homeland out there, including ISIS, but virtually all that we’re seeing in the media at the moment is political theater and the accumulation of serious systemic problems within the intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

And much of this nonsense is going to get more Americans killed.

Also see:

Obama Forbids FBI to Use Religion in Identifying Terror Threats, as ISIS Recruits Openly in U.S. Mosques

American Thinker, By Karin McQuillan:

Steven Emerson

Steven Emerson

AT had a chance to catch up with Steven Emerson, head of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, and hear his assessment of the ISIS threat here on American soil. Emerson runs the country’s top data center on Islamic terror groups in the United States, working like a man possessed, and accomplishing the work of thousands on sheer guts and determination to protect our country.

Wherever the bad guys have been caught and prosecuted successfully, you will find Emerson working quietly behind the scenes as an invaluable ally of the FBI and Homeland Security. Because he accepts no money from the government, Emerson has been free of the diktats of the Obama administration that have forbidden the FBI to train their sights on Muslim terrorists. (That means The Investigative Project needs your help to continue its work.)

In the words of U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra, Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:

The Investigative Project on Terrorism is critical to our nation’s security. There is no other non-governmental group that has better intelligence or data on the threat to the United States and our allies. Making do with a bare bones budget, the IPT is a national treasure whose influence and achievements are unparalleled.

It is not an exaggeration to say that because of Democrat political correctness hamstringing our FBI agents, they could not combat the Islamists in our midst without Steven Emerson. Oliver “Buck” Revell, former head of FBI Investigations and Counter-Terrorism, said as much in these words: “The Investigative Project has been one of the most important sources of accurate and timely information on the real goals and objectives of the wide spread and powerful Islamist movement.”

The FBI turns to Emerson to find out what is happening. So does AT. This is what Emerson told us:

Isis is Al Qaeda 3.0. They are already in the United States and the only reason there has not been a terror attack is that they have not decided to do it yet.

The chief danger Steven Emerson sees is that there are three to four hundred ISIS killers in Syria and Iraq with American passports, who can return whenever they want, and the Obama administration is blocking the FBI from monitoring them in mosques. As Emerson told Judge Jeannine Pirro on Fox News:

The FBI has been handcuffed in terms of investigating religious extremists in mosques, as a result of guidelines put out by the attorney general earlier this year. And so therefore, there is… a definite problem now in investigating those militants in the United States who are either recruiting for ISIS or have returned from Syria or Iraq having fought for ISIS, and are ready to carry out freelance or directed terrorist attacks on behalf of ISIS against the United States…

the Department of Justice [which] put out guidelines that restricted the FBI and other law enforcement agencies from using religious factors in identifying threats, national security threats to the United States in the homeland.

…we’re seeing ISIS recruiting biophysicists, engineers, social media types, people who have expertise in really carrying out sophisticated terrorist attacks coming back to the United States.

there’s one recruiter that [had been]… picked up [in the past], well identified, in Bloomington, Minnesota at the Al Farooq Mosque. There are recruiters going around the country in other mosques, where they identify potential volunteers. They test them out to see if they’re willing to die on behalf of martyrdom of the cause for Allah. Then they give them cash, they provide money for their families in case they die. They give them tickets to go to Turkey. Turkey has allowed them, hundreds, to go through to Syria, then to Iraq. And we [the U.S.] count Turkey as one of our top allies. We haven’t put [many of] them on the terrorism watch list, which we should. So there’s a major disconnect, Judge, here between what we should be doing to protect the homeland and protect American citizens.

Question for our Congress: Obama will do nothing to revoke the passports of American ISIS maniacs. What are you doing about it?

 

AP: CIA given stand-down order in Europe

renderHot Air, by Ed Morrissey, Sep.19,2014:

At first blush, this report looks like common sense. After all, the Edward Snowden cache’s exposure of espionage and surveillance on our allies in Europe created no small amount of humiliation for all sides, and at least publicly, impacted our diplomatic and security relationships. A pause to determine the legitimate intelligence needs of the US, as opposed to a desire to just grab everything possible, makes sense under the circumstances — assuming it doesn’t blind us altogether to the issues in Europe.

That, however, might have been the result, at least according to Associated Press sources:

Under the stand-down order, case officers in Europe largely have been forbidden from undertaking “unilateral operations” such as meeting with sources they have recruited within allied governments. Such clandestine meetings are the bedrock of spying.

CIA officers are still allowed to meet with their counterparts in the host country’s intelligence service, conduct joint operations with host country services and conduct operations with the approval of the host government. Recently, unilateral operations targeting third country nationals — Russians in France, for example — were restarted. But most meetings with sources who are host nationals remain on hold, as do new recruitments.

The CIA declined to comment.

James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, said during a public event Thursday that the U.S. is assuming more risk because it has stopped spying on “specific targets,” though he didn’t spell out details.

Spying stand-downs are common after an operation is compromised, but “never this long or this deep,” said a former CIA official, who, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because it’s illegal to discuss classified material or activities. The pause, which has been in effect for about two months, was ordered by senior CIA officials through secret cables.

Needless to say, this is an odd time to go dark, and not just because of Russia and their own operations in Europe. The US needs to keep a close eye on the impact of ISIS in Europe, both in terms of recruitment to the battlegrounds of Syria and Iraq but also penetration into the governments of our allies. Assuming that ISIS isn’t attempting that kind of penetration may work out well in the short run while they’re desperate for fighters (and young women), but it won’t be long before the terrorists realize the value in having sympathizers burrow into the bureaucracies of the West, especially in national-security organizations.

The timing of this revelation is rather curious, too. James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, revealed earlier this week that the CIA missed significant signals in the rise of ISIS and in the collapse of Iraq’s military. In both cases, Clapper admitted, the CIA didn’t calculate the will to fight on either side properly:

The United States has made the same mistake in evaluating fighters from the Islamic State that it did in Vietnam — underestimating the enemy’s will, according to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

Clapper’s comments came in a telephone interview Wednesday, in which he summarized the elements of a new National Intelligence Strategyreleased this week. Clapper also answered some broader questions about intelligence issues confronting the country. …

“What we didn’t do was predict the will to fight. That’s always a problem. We didn’t do it in Vietnam. We underestimated the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese and overestimated the will of the South Vietnamese. In this case, we underestimated ISIL [the Islamic State] and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army. . . . I didn’t see the collapse of the Iraqi security force in the north coming. I didn’t see that. It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable.”

It’s not that imponderable. Plenty of people warned over the last several years that an American withdrawal from Iraq would have a negative impact on Iraqi military morale. The abandonment of Sunni tribal leaders to the Shi’ite-dominant government of Nouri al-Maliki was also eminently “ponderable,” even while Barack Obama insisted that the Iraq we left behind was stable and secure. Maliki’s purge of Sunni military and political leaders wasn’t much of a secret, or at least shouldn’t have been to the CIA. The question is less of “imponderables” than of a determination to see the situation in Iraq only through the context of an Obama policy success, at least at the policy-developing levels of the intel community and the White House.

Given that DNI Clapper is now offering mea culpas about being blindsided on the capabilities of both friend and foe, this seems like a very odd — and bad — time to have the CIA closing its eyes even more.

Al Qaeda’s 9/11 anniversary attacks ready to go. New undetectable explosive may be used

Al Qaeda's top bomb-maker, Saudi Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri

Al Qaeda’s top bomb-maker, Saudi Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri

DEBKAfile, Sep. 2, 2014:

Credible information has reached Saudi, British and Australian agencies that two al Qaeda branches – IS in Iraq and Syria and AQAP at its base in Yemen – have wrapped up plans to roll out coordinated terrorist spectaculars around the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2011 attacks on New York and Washington. According to DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources, they are preparing to strike simultaneously in the Middle East and a West European city. Next, they will go for US targets in the Middle East and Europe.

In the estimate of Islamist experts, the IS and AQAP have decided to delay direct terrorist action in the United States, calculating that an attack on America will have a greater shock impact some time after the first cycle of outrages, toward the end of 2014 or early 2015.
It was this information that galvanized Saudi King Abdullah into warning the West that Al Qaeda’s plans were imminent. “If neglected,” he said strongly last week, “I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America.”

The king issued his warning on the occasion of the US Ambassador to Riyadh, Joseph W. Westphal’s formal presentation of credentials. This gave his warning added weight, because it was a fabricated opportunity. In the two years that Ambassador Westphal has officiated in the Saudi capital, the king has never found time to confirm his accreditation. This cold shoulder reflected the nonagenarian Saudi ruler’s opinion of US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policies and what appears to Riyadh to be his lackadaisical attitude towards fighting Islamist terror.

Sharing the view that this peril is too grave to be ignored any longer, the prime ministers of Britain and Australia, David Cameron and Tony Abbott, appear to have prevailed on the Saudi king to signal this indirect warning to Washington – especially since Saudi intelligence shares the view that a great number of lives are at stake if Al Qaeda consummates its plans.

Our intelligence and counterterrorism sources disclose that the data on the two Al Qaeda groups’ plans to mark the 9/11 anniversary with major attacks has been in the hands of Middle Eastern, European and US security agencies since the second week of May, i.e., five months ago.

They were also anxiously aware that Al Qaeda’s top bomb-maker, Ibrahim Hassan A-Asiri, who works out of Yemen, had developed a secret explosive substance that can pass undetected through the screening devices and security measures currently in use at international airports and public places in the West and the Middle East.

Intelligence experts believe that this novel substance, when hidden in special shoes or electronic devices like iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones, can beat even tight security scrutiny. However, information has also been received about the new undetectable explosive substance being implanted in the bodies of suicide jihadists, to produce the ultimate “body bombs.”

It is feared that this hazard is already in place and that a surgical procedure may have been carried out to implant it on carriers of American or European passports, at a secret clinic in Yemen or a Gulf emirate by a surgeon dedicated to the radical Islamist cause. These human bombs will have been able to travel through Jordan or Iraq through Turkey to their targeted destinations. Such carriers of invisible bombs may be Americans, Belgians, Britons, Australians, French citizens or Germans, and already on standby for the prearranged signal to push a certain button and demolish a selected target.

The novel invention has made it infinitely easier for terrorists to move around and approach their targets, unnoticed and without arousing suspicion.
Prime Minister Cameron has woken up to the peril. He announced Tuesday, Sept. 22, he would ask parliament to urgently approve sweeping legislation to combat the “scourge of extremism” – including the power to seize passports of an estimated 500 British Muslims known to be frequent travelers to Turkey, Syria and Iraq and strongly suspected of identifying with Al Qaeda’s jihadist ideology.

Most counterterrorism experts fear that these measures if approved would come too late to pre-empt Al Qaeda’s 9/11 anniversary plot.

ISIS has Capability and Intent to Attack the Homeland

IS-facts-findingsBlind Eagle, By Brian Fairchild, Aug. 30, 2014:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

  • Based on the intelligence analysis of the facts and findings below, as of August 29, 2014, the Islamic State has the capability and intent to launch an attack against the American homeland.  Moreover, the internecine war between “core” al Qaeda and the Islamic State represents a struggle for the leadership of the international jihad movement that provides both organizations with a strong motivation to attack America.  There is no way to predict a specific date when attacks will occur, but it is clear from the evidence that the Islamic State has the capability to launch an attack at a time and place of its choosing.

In intelligence analysis, analysts must first find and document substantiated and relevant Facts on the topic of their investigations.  Expert knowledge is then used to make sense out of these facts in a cogent, organized and articulate manner in a section called Findings.  Having made sense out of the facts in the articulated findings, the analyst can then see where all of the facts and findings lead, and make a Forecast as to what is likely to happen in the future.  It’s not a perfect or foolproof system, but it forces analysts to work with well-substantiated and relevant facts rather than opinion and hearsay.

On August 22, 2014, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby stated that the Defense Department does not believe that ISIS has “the capability right now to conduct a major attack on the U.S. homeland.”

The following analysis will test this hypothesis using the tried and true method of establishing Facts, Findings, and Forecasts.

FACTS:

  • On October 4, 2011, then leader of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and current leader of the Islamic State (IS), Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the State Department for his role in “managing and directing large scale operations”.
  • ISIS is a multi-faceted entity:

o   According to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Islamic State demonstrates “a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess”,[1] and represents an “imminent threat to every interest we have”.

o   IS has “…an effective management structure…overseeing departments of finance, arms, local governance, military operations and recruitment”[2].  It operates like a national government in the areas it occupies providing electricity and water, levying taxes, providing police services, establishing religious schools and courts, and running training camps.

o   IS has a war chest estimated at $2 billion dollars, accrued from:  taxes, the sale of oil and antiquities on the black market, ransom for hostages, seized bank assets, donations from wealthy Gulf donors, the theft of all property and assets from the minorities it victimizes, and proceeds from zakat (tithing) and Muslim charities.

o   A report prepared in June 2014 by the former head of the counter terrorism office of British Intelligence (MI6), reported that over 12,000 radicalized Muslims have departed their homes in 81 countries to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq.  An estimated 3,000 of them are western passport holders.  These individuals are now routinely referred to as “foreign fighters”.  There is no doubt that the number of foreign fighters overall and the number hailing from Western countries has significantly increased since the publication of this report, which went to press before al Baghdadi announced the creation of the “Caliphate” and called for Muslims to emigrate to it.

o   IS has a virtual monopoly over the foreign fighters flooding into Syria and Iraq.  They constitute the majority of IS’ suicide bombers, and are responsible for 30 to 50 suicide bombings per month.[3]  Increasingly, they come from Western countries including the US, France, the UK, Norway, Austria, Australia, and Germany. They are infiltrated into the Islamic State via a global IS network, and then trained in secure bases there.[4]

  • On February 4, 2014, CIA Director John Brennan testified before the Congressional House Intelligence Committee during which he described the capabilities of these  training camps: 

o   We are concerned about the use of Syrian territory by the Al Qaida organization to recruit individuals and develop the capability to be able not just to carry out attacks inside of Syria, but also to use Syria as a launching pad…There arecamps inside of both Iraq and Syria that are used by Al Qaida to develop capabilities that are applicable, both in the theater, as well as beyond.” 

  • The Islamic State possesses chemical weapons seized from Iraq’s al Muthanna chemical weapons complex, including munitions containing Sarin, Mustard gas, and the nerve agent VX.  In 2006, then Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. General Michael Maples stated that, while the munitions couldn’t be used as originally intended because of corrosion, “The agent remaining in the weapons would be very valuable to terrorists and insurgents”.[5]

o   In July 2014, IS fighters seized 88 pounds of uranium compounds from the University of Mosul that can be used to construct a radioactive dirty bomb.

  • IS was formerly constituted as al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), but was disowned by “core” al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in February 2014.  This fracture resulted in all-out war between the two groups for the leadership of the international jihad movement.
  • Despite his war with “core” al Qaeda, IS leader al Baghdadi reveres Osama bin Laden.  When bin Laden was killed in the American raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, he vowed violent retaliation.  Almost immediately, he launched numerous attacks and suicide bombings, and vowed to conduct 100 attacks across Iraq to seek vengeance for bin Laden”.[6]
  • On January 21, 2014, al Baghdadi recorded an audio message in which he recognized that he and his organization would soon be in direct confrontation with the United States:

o   “Our last message is to the Americans. Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day. So watch, for we are with you, watching.”[7]

  • In August 2014, IS declared war against the US in a document sent to the family of beheading victim James Foley.  It was addressed to the “American government and their sheep like people” and threatened the following (all emphasis added by IS in the original):

o   “Today our swords are unsheathed towards you, GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENS ALIKE!  AND WE WILL NOT STOP UNTIL WE QUENCH OUR THIRST FOR YOUR BLOOD.  You do not spare our weak, elderly, women or children, so we will NOT spare yours!  You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings!  The first of which being the blood of American citizen, James Foley.”

  • In response to US airstrikes against IS positions in early August 2014, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)pledged solidarity with the Islamic State and promised to conduct mass casualty attacks against the US in retaliation:

o   “Hence, we declare our solidarity with our Muslim brethren in Iraq in [their struggle against] this Crusade. Their blood is our blood, their wound is in our hearts, and we have a duty to defend them. With Allah’s help, we will employ every means to cause the US as many casualties as possible, as part of jihad for the sake of Allah and in order to realize what our Sheikh Osama [bin Laden] vowed [to achieve].”

FINDINGS:

  • As made clear by the 2011 State Department designation of al Baghdadi as a global terrorist, he is adept at “managing and directing large scale operations”.  The Islamic State reflects these abilities.  It is a sophisticated organization that simultaneously plans and conducts offensive operations using conventional military strategy, as well as synchronized multiple-location suicide bombings, all the while operating a global network that recruits, trains and deploys foreign fighters.  Underlying its military capabilities is a government structure of provincial governors and officials that manage the civilian population like a small nation state.
  • IS has thousands of trained and combat-tested foreign fighters from which to select teams that could conduct attacks in the United States, including over 100 Americans.  The Islamic State is not restricted to using only American citizens for such attacks, and for security reasons, may well create cells of individuals from the UK and Western Europe that are not likely to be revealed by US databases.  It is likely that many of these individuals speak English and have previously traveled to the US.
  • IS has a seemingly endless supply of foreign fighters willing to martyr themselves.  Suicide bombings, once rare, have become routine for IS foreign fighters who conduct approximately 30 to 50 each month.  Importantly, the majority of these bombings are conducted with a high degree of operational security against targets in cities such as Baghdad and Kirkuk where security forces are on high alert employing road blocks, patrols, and area surveillance.  IS teams deploying to the US face only one real security obstacle – physically entering the country; once inside they would operate in an environment much less controlled than those they are used to.
  • IS possesses chemical weapons and radioactive compounds that it could smuggle into the United States via the southern border or other access points.  Even in the event that IS has no smuggling connections, its remarkable treasury could well buy such cooperation.
  • Should IS leadership decide, its financial assets, and extensive number of trained and experienced operatives willing to die for their cause, are adequate to fund and deploy numerous terrorist teams worldwide.
  • Despite the increasing number of American airstrikes against IS positions, and the rising calls for extensive military action against IS targets in Iraq and Syria, there is no evidence to indicate that IS leadership seeks to avoid a military confrontation with the United States.  Quite the contrary, all evidence indicates that it is actively trying to provoke such a confrontation, as demonstrated by the following:

o   Al Baghdadi has been at war against the US since 2003 when he co-created his first jihad organization.  He experienced first-hand the American dismantling of AQI in 2006, he spent time in American custody in Camp Bucca, he replaced leaders killed by the US, and sought vengeance for the killing of Osama bin Laden.  Given this experience, it is likely that in January 2014 when he recorded his audio statement, he was well aware that his plan to blitzkrieg across Syria and Iraq and his plan to establish a Caliphate that threatened US allies would provoke an American military response.  In this context, the specific phrases he chose to stress:  “Soon we will be in direct confrontation” – “the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day” – “we are with you, watching”, could well indicate that in anticipation of the coming confrontation, he deployed cells to the homeland that are “watching” and preparing attacks.

o   IS leadership chose to publicly butcher James Foley on August 19, 2014 describing Foley as the first American casualty of war, which strongly suggests that Foley’s murder was a deliberate attempt to provoke a military response.  Additional examples of IS’ willingness to provoke the US are revealed in passages from its official Dabiq magazine, published on August 29, 2014, that ridicule President Obama, gloat over the beheading of James Foley and the US inability to rescue him, blame the US for atrocities against Muslims, and call for American and Western Muslims to rush to the “Caliphate” to support the jihad.

o   IS’ declaration of war against the US government and its citizens, including America’s weak, elderly, women and children can only be taken as a direct provocation.

  • The war between IS and “core” al Qaeda is, at its essence, a battle for the ideological leadership and operational direction of the international jihad movement.  At present, the Islamic State, flush with money and recruits, is winning.    If IS cells successfully attack the homeland in the near future it would virtually cement its leadership over the movement.  If it were successful in conducting an attack on the anniversary day of the 9/11 attacks, the Islamic State and al Baghdadi would be catapulted into a new terrorist dimension that would have profound security implications for the US for decades to come.
  • This war for primacy, however, is also likely to prompt “core” al Qaeda to launch an attack against the homeland to regain its lost leadership.  Because Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden planned and conducted the historic 9/11 attacks, a commemorative attack on 9/11’s thirteenth anniversary would likely re-establish Zawahiri as the movement’s premier leader.  It is not clear at this point, however, if “core” al Qaeda has the resources and capability to conduct such an attack.
  • AQAP’s pledge to conduct mass casualty attacks in retaliation for US airstrikes against IS fighters, adds another threat stream.  AQAP’s proven record of near misses against the US via the 2009 Underwear bomber plot, and the plot to blow up cargo aircraft over the US with explosives hidden in copy machine ink cartridges, is sobering, but further exacerbated by AQAP’s reported development of a new explosive compound that is undetectable by existing sensors.  Like “core” al Qaeda, it is unclear if AQAP has the resources to conduct a separate attack against the homeland.  In order to remain relevant in the international jihad movement, however, AQAP could assist IS in attacking the homeland, which could explain its pledge of solidarity to IS and its promise to carry-out mass casualty attacks.

FORECAST:

Based on the above facts and findings and contrary to the statements of the Pentagon, as of August 29, 2014, the Islamic State has all the capabilities required to launch an attack against the American homeland.  Within its ranks alone, it has the expertise, trained operatives, financial resources, possession of WMD, a virulent anti-American ideology, and the intent to confront the United States.  Despite increasing American military action against it, there is no evidence that the Islamic State is trying to avoid a military confrontation.  Rather, its recent actions are tailored to provoke a military response.

Moreover, the war between “core” al Qaeda and the Islamic State is a struggle for the ideological leadership and the operational direction of the international jihad movement that provides both organizations with a strong motivation to attack America.  Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s recent pledge of solidarity to IS and its promise to perpetrate mass casualty attacks on its behalf exacerbates an already bad situation.  While it is unclear if “core” al Qaeda and AQAP have the resources on their own to conduct such attacks, AQAP’s pledge of solidarity to IS may well indicate its willingness to conduct a joint IS-AQAP attack.

Absent specific actionable intelligence, there is no way to predict a specific date when attacks will occur, as all terrorist plots run according to operational requirements.  It is clear, however, that a successful attack on the American homeland by any or all of these organizations would boost their respective standing in the jihad movement, especially if such an attack was conducted on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  It is also clear that the Islamic State has the capability to launch an attack at a time and place of its choosing.

 

Islamic State terror chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hunted by specially-formed elite military unit

Hunt for The Ghost: An elite force is targeting the fanatical head of the Islamic State

Hunt for The Ghost: An elite force is targeting the fanatical head of the Islamic State

By Chris Hughes:

A crack unit has been formed to hunt down the terror chief whose barbaric Islamic State group has blazed a trail of murder and mayhem across the Middle East .

Around 100 CIA spooks and special forces are hunting for 42-year-old Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, dubbed The Ghost because he leaves no trace despite running an army of followers.

It is the biggest counter-terror search since the Americans tracked down and killed al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Using unmanned spy planes, other aircraft and satellite imagery, intelligence experts are gathering mobile phone call data and movements on the ground in Iraq and Syria .

A source said: “Al-Baghdadi is elusive but he will be found eventually.

“His forces are stretched so phone calls will be made – that will be his weak point.”

Read more at The Mirror

ISIS Baffling U.S. Intelligence Agencies

1408103028210.cachedBy Eli Lake:
It’s been two months since ISIS took over Iraq’s second-largest city. But U.S. analysts are still trying to figure out how big the group is and the real identities of its leaders.
The U.S. intelligence community is still trying to answer basic questions about the jihadists who tried to wipe out Iraq’s remaining Yazidis and who now threaten to overrun the capital of the country’s Kurdish provinces.

In a briefing for reporters Thursday, U.S. intelligence officials said the government is re-evaluating an estimate from early this year that said the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) had only 10,000 members. These officials also said intelligence analysts were still trying to determine the real names of many of the group’s leaders from records of Iraqis who went in and out of American custody during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

While many U.S. officials have warned publicly in the last year about the dangers posed by ISIS, the fact that the U.S. intelligence community lacks a consensus estimate on its size and the true identities of the group’s leadership may explain why President Obama over the weekend said the U.S. was caught off-guard by the ISIS advance into Kurdish territory.

That said, the U.S. intelligence community assesses that ISIS poses a particularly difficult problem. One American official said ISIS had attracted thousands of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, some of whom had returned to their home countries and formed terror cells in Europe.

U.S. intelligence officials said the Islamic State makes frequent mention of its intent to attack the U.S., though officials said there is no evidence yet that its operatives have the skills of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) master bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri. AQAP has tried to bring down U.S.-bound airliners three times using bombs he helped design or build.

Read more at Daily Beast

Also see:

Flynn is Right, Ideology is The Problem

By Kyle Shideler:

LT. General Michael Flynn, outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency recently told an audience at the Aspen Institute that the ideology of Al Qaeda was “expanding,” and that Al Qaeda was not “on the run” as the Obama Administration had repeatedly insisted during the 2012 election. Flynn said, “It’s not on the run, and that ideology is actually, it’s sadly, it feels like it’s exponentially growing,”

Flynn went on to point out that “the core” of Al Qaeda was not in fact a geographic designation, but instead a belief, “We use the term ‘core al Qaeda,’ and I have been going against these guys for a long time,” The Free Beacon reports Flynn as saying, “The core is the core belief that these individuals have.”

While Flynn does not go so far as to name the ideology which Al Qaeda acts in furtherance of (namely Shariah), he is clear that one can not solely counter an ideological threat kinetically.

Under Flynn, the DIA has been one of the few intelligence agencies to hold the line against the Obama Administration’s popular, if delusional, reimagining of the threat.  As Eli Lakenoted in a Daily Beast article discussing the connections between Al Qaeda and Boko Haram:

The dispute inside the intelligence community falls along familiar lines about al Qaeda. The White House has emphasized the distinctions between al Qaeda’s core and its affiliates and other aspiring jihadists, who the White House sees as operating almost entirely independent of the central group.

However, another faction inside the U.S. intelligence community—one that comprises the current leadership of the Defense Intelligence Agency and others working in the military—see al Qaeda as a flatter organization that coordinates between nodes and operates through consensus in the model of an Islamic Shura council.

The idea that DIA should need to wage an rearguard action around a concept as basic as the fact that Al Qaeda is organized along shariah-prescribed lines, is itself an example of how badly we have failed to understand the enemy’s stated threat doctrine.

While Flynn does not say so, the reason the ideology of Al Qaeda has expanded is we have failed to directly combat it. We have failed in combating the ideology, as the direct result of influence operations waged against U.S. policy making by affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has resulted in the purge of U.S. trainers who understood the enemy doctrine, leaving U.S policymakers, and law enforcement and intelligence officials unprepared.

One quibble however. LTG Flynn warns that Hamas ought not to be destroyed, as there is a risk that the Islamist groups that would replace it would some how be “worse.” There is not any substantial difference in ideological doctrine between the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham. they are all based upon the Shariah. Saying that Hamas must survive because ISIS is worse is the same kind of mistaken thinking that permitted some to argue that we could work with the Muslim Brotherhood to serve as a bulwark against Al Qaeda. There is no major doctrinal disagreement between Hamas and Al Qaeda, or ISIS. Hamas hailed Osama bin Laden as a “holy warrior” when he was killed by U.S. forces. The Muslim Brotherhood also recognized Bin Laden’s role as a legitimate jihadist.   The godfather of both Al Qaeda and Hamas was Muslim Brother and Islamic Jurist named  Abdullah Azzam.

But even this mistaken view of Hamas is itself evidence thats proves Flynn’s point. Without understanding the nature of the enemy’s threat doctrine and its primary thinkers (Like Azzam), we will not be successful in defeating it.

Prominent Islamists Blast NSA for Monitoring Emails

Nihad Awad, (r) founder and executive director of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Nihad Awad, (r) founder and executive director of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Surveillance of a handful of Islamists who been supportive of terror groups is hardly unjust or a persecution of all Muslim Americans.

BY RYAN MAURO:

A 45-member coalition — including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), two U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities with extremist histories — is accusing the Obama and Bush Administrations of persecuting the entire Muslim-American community by monitoring the emails of five Muslims with links to terrorists.

The coalition is responding to a new report based on classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) employee Edward Snowden. It focuses on the monitoring of five Muslim-American activists, including CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. The authors of the report are Glenn Greenwald, who has spoken for at least three CAIR fundraisers, and Murtaza Hussain.

The documents provide about 7,500 email addresses monitored by the U.S. government between 2002 and 2008. This is not a shocking number, especially considering the activists’ histories and that there are 2.75 million Muslim-Americans.

Of these, only 202 are listed as Americans and some of these are multiple accounts held by one user. The authors of the report were able to identify five activists who were being monitored.

The Director of National Intelligence said in a statement it is “entirely false that U.S. intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights.”

Rather, before monitoring, an independent judge from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court must be persuaded that there is strong enough evidence that the subject is linked to terrorism or under the control of a foreign power.

Public information, much of it cited by the authors, links each of the five to Islamist terrorists. The authors of the report admit they do not know what classified information the NSA and FBI is in possession of; nor do they have any evidence that the NSA failed to get a judge’s approval as required.

Yet, the monitoring of these five activists’ emails is depicted as a scandal by the authors of the report and the coalition, depicting this as an assault on the entire Muslim-American community. Further, the coalition includes groups with their own checkered histories like CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Muslim Legal Fund of America.

There are very strong grounds to believe that the government has legitimate reasons for monitoring the five activists. They are as follows:

Read more at Clarion Project

Glenn Greenwald Enraged that Muslims with Terror Ties Under Surveillance

Screen-Shot-2014-07-09-at-1.03.34-PM-448x350by :

Glenn Greenwald and his fellow jihad-enabling “journalist” Murtaza Hussain on Wednesday published a major exposé, “Under Surveillance: Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On,” about Muslim leaders who are being spied upon by the FBI and the NSA. The thrust of the article is that each one is as pure as the day is long, with the one sin of opposing U.S. government policies.

The idea, of course, that opposing U.S. government policies from the Left will get you placed under surveillance these days is beyond ridiculous: Obama’s IRS is targeting conservative groups, not Leftists, and claiming that “right-wing extremists” are a terror threat, with nary a word about genuinely violent Left-wing extremist groups such as the Occupy movement and others.

And so it is no surprise that Greenwald and Hussain make their case by glossing over the genuine reasons why the FBI and NSA have placed these men under surveillance — surveillance which, if it is still going on at this point, is sure to end now as a result of this article. The article highlights these five men, glossing over the very real reasons why surveillance is justified:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country….

Regarding Faisal Gill, Greenwald and Hussain write:

…After leaving the Navy, Gill worked as a consultant for the American Muslim Council, which was founded by the political activist Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi to encourage participation by American Muslims in the political process. A Republican since high school, Gill joined the Bush Administration in the aftermath of 9/11, eventually moving to the White House Office of Homeland Security, where he briefly worked with Richard Clarke and obtained a top-secret security clearance. After roughly a year, he joined the Department of Homeland Security as a senior policy adviser, where he was cleared to access sensitive compartmented information, a classification level reserved for some of the nation’s most closely held secrets.

In 2003, al-Amoudi was arrested for participating in a Libyan plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and for illegal financial transactions with the Libyan government, crimes for which he eventually pleaded guilty. Because Gill’s name had turned up in al-Amoudi’s papers, he was investigated by DHS security officials and asked not to report to work pending the outcome. He told investigators that he had met al-Amoudi only three or four times and didn’t work closely with him during his time at the American Muslim Council. After passing a polygraph test, Gill says, he was told by DHS that he was “good to go” and returned to work.

Greenwald and Hussain here establish the pattern of their entire piece: they leave out crucial details of the background of each of their supposed innocent victims of surveillance, thereby obscuring why they were put under surveillance in the first place. Faisal Gill worked as a consultant for the American Muslim Council. He says that he only met Alamoudi a few times and didn’t work closely with him.

Very well. But Greenwald and Hussain don’t mention that, according to Discover the Networks, the plot to assassinate Abdullah involved “two U.K.-based al Qaeda operatives,” and that he “ultimately pled guilty to, and was convicted of, being a senior al Qaeda financier who had funneled at least $1 million into the coffers of that terrorist organization.”

So here is Faisal Gill, who was a consultant for a group founded and headed by a confessed senior al Qaeda financier. He hardly knew him — fine. He was cleared of any wrongdoing — fine. But is it not possible that Alamoudi or someone connected to him might try to contact Faisal Gill, and win this upstanding American patriot over to their side, or try to use him in some way? Is there not, then, a case for placing Faisal Gill under surveillance, given his association with a senior jihad terror financier?

Also, would Greenwald and Hussain be enraged if the FBI and NSA placed under surveillance someone who had worked as a consultant for a group headed by a senior Ku Klux Klan financier, even if the consultant had been cleared of any wrongdoing? I doubt it. Nor should they be.

Likewise with Asim Ghafoor:

In 2003, the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi charity, hired Ghafoor after its U.S. assets were frozen by the Treasury Department over claims that it funded terrorist operations. The government alleged that there were “direct links” between the U.S. branch of the charity and Osama bin Laden. Al Haramain had previously been represented by some of the biggest and most prestigious American law firms, including the D.C. powerhouse Akin Gump. Ghafoor’s work with Al Haramain led him to other controversial clients, including Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden who was the subject of FBI and CIA surveillance for years, as well as the government of Sudan.

This would seem to be enough in itself to keep Ghafoor under surveillance, in case one of his jihad terrorist clients gave out information that could stop a jihad terror attack. But there is more. Discover the Networks notes that “Asim Ghafoor was a political consultant, spokesman, and public relations director for the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), which the U.S. government shut down in December 2001 because of the organization’s ties to terrorism….GRF is not the only organization with ties to terrorism with which Ghafoor has been involved. While he was with GRF, Ghafoor was also the spokesman for Care International. The December 6, 2002 Wall Street Journal reports: ‘Records indicate close ties between [Care International] and the Boston branch of Al Kifah Refugee Center, the Brooklyn branch of which was named by prosecutors as the locus of the 1993 conspiracy to bomb the World Trade Center.”

Greenwald and Hussain don’t mention any of that, of course. And their inclusion of Hooshang Amirahmadi is just bizarre. Greenwald and Hussain note that he “does not self-identify as a Muslim and describes himself as an atheist.” So why is he included in a piece entitled “Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On”? Apparently Greenwald and Hussain couldn’t find enough Muslim leaders whom they could even with the remotest plausibility portray as innocent victims of unwarranted surveillance, so they figured an Iranian atheist was close enough.

If a foe of jihad terror were that careless of the facts, Greenwald and Hussain would be among the first to pounce.

Read more at Front Page

Misleading Claims by Greenwald and New York Times on NSA/FBI Spying on American Muslims

867699397CSP, By Fred Fleitz:

The newest NSA document leaked by former NSA technician Edward Snowden indicates that NSA and FBI monitored the emails of seven prominent American Muslims.  While Snowden’s supporters are trying to spin this story as discrimination against Muslims and another case of illegal surveillance by NSA, such claims look far-fetched since this email monitoring took place with the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court and appeared to involve persons suspected of having links to Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and Iran.

This NSA document in question was described in an article in “The Intercept,” an online publication founded by Glenn Greenwald, a former London Guardian writer who facilitated most of Snowden’s leaks, and is funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.  Greenwald is the co-author of the article.

The seven American Muslims named in Greenwald’s article are:

  • Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was killed in a targeted U.S. drone strike in Yemen on September 30, 2011.
  • Samir Khan, an American Muslim who collaborated with al-Awaki and helped produce Inspire, an online al-Qaeda publication used by the Tsaranev brothers to construct the pressure-cooker bombs they detonated at the 2013 Boston Marathon.  Khan was killed by the same drone strike that killed Awaki.
  • Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
  • Hooshang Amirahmadi, a Rutgers University professor who is president of the American Iranian Council.
  • Asim Ghafoor, a defense lawyer who has handled terrorism-related cases.
  • Faisal Gill, a former Department of Homeland Security lawyer who Greenwald says did legal work with Ghafoor on behalf of Sudan in a lawsuit brought by victims of terrorist attacks.
  • Agha Saeed, the national chairman of the American Muslim Alliance.

The NSA document listed 202 emails belonging to U.S. persons, 1,782 to non-U.S. persons and 5.501 listed as “unknown.”

Greenwald and the New York Times try to depict this surveillance as another example of the U.S. government spying on the American people in violation of the fourth amendment.  Both the Times and Greenwald suggest these men were monitored because they are Muslims.

Greenwald and the Times seem to recognize that government monitoring of the communications of al-Awlaki and Khan was a no-brainer.  For the other five, Greenwald says “it is impossible to know why their emails were monitored or the extent of the surveillance” and noted that they have not been charged with a crime.

But a closer look at Awad, Ghafoor, Gill, Saeed, and Amirahmadi suggests the government likely had good reasons to request court warrants to monitor their communications.

The Times said Awad’s CAIR organization is “a Muslim civil rights organization.”  However, the Times also notes that CAIR has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and in 2007 was an unindicted co-conspirator in its prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim charity later convicted of providing material support for terrorism by funneling money to Hamas.

The Times described Saeed’s American Muslim Alliance as an organization “which supports Muslim political candidates.”  But Investor’s Business Daily reported on April 1, 2014 that Saeed’s American Muslim Alliance joined a coalition of other American Muslim organizations with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood – including CAIR – to launch their own political network to turn American Muslims into an Islamist voting bloc.

Greenwald’s article says Asim Ghafoor is an attorney hired in 2003 by the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi charity with alleged links to al-Qaeda, after its U.S. assets were frozen by the Treasury Department over claims that it funded terrorist operations.  According to the article, Ghafoor and al-Haramain sued the U.S. government and were awarded damages over government eavesdropping on Ghafoor’s attorney-client communications with al-Haramain.  The damages were later dropped on appeal.   According to Greenwald, Ghafoor claims the government monitored his communications “because of his name, his religion, and his legal work.”

Greenwald provides some idea as to about why Faisal Gill’s communications were monitored: he was a consultant for the American Muslim Council, a group founded by Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi who pleaded guilty in 2004 on financial and conspiracy charges for being a senior financier for Al Qaeda. He is serving a 23-year prison sentence.  Greenwald says Gill may have had troubling ties to al-Amoudi.  According to the Greenwald article:

“In 2003, al-Amoudi was arrested for participating in a Libyan plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and for illegal financial transactions with the Libyan government, crimes for which he eventually pleaded guilty. Because Gill’s name had turned up in al-Amoudi’s papers, he was investigated by DHS [Department of Homeland Security] security officials and asked not to report to work pending the outcome. He told investigators that he had met al-Amoudi only three or four times and didn’t work closely with him during his time at the American Muslim Council. After passing a polygraph test, Gill says, he was told by DHS that he was “good to go” and returned to work.”

Hooshang Amirahmadi is a former candidate for the Iranian presidency with ties to Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian government.

Greenwald does not know the U.S. government’s justification for requesting court warrants to monitor the communications of Awad, Ghafoor, Gill, Saeed, and Amirahmadi.  He therefore does not know whether these men were collaborating in some way with foreign terrorist organizations or Iran.  However, since Greenwald knew about their suspicious affiliations, it was extremely dishonest for him to claim these are innocent American Muslims targeted by for illegal NSA and FBI electronic surveillance merely because of their ethnicity and religion.

Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy and Chief Analyst with LIGNET.com.

The Iraq Crisis Is Not a US Intelligence Failure

377919105CSP, By Fred Fleitz:

Stories are being circulated by Obama officials and some former intelligence officers that the Obama administration was caught off guard by the recent offensive in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) terrorist group because of a failure by U.S. intelligence agencies to provide warning about the ISIS threat.
Some former intelligence officers are blaming this failure on a lack of human intelligence sources in Iraq and an over-reliance on technical intelligence collection.
Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, disagrees. He says the Iraq crisis is a policy and not an intelligence failure.
Rogers says the signs were there about the ISIS threat and the deteriorating situation in Iraq but Obama officials ignored them. He contends that “It was very clear to me years ago that ISIS was pooling up in a dangerous way — building training camps, drawing in jihadists from around the world. We saw all of that happening.”
I agree with Chairman Rogers. There was a wealth of information in the news media over the last year that a sectarian war was brewing in Iraq and ISIS was gaining strength in both Iraq and Syria. I am certain U.S. intelligence agencies provided similar assessments to U.S. officials based on classified information.
The event that should have caused Obama officials to shift their approach to Iraq occurred last December when ISIS seized control of Fallujah and parts of the city of Ramadi. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn issued a public warning about the significance of this development in February when he testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that ISIS “will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah, and the group’s ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”
That sounds to me like a top U.S. intelligence official was doing his job by warning U.S. officials about major global security threats.
Some have claimed U.S. intelligence analysis about ISIS could have been better and that we lack enough human intelligence sources on the ground in Iraq. Secretary of State John Kerry claimed “nobody expected” ISIS to advance so rapidly against Iraqi forces” because “we don’t have people embedded in those units.” Kerry presumably meant CIA did not have sources within ISIS.
Intelligence in areas like Iraq is always going to be limited, especially in a country where there is no U.S. troop presence and high levels of anti-Americanism. Penetrating close-knit Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS is extremely difficult for CIA, especially when they operate in dangerous areas like Iraq and Syria.
Blaming intelligence agencies for not providing a precise warning about the ISIS assault on Mosul last month distorts the capabilities of intelligence analysts. While intelligence assessments often contain remarkable foresight, intelligence agencies don’t possess crystal balls and cannot predict future actions by human actors with 100 percent accuracy.
I believe the crisis in Iraq is a major U.S. policy failure due to the Obama administration’s failure to leave a small troop presence behind after the 2011 troop withdrawal and the repeated tendency by Obama officials to discount and downplay the continuing threat from radical Islamist groups. We saw this in September 2012 when Obama officials claimed the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was the result of an anti-Muslim video and not an attack by radical Islamists.
The intelligence oversight committees should review classified analysis on Iraq, Syria, and ISIS produced over the last year to determine whether intelligence agencies failed to provide adequate warning of the ISIS threat. I believe such an inquiry will find that U.S. intelligence analysts provided the Obama administration with excellent analysis about ISIS and the deteriorating situation in Iraq but Obama officials ignored it.

CIA Under Fire for Failure in Iraq

 

People inspect buildings damaged by an Iraqi government airstrike on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant controlled city of Mosul / AP

People inspect buildings damaged by an Iraqi government airstrike on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant controlled city of Mosul / AP

By Bill Gertz:

The CIA failed to provide adequate warning of the recent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant military incursion into Iraq despite having a significant presence of agency officers in the country, according to U.S. officials and security analysts.

Critics of the agency said the intelligence failure was made worse by a failure of the Obama administration to recognize the threat posed to the country by the ISIL, which last week renamed itself simply the Islamic State (IS) and declared its captured territory in Syria and Iraq is now a “caliphate.”

The so-called caliphate region is under harsh Islamic law and led by IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as its “caliph” or Islamic leader.

“This is an absolute intelligence failure on the part of the CIA,” said Bill Cowan, a former Special Forces officer who worked until recently as a contractor in Iraq.

During U.S. military operations in Iraq, military intelligence agencies set up robust spying—both human and electronic—throughout Iraq that provided a clear picture of the insurgents, including the former Saddam Hussein military officials who currently are a major component of the IS operation.

However, with the Obama administration’s decision to pull out all troops, the military intelligence coverage was removed at the end of 2011.

“With all military intel out of the picture, the CIA takes primary responsibility for HUMINT activities in Iraq. Where were they? No interaction with tribal leaders who probably watched the build up? No interaction with the [northern Kurdish] Peshmerga? The agency isn’t on the radar screen, but they should be.”

A Kurdish security official with the regional government in northern Iraq said intelligence on key figures in the terrorist group, including the locations of IS training camps and the movement of vehicle convoys from Syria was provided to both Baghdad and western intelligence agencies.

“It all fell on deaf ears,” said Rooz Bahjay, the security official. “The west failed to act, and now it’s failing to react. The longer they wait, the more people are going to be killed.”

Cowan said the failure to provide warning and alert in advance of the incursion, which began in early June, made it impossible to take steps that could have blunted the advance, which currently controls major cities in central Iraq and at least one oil field, failure that will produce dire strategic consequences for the United States and states in region.

The CIA denied it is to blame for any intelligence failure on Iraq. “Anyone who has had access to and actually read the full extent of CIA intelligence products on ISIL and Iraq should not have been surprised by the current situation,” CIA spokesman Christopher White when asked about whether the agency was guilty of an intelligence failure.

A U.S. intelligence official did not directly state whether CIA or other spy agencies provided advance word of the IS invasion. However, the official said IS was tracked for years and “strategic warning” of its growing strength and increasing threat to Iraq were reported.

The official also said policymakers were warned about difficulties within the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces. Several divisions of Iraqi troops fled during the IS incursion.

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