Authentic Muslim Moderate Cleric: ISIS Is Following Established Islamic Jurisprudence – You Can’t Have Democracy and Sharia

 

NRO, By Andrew C. McCarthy:

If you want to understand the challenge Western liberalism faces from Islamic supremacism, take six minutes to watch this extraordinary interview of Ayad Jamal al-Din, a Shiite cleric, Iraqi intellectual, and former member of the Iraqi parliament who campaigns for a democratic Iraq that separates mosque and state. Mr. al-Din was in Washington for the October 17 interview by al-Iraqiya TV in Iraq, and the interview with English subtitles (which I’ve reproduced as a transcript below) was publicized on Monday by the invaluable MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute).

While President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, and Prime Minister Cameron absurdly contend that the Islamic State, or ISIS, is not Islamic, al-Din – an authentic moderate Muslim who regards the Islamic State as the enemy – patiently explains that the jihadist organization adheres to a firmly established interpretation of Islam that is based on sharia and fiqh (jurisprudence).

I have repeatedly argued that classical, mainstream sharia is repressive, discriminatory, and anti-democratic, and thus that it was self-defeating for the United States to sponsor new constitutions in Iraq and Afghanistan that attempted to meld Western democratic principles with sharia (see here, here, and here). It is especially gratifying to hear a passionate, articulate explanation of the incompatibility of Western democracy and Islamic jurisprudence from someone who reveres the former, is steeped in the latter, and understands the stakes.

Moreover, for those of us who frequently point out that mosques – which Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna described as the “axis” of his ideological movement in every city and town – are often centers for jihadist incitement, recruitment, training and fundraising, it is refreshing to hear someone intimately familiar with this phenomenon explain that there are mosques throughout the world directly and indirectly championing the Islamic State by glorifying jihad and the caliphate.

Our national security will not be well served until the United States government ends its futile search for “moderate Islamists” and realizes our allies in the Muslim community are the real moderates, meaning pro-Western democrats who reject the imposition of sharia on civil society. Supporting our enemies only undermines our friends.

Here is the transcript

Former Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Al-Din: A Civil State Is the Only Solution to Combat ISIS

 

Published on Oct 20, 2014 by MEMRITVVideos

In a recent TV interview, former Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Al-Din called for the establishment of a civil state in Iraq based on man-made law and equality, rather than on Islamic jurisprudence, as the only way to combat ISIS. He further said that there were thousands of mosques in the U.S. and worldwide that incited and prepared people to join ISIS. “Islam has been politicized and is used as a sword,” he said in the Al-Iraqiya TV interview, which aired on October 17.

Obama Throws the Free Syrian Army Under the Bus

Smoke rises following an airstrike by US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Oct. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — AP

Smoke rises following an airstrike by US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Oct. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — AP

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole, October 16, 2014

For the past three years, the Obama administration has hailed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as the saviors of Syria — the “vetted moderate” force that was going to topple the butcher Assad. Because of that, the administration provided training, money and weapons to prop up the FSA (the word is they sent lawyers too).

But according to a report last night by Hannah Allam at McClatchy, Obama is now throwing the FSA under bus:

John Allen, the retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the U.S.-led coalition’s response to the Islamic State, confirmed Wednesday what Syrian rebel commanders have complained about for months – that the United States is ditching the old Free Syrian Army and building its own local ground force to use primarily in the fight against the Islamist extremists.

“At this point, there is not formal coordination with the FSA,” Allen told reporters at the State Department.

That was perhaps the bluntest answer yet to the question of how existing Syrian rebel forces might fit into the U.S. strategy to fight the Islamic State. Allen said the United States’ intent is to start from scratch in creating a home-grown, moderate counterweight to the Islamic State.

For most of the three years of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. ground game hinged on rebel militias that are loosely affiliated under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, or FSA. Their problems were no secret: a lack of cohesion, uneven fighting skills and frequent battlefield coordination with the al Qaida loyalists of the Nusra Front.

Last month I reported here at PJ Media about the coordination of the “vetted moderate” FSA with Jabhat al-Nusra and even ISIS. That coordination was later confirmed by a senior FSA commander.

Those reports came just as Congress was considering a vote to spend another $500 million to train their administration’s “vetted moderate” partners. That funding wasapproved by both the House and the Senate before Congress left town for the election break. With Obama cutting the FSA loose less than a month later, those who voted against the funding are going to look like geniuses.

Now that the FSA is safely under the bus it remains to be seen exactly who Obama is going to enlist to train and fight. Most of those who can fight are already in the fight. What are they going to do now, put out an ad on Craig’s List?

As one observer noted last night, Syria watchers should keep an eye out for the following ad showing up in the help wanted section of Middle East newspapers:

Wanted, Multicultural, non-sectarian, Jeffersonian democrats interested in military careers. English a plus. Drug test required.

Under Obama’s bus must be getting crowded…

Islamic State Commander Key Figure Behind Recent Military Gains

Omar al-ShishaniBy Bill Gertz:

A Chechen jihadist is emerging as a key Islamic State military commander credited with a series of recent military gains in central Iraq that has left the capital of Baghdad increasingly vulnerable to attack.

Abu Umar al Shishani, a former Republic of Georgia soldier turned jihadist, conducted what security analysts are calling brilliant battlefield maneuvers, involving feints and encirclement, that helped the Islamist forces seeking to take over Iraq win key battles against Iraqi government forces and anti-Islamic State militias in recent weeks.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said Shishani is one of the Islamic State’s (IS, also known as ISIL and ISIS) most capable military commanders.

“He seems to have a strong following among rank and file fighters and has shown on the battlefield he understands how to blend strategy and tactics,” the official said. “There are multiple ISIL attacks that have his fingerprints all over them.”

Last month, Shishani-led IS forces succeeded in trapping an entire elite Iraqi military unit in central Iraq, and killed up to 300 of its fighters, a major setback for Iraqi government efforts to retake parts of the country controlled by the Islamic State  since a June incursion from Syria.

Analysts of the conflict say Shishani has skillfully directed IS forces in eastern Anbar province during an offensive there that prevented Iraqi forces from retaking strategic towns along the Euphrates River, including Anah, Haditha, Hit, and Fallujah—all key locations on a route leading to Baghdad.

“Umar al Shishani appears to be central to ISIL’s Anbar offensive,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a Washington-based counterterrorism analyst.

The IS commander is using tactics far different than those used by IS fighters elsewhere in the region, he said.

“The group, in the majority of areas, has fought like a conventional military, but Shishani has emphasized speed and agility, and his tactics have several layers of complexity, including regularly utilizing feints and harassing attacks to try to force his opponents to chase him and thus place themselves in a vulnerable position,” said Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The battlefield successes led by the IS leader in Iraq contrast sharply with those used by other IS forces in northern Syria, where the group has been fighting to take control of the ethnic Kurdish town of Kobani near the Turkish border.

As a result, Shishani’s military style combining insurgency and traditional military tactics will likely be adopted by other IS units, or the group’s current military offensive risks stalling, Gartenstein-Ross said.

Pro-government Iraqi military troops are struggling against IS forces, which were bolstered by the capture of two Iraq army divisions and their arms and equipment in June, after the Iraqis fled rather than fight.

U.S. defense officials said IS continues to make gains in Anbar province where the fighters are currently located on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Ramadi.

A senior U.S. defense official described the Iraqi army hold on Anbar, a gateway to Baghdad, as “tenuous.”

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Also see:

5 Key Implications If Baghdad Falls to ISIS

ISIL-surrounds-balad-air-baseBy Patrick Poole:

Reports that ISIS has surrounded Baghdad and are quickly closing in on the Baghdad international airport (armed with MANPADS no less) are troubling. Baghdad itself has been rocked by a series of VBIED attacks in the past 24 hours by ISIS, indicating that the battle for Baghdad has begun.

The possible fall of Baghdad could be the most significant development in the War on Terror since 9/11. And yet, many among the DC foreign policy “smart set” were not long ago mocking such a scenario.

So what happens if such a situation comes to pass? Here are five key implications (by no means limited to these) if Baghdad falls to ISIS:

1) ISIS will not be claiming to the be the Islamic State, they will BE the Islamic State

Symbolism doesn’t matter much to your average post-modern Westerner, but it still does in the Islamic world and the capture of Baghdad will hold enormous value. For 500 years Baghdad was the seat of the Abbasid Caliphate, and falling to ISIS would allow them to reclaim that mantle. Such an event will electrify the Middle East and beyond, with many Muslims holding firmly to the belief that the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924 by Ataturk is seen as one of the key contributing factors in the decline of the Muslim world over the past century. No amount of State Department hashtags or tweets, nor pronouncements by Sheikh Barack Obama and Imam John Kerry that there is nothing Islamic about the Islamic State, will be able to negate any claims by ISIS to be the revived caliphate.

2) The Great Reconciliation between jihadist groups will begin

Much of the Obama administration’s anti-ISIS efforts have been trying to leverage other “vetted moderate” groups in Syria against ISIS, with some “smart set” thinkers even advocating engaging “moderate Al-Qaeda” to that end. We are already seeing jihadist groups gravitating towards ISIS, such as the announcement this week by Pakistani Taliban leaders pledging their allegiance to the Islamic State. Other groups of younger jihadis are breaking away from Al-Qaeda franchises in North Africa and defecting to ISIS. Despite bitter rivalries between ISIS and other jihadist groups in Syria, namely Al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, they will be hard-pressed to deny ISIS’ caliphate claims if they do take Baghdad. In that part of the world, nothing succeeds like success. If Baghdad falls, jihadist groups, some of whom have been openly hostile or remained neutral, will quickly align behind ISIS. And the horrid sound coming out of Washington DC will be of foreign policy paradigms imploding.

3) What of US personnel in Iraq?

The US Embassy in Baghdad is the largest embassy on the planet. And after Obama sent 350 more US military personnel to guard the US Embassy last month, there are more than 1,100 US service members in Baghdad protecting the embassy and the airport. That doesn’t include embassy personnel, American aid workers, reporters, etc. also in Baghdad. ISIS doesn’t have to capture the airport to prevent flights from taking off there (e.g. Hamas rockets from Gaza prompting the temporary closure of Israel’s Ben Gurion airport this past summer). If flights can’t get out of Baghdad, how will the State Department and Pentagon evacuate US personnel? An image like the last helicopter out of Saigon would be of considerable propaganda value to ISIS and other jihadist groups. Former CNN reporter Peter Arnett, who witnessed the fall of Saigon in April 1975, raised this possibility back in June. It’s not like the US has prestige to spare internationally, and the fall of Baghdad will mark the beginning of the end of American influence in the Middle East, much like it was in Southest Asia in 1975.

4) If ISIS captures Baghdad, it will be with weapons provided by the US to the Iraqi Army and “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups

Since their push back into Iraq this summer, ISIS has regularly paraded captured weapons and vehicles that have been provided by the US to the Iraqi Army, which rapidly collapsed in the face of the ISIS advance. ISIS has subsequently used these US-provided weapons to repel attacks by Iraqi forces. A report published last month by UK-based Conflict Armament Research documented the use of US-provided Humvees, armored personnel carriers, and firearms by ISIS. In addition, ISIS has at least 52 US-made M198 howitzers with GPS aiming systems that have a 20 mile range that will undoubtedly be used in their assault on Baghdad. Yesterday, Charles Lister of the Brookings Institutetweeted out recent images of ISIS fighters equipped with M79 Osa anti-tank weapons that had been provided by Saudi Arabia to the “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army. The potential propaganda value of ISIS capturing Baghdad with US weapons will be enormous.

5) The Fall of Baghdad will herald an unparalleled sectarian war in the Middle East and wide scale regional instability

The fighting in Syria and Iraq has been part of the regional sectarian competition between Sunni Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States against Shia Iran and its allies in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria and Hezbollah. ISIS and Sunni Syrian rebel groups have been proxies in this fight. If Baghdad falls to ISIS, it will be all-hands-on-deck across the entire Middle East, with a sectarian war not seen since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and sectarian/ethnic cleansing not seen since the Balkan wars. We are already seeing Shiite militias killing Sunnis indiscriminately in Iraq and widespread ethnic and religious cleansing by ISIS in Northern Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, our NATO ally Turkey is now bombing the same Kurds who are fighting ISIS. Because of these sectarian attacks millions of refugees have already flooded to Syria’s neighboring states, destablizing countries like Lebanon and Jordan. The ISIS push in Anbar province in Iraq has caused 180,000 more to flee, according to the UN. The potential humanitarian disaster from the dislocation of millions in the region could be without parallel.

Read more at PJ Media

Turkey agrees to let U.S. planes use its bases for attacks on Syria

Turkish armored vehicles patrol the border on Oct. 12 near the Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. (Aris Messinis / AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish armored vehicles patrol the border on Oct. 12 near the Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. (Aris Messinis / AFP/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Times, By W.J. Hennigan:

Turkey has agreed to allow U.S. warplanes to use its air bases for bombing missions in Syria, as well as provide rebels there with light arms and train them with infantry tactics for the ongoing battle against Islamic State militants, the Pentagon said Sunday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke Sunday with Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and thanked him for aiding in the fight against the Sunni extremists, who have seized vast swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

“Both leaders have stressed the need to continue taking a comprehensive strategic approach to the threat posed by ISIL and other extremist groups,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Hagel was en route to the Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru, which brings together 34 defense ministers. The event Monday is the culmination of a six-day trip including talks with top leaders in Colombia, Chile and Peru.

The developments with the Turkish government come after John R. Allen, a retired Marine Corps general and the special envoy coordinating the U.S.-led international effort against Islamic State, arrived in Ankara, the Turkish capital, last week to persuade the government to take a more active role against the Islamic State.

The Pentagon does not have an effective partner on the ground in Syria and is not in close communication with any militia group. Officials hope to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels as a proxy force against Islamic State.

The U.S. military and its coalition of European and Arab allies have waged war against the extremist fighters through aerial bombardments. In recent weeks, the U.S. has seen limited effectiveness from the targeted airstrikes, particularly at the Syrian border town of Kobani.

The U.S. military has carried out an aerial assault for a week, yet Islamic State militants are still threatening to take control of the town.

Turkey’s willingness to host warplanes and train and equip Syrian fighters strengthens the alliance between the U.S. and Turkey. It also brings U.S. military jets closer to the fight in Syria, which shares a 500-mile border with Turkey.

One of the bases includes Incirlik in southern Turkey, which is within 100 miles of the Syrian border, according to U.S. defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private talks between the two governments.

Turkish officials have been asking the U.S. to provide a buffer zone along the border to stem the flow of refugees and stop the spillover of violence. The country also wants the U.S. to establish a “no-fly” zone, in which fighter jets would regularly patrol the border and shoot down any Syrian military aircraft that breach it.

The U.S. government has repeatedly said it isn’t considering either proposition.

”We don’t see it at this point as essential to the goal of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But we’ll continue to talk to the Turks and entertain any specific proposals that they may have.”

Military officials from U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command will arrive in Turkey this week to discuss other opportunities for collaboration.

Iran Orders Elite Troops: Lay Off U.S. Forces in Iraq

1412594766052.cachedBy Eli Lake:
The last time Iranian and American forces were in Iraq, the two sides quietly fought each other. Now Iran’s Quds Force officers in Iraq are purposely leaving the Americans alone.
Pay no attention to the Shi’ite militias threatening to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. The elite Iranian forces backing those militias have been ordered not to attack the Americans.

That’s the conclusion of the latest U.S. intelligence assessment for Iraq. And it represents a stunning turnaround for Iran’s Quds Force, once considered America’s most dangerous foe in the region.

U.S. intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast that the apparent Iranian decision not to target American troops inside Iraq reflects Iran’s desire to strike a nuclear bargain with the United States and the rest of the international community before the current negotiations expire at the end of November.

“They are not going after Americans,” one senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast familiar with the recent assessments. “They want the nuclear talks to succeed and an incident between our guys and their guys would not be good for those talks.”

The Quds Force, named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem, are believed to have hundreds of troops in Iraq. As the primary arm of the Iranian state that supports allied terrorist organizations, their operatives worried Obama’s predecessor so much that the Treasury Department began sanctioning its members in 2007 for sabotaging the government of Iraq. The U.S. military accused the Quds Force of orchestrating cells of terrorists in Iraq. In 2012, Wired magazine dubbed Quds Force leader Qassem Suleimani the most dangerous person on the planet. In 2013, the New Yorker arrived at a similar conclusion, and claimed he has “directed Assad’s war in Syria.”

More recently, the Treasury Department has accused the Quds Force of international heroin trafficking and conducting terrorism and intelligence operations against the Afghanistan government. That’s why it’s so extraordinary that the Quds Force would be perceived to be laying off U.S. forces in Iraq.

But in some ways, the assessment is not surprising. Both Iran and the United States share a common enemy in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). In late August, U.S. airpower and Iranian-backed militias broke the ISIS siege on the town of Amerli. Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, was photographed in Amerli, after the town was liberated from ISIS.

The latest assessments from the U.S. intelligence community also interpret Iran’s behavior in part as linked to the ongoing negotiations between Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.

A U.S. intelligence official said the Quds Force behavior was the equivalent of a confidence building measure, a diplomatic term that refers to a concession offered to improve the atmosphere of negotiations. (Iran had already offered to play a more “active role” in the regional fight against ISIS, in exchange for nuclear concessions.)

Read more at The Daily Beast

Why U.S. Should Avoid Sending Its Ground Troops to Fight ISIS

US Navy U.S. Army Sgt. Mark Phiffer on guard duty near a burning oil well in the Rumaylah Oil Fields in Southern Iraq in 2003

US Navy U.S. Army Sgt. Mark Phiffer on guard duty near a burning oil well in the Rumaylah Oil Fields in Southern Iraq in 2003

BY RYAN MAURO:

A new poll shows that 45% of Americans would support sending ground troops to Iraq to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) and 37% are opposed. Despite the majority opinion that  boots are needed on the ground to uproot ISIS, but there are grave dangers for a strategy where those boots are American.

President Obama has ruled out a combat role for U.S. soldiers in Iraq, but the question is what constitutes a “combat role.” The Deputy National Security Advisor says a combat role is “where Americans are on the ground leading the fight.”

About 1,600 American troops have already been sent to protect diplomatic facilities and to advise the Iraqi and Kurdish forces. As I wrote when Obama’s Islamic State strategy was first announced, there’s a realistic possibility that these non-combat troops will find themselves in a combat situation.

The White House is open to the possibility that American advisors could be in “forward-deployed positions” to help Iraqis in combat without engaging in combat themselves. President Obama is understandably hesitant to take that step.

He rejected the advice of General Lloyd Austin, who leads the military in the region as commander of Central Command. Austin wanted a “modest” amount of troops, mostly special operations forces, to become advisors in the battlefield.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey,testified to Congress that requests for U.S. advisors to join Iraqi soldiers in combat were denied. However, President Obama told him that he’d consider each individual request. Meaning, he has not did not ruled it out.

It is unclear if raids on high-value targets by the CIA or military special operators qualify as a forbidden “combat role.”  It is very possible that a target like the Islamic State’s “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, could be located and sharing the intelligence with Iraqis deemed too risky. If an airstrike is not possible, then a raid must commence.

The Obama Administration is right in its avoidance of a military role in Iraq similar to what existed before December 2011 when the withdrawal was completed.

From the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 to the ending of combat operations on August 31, 2010, a total of 4,409 U.S. troops and 13 Defense Department civilians were killed and 31,925 troops were injured.

Even after combat operations ended and Operation New Dawn took place from September 2010 to December 2011, 66 U.S. troops were killed and 295 were wounded. This does not count the psychological damage to the U.S. soldiers and the personal toll their families faced.

In addition to the prospective casualties, there are seven reasons to believe that such a role would not be worth the cost and could actually be counterproductive to the goal of destroying the Islamic State.

Read more at Clarion Project

500 Ft. Riley Soldiers Deployed To Iraq

big_red_one

It’s unclear as to whether they will be wearing boots or not.

Truth Revolt, By Larry O’Connor:

The “Big Red One” is stepping up yet again. 500 troops from the Army’s 1st Infantry are to deploy to Iraq from Fort Riley, Kansas next month.

Fox News has details from the Pentagon’s announcement Thursday:

More than 200 hundred of the soldiers will be based in Iraq at U.S. Joint Operations Centers (JOCs) in Baghdad and the Kurdish capital of Irbil, and the rest of the contingent will operate out of U.S. bases in the region under the U.S. Central Command, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said at a Pentagon briefing.

The initial plan was to have 138 of the troops at the operations center in Baghdad, 68 at the operations center in Irbil and 10 at the Iraqi Defense Ministry, Kirby said. The 200-plus troops will be part of the 475-troop contingent President Barack Obama authorized last month to serve in Iraq as advisers to the Iraqi National Security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

However, the 200 from the 1st ID will not “embed” with the other advisers at the brigade and headquarters levels with the Iraqi and Kurdish forces, Kirby said. Instead, the 1st ID troops will perform duties at the JOCs, he said.

This is the first deployment of US troops since America pulled out all remaining forces in 2011 when President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were unable to reach a Status of Forces agreement with the Iraqi government.

The President has insisted that American troops will not be used in any combat role in the current offensive against ISIS. The local station in Ft. Riley’s Kansas, KMBC, says that local commanders insist the troops will be used only in an advisory capacity in Iraq.

Also see:

 

America is handing the region to Iran instead of arming the Kurds to defeat IS

kurdsI24 News, By SHERKOH ABBAS Sep. 22, 2014:

“You can lead them to water, but you can’t make them drink.” After having its “head” dunked in the truth of Islamism, the Obama Administration seems to prefer to drown in its failed anti-Bush pacifism.

Everyone knows the most reliably pro-American military in the Syria-Iraq region is the Peshmerga, yet American arms have not been provided to these Kurds, nor has their justified nationalist aspiration been acknowledged, let alone endorsed.

Instead, America is handing the region to Iran (enhancing its nuclear ambitions), accommodating resurrected Turkish dreams of a worldwide caliphate (transcending its “sultanate”), and failing to enlist necessary support from Wahhabist Saudi Arabia (reinforcing its ideological outreach). Indeed, America can’t find anyone to provide the “boots on the ground” that can begin to match the burgeoning Islamic Army, threatening to conquer the American Homeland… and everything in between.

Lame excuses for inaction advanced by Obama’s spokespeople are easily exposed; for example, they failed to ensure that the Continuing (Funding) Resolution passed last week would allow direct support for Erbil without first transiting Baghdad. Again, ideology (“We must not undermine the new ‘unity’ government”) shrouds intent and pays lip-service to the legitimate, urgent needs of one of the diminishing number of unabashedly pro-American fighting forces.

The vacuum displacing a relatively tranquil Pax Americana is predictably and rapidly being filled by both Sunni and Shiite Islamists, and Kurdistan finds itself in the cross fire.

Tehran wants to immortalize a Shiite Crescent (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon), Ankara wants to sever it with Sunnis (multi-national Arabs and non-Arab Ottomans), and Riyadh wants to stir the pot just enough to foment insurrection, but not enough to allow the Kingdom to be threatened. Geopolitical lines are thereby crossed as these aspirations are being fulfilled, while Kurdistan (joining Israel, to a degree) serves as an irritant, a stubborn target for those harboring far greater aspirations.

Each of these countries has attempted to manipulate Kurdistan via political alliances that serve only to undermine the legitimate aspirations of the populace – self-determination, either as an independent state or as a quasi-independent federated-region. In the mean time, 30-40 million Kurds struggle for survival.

Instead of helping Kurds, who are ready to do America’s bidding, Obama aspires to let the Free Syrian Army decide which “moderates” should receive armaments and year-long training in Saudi Arabia (costing American taxpayers $1 billion). Is Obama enamored of Saudi oil?

Instead of helping Kurds, who desperately need American support, Obama is acceding to Turkey’s rapprochement with the Islamic State, most recently having absented itself from America’s nascent “alliance of the unwilling” in return for release of 49 Turkish hostages. Is Obama pro-Brotherhood?

Instead of helping Kurds, after more than 60 villages and towns in Syrian Kurdistan have fallen to the Islamic State, Obama is receding from opposing Assad (propped up by Rouhani and Putin), hoping that Syrian air defenses (yet to be degraded) won’t block Allied bombers. Is Obama a genocide-appeaser?

Kurds eagerly and valiantly defend Western civilization against Muslims who continue fighting the Crusades; they may be a millennium remote chronologically, but they remain zealots hungry to avenge the 1683 defeat of Islam outside the gates of Vienna.

Demography is rapidly changing, as Kurds are increasingly subject to ethnic cleansing; if defeated, Kurds would be forcibly resettled out of Syria and thereby lose their distinctive identity for, already, a million refugees have relocated, replaced by pro-Assad Shi’ite/Alawite Arabs. Sporadic air-support (recalling the Yazidi plight) is grossly insufficient against the Islamic State. Yet, inexplicably, Obama has even failed to ensure other Arab nations (plus his Turkish pal, Erdoğan) and opposition groups (plus other countries, worldwide) condemn the Islamists’ anti-Kurd acts.

Political groups petitioning for support must have “clean hands.” Thus, elements of the Free Syrian Army seeking allied arms must pass the litmus-test of supporting Kurds, for most are allied with the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaida. Unlike stateless-Kurdistan, pro- and anti-Assad entities are merely struggling for power. Therefore, America must provide military, political and humanitarian assistance to Kurdistan urgently, empowering it to lead a coalition of ignored minorities.

Dr. Sherkoh Abbas (President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria) and Dr. Robert Sklaroff (a physician-activist) have co-written essays during the past half-decade advocating for an independent Kurdistan.

Also see:

Islamist foreign fighters returning home and the threat to Europe

Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

Tom_Large (1)By

Chairman Rohrabacher, Ranking Member Keating and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the threat posed by Islamist foreign fighters returning home to Europe. We have been asked to answer the question, “How are European countries addressing the threat, and how can the US assist in those efforts to thwart future terrorist attacks?” I offer my thoughts in more detail below.

But I begin by recalling the 9/11 Commission’s warning with respect to failed states. “In the twentieth century,” the Commission’s final report reads, “strategists focused on the world’s great industrial heartlands.” In the twenty-first century, however, “the focus is in the opposite direction, toward remote regions and failing states.” A few sentences later, the Commission continues:

If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home. Similarly, if we are paying insufficient attention to Afghanistan, the rule of the Taliban or warlords or narcotraffickers may reemerge and its countryside could once again offer refuge to al Qaeda, or its successor.

Those words were written more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, they still ring true today, not just for the US, but also for Europe. Except, we no longer have to worry about just Iraq becoming a failed state. We now have to contend with a failed state in Syria as well. And Syria is not “remote.” It is much easier for foreign fighters to travel to Syria today than it was for new jihadists to get to Afghanistan in the 1980s. This is one reason that there are likely more foreign fighters in Syria than there were in Afghanistan at the height of the jihad against the Soviets. Estimates vary, but the total number of foreign recruits in Syria easily tops 10,000. A CIA source recently told CNN “that more than 15,000 foreign fighters, including 2,000 Westerners, have gone to Syria.” They “come from more than 80 countries.”

This, of course, is an unprecedented security challenge and one that counterterrorism and intelligence officials will be dealing with for some time to come. It requires exceptional international cooperation to track the threats to Europe and elsewhere emerging out of Iraq and Syria. My thoughts below are focused on what I consider to be some of the key aspects of dealing with this threat.

At the moment, most people are understandably focused on the Islamic State (often called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, or ISIS). There is certainly a strong possibility that some foreign fighters will return from fighting in the Islamic State’s ranks to commit an act of terror at home, either on their own accord or under the direction of senior terrorists.

However, I also want to focus our attention today one of the other significant threat streams coming out of Syria. Al-Qaeda’s official branch in the country, Jabhat al-Nusrah, has experienced al-Qaeda veterans in its ranks. I think they pose more of a near-term threat when it comes to launching catastrophic attacks in the West than do their Islamic State counterparts. And even though al-Nusrah and the Islamic State have been at odds, we should not rule out the possibility that parts of each organization could come together against their common enemies in the West. Indeed, two of al-Qaeda’s leading branches are currently encouraging the jihadists in Syria to broker a truce, such that they focus their efforts against the US and its allies. There is also a large incentive for terrorists in both organizations to separately lash out at the West, portraying any such attacks as an act of retaliation for the American-led bombings.

Read more at Long War Journal

LOPEZ: Obama pledges additional support for Iranian puppet regimes

In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014.  (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)

In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader’s office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)

By Clare Lopez:

In a prime time address to the nation on the eve of 11 September 2014, President Obama pledged an expanded U.S. effort to destroy the Islamic State (IS), which he still calls “ISIL” (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). American air power, stepped-up training for anti-Assad Syrian jihadis (which he calls “moderate rebels”), an additional $25 million in financial aid to Baghdad, and partnership with “a broad coalition” (that currently consists of 9 countries) comprise the key elements of the new military campaign.

Given that the only territory IS currently threatens are the regimes of two Iranian puppets – one in Baghdad, one in Damascus – Obama’s announcement in effect amounts to a renewed U.S. commitment to support Tehran’s grip on regional hegemony. The nuclear talks about how quickly the U.S. will accede to the Iranian bomb resume in another week.

Remarkably, the president opened his remarks with the rather preposterous claim that “ISIL is not Islamic.” Now, Obama himself has admitted in his autobiography “Dreams From My Father” that he “made faces during Quranic studies.” Still, it might be expected that he retained something of those madrassa lessons—or at least that White House advisors (not the Muslim Brotherhood ones, though) would have steered him away from such an egregious misstatement.

As it is, one of the reasons that the Saudi regime is so shaken by the approach of IS forces toward its borders is precisely because Riyadh royals know full well their Islamic piety doesn’t begin to measure up to the purity of IS practice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the IS leader, not only boasts a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from a Baghdad university, but wears the black turban to signify descent from Muhammad. Whether entitled to claim the Islamic prophet’s bloodline or not, al-Baghdadi models his every action on the example Muslims believe set out for them centuries ago by the founder of their faith. For Muslim purists like al-Baghdadi, the Qur’anic verse 33:21 that tells them “Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day…” is taken quite literally (amputations, beheading, crucifixions, flogging and all).

Obama rambled on, claiming next that “ISIL is certainly not a state.” Unfortunately for the Iranian proxies in Baghdad and Damascus that are his intended beneficiaries, it is their former states that no longer exist—because the Islamic State, the Caliphate, has dismantled them. Obama did seem to recognize the effective erasure of the 1916 Sykes-Picot borders at least in some measure, though, as he declared his intent to expand U.S. air strikes more evenly throughout the Caliphate (including into what used to be called Syria as well as the former Iraq).

Apparently in pursuit of a public relations coup that’s eluded him of late, Obama nevertheless offered up additional glimpses of his unenviable conundrum about which jihadis to support on the ground in the intra-Islamic sectarian struggle that’s torn the region apart since the Islamic Uprising began in 2011.

For example, he seems to have conveniently forgotten that the ranks of today’s IS are full of Syrian jihadis armed, funded, and trained by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) in cooperation with the now-terrified Hashemites, NATO ally Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood sponsor Qatar, and the flailing Saudi monarchy. A monster has slipped the leash but the American president says he’s more than ready to provide even more support to more Syrian rebels, who, this time, definitely will be exclusively the ‘moderate’ ones.

But what about the threat to the homeland if IS is allowed to exist and consolidate? Well, the question somehow is never asked about how either individual jihadis or small jihadi cells that an IS enclave might direct to attack the homeland are in any way different than the jihadis the Iranian or the Saudi state have launched our way over the decades—to include the hijackers of September 11, 2001 or the uncounted numbers of Hizballah cells operating across the Americas today. But there’s never been a hint of a suggestion that those jihadist sponsoring states constitute a compelling national security threat to the U.S. that requires an international coalition to deal with them.

Read more at Washington Times

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

Obama Pushes U.S. Deeper Into Middle East to Fight Islamic State

President Obama Addresses the Nation on the ISIL Threat

FULL WH TRANSCRIPTION OF SPEECH HERE

By CAROL E. LEE and JULIAN E. BARNES:

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama authorized the start of U.S. airstrikes in Syria and expanded a monthlong bombing campaign in Iraq to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic militants who recently beheaded two Americans.

The decisions, outlined Wednesday in a prime-time address to the nation on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, considerably deepen U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. They also mark an acknowledgment by Mr. Obama that the intensity of the threat from the militant group Islamic State requires the type of long-term, open-ended conflict he has resisted since taking office—and which he campaigned for the White House saying he would avoid.

In asking Americans to support another military incursion in the Middle East, Mr. Obama said his strategy to combat Islamic State, also called ISIS and ISIL, would be bolstered by a coalition of Arab and European nations. His plan builds on his authorization in August of airstrikes in Iraq to protect American personnel threatened by Islamic State and to provide humanitarian assistance to besieged Iraqis.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. goal now is to help Iraqis reclaim large swaths of territory the group has rapidly overtaken in recent months since spilling over from its stronghold in neighboring Syria. His speech paves the way for the first U.S. strikes at the group’s bases and havens in Syria.

“America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” Mr. Obama said in remarks from the White House. “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

The president gave no timetable for the new, U.S.-led fight against what he described as “a terrorist organization” with members “unique in their brutality.”

In addition to launching airstrikes against the militants in Syria, Mr. Obama pledged a new dose of support for moderate Syrian fighters also battling the extremist group. Taken together, the steps draw the U.S. closer toward the volatile Syrian civil war and open a new front for American efforts in the region.

Saudi Arabia has offered to host a U.S.-run training facility for moderate Syrian rebels, U.S. and Arab officials said. The facility is expected to be able to handle as many as 10,000 fighters, but details are still being worked out, the officials said.

Read more at WSJ

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Global drive to stop jihadis going to Syria, Iraq

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By Lori Hinnant:

PARIS: New laws make it easier to seize passports. Suspected fighters are plucked from planes. Authorities block finances and shut down radical mosques. And behind the scenes, Silicon Valley firms are under increasing pressure to wipe extremist content from websites as Western intelligence agencies explore new technologies to identify returning fighters at the border.

Governments from France to Indonesia have launched urgent drives to cut off one of the ISIS’ biggest sources of strength: foreign fighters. At the heart of the drive is mounting concern that the organization is training the next generation of international terrorists.

Those fears have gained urgency from the group’s horrific methods: A British militant is suspected of beheading two American journalists, and a Frenchman who fought with the ISIS is accused in a deadly attack on a Jewish museum in Belgium.

With each video that ricochets around social networks, the militants gain new recruits.

Britain has taken a particularly active role in censoring content deemed to break the country’s strict rules against extremist propaganda. U.K. officials recently revealed they have been granted “super flagger” status on sites such as YouTube, meaning their requests to remove videos with grisly content or that encourage terrorism are fast-tracked.

Over the past four years, an Internet-focused counterterror unit of London’s Metropolitan Police instigated the removal of 45,000 pieces of content, the force said last week. ISIS, however, have just as quickly found other, more decentralized platforms.

In the United States, officials are trying to identify potential jihadists by comparing travel patterns with those of people who have already joined the fight, a counterterrorism official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss intelligence matters.

A French law to seize passports is being fast-tracked through parliament, and the government is ramping up arrests of increasingly young teenagers making plans for jihad.

That can mean last-minute arrests at the airport, as happened to a 16-year-old girl and her alleged recruiter trying to pass through security in Nice Saturday, and to a man at Australia’s Melbourne Airport who was pulled off a flight last week carrying tens of thousands of dollars in cash and ISIS’ black-and-white flag in his luggage.

Britain proposed laws Monday to let police seize the passports of those suspected of having traveled abroad to fight, while the Netherlands is making it easier to strip people of their nationality and go after Internet providers that spread propaganda.

In Bosnia, authorities carried out a major anti-terror sweep Wednesday. They detained 16 people suspected of fighting in Syria and Iraq and recruiting Balkan men to join militants there.

Anti-jihadist efforts are being ramped up in traditionally Muslim countries as well: Indonesia is breaking up meetings of ISIS supporters and seizing T-shirts and other items promoting the group, and Tunisia is shutting down mosques and suspected financiers.

For the radicals who have already reached Syria, the focus of European spy agencies is on trying to identify them when they return. That can mean scouring social media sites for photos of foreign fighters or electronic intercepts for hints of terrorist activity abroad.

Officials are considering the deployment of more advanced techniques like voice recognition to identify suspected jihadis at border control by matching their conversations to those heard on militants’ videos, former U.K. counterterrorism chief Bob Quick told the Associated Press earlier this year.

There is huge interest, he said, in “being able to identify these people at the border.”

The concern is that returning fighters will launch attacks at home. Australia draws on lessons from Afghanistan a decade ago, saying of the 25 citizens who returned to Australia after fighting against Western interests there, two-thirds became involved in terrorist activities back home. Some remain in prison.

“The Australians and their supporters who have joined terrorist groups in the Middle East are a serious and growing threat to our security,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament Monday. “People who kill without compunction in other countries are hardly likely to be law-abiding citizens should they return to Australia.”

A compilation of government estimates shows more than 2,000 people with European passports have fought or are fighting in Syria and Iraq – with most looking to join ISIS.

Read more at Daily Star

 

US-Iranian military, intelligence cooperation in war on ISIS reaps first successes in Syria and Iraq

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DEBKAfile, Sep. 5, 2014:

At least 18 foreign ISIS fighters including Americans and Europeans were killed Thursday, Sept. 4, in a Syrian air raid of the Al Qaeda-ISIS’ northern Syrian headquarters in the Gharbiya district of Raqqa. The raid caught a number of high Al Qaeda commanders and a large group of foreign adherents assembled at the facilty.

A second group of high ISIS officers were killed or injured in another Syrian air raid over their base in Abu Kamal near the Iraqi border.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that top men of the Islamist terrorist group were holding meetings at both places Thursday to coordinate IS strike plans in Syria and Iraq.  For Syria, these plans center on the Deir a-Zor and Al Qaim areas, while in Iraq, they focus on targets in the east and center of the country.

The twin Syrian air offensive coincided with the opening of the two-day NATO Summit outside the Welsh town of Newport .

The information about the two Al Qaeda meetings at Raqqa and Abu Kamal could have come from only two sources: US surveillance satellites and aircraft or Iranian agents embedded at strategic points across Syria.

Syria does not have the necessary intelligence capabilities for digging out this kind of information. Nor does its air force normally exhibit the surgical precision displayed in the two strikes on Al Qaeda bases.

It is therefore more than likely that they owed their success to the widening military and intelligence cooperation between the United State and Iran in Iraq and Syria.

President Barack Obama will have taken his seat at the NATO summit to discuss ways of fighting ISIS after word of the successful Syrian strikes was already in his pocket. While they must be credited to top-quality US aerial surveillance over Syria and Iraq, they were undoubtedly made possible by the Obama administration’s deepening military and intelligence ties with Iran.

Many of the allies present at Newport will not welcome these tidings – Britain, Germany and Australia, in particular. They deeply resent being displaced as America’s senior strategic partners by the Revolutionary Republic of Iran, after their long partnership with the US in fighting terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But they will find it hard to argue with success.

On Aug. 31, our military sources reveal, US and Iranian special forces fighting together, broke the 100-day IS siege of the eastern Iraqi town of Amerli, 100 km from the Iranian border, to score a major victory in their first joint military ground action.

Then, Wednesday, Sept. 3, US jets struck an IS base in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, killing its commander, Abu Hajar Al-Sufi, and two lieutenants of the IS chief Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi.
While President Obama has denied having a strategy for fighting ISIS, a working mechanism appears to have been put in place to support a trilateral military offensive against al Qaeda’s Islamist State. The successful attacks in the last 24 hours were apparently made possible by this mechanism: Iranian intelligence collected US surveillance data from the Americans and passed it on to Syria for action.

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