Center for Security Policy sends A team to Canada’s Parliamentary committee on terrorism bill C51

csis

Vlad Tepes:

Also see:

France Declares War on Radical Islam

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, March 25, 2015:

The moves are part of a raft of new anti-terrorism measures aimed at preventing French citizens or residents from joining jihadist groups abroad. The new powers are controversial because they can be implemented without judicial approval.

“These are legal tools, but not tools of exception, nor of generalized surveillance of citizens. There cannot be a lawless zone in the digital space. Often we cannot predict the threat, the services must have the power to react quickly.” — Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of France.

“When you do a projection for the months to come, there could be 5,000 [Europeans waging jihad in Iraq and Syria] before summer and 10,000 before the end of the year. Do you realize the threat that this represents?” — Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of France.

The French government has cut the social welfare benefits of nearly 300 jihadists who have left France to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Amid a rapidly expanding jihadist threat, it has also started confiscating passports, imposing travel bans and blocking access to jihadist websites.

The moves are part of a raft of new anti-terrorism measures aimed at preventing French citizens or residents from joining jihadist groups abroad, and at slowing the spread of radical Islam at home. Muslim groups are criticizing the flurry of activity as “Islamophobia.”

On March 17, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve revealed that the government has stopped paying welfare benefits to 290 French jihadists fighting with the Islamic State. He said that the agencies responsible for distributing welfare payments were being notified as soon as it was confirmed that a French citizen had left the country to fight abroad.

At least 1,200 French nationals or residents are believed to have joined the Islamic State, but Cazeneuve did not say whether any of those were receiving benefits. “We should not make a controversy out of this subject or allow people to think that no action has been taken,” he said. “We are taking this seriously and will continue to do so.”

The debate over benefits payments to jihadists erupted in November 2014, when Eric Ciotti, the president of Alpes-Maritimes, a department in southeastern France, suspended the payment of a welfare benefit known as the RSA to a French jihadist fighting in Syria. “I cannot conceive that public money goes into the pockets of someone who harbors terrorist designs against our nation, against its vital interests and against democracy, and that money is being used to fund jihad,” Ciotti said at the time.

Meanwhile, for the first time ever, French authorities on February 23 confiscated the passports and identity cards of six French citizens who were allegedly planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State. The government said it might seize the passports of at least 40 other French citizens.

On March 16, the Interior Ministry also blocked five Islamist websites that, it said, were promoting terrorism. The sites included one belonging to al-Hayat Media Center, the propaganda wing of the Islamic State.

The actions were carried out in accordance with new rules that grant French authorities the power to block websites that “glorify terrorism,” and to impose entry and exit bans on individuals “whenever there are serious reasons to believe that they are planning to travel abroad… to take part in terrorist activities, war crimes or crimes against humanity.” The new powers have been controversial because they can be implemented without judicial approval.

Cazeneuve said that the websites were blocked to prevent people from “taking up arms” on the Internet. “I make a distinction between freedom of expression and the spread of messages that serve to glorify terrorism,” he said. “These hate messages are a crime,” he added. Cazeneuve said his ministry was targeting “dozens” of other jihadist websites.

But the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, criticized the move because it was carried out without judicial oversight. “Limiting human rights to fight against terrorism is a serious mistake and an inefficient measure that can even help the terrorists’ cause,” he said.

Muižnieks added that he was “worried” about the “exclusively security-driven approach” shaping French counter-terrorism legislation, and warned that if adopted, “this legislation could have the effect of killing freedom and creating a dangerous social climate in which all individuals are considered potential suspects.”

Muižnieks was referring to a new bill that was unveiled by Prime Minister Manuel Valls on March 19, which would allow intelligence services to monitor and collect the email and telephone communications of anyone suspected of being a terrorist. The bill will be debated in the French parliament in April and is expected to be approved in July.

Among other features, the new law would force Internet service providers and telephone companies to allow intelligence services to record metadata, which could be stored for up to five years and would be analyzed for potentially suspicious behavior. If intelligence agents detect anything suspicious, they could ask an independent nine-person panel for permission to conduct more intense surveillance.

Amnesty International said the law would pave the way for intrusive surveillance practices with no judicial pre-authorization. In a statement, the group said:

“The surveillance practices envisaged in the draft legislation would give the French authorities extremely broad surveillance powers running against fundamental principles of proportionality and legality, which ought to govern all restrictions on the right to privacy and free speech.”

Valls defended the bill. “These are legal tools, but not tools of exception, nor of generalized surveillance of citizens,” he said at a press conference. “There will not be a French Patriot Act,” he said, referring to American legislation bearing the same name. “There cannot be a lawless zone in the digital space. Often we cannot predict the threat, the services must have the power to react quickly.”

The majority of French citizens seem to agree. An Ipsos survey for Radio Europe 1 and the French daily Le Monde on January 28 showed that 71% of people were in favor of general surveillance without the need to get a warrant from a judge.

Other counter-terrorism initiatives include:

On March 3, Valls announced that the state would double the number of university courses on Islam in an effort to stop foreign governments from financing and influencing the training of French imams. Valls said that he wanted more imams and prison chaplains who have been trained abroad to “undergo more training in France, to speak French fluently and to understand the concept of secularism.” There are currently six universities in France offering courses in Islamic studies and theology. Valls said he wanted to double that number to 12 and that the courses would be free.

On February 25, Cazeneuve unveiled a plan to “reform” the Muslim faith in order to bring it into line with the “values of the French Republic.” This would be done by means of a new “Islamic Foundation” devoted to conducting “revitalizing research” into a form of Islam that “carries the message of peace, tolerance and respect.” Among other measures, the government would create a new forum to: promote dialogue with the Muslim community; improve the training of Muslim preachers; combat radicalization in French prisons; and regulate Muslim schools.

On January 21, Valls announced a 736 million euro ($835 million) program to augment its anti-terrorism defenses. He said the government would hire and train 2,680 new anti-terrorist judges, security agents, police officers, electronic eavesdroppers and analysts over the next three years. The government will also spend 480 million euros on new weapons and protective gear for police. The initiative includes an enhanced online presence based on a new government website called “Stop Djihadisme.”

“They tell you: Sacrifice yourself with us, you will defend a just cause.” The French government’s anti-jihadist website, called “Stop Djihadisme,” features videos debunking jihadist recruitment propaganda.

Valls recently warned that as many as 10,000 Europeans could be waging jihad in Iraq and Syria by the end of 2015. “There are 3,000 Europeans in Iraq and Syria today,” he said. “When you do a projection for the months to come, there could be 5,000 before summer and 10,000 before the end of the year. Do you realize the threat that this represents?”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Presidential Race 2016 Candidate Profile – Ted Cruz, Republican

PresidentialRace2015Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, March 24, 2015:

The Presidential race for 2016 is gearing up and candidates are preparing themselves for the upcoming campaign. Senator Ted Cruz is the first to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

As each candidate announces their intention to run, Clarion Project will provide a summary of each candidate’s positions on issues relating to Islamic extremism, in order to help our readers make the most informed possible choice come voting day. Should there be any significant changes, we intend to update our readers on the positions of any given candidate.

As Clarion is a bipartisan organization, we will not be endorsing any party or any candidate. All information provided is intended as informative only and should not be taken as evidence of Clarion’s preference for any given candidate.

As Senator Ted Cruz is the first candidate to announce, a summary of his record on Islamic extremism is what follows:

Ted-Cruz-Inside-Pic-245x306GOP Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz: Record on Islamist Extremism

Senator Ted Cruz announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on March 23, 2015.

The following is the Clarion Project’s compilation of Senator Cruz’s positions on Islamist extremism. It will be updated as the campaign develops.

Relevant Experience

Single-term Republican Senator from Texas (2012-Current)

  • Serves on Senate Committee on Armed Services:
    • Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
    • Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
    • Subcommittee on Seapower

Islamist Groups in America

Iran

Iraq and ISIS

  • The U.S. should not deploy ground troops to Iraq to fight ISIS if they must rely on the Iraqi government or Iran-linked militias for security.
  • The U.S. should first increase support for the Kurdish Peshmerga instead of sending additional ground troops to Iraq.
  • The citizenships of Americans that have joined terrorist groups like ISIS overseas should be revoked so they cannot reenter the country or receive constitutional protections.

Muslim Brotherhood & Egypt

  • The U.S. should have successfully pressured Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to oversee a democratic transition but should not have supported his removal because he was an ally.
  • Criticism of his human rights abuses was acceptable but “[President Obama] went further than that to topple him and replace him with the Muslim Brotherhood, whose interest and animus was rabidly anti-American.”
  • The U.S. should have demanded concessions from the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Egypt in return for pledges of additional foreign aid.
  • He said the U.S. should have severed aid to Egypt once the protests against the Muslim Brotherhood began. The lack of support for the opposition made the U.S. “in both perception and reality — entrenched as the partner of a repressive, Islamist regime and the enemy of the secular, pro-democracy opposition,” he wrote.
  • The Egyptian military’s popularly-supported overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood is a “coup” and all U.S. aid to Egypt should have been suspended. Sen. Cruz’s position was even more hostile to the new Egyptian military’s overthrow of the Brotherhood than that of the Obama Administration.
  • The Egyptian military’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhoodis responsible for provoking the Islamist group into violence and attacking Coptic Christians.
  • The U.S. should only provide aid to Egypt if it advances the creation of a secular and inclusive government that honors the peace treaty with Israel.
  • He praised Egyptian President El-Sisi for calling on the Muslim world to stand against terrorists who act in the name of Islam.

Syria

  • The U.S. should have swiftly called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2011 “when there was a unified, peaceful and secular opposition to him.” However, on March 24, 2015, Cruz appeared to disavow a policy supporting Assad’s removal by saying he’s a “monster” but does not “pose a clear and present danger to America.”
  • The U.S. must not arm Syrian rebels because of the inability to determine which rebels are a threat to the West and the likelihood that U.S. supplies will fall into the hands of terrorists.
  • The U.S. must take the lead in developing a plan to “go in” and eliminate Syrian stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. This was stated in June 2013.
  • In September 2013, he opposed the Obama Administration’s proposal for airstrikes on Syrian WMD capabilities and other regime targets after it ignored U.S. warnings against using chemical weapons in the civil war.

Spirited counterterrorism discussion/debate – watch Brooke Goldstein call out CAIR representative!

Brooke Goldstein‘New Terror Threat’ discussed by experts during NewsChannel 8 town hall roundtable

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) – NewsChannel 8 on Tuesday evening hosted a live Your Voice, Your Future town hall roundtable discussion with top experts entitled “The New Terror Threat: The Countdown.”

The discussion, hosted by senior political reporter Scott Thuman, examined a wide range of topics involving growing tensions and issues in the Middle East that are impacting and potentially threatening other parts of the world.

Among the items discussed included the U.S./Iran nuclear talks, U.S./Israel relations, the Afghanistan/Iraq conflicts and terrorism in general.

Panel members included:

Rep.Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD2), Brooke Goldstein (lawfare Project), Jamal Abdi (NAIC), Clifford May (Foundation for Defense of democracies), Zainab Choudry (CAIR), Adelle Nazarian (Breitbart), Dr. Faheem Younis (Muslimerican) and Kamal Nawash (Free Muslim Coalition)

Ignore the short glitch in the beginning:

We Are Our Own Obstacle in Fighting al Qaeda

Army Magazine, By Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, U.S. Army retired: (h/t Fortuna’s Corner)

The U.S. and others have been fighting al Qaeda and their ilk for going on 15 years. After countless drone strikes, special operations raids and two invasions, we have killed Osama bin Laden and scores of other key leaders. Our enemy may be disrupted periodically, but they are far from being dismantled or defeated. Why is that? Partly, it’s because they have proven to be more resilient and adaptive than we expected, but it is also partly because we are our own obstacle to taking effective counteraction. We still don’t understand the kind of war we’re in, haven’t structured a proper strategy to prevail and remain institutionally misaligned. Our self-imposed obstacles are three: intellectual, organizational and institutional.

Intellectually, our model for understanding war remains a conventional one: armies facing armies. We treat everything else as “not war” or “pseudo-war.” If we acknowledged we were at war, for example, we would identify a proper set of aims, ones that were neither expansive and unachievable, given the means available, nor so restrictive that achieving them accomplishes nothing worth the sacrifice. Then we would identify a set of military and nonmilitary strategies, policies and campaigns, all of which would contribute to attaining those aims. We would create the necessary set of organizations to make sure our decisions, and those of our allies and partners, could be translated into properly coordinated plans, executed in a coherent way and adapted quickly enough to address the uncertainties of war as it unfolds. We would see evidence of these behaviors if we were waging a war, but no objective assessment of the past decade and a half would conclude that this description fits our actual behavior. Rather, the more reasonable conclusion is that we are not really waging a war.

A decade and a half of fighting has been insufficient to move us from our default setting. Sometimes, the language our senior political and military leaders use is war language; at other times, it’s the language of law enforcement. We have yet to understand that, as Carl von Clausewitz says, “war is more than a true chameleon.” We have yet to follow his first principle: “The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish … the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.” It’s no wonder, therefore, that we have been more successful tactically than we have been strategically.

When will we finally conclude that the enemies we face are waging some form of a global insurgency, a revolutionary war that seeks to seize the territory from those they call apostate governments and replace those “apostates” with a caliphate? Perhaps it was difficult to see this clearly at the start, but after 15 years of watching our enemies attempt to overthrow the government in Iraq, weaken Pakistan’s government, retake Afghanistan, create an Islamic state out of parts of Syria and Iraq, expand their influence in Somalia and other African states, and seize Yemen and Libya, the patterns of their war should be clearer. While they do not form a monolith, there is a pattern.

If we can put our intellectual bias behind us, perhaps we will be able to see reality as it is and set ourselves and our allies on a better strategic path. As long as our enemies wage some form of an insurgency or revolutionary war and we respond with a mixture of either a counterterrorist leadership decapitation and law-enforcement approach or an invade-and-rebuild approach—the two strategies that have gotten us to where we are—the strategic advantage will stay with our enemies.

Organizationally, we seem locked in a model that limits understanding organizational behavior as hierarchical: the higher-ups directing the underlings through echelons of leaders—the chain of command. The enemies we are fighting also have chains of command and sometimes work that way. An operation is planned, prepared and supported by “central al Qaeda” or the “headquarters” of an affiliate or spinoff. Then the attack is executed using the tools, money, training and equipment provided by the higher-ups. There are other forms of organizational behavior at play, however.

Discipleship is another way to understand how individual members of a group act on behalf of that group. In this model, individual members or small groups are inspired to take action by the power of the group’s narrative and belief in the group’s ideology. They don’t have to be directed to do anything; they act on the strength of their belief. Their commitment to their beliefs encourages them to act—even drives them to act in some cases—because not to do something would be a manifestation of the weakness of their beliefs. This kind of behavior is hardly “lone wolf”; rather, it is inspired by the pack. Often, there are no hierarchical command-and-control dots to connect in these kinds of cases other than the dots that create and grow a belief strong enough to form a determined and dedicated disciple.

Over 60 years ago, Eric Hoffer, when analyzing mass movements in The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, said that “many who join a rising revolutionary movement are attracted by the prospect of sudden and spectacular change in their conditions of life.” He goes on to say that the chief preoccupation of the leaders of a mass revolutionary movement, therefore, is to “kindle and fan an extravagant hope” and “foster, perfect, and perpetuate a facility for united action and self-sacrifice”; that is, they seek to create disciples, true believers, who will act—even alone, if necessary—to advance the cause.

Disciples and true believers are connected by “dots,” just not in the same way that conventional hierarchies are connected. Disciples and true believers still need motivation, leadership or inspiration, and they still need money, supplies, equipment or training. Some of these dots are vague and are often not clear except in retrospect, after an attack of some sort. We’re seeing this phenomenon in the wake of the Paris attacks. All too often, even if partially detected beforehand, the connection is insufficient for probable cause, let alone arrest. Even when disciples or true believers are arrested, the available evidence may not be strong enough to hold them very long. No crime has been committed. Therein we return to the first obstacle: Are we waging a war or fighting crime?

The intellectual model we select has practical consequences. If we are waging war, then the threshold for action is actionable intelligence, but if we are fighting crime, the threshold is sufficient evidence, which may never emerge. The difference between actionable intelligence and sufficient evidence is real. This leads to the last self-imposed obstacle: institutional.

We have separate, stovepiped institutions to deal with crime and war. This separateness rests upon an important understanding of the balance between civil liberties and common good. Departments or ministers of defense and intelligence agencies deal with war; departments or ministers of interior or justice and police agencies attend to crime. We also have another level of institutions that we hold responsible for our common safety and security: sovereign states. Such separation normally serves a democracy well.

The global insurgents or revolutionaries that we are fighting, however, like so many before them, slip back and forth from using criminal action, low-level terrorism, insurgency and formal military action, depending upon which tactic is most useful to attain their political aim. They operate in the institutional space between war and crime, using this gap to their advantage. They weave criminal and military action into one coherent whole. Our law enforcement, military and intelligence agencies—and those of our allies—have done yeoman’s work trying to stitch this gap, balancing the protection of their nation’s citizens with individual civil rights, but the gap remains.

If we were fighting a war, the stitching would be less ad hoc both internally to our nation and externally among the set of nations that face a common threat. We would have formed a real coalition or alliance, one in which the members of the alliance have a voice in the creation and execution of a long-term strategy, not one in which members are treated as if they were a posse going after bad guys with a U.S. sheriff. In addition, we would have sought to establish the kind of robust conventions, authorities and coordinative bodies that would facilitate coherent transnational action among allies. We would have conducted a counternarrative campaign aimed to erode the attractiveness of the insurgents’ motivational ideology. Finally, we would have educated the American people beyond bumper-sticker slogans.

Over the past 15 years, all of us have seen the common threat grow—not just in size, but also in modus operandi. How many more Paris-style attacks are necessary to convince us that we are at war and our mutual enemies are more than just criminals, even if they are not conventional soldiers? While the insurgency we face is not an existential threat to the U.S. in one sense, who can argue that their actions have not already altered the way we live at home and especially abroad? Who doubts that if they create the world they envision, it would be counter to the security and economic interests of the U.S. and our allies?

We have gotten better at killing those whom we identify as an enemy and uncovering some plots before they are hatched, but we have not yet reached “good enough”—not for ourselves as individual nations or as a set of sovereign bodies. Until we heed Clausewitz’ advice to fully adapt to the form of war that has been thrust upon us, we will continue to be our own impediment to effectively countering our enemies, thus allowing them to expand their influence and grow even stronger.

* * * *

Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, USA Ret., is a former commander of Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and a senior fellow of AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare.

McCaul: ISIS Linked to 29 Terror Plots, Attacks Against West Since Obama’s ‘JV Team’ Comments

jihadi-car-parade-videoshotBreitbart, by EDWIN MORA, March 24, 2015:

WASHINGTON, DC — The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has been linked to “29 terrorist plots or attacks” against the West nearly a year after President Obama called the jihadist group a “JV team,” revealed House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX).

As ISIS stormed Iraq in January 2014, President Obama dismissed the brutal jihadist organization as a junior varsity (“jayvee team”) terrorist group.

“A year after the president called ISIS the ‘JV team,’ the organization can draw on over 20,000 foreign fighters and has been linked to 29 terrorist plots or attacks targeting the West,” said Chairman McCaul in his opening remarks at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing today.  “And the day the president said the global war on terror was effectively over was the day al Baghdadi created ISIS.”

“ISIS now controls territory the size of Belgium, governs millions of people, draws on billions of dollars in revenue, and commands tens of thousands of foot soldiers,” he added. “Terrorist safe havens have spread across the Middle East and North Africa.”

The chairman went on to note that ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadly terrorist attack at a museum in Tunisia, which is located next to Libya where the jihadist group hasestablished a presence.

McCaul said, “The gunmen involved had received training in Libyan terror camps.”

Nearly 20 people were killed in the attack.

Furthermore, the Texas Republican pointed out that ISIS, a Sunni group, has also claimed to be behind the coordinated attack against two Shiite mosques in Yemen, which he said, “killed more than 150 people.”

“Yemen’s instability has led to the evacuation of our remaining forces and will further empower extremists,” he added. “This situation is alarming given that al Qaeda’s premier bomb-makers in [Yemen-based] AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] have been targeting the homeland and Western interests for years.”

“Over the past year, Islamist terrorists have struck Western cities, including Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Copenhagen, and Brussels. We have witnessed the reach of extremists here at home as well,” noted McCaul. “An Ohio-based ISIS sympathizer was arrested in January for plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol. Last week, an ISIS-aligned hacking group posted the names, photos, and addresses of 100 American service members, calling their ‘brothers residing in America’ to attack these individuals.”

Today’s House panel hearing was titled, “A Global Battleground: The Fight Against Islamist Extremism at Home and Abroad.” [statement pdf’s available at hearing link]

Also see:

FNC’s Wallace Grills CIA Chief for Falsely Claiming Al Qaeda Was on the Run

cia-420x315Breitbart, by Pam Key, March 22, 2015:

On this weekend’s “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace quizzed CIA Director John Brennan over his 2012 claim al Qaeda was on the run during the 2012 presidential election.

After Wallace ran a clip of Brennan in 2012 saying this will be the decade al Qaeda’s demise he asked, “Director Brennan, weren’t you just flat wrong about that?”

Brennan shot back “No. When we look at al Qaeda and look what has happened to al Qaeda as the core of al Qaeda that was in the area of Afghanistan and Pakistan, they have taken some really big hits.”

Wallace continued, “But respectfully, sir, when you were saying this is the decade of al Qaeda’s demise, I don’t think most people thought there will be an offshoot called ISIS which spreads across the Middle East.”

Brennan countered by saying, “This phenomenon that Dash represents right now is a new one. It is one that has grown up in the past two years.”

Wallace inserted, “But it’s an offshoot against al Qaeda.”

Brennan continued, “We have pushed al Qaeda back and prevent their attacks, but there are these offshoots, as you say. This is a phenomenon that we have to deal with and I do think over the next decade this will be a long, hard fight.

Wallace asked, “I guess what I’m asking is didn’t you give the American people and the president give the American people a false sense of confidence back in 2012 about our fight against Islamic terrorists at a time perhaps not so coincidentally when the president was running for re-election.?”

Brennan concluded, “We said al Qaeda was on the run. We said that al Qaeda was really bloodied. It was not the same organization that it was at 9/11 as well as in the years after that. There was no sense that I think either I or the president or others gave to the American people that terrorism was going away. But we’ve made great progress against a lot of these groups that had plans in place to carry out attacks.”

TRANSCRIPT

Also see:

US military, diplomatic personnel quit Yemen as country descends into civil war

A protest against the Houthis on Sunday in Taiz, Yemen. Credit Anees Mahyoub/Reuters

A protest against the Houthis on Sunday in Taiz, Yemen. Credit Anees Mahyoub/Reuters

LWJ, by BILL ROGGIO, March 22nd, 2015:

The US governemnt has withdrawn its military and remaining diplomatic personnel from Yemen as the security situation has spiraled out of control over the past week. Among the forces pulled from Yemen were more than 100 military advisors who were training Yemeni counterterrorism personnel to battle al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The withdrawal of US forces from Yemen takes place just six months after President Barack Obama described the US strategy of partnering with local Yemeni forces as “one that we have successfully pursued … for years.”

The US yanked its military forces Al Anad Air Base after AQAP forces and allied tribes briefly took control of the nearby city of Houta, the capital of Lahj province, on March 20. Al Anad is located just 20 miles north of Houta. Yemeni military forces loyal to ousted President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is based in the nearby city of Aden, regained control of Houta after AQAP fighters withdrew without a fight.

The US military has not commented on the withdrawal of its forces from Al Anad, which was a key node in the US and Yemeni governments’ fight against AQAP. But the US State Department confirmed in a press release that the US government “has temporarily relocated its remaining personnel out of Yemen.”

“We also continue to actively monitor terrorist threats emanating from Yemen and have capabilities postured in the area to address them,” State claimed. “As we have in the past, we will take action to disrupt continuing, imminent threats to the United States and our citizens.”

The US Embassy in Sana’a was evacuated at the end of February. US Marines stationed at the embassy had to disable and abandon their weapons prior to boarding a civilian flight out of the country.

AQAP’s foray into Houta was preceded by attacks from the rival Islamic State, Shia Houthi rebels, and infighting between forces loyal to President Hadi. Additionally, today Houthi forces have taken control of the city of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest and are now just 120 miles from Aden, The New York Times reported.

On March 20, the Islamic State deployed four suicide bombers at two Houthi mosques in the capital of Sana’a’, killing more than 100 worshiper. The Islamic State threatened to carry out more such attacks.

On the previous day, forces loyal to Hadi battled a rival military commander at Aden’s international airport. Thirteen people were killed before Hadi’s troops took control of the airport, Reuters reported. During the fighting, an aircraft thought to have been flown by the Houthi-led government based in Sana’a struck the presidential palace in Aden.

Hadi fled to Aden in late February after escaping house arrest in Sana’a. He was forced to resign his presidency in January after intense pressure from the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels, who took control of much of northern and western Yemen late last summer. Hadi has been the US’ biggest supporter in the fight against al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. He was a vocal supporter of the unpopular drone strikes, which have targeted al Qaeda’s leaders and operatives in Yemen.

Yemen is one of several key bases for al Qaeda’s global network. Some of al Qaeda’s top leaders operate from Yemen, including Nasir al Wuhayshi, who serves as general manager in addition to AQAP’s emir. While the US has killed several key AQAP leaders since ramping up drone and air strikes in Yemen at the end of 2009, Wuhayshi and much of AQAP’s leadership cadre continue to operate. In addition to seeking to take control of Yemen, AQAP has been has been at the forefront of plotting attacks against the US and the West.

The withdrawal of US forces is a major blow to President Obama’s hands-off approach in the Middle East. On Sept. 11, 2014, Obama touted the counterterrorism strategy of US airpower working with “partner forces on the ground” in both Yemen and Somalia as “one that we have successfully pursued … for years.” [See LWJreports, US strategy against Islamic State to mirror counterterrorism efforts in Yemen, Somalia, and President Obama’s ‘successful’ counterterrorism strategy in Yemen in limbo.]

Today, the US has few Yemeni forces left to partner with and a limited ability to do so. Whatever friendly forces that do remain are confined to limited geographical area and over the next several weeks and months will be focusing on survival.

***

Also see:

Jonathan T. Gilliam: Politicians aren’t doing anything to stop terrorist attacks on U.S.

Published on Mar 19, 2015 by NewsmaxTV

Fmr. Navy Seal and FBI Agent Jonathan T. Gilliam joins Steve on the latest mass gunman terror attack in Tunisia and it’s implication for our homeland security.

Think Not, Look Away

pic-2By JOHN BUNDOCKMarch 18, 2015: (h/t @michaeldweiss)

From John Brennan’s hopes of reaching out to “moderates” among Hezbollah to the Countering Violent Extremism conference, the Obama administration has made counter-information campaigns a central part of its foreign policy. This is particularly the case on the “cyber front;” whether through hashtag campaigns or YouTube back-and-forths.

In the war to counter online jihadist recruitment, the Department of State’s Think Again Turn Away Twitter account (@ThinkAgain_DOS) is exemplary of this trend. Many of the statements put out by the account are indeed admirable, whether in exposing the Islamic State’s (ISIS) atrocities or celebrating the unity of Syrian rebels and Kurdish nationalists in Kobane. However, the account’s rapid retweet-and-forget strategy, coupled with the administration’s selective concern for extremism, has proven not merely counter-intuitive to meaningful dissuasion, but has also serviced the interests of the jihadist propagandists themselves.

The account’s most intrinsic flaws are reflective of the problems besetting the overall messaging campaign of the State Department and Inherent Resolve. In championing any and all who oppose ISIS, the organization has endorsed the accounts of various apologists for the Iran-led Shiite militias.

The first instance, a tweet mourning a regime soldier who had evidently fallen in battle with jihadists was written off as a mistake that was deleted. However, a pattern has emerged recently of retweetingpartisans of groups like Asaib Ahl al-Haq (or “special groupies”). Initially these “special groupies” seem innocent enough, engaging in mass information distribution (or “Info dumps,”) and being generally amicable to watchers of the region. They soon become regarded as “reliable” even as their sectarian agenda becomes evident. What’s more worrisome is how this sets a norm for other observers of the region: if the Department of State believes these agents, so might members of prominent think tanks. This is particularly problematic given these accounts’ willingness to actively spread disinformation or harass genuine experts on militant groups.

A case in point was the distribution of the @SunniTribes “sockpuppet” account. In January, a Shiite militia source tweeted out celebrations of ISIS fighters purportedly being beheaded at the hands of the allied al-Jaghaifa tribe. When the atrocity was called out, a “@SunniTribes” account spontaneously merged to blame the atrocities on the Albu Mahal tribe in Ramadi. Haidar Sumeri then used this fake account as “proof” that the Albu Mahal tribe was responsible. Furthermore, from the original account blaming the Jaghaifa tribe, only the heads are shown; no Jaghaifa flag is present. Instead, there were images of the Ubaidi tribal militia Fursan Emarat al-Ubaid carrying heads. A brief perusal of the militia’s YouTube account indicates its proud affiliation with Sadrists. While members of the Jaghaifa tribe certainly “were” in al-Khafsa village and had worked alongside the Ubaidis in another village, uncertainty remains as to whether they actually committed the war crime in question. The Jaghaifa tribe may well have been guilty, as asserted by the original militia source, but the reliability is called into question given the propaganda tactics these “special groupies” deploy. Relying on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) militants and their apologists for public information opens up the possibility of being the stenographers for the jihadists you so condemn.

On March 12, Think Again retweeted Hala Jaber’s, journalist for The Sunday Times, tweets about an ISIS suicide bomber. Considering that Jaber has at times served as a kind of stenographer-propagandist for the Assad regime and Hezbollah, Syrian rebels can be forgiven for thinking this was a foreshadowing of Kerry’s rapprochement with the IRGC satrap himself.

With these facts in mind, perhaps the gaffes are not so much flaws as they are features. As the Obama administration stated its willingness to negotiate with Assad and his Shiite jihadist backers to end the conflict, it should not be surprising about what has happened to “countering violent extremism:” they have simply decided that some extremists are better than others. Barack Obama once advocated “we don’t look away” in the face of mass atrocities, and hypocritically proved otherwise. In keeping with this about-face, maybe @ThinkAgain_DOS should change its name to “Think Not, Look Away.”

John Bundock is a recent graduate from Fordham University who writes on Middle Eastern politics.

Air Force vet charged with trying to join ISIS

Tairod Pugh

Tairod Pugh

Fox News, March 17, 2015:

An American citizen and U.S. Air Force veteran who worked as an airplane mechanic and was trained in weapons systems was charged Tuesday with trying to go to Syria to fight for ISIS, said federal prosecutors.

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, of Asbury Park, N.J., was arrested Jan. 16, before he could carry out his plan to join the black-clad jihadist army, authorities said. He was indicted on two counts of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a news release.

“Born and raised in the United States, Pugh allegedly turned his back on his country and attempted to travel to Syria in order to join a terrorist organization,” Lynch said.

Pugh was an Air Force avionics instrument system specialist who received training in the installation and maintenance of aircraft engine, navigation and weapons systems, prosecutors said. After leaving the Air Force, Pugh worked for companies in the United States and Middle East and had lived abroad for over a year before his arrest.

Prosecutors say he tried to join ISIS after he was fired from a job as an airplane mechanic somewhere in the Middle East, traveling from Egypt to Turkey in a bid to cross into Syria to join ISIS. Turkish authorities nabbed Pugh at the border Jan. 10 and sent him back to Egypt, prosecutors said. Egyptian authorities confiscated a multiple electronic devices, including four USB thumb drives that had been stripped of their plastic casings and an iPod that had been wiped clean of data, according to prosecutors. Pugh was deported to the United States and arrested days later after FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents executed a search warrant and seized his laptop, authorities said.

Recent Internet searches on the computer included one for “borders controlled by Islamic state,” “who controls Kobani,” “Kobani border crossing,” and “Jarablus border crossing,” all references to Syrian cities under ISIS control at the time. The computer also contained downloaded ISIS videos, including one showing terrorists executing prisoners.

After Pugh was arrested, agents obtained warrants to search two backpacks Pugh had carried overseas, and allegedly found two compasses, a solar-powered flashlight, a solar-powered power source, shards of broken USB thumb drives, a fatigue jacket and camping clothes.

“Pugh, an American citizen and former member of our military, allegedly abandoned his allegiance to the United States and sought to provide material support to ISI[S],” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin. “Identifying and bringing to justice individuals who provide or attempt to provide material support to terrorists is a key priority of the National Security Division.”

While dozens and possibly scores of Americans are believed to have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight with ISIS, also known as Islamic State, Pugh is believed to be the first military veteran to attempt to join the terrorist organization’s so-called caliphate.

Pugh is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday morning before U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.

Diego Rodriguez, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, said Pugh was on his way to join the terrorist army that has drawn international condemnation for its savagery.

“As alleged, Pugh, an American citizen, was willing to travel overseas and fight jihad alongside terrorists seeking to do us harm,” Rodriguez said.

Also see:

CIA Chief John Brennan: Deceptions About Islam

John_Brennan-450x253Frontpage, March 17, 2015 by Raymond Ibrahim:

By constantly projecting Western standards on Islamic jihadis, CIA head John Brennan has come to epitomize the U.S. intelligence community’s intellectual failures concerning the true sources of the jihad.

Last Friday, March 13, Brennan insisted that Islamic State (IS) members are not Islamic. Instead, “They are terrorists, they’re criminals. Most—many—of them are psychopathic thugs, murderers who use a religious concept and masquerade and mask themselves in that religious construct.”

Note his usage of terms familiar to Western people (“terrorists,” “criminals,” etc.). Islamic State jihadis may be all those things—including “psychopathic thugs”—from a Western paradigm, but the fact left out by Brennan is that, according to Islamic law and history, savage and psychopathic behavior is permissible, especially in the context of the jihad.

But perhaps Brennan knows all this and is simply being “strategic”? After all, the CIA head also “warned against ascribing ‘Islamic legitimacy’ to the overseas terrorist group, saying that allowing them to identify themselves with Islam does a disservice to Muslims around the world.”

Brennan of course is following Barack Obama’s lead; a month earlier the president said:

We must never accept the premise that they [Islamic State] put forward, because it is a lie, nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders, they are terrorists. And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.

The problem is that, according to Western norms—built as they are atop Judeo-Christian principles—Islam has been “perverted” from day one. As far back as the 8th century, mere generations after Islam was born, Byzantine chronicler Theophanes wrote in his Chrongraphia:

He [Islamic prophet Muhammad] taught those who gave ear to him that the one slaying the enemy—or being slain by the enemy—entered into paradise [e.g., Koran 9:111]. And he said paradise was carnal and sensual—orgies of eating, drinking, and women. Also, there was a river of wine … and the woman were of another sort, and the duration of sex greatly prolonged and its pleasure long-enduring [e.g., Koran 56: 7-40, 78:31, 55:70-77]. And all sorts of other nonsense.

More to the point, every atrocity IS has committed—beheading, crucifying, raping, enslaving, or burning people alive—is legitimate according to Islamic lawand the teachings and deeds of Muhammad, that most “perfect” and “moral” man (Koran 33:21, 68:4), as documented here.

Based on Islamic historical texts, Muhammad sent assassins to slaughter his critics—including poets and one old woman whose body was dismembered by her Muslim assailants; he had an “infidel” tortured to death with fire in order to reveal his tribe’s hidden treasure; he “married” that same man’s wife hours later (the woman, Safiya, later confessed that “Of all men, I hated the prophet the most—for he killed my husband, my brother, and my father”); and he reportedly used to visit and have sex with his nine wives in a single hour. (For more, read “The Perverse Sexual Habits of the Prophet.”)

Again, all this information is based on Islamic texts deemed reliable and regularly quoted by Muslim scholars and theologians—not fabrications by “Islamophobes.”

Even so, the point here is that, whatever the “truth” about Islam, its origins and founder, the premise that Brennan, Obama, etc., constantly put forth—that it would be counterproductive for “us” to confer any Islamic “legitimacy” on groups like the Islamic State—is fatuous at best. As I explained in a 2009 article titled “Words Matter in the War on Terror”:

Muslims are not waiting around for Americans or their government — that is, the misguided, the deluded, in a word, the infidel — to define Islam for them; much less will subtle word games and euphemisms emanating from the West manage to confer or take away Islamic legitimacy on the Islamists of the world. For Muslims, only Islamic law, the antithesis of international law, decides what is or is not legitimate, or in legal terminology, what is mubah or mahrum.

Furthermore, the U.S. government would do well to worry less about which words appease Muslims … and worry more about providing its own citizenry with accurate and meaningful terminology.

Words matter. Whom those words are directed at matters even more. The world’s Muslims aren’t holding their breath to hear what sort of Islamic legitimacy the U.S. government is about to confer on any given Islamist group, since it is not for non-Muslims — the despised infidels — to decide what is and is not Islamic in the first place. Americans, on the other hand, who still wonder “why they hate us,” are in desperate need of understanding. Using accurate terminology is the first step.

Indeed, for all of U.S. leadership’s fear that we “infidels” not “legitimize” the Islamic State, Al Azhar—perhaps the most “legitimate” of all Islamic institutions—refuses to delegitimize the jihadi terrorists. And little wonder, since Al Azhar’s curriculum teaches everything that IS is doing—including burning people alive.

Meanwhile, Brennan whitewashes and praises the jihad. Speaking back in 2010, the politically correct CIA chief said:

Nor do we describe our enemy as “jihadists” or “Islamists” because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.

Inasmuch as he is correct that “jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community”—he greatly errs by again projecting Judeo-Christian notions of what constitutes “holy,” “legitimate,” and “innocent” onto Islam.

Jihad is nothing less than offensive warfare to spread Islamic rule, a cause seen as both “legitimate” and “holy” in Islam. (Read this “moderate” Muslim scholar’s “logic” on the (invisible) differences between jihad and terrorism.) Moreover, jihadis regularly seek to “purify” their communities by purging them of “infidels” and their influences.  As for “innocence,” by simply being a non-Muslim, one is already guilty in Islam.  And when Muhammad’s disciples warned him about attacking non-Muslim tribes in the night, since women and children might get killed accidentally, the prophet replied, “They are from among them” and proceeded with the raid.

All this leads to the following question: If the Islamic State and other jihadi organizations are not animated by Islam, then what, according to the CIA chief, is really fueling their jihad? Brennan spelled this out very clearly back in 2010 when he described Islamic terrorists as victims of “political, economic and social forces.”

In other words, the way to defeat the Islamic State is by offering its members better “job opportunities”—as so eloquently expressed by the State Department recently in the person of Mary Harf.

Ironically enough, Brennan’s invocation of “political, economic and social forces” brings to mind the fact that I warned against precisely these three pretexts, and in the same order, in the opening paragraph of my written testimony submitted to the US House of Representatives on February 12, 2009—since removed from their website—a year before Brennan invoked “political, economic and social forces” as the true sources of Islamic jihad.

I close with that opening paragraph as it appears more relevant now than it was over six years ago when I wrote it:

The greatest hurdle Americans need to get over in order to properly respond to the growing threat of radical Islam is purely intellectual in nature; specifically, it is epistemological, and revolves around the abstract realm of ‘knowledge.’ Before attempting to formulate a long-term strategy to counter radical Islam, Americans must first and foremost understand Islam, particularly its laws and doctrines, the same way Muslims understand it—without giving it undue Western (liberal) interpretations. This is apparently not as simple as expected: all peoples of whatever civilizations and religions tend to assume that other peoples more or less share in their worldview, which they assume is objective, including notions of right and wrong, good and bad. …. [T]he secular, Western experience has been such that people respond with violence primarily when they feel they are politically, economically, or socially oppressed. While true that many non-Western peoples may fit into this paradigm, the fact is, the ideologies of radical Islam have the intrinsic capacity to prompt Muslims to violence and intolerance vis-à-vis the ‘other,’ irrespective of grievances…. Being able to understand all this, being able to appreciate it without any conceptual or intellectual constraints is paramount for Americans to truly understand the nature of the enemy and his ultimate goals.

***

Here is the entire interview with Charlie Rose where John Brennan made those comments during the question and answer period. (Go here for the transcript)

CIA’s Global Mission: Countering Shared Threats

QUESTION: Thank you. Chris Isham with CBS. Could you explain a little bit about the ideological dimension of the war on terrorism. You mentioned ideology fuels many of the organizations we see today. But this administration continues to be very reluctant to identify Islamic extremism as that fuel. I wonder, do you think that’s a good idea to continue to resist that?

BRENNAN: Well, quite frankly, I’m amused at, you know, the debate that goes on about, boy, you know, unless you call it by what it is you don’t know what you’re fighting. And let’s make it very clear that the people who carry out acts of terrorism, whether it be al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant, are doing it because they believe that it is consistent with what their view of Islam is.

It is totally inconsistent with what the overwhelming majority of Muslims throughout the world. And so by ascribing it as, you know, Muslim terrorism or Islamic extremism, I think it really does give them the type of Islamic legitimacy that they are so desperately seeking, but which they don’t deserve at all.

They are terrorists, they’re criminals, many of them are psychopathic thugs, murderers, who use a religious concept and masquerade and mask themselves in that religious construct—and I do think it does injustice to the tenets of religion when we attach a religious moniker to them.

The Muslims I know and people I have worked with throughout the Middle East throughout most of my career find it just disgraceful that these individuals present themselves as Muslims.

So I think we have to be very careful also in the characterization, because the words that we use can have resonance. And so if things that we talk about publicly, you know, this is, you know, Islamic extremist, a lot of these individuals are proud of being referred to as Islamic extremists. We don’t want to give them, again, any type of religious legitimacy because what they do has no basis in any upstanding religion.

America is Losing the War Against Sunni Jihadists and Empowering The Shia Caliphate

isis-640x480Breitbartby DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, March 13, 2015:

With its support of the Baghdad government and the wrong rebels in Syria, the US Administration is doing the unthinkable: strengthening the spread of Tehran’s control in the Middle East and at the same time also helping the Sunni extremists to grow in power.

The American strategy against Global Jihad is having the opposite effect of that intended. And even key government officials are beginning to openly admit the failure of our policies.

The Director of National Intelligence, retired General James Clapper, recently testified that the terrorist threat is worse than at any other time in history and Major General Michael Nagata, responsible for planning our response to the civil war in Syria, has stated that the Islamic State is now more dangerous than Al Qaeda.

Seemingly just to prove the broader point about the global appeal of Jihad against the “infidel,” ISIS has just accepted the African terrorist group Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance, meaning that the Sunni Caliphate established last year in Mosul by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi now officially covers any territory that Boko Haram controls in Nigeria.

The spread of ISIS influence is not just about territorial control, it is about the staggering success of its international call to holy war, with an estimated 19,000 westerners having left their homes to wage jihad. The visual below, based upon a British think-tank’s unclassified research, shows just how international a recruitment wave this is, with almost every country on the map sending recruits to fight in just Syria alone.

image

Given all the evidence, even the most influential liberal commentators and pundits have admitted the failure of the Obama strategy against “Violent Extremism.” Writing recently in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman stated: “When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam” and added that as a nation “We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.” The left wing Atlantic magazine even dedicated 11,000 words to an article proving the Islamic roots of ISIS and the religious justification for its violence.

Fourteen years after the September 11th attacks and half way through President Obama’s second term, how can we explain a failure so egregious that even the pillars of the liberal left are finally prepared to call it out? The key mistakes upon which the current strategy is built are:

  • The White House’s belief in the ability to “degrade and destroy” ISIS through air power alone
  • The belief that Iran can be leveraged as an ally against ISIS
  • Gambling on Islamic rebels such as the Free Syrian Army as a way to remove President Assad of Syria, and mostly important:
  • The belief that ideology is irrelevant to the enemy we face and that this war can be won solely through military means or local proxies.

Each one of these premises is flawed and is undermining US national interests as well as the safety and stability of our regional allies.

Firstly, in the history of modern military air power, since the first hand grenade was thrown out of a biplane over a century ago, the number of insurgencies like ISIS that have been defeated by airstrikes alone is zero. Insurgents are defined by their capability to hold ground. This is what separates a rag-tag terrorist group from a real threat like the Islamic State. As a result, their control of territory by ground forces can only be countered by other ground forces contesting the same space and eventually destroying or pushing them out. This is not a call for the deployment of US troops, but for the recognition of the fact that only a ground response– for example, made up of Iraqi, Kurdish, Jordanian and Egyptian units– can defeat ISIS. (According to my sources even Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Adviser, has admitted that US airstrikes are not working because we do not have the intelligence on the ground to know what to hit.) Any such response on the ground will not happen without US leadership and support, and in this President Sisi of Egypt will play the pivotal role even if the Obama Administration doesn’t like the former General. Without Egypt’s military might, the Islamic State will continue to grow and threaten the US even more than it already does.

By bringing Iran into our plans against ISIS, we are in fact strengthening a rival brand of Jihad. The war today in Syria and Iraq is not about the corruption of the former Maliki government in Baghdad or the human rights record of President Assad of Syria. It is about whose version of Islam will dominate the region. One only has to read or listen to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s sermon from the Grand Mosque Mosul in which he declared the Islamic State. The speech is about reestablishing the theocratic empire of Islam – the Caliphate – under Sunni control. ISIS even posted their real intent on social media:

Iran, on the other hand, also believes in the need to re-establish the Caliphate, but under its control as a Shia empire, and the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, must be understood as the re-ignition of a 1,400 year old argument about who should control Islam. In fact, that is how the Sunni and Shia division of Islam occurred after the death of Mohammad, and those are the stakes for Tehran. The fact that the mullahs now control five regional capitals– Tehran, Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and now Sanaa– means that despite ISIS’s growth, the Shia extremists are winning. The White House’s belief that Tehran is an altruistic foe of Sunni jihadists like ISIS is driven by shortsightedness and a lack of understanding of the historic battle that is in play, and will simply strengthen the Shia proto-Caliphate, eventually even to include Tehran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons should the nascent deal the President is pushing come to fruition.

By contrast, in Syria, since 2011, the administration has been driven by its pathological hatred of Assad and the belief that, despite his enjoying the support of both Beijing and Moscow, Assad can be removed through the support of indigenous rebels such as the Free Syria Army. Speaking to the few true moderates that have organizational capability in theater, the sad truth is that we have chosen the wrong rebels. The more organized and loudest rebel groups are not the moderates but the true jihadists, some of whom have in fact formally allied themselves with ISIS. (This is not just a failure of the White House, but also the Republicans in Congress, especially Senator John McCain, who has the uncanny knack of supporting those who would kill us after they have killed all the Shia in the region).

Most disturbing of all is the Administrations willful dismissal of the real center of gravity in this war: the ideology of Global Jihadism. With its constant refrain that “upstream causes” such as poverty and lack of education are the real reason for terrorist violence, the White House displays a total ignorance of the groups we face today, from Al Qaeda to ISIS, from the Fort Hood shooter to the Tsarnaev brothers who killed and maimed hundreds at the Boston bombing.

As political correctness has been forced onto the practice of national security in general and counterterrorism specifically, we see absurd conclusions being drawn and fantastical policies being implemented. The recent international summit on “Combating Violent Extremism” hosted by the President and the White House assiduously preached repeatedly that religion has nothing to do with ISIS or Al Qaeda and concluded with this visual that all we need is more community outreach:

White House Summit

Of course, if poverty and lack of education were the drivers of terrorist violence, then half of the population of India would be terrorists. But they aren’t. Why? Because terrorist violence does not happen in a vacuum. It requires a spark, a narrative that acts as the justification to violence and the catalyst to mobilize people to do horrific acts against their fellow man. That ideology can be secular – for example, the communist terrorism of the Weather Underground led by Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers – or religious, such as ISIS. How else, for example, can one understand why the Islamic state would behead the 21 Coptic Christians whose murder they filmed on the shores of Libya, but instead burn alive the Jordanian pilot Lieutenant Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh? These decisions were not random.

For the jihadists of ISIS, the Copts are kuffar, infidels, and as the Koran teaches, the infidel must be “smitten on the neck” (e.g. Koran Ch. 47 V. 4). However, Lt. Kaseasbeh was a Muslim, a Jordanian Sunni, who in taking arms up against the Caliphate made himself an “apostate” and as a result he had to be killed not as an infidel but as one who committed the sin of leaving Islam and therefore, he was to be treated as if he were in hell, i.e. burnt alive. Religion is therefore so important to this war that it even defines the way in which the terrorists will kill you should you be captured.

Today, the Global Jihad has two brands. It is a war of the “Sunni Coke” versus the “Shia Pepsi” which also targets the local minorities caught in the middle, most especially the ancient Christians of the region.(Incredibly, the Parliament of the European Union seems to understand the threat better than the White House based upon the resolution it just issued against ISIS.) The powers that be have allowed politics and ideology to distort and pervert the practice of national security to such an extent that, incredibly, we are not only helping the Sunni Jihadists, but also the Shia extremists of Iran. Whichever side wins the war for the crown of the Caliph is irrelevant, since once their immediate foe is vanquished we, the infidel West, will be their next target.

Sebastian Gorka Ph.D. is the Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. You can see his briefing from the Global Counterterrorism Summit on Why ISIS is Much More Dangerous than Al Qaeda here and follow him on Twitter at: @SebGorka.

Foreign Policy Elite MEME OF THE WEEK: Accept ‘Moderate’ Al-Qaeda

By Patrick Poole:

As I’ve said here at PJ Media repeatedly, there are some ideas so profoundly stupid that they can only be taken seriously inside the political-media-academic bubble that stretches along the Washington, D.C.-New York-Boston corridor. These typically populate my annual year-end “National Security ‘Not Top 10′” review.

Such is the case with this week’s foreign policy “smart set” MEME OF THE WEEK: we need to accept “moderate” al-Qaeda in order to defeat “hardline” ISIS.

Understand, this is a continuation of a popular theme amongst the foreign policy “smart set.” See the “moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” which just a month ago declared all-out jihad on the Egyptian government. Or the New York Times, pitching “moderate” elements of the Iranian regime. Or current CIA director “Jihad” John Brennan calling for the U.S. to build up Hezbollah “moderates.” Or hapless academics proclaiming the “mellowing” of Hamas. Or the so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups that, as I have reported here, regularly fight alongside ISIS and al-Qaeda and have even defected to those terror groups.

So why are the foreign policy elites now having to talk about engaging “moderate” al-Qaeda, of all things?

Because all of those previous “moderate” engagement efforts have ended in disaster. But rather than abandon the whole “moderate” theme, the foreign policy community seems intent to double-down on failure by continuing to move the “moderate” line.

First out of the gate this week was an article in Foreign Affairs by Harvard’s Barak Mendelsohn, “Accepting Al-Qaeda: The Enemy of the United States’ Enemy,” that argues:

Since 9/11, Washington has considered al-Qaeda the greatest threat to the United States, one that must be eliminated regardless of cost or time. After Washington killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, it made Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s new leader, its next number one target. But the instability in the Middle East following the Arab revolutions and the meteoric rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) require that Washington rethink its policy toward al-Qaeda, particularly its targeting of Zawahiri. Destabilizing al-Qaeda at this time may in fact work against U.S. efforts to defeat ISIS.

Here’s how Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, billed this conventional wisdom:

foreign affairs tweet

There are several problems with Mendelsohn’s thesis. One problem that he barely acknowledges is that al-Qaeda is still a declared enemy and an active threat to the United States. They have said repeatedly that they intend to kill U.S. citizens and have continued to plot to do so. The enemy of my enemy can still also be my enemy.

A second pragmatic problem with trying to use Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, as a tool against ISIS is that the relationship between the two groups is constantly evolving. Not long ago, ISIS and Nusra were comrades-in-arms. Despite their present falling-out, within recent months they still occasionally worked together: in August they joined forces to attack Lebanese border checkpoints; in September they were engaged in joint operations around Qalamoun. And Nusra appears more interested in wiping out the U.S.-backed “vetted moderate” groups and fighting the Assad regime than going head-to-head with ISIS.

Thus, it is considerably more likely that ISIS and al-Qaeda will engage in some form of reconciliation than al-Qaeda falling into the U.S. foreign policy orbit and serving as an anti-ISIS proxy in Syria.

So what drives the folly of the foreign policy “smart set”? Mostly it is the hubris that only they comprehend the vast and constantly changing complexity of international affairs, but also it is their added belief that their pals in the administration can harness this “smart set” omniscience to manipulate global events to a predicted end.

That rarely, if ever, happens. Just witness the Obama administration’s foreign policy disaster in Syria.

Mendelsohn has not been alone this week in calling for greater “acceptance” of al-Qaeda. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published Yaroslav Trofimov’s “Al-Qaeda a lesser evil? Syria war pulls U.S., Israel apart,” where he makes the following case:

MOUNT BENTAL, Golan Heights — This mountaintop on the edge of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights offers a unique vantage point into how the complexities of the Syrian war raging in the plains below are increasingly straining Israel’s ties with the U.S.

To the south of this overlook, from which United Nations and Israeli officers observe the fighting, are the positions of the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda that the U.S. has targeted with airstrikes.

Nusra Front, however, hasn’t bothered Israel since seizing the border area last summer — and some of its severely wounded fighters are regularly taken across the frontier fence to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals.

To the north of Mount Bental are the positions of the Syrian government forces and the pro-Iranian Shiite militias such as Hezbollah, along with Iranian advisers. Iran and these militias are indirectly allied with Washington in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq. But here in the Golan, they have been the target of a recent Israeli airstrike. Israel in recent months also shot down a Syrian warplane and attacked weapons convoys heading through Syria to Hezbollah.

It would be a stretch to say that the U.S. and Israel are backing different sides in this war. But there is clearly a growing divergence in U.S. and Israeli approaches over who represents the biggest danger — and who should be seen, if not as an ally, at least as a lesser evil in the regional crisis sparked by the dual implosion of Syria and Iraq.

Trofimov’s argument boils down to: “Accept al-Qaeda! See, the Israelis are doing it!!!”

Read more at PJ Media

Also see:

Tweet of Defeat

by Mark Steyn  •  Mar 12, 2015

I’ve written many times about the Islamic State’s ingenious use of social media – or, as they’ve brilliantly transformed it, anti-social media. These guys really are on – what’s the phrase? – the cutting edge. By contrast, the 12-year-old zeitgeist-surfers running communications at the Obama Administration are clumsy, cack-handed, and worse than useless. Even though it’s a mere droplet in the bottomless sinkhole that is the US federal budget, I deeply resent having to pay for the halfwit embarrassments of “Think Again Turn Away” – the State Department’s social-media outreach strategy for countering “violent extremism”.

Here’s a recent Tweet from the geniuses at State:

In open societies, all faiths enjoy freedom of speech; under #ISIS rule, no such thing as freedom of expression.

And beneath it was the photograph at right – “a group of burqa-clad women promoting Sharia law“, under the approving slogan:

Muslims coming out inviting society to #Islam

1207That’s one way of putting it. In fact, the body-bagged crones are asserting the superiority of Islam over your society – that’s to say the superiority of Sharia over what they call “man-made law”.

The women are promoting Sharia not in, say, Turkey or Indonesia, but on what appears to be a street in Britain.

Why is the State Department promoting Sharia for the United Kingdom?

And, given that that the “man-made law” in question is English Common Law, which is the basis of American law, why by implication is the State Department promoting Sharia for the United States? Aren’t they supposed to uphold the Constitution of the United States?

Sharia is incompatible with that constitution, as it is with the entire legal inheritance of western civilization.

You might make the case that the US Government is simply demonstrating how absolute is its commitment to free speech – although given that President Obama and Secretary Clinton got that video-maker tossed in jail and did a cringe-making ad for Pakistani TV apologizing for him, I would doubt that.

But, even so, our enemies are not interested in our “fairness”; they’re interested in winning – which is one reason why they attract tens of thousands of the west’s nominal citizens. And, when the best you can do to counter that is tell them, “Hey, why go all the way to Syria and Iraq when you can stay home and hollow us out from within?”, they rightly conclude we’re a bunch of losers.

After all, what’s the underlying message of the State Department Tweet? We’ve no problem with your end, we’re just a little bit squeamish about your means.

That’s not enough for me. I don’t want to live under Sharia. And, if you’re in favor of Sharia, by definition you are incapable of being a citizen of a free society. So, when the global superpower can muster no better argument than “the great thing about western civilization is that we’re open to letting you destroy it”, it’s a wee bit demoralizing. The State Department’s Tweet tells our enemies we’re losers, and we’re happy to lose, as long as you let us lose incrementally.

As I say, I wish all those Obama hipster pajama boys were as good at social media as they tell themselves.