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.

Broken Ruins, Ruined Societies: It’s Not Just ISIS Destroying History

Erick Bonnier/Newscom

Erick Bonnier/Newscom

Daily Beast, by Ann Marlow, March 16, 2015:

Widespread apathy in the Muslim world about the destruction of antiquities, including those central to the history of Islam and the Bible, threatens our global heritage.
The recent vandalization of Nimrud and Hatra by the so-called Islamic State—and the destruction of lesser shrines in Libya by local Islamists, which started in 2012—is not an isolated phenomenon. It stems from deep-seated pathologies afflicting the Muslim world.Yes, many Arabs and Muslims condemn these actions. But many don’t quite see what the fuss is about—or are willing to defer to those who feel strongly that Islamic taboos trump historical value. And while most of the developed world believes that a 2,000-year-old monument has moral value because it is part of the historical record, much of the Muslim world does not share the Western understanding of “the historical record” or its importance.

It is not only the Islamic State, widely known as ISIS, that is eradicating the Muslim past. Much of Mecca’s history has been bulldozed in recent years. In Mali, hardline Islamist militia Ansar Dine destroyed 1,000-year-old Sufi saints’ tombs and torched priceless ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu in 2012. And the vandalism in Libya began long before ISIS arrived there.

In August 2012 I saw the immediate aftermath of the destruction of a Sufi Muslim shrine by local Islamists just outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Tripoli. A few people did try to stop the demolition, and were beaten for their pains; most people, even archeologists, kept their heads down and did nothing. (Our State Department was courting these same Islamists at the time.)

A number of educated Libyans I know conceded the plausibility of the hardline Wahabi argument that tombs should not be located inside mosques. But that doesn’t mean tombs have to be bulldozed; they could be relocated, especially to a museum where no one would be in danger of the crime of “worshipping” them.

Belatedly, the Egyptian Islamic Institute al Azhar, the greatest mainstream authority in Sunni Islam, issued a fatwa against the destruction of ancient artifacts, dismissing ISIS claims they are “idols” and declaring them “an important part of our collective legacy that must not be harmed.” The Malian government, saved by the French military in 2013 and backed by UNESCO, is making an effort to rebuild some of the heritage sites in Timbuktu wantonly destroyed in 2012, and locals managed to smuggle many of the ancient manuscripts during the jihadist occupation, risking their lives or the amputation of their limbs for doing so.

But none of the so-called moderates in the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya has stepped up to the plate to support conservation measures in Libya. And even where Islamic taboos aren’t an issue, simple greed has led to heritage destruction. In August 2013 in eastern Libya, profiteers destroyed part of a Greek necropolis simply to sell the land underneath.

Most Libyans don’t understand their glorious ruins as hallowed by time, because such an understanding is based on believing in the primacy of the real over the fake or the copy. And that in turn depends on believing in objective reality.

Libyans, like Iraqis and other peoples who have lived under dictators for a very long time, have been exposed to a steady diet of fake news and disinformation. So, there is an inability to imagine that there might be a more-or-less objective truth about historical events, and a lack of interest in discovering that truth and publicizing it. Yes, Libyans—like citizens of other Arab Spring countries—like revealing gossip and financial misdeeds, usually on Facebook; I call it “government by Facebook”; Russians call it “compromat.”  But all too many don’t seem to believe in a truth, just in plausible versions. You might call these Libyans naïve post-modernists.

This leads to an inability to condemn the destruction of heritage—and sometimes even to the denial that atrocities have occurred. There’s widespread denial of any event that makes Muslims—especially in one’s own country—look bad. A Libyan friend with a master’s in public health just told me that the ISIS video of the killing of the 21 Egyptian Coptic fisherman was “a fake”; finally, he admitted that it might be real, but claimed that it happened in Egypt, not Libya. I am sure there are many Iraqis who will argue that the videos of the destruction of Nimrud are fake.

The lack of interest in facts leads to a worldview in which everything that happens has a provisional reality; it might or might not be true. (This includes religious dicta: if some fanatic says the Quran allows something, or forbids it, many Muslims will give him the benefit of the doubt.) And this, together with the “inshallah” mentality, which says that if God wills it, it will happen, leads to the fatal passivity in the face of extremism which has been all too common in post-revolutionary Libya—not to mention Iraq.

Libyans lived in Greek colonies and served in the Roman Senate; the Emperor Septimus Severus was a Libyan.  Democracy and classical culture are as much part of Libya’s heritage as of Britain’s. The current chaos and rise of Islamic extremists in both Iraq and Libya—and Syria and Yemen—isn’t an argument against the eventual viability of democracy in these countries, or against the West supporting uprisings against Arab tyrants, or against the moral value of the human beings who live in these countries. It is exactly what might be expected from the broken people of a broken culture, who have decades of catching up to the rest of the world ahead of them. There is no time like the present for them to start, and with our support.

There are carrots and sticks that we can use. One of the sticks was recently suggested by Eric Gibson in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: putting some teeth into the sections of the U.N. Hague Convention of 1954 to punish the destruction of cultural heritage as a war crime. Carrots would include making monetary awards to those who preserve cultural heritage in the face of grave risk, like the “book smugglers” of Timbuktu, the Libyans who guarded their classical ruins during the revolution, and those who preserved the artifacts of the Baghdad and Kabul museums. It is of course the Muslim world that has the most to gain from preserving its heritage. Ironically, if ISIS succeeds in its nihilistic goals, it will destroy the evidence of Muslim artistic achievements.

***

Published on Mar 17, 2015 by Political Islam

Islamic State is destroying the heritage of Iraq and the world by burning ancient manuscripts, stealing art and demolition of Assyrian architecture. These acts are not criminal violence, but acts of jihad that were first demonstrated by Mohammed. This destruction is pure civilizational war.

Also see:

The Jihad Triangle

Published on Mar 14, 2015 by Acts17Apologetics

http://www.answeringmuslims.com
Many people are confused by jihad. If Islam is a religion of peace, why is there a persistent problem of radicalism in the Muslim world? If Islam is the problem, why are there so many peaceful Muslims? In this video, David Wood explains that jihad isn’t the product of a single factor, but of three factors: belief, knowledge, and obedience. These three factors come together in what we’ll call “The Jihad Triangle.”

Intelligence: Broken Arrow

194221_5_By G. Murphy Donovan:

Policy is a worldview. Intelligence is the real world, a wilderness of untidy facts that may or may not influence policy. When Intelligence fails to provide a true and defensible estimate, a clear picture of threat, policy becomes a rat’s nest of personal and political agendas where asserted conclusions and political correctness become the loudest voices in the room.  The policymaker thinks he knows the answer. The intelligence officer has the much tougher tasks of confirming or changing minds.

American national security analysis has been poisoned by such toxins. An Intelligence report these days might be any estimate that supports the politics of the moment. Truth today is an afterthought at best and an orphan at worst.

Alas, corrupt Intelligence is the midwife of strategic fiasco. Four contemporary failures provide illustrations: revolutionary theocracy, the Islam bomb, imperial Islamism, and the new Cold War.

Back to Theocracy

The Persian revolution of 1979 was arguably the most significant strategic surprise of the last half of the 20th Century. Yes, more significant than the fall of Soviet Communism. (The precipitous fall of the Soviet Bloc, to be sure, was another bellwether event unanticipated by Intelligence analysis.) The successful religious coup in Iran, heretofore an American client regime, now provides a model for all Muslim states where the default setting among tribal autocracies is now theocracy not democracy. In the wake of the Communist collapse, Francis Fukuyama argued that the democratic ideal was triumphant, an end of history as we knew it, the evolutionary consequence of progressive dialects. Fukuyama was wrong, tragically wrong. History is a two-way street that runs forward as well as backwards.

The fall of the Soviet monolith was not the end of anything. It was the beginning of profound regression, an era of religious irredentism. Worrisome as the Cold War was, the relationship with Moscow was fairly well managed. Who can argue today that East Europe or the Muslim world is more stable or peaceful than it was three decades ago?

The Persian revolution of 1979 not only reversed the vector of Muslim politics, but the triumph of Shia imperialism blew new life into the Shia/Sunni sectarian fire, a conflict that had been smoldering for more than a thousand years. The theocratic victory in Tehran also raised the ante for Israel too, now confronted by state sponsored Shia and Sunni antagonists,Hezb’allah, Fatah, and Hamas.

Shia Hezb’allah calls itself the party of God! Those in the Intelligence Community who continue to insist that religion is not part of the mix have yet to explain why God is part of the conversation only on the Islamic side of the equation.

Global Islamic terror is now metastasizing at an alarming rate. More ominous is the ascent of the Shia clergy, apocalyptic ayatollahs, bringing a lowering of the nuclear threshold in the Middle East. Sunni ISIS by comparison is just another tactical terror symptom on the Sunni side — and yet another strategic warning failure too.

Tehran is in the cat bird’s seat, on the cusp of becoming a nuclear superpower. Nuclear Iran changes every strategic dynamic: with Israel, with Arabia, and also with NATO. A Shia bomb is the shortcut to checkmate the more numerous Sunni. Iran will not be “talked out” of the most potent tool in imperial Shia kit — and the related quest for parity with Arabian apostates.

The Islam Bomb

The Islam bomb has been with us for years, in Sunni Pakistan, although you might never know that if you followed the small wars follies in South Asia. The enemy, as represented by American analysis, is atomized, a cast of bit players on the subcontinent. First, America was fighting a proxy war with the Soviets. When the Russians departed, the enemy became the murderous Taliban followed by al Qaeda. Both now make common cause with almost every stripe of mujahedeen today. In the 25 years since the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan has been reduced now to a rubble of narco-terror and tribalism. If we can believe bulletins from the Pentagon or the Oval Office, America is headed for the Afghan exit in the next two years — maybe. Throughout, the real threat in South Asia remains unheralded — and unmolested.

Nuclear Pakistan is one car bomb, or one AK-47 clip, away from another Taliban theocracy. This is not the kind of alarm that has been raised by the Intelligence Community. Hindu India probably understands the threat, Shia Persia surely understands the Sunni threat, and just as surely, Israel understands that a Sunni bomb is the raison d’etre for a more proximate Shia bomb. Who would argue that the Sunni Saudis need nuclear “power”? Nonetheless, Riyadh is now in the game too.  The most unstable corner of the globe is now host to a nuclear power pull.

The American national security establishment seems to be clueless on all of this. Indeed, when a unique democracy like Israel tries to illuminate a portion of the nuclear threat before the American Congress, the Israeli prime minister is stiff-armed by the Oval Office. If Washington failed with Pakistan and North Korea, why would anyone, let alone the Israelis, believe that Wendy Sherman is a match for the nuclear pipedreams of apocalyptic Shia priests.

Alas, the motive force behind a Shia bomb is not Israeli capabilities or intentions. Israel is a stable democracy where any territorial ambitions are limited to the traditional Jewish homeland. Israel is no threat to Persia or Arabia.  Pakistan, in contrast, is like much of the Sunni world today, another internecine tribal or sectarian wildfire waiting for a match.

The advent of the Islam bomb in Asia was not just a strategic surprise, but the step-child of strategic apathy. The folly of taking sides with the Sunni has now come home to roost. Iran is about to go for the atomic brass ring too, with the Saudis in trail, and there’s not much that America can/will do except mutter about secret diplomacy and toothless sanctions. Of course, there’s always the option of blaming Jews when appeasement fails.

Imperial Islam

The Ummah problem, the Muslim world, has now replaced the Soviet empire, as Churchill would have put it, as the “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” There are four dimensions to the Islamic conundrum: the Shia/Sunni rift, intramural secular/religious conflicts, kinetic antipathy towards Israel and the West writ large, and the failure of analysis, especially strategic Intelligence, to unwrap the Muslim onion in any useful way. Imperial Islam, dare we say Islamofascism, now threatens secular autocracy and democracy on all points of the compass.

194220_5_

 Islam in London

Islamic imperialism is a decentralized global movement. Nonetheless, the various theaters are united by tactics, strategy, ideology, and objectives. The tactics are jihad, small wars, and terror. The strategy is the imposition of Shariah Law. The ideology is the Koran and the Hadith. And the objective is a Shia or Sunni Islamic Caliphate — for infidels, a distinction without difference.

Muslim religious proselytizers and jihad generals in the field make no secret of any of this. The problem isn’t that some Muslims dissent from this agenda, the problem is that the West, especially national security analysts, cannot/will not believe or accept what Islamic imperialists say aloud, about themselves. The enemy is hiding in plain sight, yet the Intelligence Community doesn’t have the integrity or courage to make a clear call.

Read more at American Thinker

The ISIS Penal Code: Shariah Justice and the Quest for Religious Legitimacy

AFP PHOTO / HO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA

AFP PHOTO / HO / AL-FURQAN MEDIA

Breitbart, by DR. PHYLLIS CHESLER,  March 9, 2015:

The global allure of a self-designated Caliphate, especially one that insists that its every barbaric action is Qur’an-based and Sharia-true, should not be underestimated.

In October 2014, ISIS released the fourth issue of Dabiq, its online English- and multi-language newsletter. ISIS described a “successful consolidation of the judiciary,” and the formation of “sharia courts” that render decisions in a speedy and non-corrupt manner. ISIS has implemented a “radical interpretation of sharia law, killing men accused of blasphemy or homosexuality. The group has also carried out amputations and lashings for reasons as trivial as smoking or improper dressing.”

ISIS has taken over the education system in horrendous ways: one must memorize the Qur’an, there is to be no teaching of science, history, civics, physical education, and geography. Basic mathematics is allowed. ISIS has also established military training on children, imposed early curfews and full-face and body niqab on women, including those who work at hospitals.

While Westerners may find this as horrifying as ISIS’s systematic and taped destruction of ancient, precious pre-Islamic sculptures and artifacts, according to Jonathan Spyer and Jawad al-Tamimi in Middle East Forum, ISIS has, nevertheless, been carefully justifying their every atrocity as based on the Qur’an and Sharia law. For example, in terms of crucifixions, ISIS invoked Qur’an 5:33 (Those “who wage war on God and His Messenger” may be crucified).

Apostates may also be crucified—and ISIS bases this on a hadith (similar to Qur’an 5:33). Christians are required to pay a special tax “jizya,” “may not publicly wear crosses, pray in the presence of Muslims, or repair or renovate places of worship.”

Spyer and al-Tamimi point out that ISIS “already considers itself a state (dawla), not a mere group or organization (jamaat, or tanzim).” Therefore, like Saudi Arabia or Iran, it can lawfully cross-amputate for theft, stone adulterers to death, drop homosexuals from rooftops (and stone them if they are still alive), crucify or behead Christians and apostates, etc.

In October of 2014, 126 Islamic scholars and Muslim leaders from 38 countries signed an Open Letter to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi claiming that ISIS was violating Islamic Law. There was more than one signatory from the same country. For example, there were no fewer than 13 signatories from North America, mainly from the United States. Interestingly, many of the names belong to known Islamists, Muslim Brotherhood supporters and “fronts,” or anti-Zionists. For example, signatories include Nihad Awad (Council on American-Islamic Relations), Azhar Aziz (Islamic Society of North America), and Berkeley’s Hatem Baziem (American Muslims for Palestine).

While I am no Qur’anic scholar, much of what these signatories claim cannot be true. Or, rather, what they claim is the right interpretation of the Qur’an has not been followed by Muslim leaders historically—just as it is not being followed now by ISIS. For example, in their own Executive Summary, the signatories claim that “it is forbidden in Islam to kill the innocent;” “forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers;” “forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat—in any way—Christians or any ‘People of the Scripture;’ “It is obligatory to consider Yazidis as People of the Scripture;” “The re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus;” “It is forbidden in Islam to force people to convert;” “It is forbidden in Islam to deny women their rights;” “It is forbidden in Islam to deny children their rights;” “It is forbidden in Islam to torture people;” “It is forbidden in Islam to disfigure the dead.”

Undaunted, in December 2014, ISIS released a formal penal code in which they spelled out “a set of fixed punishments.” This document’s release was followed by a spate of violent executions in which “a woman accused of adultery [was] stoned to death, 17 men crucified, and two men accused of homosexual acts thrown off a building.”

According to the translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), here are some of the acts and their punishments:

  • Blasphemy against Allah, Blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed, Blasphemy against Islam—all merit Death as does Sodomy, Adultery,  Murder, Apostasy, and Spying for Unbelievers.
  • Theft merits cutting off the hand;
  • Drinking alcohol merits 80 lashes;
  • Slandering merits 80 lashes;
  • Terrorizing People merits Exile.

Issue #7 of ISIS’s glossy online newsletter, Dabiq, was released in February. It is more than 80 pages long and is titled: “From Hypocrisy to Apostasy. The Extinction of the Grayzone.” ISIS means the “gray zone” in which Christian “Crusaders” and Jews, as well as Muslim hypocrites and apostates of all religions, are put on notice.

“Islam is the Religion of the Sword Not Pacificism” is the title of one chapter. This issue also displays many photos of ISIS’s atrocities and the Qur’anic justification for them. It blesses Bin Laden, boasts of the Islamic attacks against Europeans and Americans, prays that “Allah take revenge for the Muslims and the mujahidin, and rain fire and destruction upon the kuffar and murtaddin, wherever they are.”

Dabiq justifies ISIS’s ongoing persecution and murder of Coptic Christians as an act of revenge because Coptic Christians allegedly tortured and murdered Muslim women. This issue also deals with how ISIS is “clamping down on sexual deviance” and describes how the West has been “plunged into a downward spiral of sexual deviance and immorality.” It boasts of the murder of Theo Von Gogh and lauds the captured convert to Islam, John Cantlie who praises his captors and denounces “our deceitful governments.” He is quoted as saying: “Despite being a prisoner I’ve been shown respect and kindness, which I haven’t seen from my own [British] government.”

ISIS is a totalitarian cult led by barbarian psychopaths and extremist misogynists who seek to cover their criminality and self-perceived marginality with a cloak of religious respectability. They will continue on their path unless the “good people” of the world decide to stop them by any means possible and by any means necessary.

Yesterday, the Washington Post published an article which argued that the Islamic State caliphate “appears to be fraying from within, as dissent, defections, and setbacks on the battlefield sap the group’s strength and erode its aura of invisibility.”

According to Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, ISIS has failed because it has not been able to “unify people of different origins under the caliphate.” Many foreigners are people from “the margins of society” and many have come to “live in the Islamic State. They didn’t come to fight.” Finally, the Islamic “revolution” is not only crucifying Christians and forcing them and Yazidis into sex slavery, be-heading foreign aid workers and journalists—it has also begun to turn on its own.

One wonders whether Lina Khatib and the Washington Post are right.

ISIS Is Skilled on Twitter, Using Thousands of Accounts, Study Says

isis_twitter_census_coverNYT, by MARCH 5, 2015:

The Islamic State, the violent extremist group that espouses a return to a seventh-century caliphate, has been astonishingly successful at spreading its message using 21st-century social media, according to a study released Thursday.

Despite repeated attempts by Twitter to thwart the Islamic State’s threats, propaganda and online recruiting by suspending accounts associated with the group, sympathizers have maintained thousands of active accounts on the social network, the study said. The users include a disciplined core group that sends messages frequently and understands how to maximize its impact.

“Jihadists will exploit any kind of technology that will work to their advantage,” said J.M. Berger, an expert on online extremism who was the lead author of the study, a collaboration of the Brookings Institution and Google Ideas. But the Islamic State, he said, “is much more successful than other groups.”

The release of the study came as Twitter, the San Francisco-based social media giant with more than 288 million active users worldwide, has moved more aggressively to suspend accounts linked to the Islamic State.

The group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, which is ensconced in parts of Syria and Iraq, has used the social network to publicize executions of prisoners, including beheadings and at least one immolation, and to espouse death, violence and hatred for all perceived enemies.

Twitter’s crackdown on the group has led to death threats against the company’s leaders and employees.

Mr. Berger said the threats against Twitter reflected, to some degree, the Islamic State’s increased reliance on open social media forums, a Western invention that seems incongruous with militants’ desire for restoring the caliphates that once ruled vast areas of the Middle East.

The 92-page report found that a minimum of 46,000 Twitter accounts operate on behalf of the Islamic State. The study, titled “The ISIS Twitter Census,” was the first public attempt to measure the influence of Islamic State members or their sympathizers on social media.

“ISIS has been able to exert an outsized impact on how the world perceives it,” the study said.

The report also asserted that at least 1,000 accounts supportive of the Islamic State, and possibly many more, were suspended by Twitter between September and December.

Executives at Twitter, which did not provide assistance for the report, said the study had significantly underestimated the number of suspensions. They declined to comment on the report’s specific findings, but they did not dispute an ABC News report that they had recently shut down 2,000 Islamic State accounts in a single week.

The company said in a statement, “We review all reported content against our rules, which prohibit unlawful use and direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

Read more

Also see:

Vehicular terror attack hits Border Police base in Jerusalem, wounding five female officers; terrorist shot, currently in critical condition

Ynet News, by Roy Yanovski, March 6, 2015:

Jerusalem was hit by a suspected vehicular terror attack Friday morning, police and paramedics said. A Palestinian man from East Jerusalem rammed his car into a light rail train station after plowing into a group of female officers in northern Jerusalem, wounding five officers and an Israeli.

MDA paramedics administered first aid to six people, five female officers, three of which were in light to moderate condition while two were lightly hurt; and an Israeli man in his 50s who was hurt at the rail station. MDA spokesman Zaki Heller said that paramedics immediately arrived on scene and treated the five who were injured. All five were in their 20s and another female officer suffered anxiety.

The attack took place outside a Border Police base in northern Jerusalem on Shimon HaTzadik street, which was also the site of a November 5 hit and run terror attack that killed one border police offer and injured 13 people. The area has seen no less than 5 terror attacks in the past year.

After hitting the group of officers, who were outside the base, the Palestinian continued 200-300 meters to the light rail station, where he hit a bicyclist – a 51-year-old Israeli man.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

The terrorist, Udaayi Salayma from Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem, was shot by a Border Guard who was present at the scene as part of a training exercise going on at in the base – ending the incident by seriously wounding him.  A large cleaver was found on the Palestinian’s body after the attack, which he reportedly attempted to use on the forces after crashing his car.

Terrorist wounded after being shot (Photo: Jessica Muscio, Benna Mental)
Terrorist wounded after being shot (Photo: Jessica Muscio, Benna Mental)

Police identified the attacker as a Palestinian man in his twenties from east Jerusalem. Police say it is difficult to prevent such attacks, which appear to be carried out by “lone wolf” assailants who are not thought to be dispatched by a militant organization.

Udaayi Salayma
Udaayi Salayma

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat responded to the attack, saying: “We will not let terror disrupt our daily lives and we will continue to fight it without compromise. I would like to commend the security personnel, the municipal guards, the police and alert citizens who quickly brought the event to an end and prevented further injuries.

“Our response to terror is to continue on with our routine, and as such all Purim events in the capital will continue as planned and the security throughout the entire city will be increased, including the main event to be held at Safra Square in a closed and secure location. I invite all the residents of the country to celebrate Purim in Jerusalem and strengthen us.”

 

 

“The swift and determined response stopped the attack as it was beginning and prevented more innocents from being injured,” said Moshe Edri, Jerusalem Police Commander.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

 

The latest attack comes just a few weeks after an ultra-Orthodox man was stabbed by an Arab teen in Jerusalem on February 22. The attack, which took place in Safra Square in Jerusalem, was stopped by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat who was present at the scene with his security guard.

The two spotted the attacker while in a nearby car, jumped out of the vehicle and subdued the terrorist.

Friday was the seven year anniversary of the deadly Mercaz HaRav terror attack in which eight seminary students were brutally murdered in one Israel’s most prestigious religious institutions.

***

Tzvi Zucker tweets:

Zucker tweet

Islamic State’s female jihadists use social media to lure women recruits

femrecruisocmed-e1425062775161LWJ, BY MALLORY SHELBOURNE, Feb. 27, 2015:

Jihadist women are using social media to recruit other women for the Islamic State’s declared “caliphate.” The practice is not a new phenomenon. Western females who have migrated to the Islamic State have used various online platforms to lure young women into jihad in Syria. These recruiters hail from a variety of Western countries, including Norway, Canada, the United Kingdom, Austria, France, the Netherlands, and the US.

On February 14, the al-Khans’aa Media Brigade, the women’s media arm of the al-Battar Media Foundation, tweeted a set of photos encouraging women to defend the caliphate and fight its enemies through what it calls an “economic war,” “ideological war,” and “electronic war.” One of the images reads “active participation in their hash tags, and discussion forums as much as possible (electronic war).” While the same image advocates that women boycott products “of the oppressive crusade” for the “economic war,” it suggests women fight the “ideological war” by abstaining from the lifestyles of the crusaders and “revealing the hatred towards them.”

Similar to various Islamic State propaganda material purportedly produced by women and for women, the images stress the important role women play in the home. Specifically, one message states that a way to begin in the home is “by teaching those under your custody (kids) to hate the cross and its people, for this is the first step in making a Mujahid generation.” Echoing this message, this week, the Islamic State attacked multiple Assyrian Christian villages in Syria and took inhabitants hostage. The amount of residents captured varies across press reports, but the Assyrian Human Rights Network claims the number of Christians kidnapped is as high as 262 .

The emphasis on the role of women in the home was also seen in last month’s manifesto released by the al-Khans’aa Brigade, the all-female group known for enforcing strict sharia law in the militant group’s stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. [See LWJ report, Islamic State al-Khans’aa Brigade publishes manifesto for women.] Additionally, the images released on Twitter and the manifesto both reference the West and its corruption of Muslims. One image mentioning the West touts that the caliphate “took the imprisoned women out of the prisons of Westernization which humiliated the women, and downed their positions.”

The electronic war aspect of the jihadist group’s campaign is a tactic that female Islamic State recruiters have employed in the past to bring western women to Syria, most notably in the recent case of the three British girls who traveled to the caliphate, in addition to the October case of three girls from Denver, Colorado, who attempted to migrate to the Islamic State but were stopped in Frankfurt, Germany and sent back home. The New York Times recently reported that one of the British girls had sent a Twitter message to Aqsa Mahmood, also known as Umm Layth, prior to their journey. Mahmood, who left her home in Scotland in November 2013 to join the Islamic State, is known for her Tumblr blog and propaganda tweets encouraging Western women to migrate to the caliphate. And, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, one of the Denver, Colorado girls had been in contact with another female Islamic State recruiter known as Umm Waqqas. Umm Waqqas and Umm Layth were also in contact with each other via Twitter.

According to a July report in the Financial Times, jihadist women use various social media platforms, including Kik, Twitter, and Tumblr, to help potential migrants travel to Syria. The question and answer website Ask.fm has also become a popular platform for jihadists, and in the case of one of the Colorado teens, shows evidenceof her radicalization over time.

In September, the Telegraph reported that several British women joined the al-Khans’aa Brigade, including Mahmood. While women living under the caliphate, including the al-Khans’aa Brigade in their recent manifesto, glorify life in the Islamic State on their social media accounts, reports directly contradict these descriptions. A November United Nations report detailed the many atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State’s fighters. Furthermore, activist members of the group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently describe the al-Khans’aa Brigade females as a threat to their efforts to expose the Islamic State’s brutality.

Also see:

Islamic Hatred for the Jews And How it Got That Way

siege of the fortressAn Inquiry into Islam:

The following was written by F. W. Burleigh, author of It’s All About Muhammad.

On Tuesday, March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of the United States Congress at the invitation of the Speaker of the House John Boehner. This will take place despite strong opposition from the White House, whose approval for this event was not sought.

Netanyahu will address the danger that an Iran with nuclear weapons would represent not only for Israel, but also for the United States and the entire world. More pointedly he will seek to persuade Congress not to support a deal that the Obama administration appears to be working out with Iran that will guarantee that Iran will soon have such weapons. Allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons would be catastrophic, Netanyahu will say.

His concerns are well founded. Iran’s leaders hate Israel for merely existing, and they have a history of threatening to annihilate the Jewish state. Nuclear weapons would give them a means to do so in one strike. One of Iran’s former presidents, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a man considered a moderate by Iranian standards, said that “it is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”

It will be interesting to hear what Netanyahu has to say about “such an eventuality.” It is likely to be a momentous speech, but due to the time allotted, he will have to leave out much of what needs to be explained — chiefly, why these theocratic Iranian leaders hate Israel so much that they would love to incinerate it out of existence.

The short explanation: It has to do with an ancient hatred so thick you would need a chainsaw to cut through it.

Since it is unlikely the Israeli prime minister will address this phenomenon of hatred, I have written a speech for him that says what needs to be said about this very important subject. Perhaps he will see fit to insert this into his speech. The theme of this is Iran’s hatred for Jews and how it got that way:

“Distinguished members of Congress, I want to emphasize that this hatred did not come about as a result of creation of the State of Israel in 1948, nor from any of the conflicts, major and minor, between Israelis and Arabs that have occurred since then. The cause of the hatred goes back 1,400 years to the founder of Islam. Muslims hate Jews because Muhammad hated Jews. Muhammad hated Jews because they refused to accept his claim that he was their prophet.

This hatred is the story of Muhammad and his claim that God talked to him through an angel and dictated the contents of the Koran to him. It is the history of the rejection Muhammad first got from his compatriots in Mecca who thought he was devil possessed. Muhammad proclaimed to them that he was of the line of the Jewish prophets, and was commissioned by God to restore true faith in the one God of Abraham. They should listen to him and obey him if they wanted to achieve paradise and avoid hellfire. The Meccans put up with him for ten years before deciding they had to kill him to preserve their way of life. He fled to Yathrib, now called Medina, two hundred miles north of Mecca.

This is where the Jewish part of the story begins. Half of the population of the sprawling valley was Jewish, divided among three major tribes. The other half of the population consisted of Arabs who practiced the same polytheism as the Meccans. Muhammad built a mosque in the center of the valley and turned it into his al-qaeda, his base of operations for a war he declared against the Meccans. This consisted first of attacks on their caravans and ended in pitched battles. Within 18 months, he began to purge the Jewish population from Yathrib.

When Muhammad first arrived in their valley, the Jews listened politely to him, but when they analyzed the prophet verses he had come up with in Mecca, they realized they were not based on the Torah. They were versions of the derivative Jewish legends about the prophets, but even then there were significant variations, yet Muhammad claimed his versions were the correct ones because he got everything from God. When he insisted they accept him as their prophet, the Jews laughed in his face and began mocking him.

While in Mecca, Muhammad had developed curse prayers — hate prayers — that he and his followers recited against the Meccans. He now turned his curses on the Jews. He branded them as apes and pigs and stirred up hatred against them in diatribes from the pulpit at his mosque. “They are mischief makers. They are fools. The Jews deny the truth,” he screamed on one occasion. (Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, p. 248)

He composed numerous Koran verses that seethed with the hatred he felt for the Jews for rejecting him. In verse after verse he warned them that hellfire awaited them for not believing in him. “Sufficient for the Jew is the Flaming Fire!” he said in Koran 4:55. In another he said, “There is a grievous punishment awaiting them. Satan tells them not to believe so they will end up in Hell.” (Koran 59:14)

He made life for them a hell on earth. His hatred turned deadly after a battle near the caravan stop of Badr in which his small band of 300 men defeated a Meccan army three times larger. This battle took place about 18 months after his flight from Mecca. When he returned victorious to Yathrib, he began assassinating Jewish poets who had mocked him in their poems. Within a month of his victory over the Meccans, he forced one of the Jewish tribes to leave and confiscated all of their property. He wanted to behead all of them, but was dissuaded by one of their pagan allies.

genocideFrom the battle of Badr on, the Muhammad story is largely the account of atrocities he committed, particularly against the Jews. A year after purging Yathrib of the first Jewish tribe, he forced another to leave under penalty of death if they did not, and he distributed their fortresses, date plantations, and farms to the elite of his Meccan followers. This had been Jewish land for nearly a thousand years. The remaining Jewish tribe, the Qurayzas, suffered a worse fate after they took sides against him during a Meccan assault that ended in failure because of a defensive ditch Muhammad dug around Yathrib. He beheaded as many as 900 men and boys. His attacks against the Jews continued with the conquest of Khaybar, a wealthy Jewish oasis known as the date farm of Western Arabia, and other ancient Jewish centers in western Arabia.

On his deathbed he ordered his followers not to allow any religion but his to exist on the Arabian Peninsula — or anywhere else for that matter.

Hatred is as transmissible as electricity. Because Muslims believe Muhammad’s Koran came from God and that everything he did was in accordance with the will of God, the Muslims of his day absorbed his hatreds. His hatred of the Jews became their hatred of the Jews. This hatred has been passed down generation after generation, and today we see it with the Iranians. It is because of the hatred that has been transmitted through 14 centuries that the Iranians seek to destroy Israel.”

Perhaps Netanyahu can be persuaded to include these remarks in his speech. It is the story behind the story, and it is the story that people need to hear.

Frank Burleigh is the author of It’s All About Muhammad, A Biography of the World’s Most Notorious Prophet. He blogs at www.itsallaboutmuhammad.com.

The Problem with Countering Violent Extremism

kl-450x296Frontpage, February 25, 2015 by Daniel Greenfield:

Obama’s Summit to Counter Violent Extremism was one of the most schizophrenic events on record. Its overall strategy was to counter Islamic radicalization while claiming that it had nothing to do with Islam. Even the King of Saudi Arabia and the leaders of a number of Muslim countries are willing to talk about Islamic terrorism. Obama isn’t. But he is rolling out a strategy to influence the theology of Muslims.

How do you change the beliefs of a religion which you can’t even name? You can’t and you don’t.

The whole premise of CVE subdivides “violent extremism” from Islam and then further subdivides violent extremism from extremism. Barbers split fewer hairs than this. CVE tells us that the best way to fight violent extremists is with “non violent extremist” Salafi clergy who have the most influence on them. We’re supposed to fight the ISIS Caliphate with supporters of another kind of Caliphate.

What it really comes down to is paying Muslims to argue with other Muslims on social media. And hope that the Muslims we’re paying to do the arguing are the good kind of extremists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and not the bad kind of extremists, like ISIS. Even though they’re both vicious killers.

CVE not only doesn’t fight terrorism, it perpetuates the whole reason for it by outsourcing our interaction with domestic Muslims to the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s a big part of how we got a terrorism problem in the first place. CVE’s promoters have convinced us that the best way to fight Islamic terrorism is by partnering with Islamic terrorists.

Obama began by watering down terrorism from a military problem to a law enforcement issue. CVE waters it down even further by eliminating it as a law enforcement issue (the FBI chief was not invited to the summit to avoid making law enforcement the focus) and turning terrorism into a social problem.

The underlying problem with CVE is that it tries to transform a military problem into a civilian social problem. It bogs us down in debating Islamic theology while warning us not to mention Islam. These are not problems that we can solve. Even if there really were a definite split between Muslim moderates and extremists, rather than an immoderate Islam broken into different factions in a power struggle, the government is not the right tool for settling a religious dispute. And that’s what CVE tries to do.

CVE declares that ISIS and its supporters are not Muslims. The Saudis might have the authority to do that. Al Azhar may have the authority to do that. We don’t. The only people who believe these claims are American non-Muslims. Muslims are not impressed by us deciding who is and isn’t a Muslim.

The United States government is not an Islamic authority. We’re not a Muslim country and we shouldn’t try to be. And non-Muslim countries don’t have a good track record of exploiting Islamic theology.

Islamic terrorism is a military problem. It always has been.

Post 9/11, that’s how we first saw it. Islamic Jihadists are not domestic terrorists even if they have the right passport. Nazi saboteurs in WW2 or Communist spies during the Cold War were not a domestic enemy. It’s not the possession of American citizenship that distinguishes a domestic enemy from a foreign enemy, but his cause. Domestic enemies may seek to overthrow the government. Foreign enemies are working to aid a foreign force in inflicting harm on the United States of America.

CVE demands that we fight a war over someone else’s ideas on our own soil. It’s a dead end strategy. At best we would end up with a government approved Islam and an anti-government Islam. And then our accomplishment will have been to replicate the same totalitarian state of affairs in the Muslim world. But it’s far more likely that we will end up being used as pawns in a war between different Islamist groups, such as ISIS and the Brotherhood, funding their causes and bleeding for their political agendas.

But we’re not actually in a war of ideas. It’s still a war of bombs and bullets.

Terrorism against America won’t be stopped on Twitter. It can be stopped at the airport. Our domestic terrorists are mostly Muslim refugees or their children. And the occasional American converted by them. The situation would have quickly gotten ugly if we had allowed large numbers of Nazi and Imperial Japan loyalists to enter the United States during WW2. The Nazis sent in teams of saboteurs who were tried by military tribunals and executed. The spy rings and saboteur teams were not seen as a domestic problem.

The United States did not employ moderate Nazis to try to reason with the extremist Nazis or non-violent Nazis to educate the violent Nazis about the true peaceful meaning of National Socialism.

Instead the issue was defined in terms of allegiance to the United States. Everything else proceeded from that. Either you were loyal to the United States or you weren’t. CVE shifts the emphasis of allegiance from the United States to Muslims. It puts the burden on the United States to integrate Muslims, to make them feel at home, to reassure them so that they don’t turn to violence.

And that’s exactly what the Muslim Brotherhood wants.

Instead of placing the burden on Muslims to be loyal, a burden that all Americans already carry, it commences a process of domestic appeasement for trying to win the loyalty of people who already swore an oath to end all foreign allegiances and defend the nation against foreign enemies. It transforms Muslims into a separate nation within the United States whose allegiance is always contested and has to be constantly won over and over again.

While claiming to combat an Islamic State Caliphate, CVE concedes its central premise.

The allegiance of citizens in a nation at war is not a bargaining matter. Either it exists or it does not. A sensible counterterrorism strategy at home will not aim at parsing different flavors of Islam, but at distinguishing between those citizens whose allegiance we have and those whose allegiance we do not.

Islamic terrorism and support for it, of any variety, is first and foremost a failure of allegiance. It is treason in the practical, if not always the legal sense. It is the action of an enemy who through this betrayal knowingly abandons his or her citizenship.

We do not need to counter “violent extremism”. What we need to do is to be certain of allegiances.

This isn’t new territory. During WW2, the United States not only arrested enemy agents, it also initiated denaturalization proceedings against Nazi sympathizers. Not only did we not take in new Nazis during the war, but we made it clear to the existing ones that they would be executed or deported.

The combination proved to be extremely effective. It did not ensure loyalty. What it did was make it clear that treason would not be tolerated. And it prevented a flow of new enemy recruits.

That is what is needed in wartime.

A real strategy for fighting Islamic terrorism begins with the recognition that we are at war. It identifies the enemy. And it offers those whose allegiances are mixed a choice between committing or departing. CVE does the opposite. It refuses to recognize that there is a war. It rejects the idea that Muslims should be expected to show their allegiance and instead demands that the United States show its allegiance to them. It inverts the balance of citizenship and invests the United States in an unspoken religious debate.

We have lost sight of the problem and so we are unable to arrive at a solution. The problem is military. Islamic terrorism is not domestic unrest, but foreign invasion. It should be understood and addressed in those terms whether it comes through an immigration checkpoint or carrying a bomb over the border.

Also see:

“First Steps in Defeating Islamic Terror: Understanding the Arab and Muslim World”

Published on Feb 19, 2015 by emetonline

EMET was proud to host Dr. Mordechai Kedar on why Islamic terrorists are targeting the free world, and what we need to know about the Muslim and Arab world to win the war on terror.

From ISIS’s beheadings, to the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, including the Charlie Hebdo shootings leaving 13 innocent dead, and the slaughter of four Jews at a Kosher supermarket for the mere fact that they were Jewish, the Western world has been left shocked by an enemy it does not know how to defeat. The Islamic State’s campaign of genocide and crimes against humanity has taken on a new level of horror with the recent murder of Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kassasbeh, who was burned alive by the radical Islamic terror group. The U.S.’s greatest ally in the Middle East, the State of Israel, was subject to Hamas’ launch of 4,000 rockets into many of its major cities, and the State has to fight terrorists, including those from Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and Hezbollah, on a daily basis to protect its citizens.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is an academic expert on the Israeli Arab population. He served for twenty-five years in IDF Military Intelligence, where he specialized in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press and mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena. The Los Angeles TimesEdmund Sanders described him as “one of the few Arabic-speaking Israeli pundits seen on Arabic satellite channels defending Israel”

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“WE ARE DEALING WITH AN IDEOLOGY” By Andrew Harrod, (philosproject.org)

Israeli scholar Mordechai Kedar’s Feb. 12 presentation for the Endowment for Middle East Truth gave indispensable insight into the Islamic sources of jihadist movements now threatening the world. During his briefing entitled “First Steps in Defeating Islamic Terror,” Kedar warned that one must recognize the nature of a threat if one ever hopes to defeat it.

“There is no radical Islam,” Kedar said definitively. “There is no moderate Islam. There is Islam.” Each of Islam’s three canonical sources includes “whatever you want to justify, [from] zero violence to 100 percent violence.”

Like Jews and Christians, every Muslim “has his own reality of religious doctrine” and “can argue that opposing viewpoints have hijacked Islam.” Many Muslims uphold Islam’s positive ideas and are “as peaceful as can be.” Other Muslims go the opposite way. Kedar pointed out that environment plays a significant role, since a Muslim who grows up in a free society like the United States will most likely “tailor his Islamic garment” with benign texts, while a Muslim who grows up in war-torn Libya will probably seek out Islam’s more martial aspects.

The problem is that it only takes a few bad seeds. If just one out of every 10,000 Muslims in the worldwide community of 1.5 billion joined ISIS or a similar group, these 150,000 Muslims could “devastate the whole world.” After all, 9/11 and this January’s Paris massacres took place at the hands of just a few jihadists.

The audience watched segments of an ISIS propaganda video showing mass beheadings of captives in places like Europe, Malaysia and the Middle East. This type of video strikes terror in the hearts of Iraqi soldiers and other Middle Easterners longing for peace and order. An English-speaking jihadist pictured in the video warned that Americans deployed to the region could be the next beheading victims; he also called out “to Obama, the dog of Rome.” Kedar explained that a medieval Muslim leader, following the 1453 Ottoman subjugation of the “cats” of Constantinople, had declared that the “dogs of Rome” were Islam’s next target.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1928, can be thought of as the grandmother of organizations like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Nigeria’s Boko Haram. The Muslim Brotherhood’s logo, whose depiction of crossed swords and Quran leaves no doubt about its Islamic agenda, features the Arabic word “prepare,” which occurs only once in the Quran, in verse 8:60’s command to “prepare … whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war, by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah.” The Muslim Brotherhood and similar organizations represent Sunni terror, while Hezbollah is the Shiite terror counterpart with a state sponsor in Iran’s Islamic Republic, possibly nuclear-armed in the future.

One audience member referenced Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s internationally noted New Year’s Day address that called for Islamic reform, but Kedar was unimpressed. “I highly respect this man,” he said, but added that Sisi is no different from past dictators like Anwar Sadat (subsequently assassinated), Hosni Mubarak, or Hafez Assad. “Every ruler who sees himself as a target of those radical Muslims has made similar appeals for religious reform,” Kedar said, “yet the last people on earth to change anything are political Muslims who would not consider Sisi legitimate” after that president overthrew Muslim Brotherhood rule.

Willful blindness was a running theme in Kedar’s briefing. He warned that “political correctness will kill America after it already killed Europe,” where the human landscape is morphing after decades of Muslim immigration and non-assimilation.

Kedar ominously concluded his presentation by saying that “the Atlantic is not wide enough to protect this country from a global jihadist ideology.” He pointed to the book 40 Hadith on Jihad, which has a chapter titled “War is a Deception.” While current policies often prevent American authorities from asking about religion during criminal investigations, combatting Islamic threats demands, first and foremost, “intelligence, intelligence and intelligence.” Sun Tzu’s dictum of knowing the enemy remains valid in today’s conflicts, religious or not.

Bearing the cross: a letter to the Islamic State

By Mark Durie, Feb. 21, 2015:

This is the first of a two-part post on the 21 Egyptian martyrs killed in Libya.  This first part is a reflection, as a Christian, on aspects of this event and reactions to it.  The second part, ‘A message signed with blood to the Nation of the Cross’ consists of explanatory notes on the texts – spoken and written – which were part of the Islamic State’s film of their ritual beheadings.  This post has also appeared onLapido media.

The Islamic State sent me a letter this week. This letter was in the form of a short film produced by the Islamic State’s Al-Hayat Media centre.  This was not addressed to me personally, but to all Christians everywhere.  Its title was A Message Signed with BLOOD to the Nation of the Cross.  This was a video of the ritual slaughter of the 21 Egyptian Christians.  Their blood flowing in the ocean waves was the ‘signature’ at the end of the video.

As I write this it is Ash Wednesday.  This is the start of forty days of Lent, a period of fasting and contemplation for Christians all over the world.  For many centuries it has been a custom of Christians to receive a mark of the cross in ash upon the forehead as a sign of repentance.

As I received this mark of the cross today I was thinking of the 21 Egyptian Christian martyrs.  Copts permanently bear the sign of the cross, tattooed on their wrists, as a sign that they will refuse to renounce their beliefs.

A Coptic Girl with a Wrist Cross Tatoo

A Coptic Girl with a Wrist Cross Tatoo

I intend to read out these men’s names at our morning church services this Sunday, here in Melbourne, Australia.  And I also choose to honour them today by writing to acknowledge the truth about why they were killed, and in particular the explanation given by their killers.

I also wish to record, as a Christian and a pastor, my intense protest at theWhite House official statement of February 15 2015 concerning this event.  This makes no mention of the reason the twenty one were killed: their Christian faith.  This culpable denial dishonours them, as it dishonours me and Christians everywhere.

The White House statement claimed that “ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect or ethnicity.”  Not true.  The Islamic State’s actions are constrained by its theology, and in this case its targets are also determined on religious grounds; they were Christians.  It is not an endorsement of the killers’ Islamic beliefs to acknowledge that these jihadis follow a form of Islam, and that their sect and faith does constrain their behaviour accordingly.

President Obama has defended his administration’s misrepresentations on the grounds that the radicals are “desperate for legitimacy” so “They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam.” But these are not desperate people.  They are shockingly confident in their beliefs. They do not “try to portray themselves” as Islamic: they sincerely believe they are. Christopher Hitchens got it right over a decade ago when he suggested of Al Qa’ida recruits that “they believe their own propaganda,” and “absolutely subscribe to the tenets of their version … of their religion, Islam.”

Obama also stated that “we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.”  This too is nonsense.  A lie is a deliberate intention to deceive, and these self-described jihadis are – at least by their own understanding – speaking the absolute truth when they claim to speak for Islam.

Some years ago I had the privilege of reading the Gospel at a Coptic service held in St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, here in Melbourne.  The service was held to commemorate the 22 martyrs of the attack on Al-Qiddisin Church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve. It was led by Bishop Suriel, Melbourne’s Coptic bishop.

The Al-Qiddisin martyr’s service impressed me deeply. I long pondered the fact that the Coptic church of Egypt has been grieving over the freshly dug graves of its martyred sons and daughters since the dawn of Christianity.  As I sat through the service and sung the hymns about martyrdom, I thought, “So this is what it means to be a Copt”.

The Islamic State video, a polished production, depicts 21 Christian men, hands bound behind them, being led one-by-one along a beach in Libya to a point where they are forced to bow down with their heads in the sand, and there they are beheaded, crying out Ya Rabbi Yasou ‘Lord Jesus!’, some reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Severed heads were then placed on top of each corpse, their Muslim slayer standing over them.  The final film shots show the Mediterranean washing red with their blood.

One of the Coptic victims with his killer

One of the Coptic victims with his killer

The whole event was meticulously choreographed and rehearsed.  The video’s obvious purpose is to humiliate and terrorise Christians, whom it derisively calls, “The Nation of the Cross”.  I admire the courage of the martyrs, who did not disown the name of Christ and the cross to follow Islam, even as they were being mocked and killed by their tormentors.

It is indisputable (see Part 2) that the whole script of this video is intensely religious. It is packed with references to the Qur’an and the Hadiths of Muhammad.  As Graeme Wood comments in an important recent Atlantic Monthly article, the Islamic State adherents are constantly referencing Islam’s sacred texts. In their everyday speech, “Koranic quotations are ubiquitous”.  This film is no exception.  For anyone who knows anything about Islam it is impossible to view this film without being aware of the heavy constraining influence of the Qur’an and the Hadiths on the script.  These references are essential for understanding the true context, meaning and intent of the film.

The Egyptian government reacted angrily to the executions, bombing Islamic State positions inside Libya.  Egypt was incensed about this massacre – and rightly so – but it has a very long and enduring track record of not prosecuting Muslims who have massacred Christians within its own borders.  General Al-Sisi is a leader who has been complicit in this peculiar form of Muslim cowardice.  This moral inconsistency is causing great division and confusion among Copts at the present time.

My comment after the Al-Qiddisi massacre in January 2011 remains as valid now as it was then:

“I deplore the lack of freedom of religion in Egypt,  the authorities’ apparent unwillingness to protect the indigenous Christian minority and its places of worship, and the lamentable track record of the Egyptian justice system in securing criminal convictions against those who have targeted Christians for attack.  I call upon Egypt’s leaders to respond to these abuses honestly and with integrity, without making excuses or indulging in denial.”

There is a double standard in the house of Islam.  Examples are legion.  The Jordanian royal house has been prominent in speaking up against attacks against Christians in Iraq and Syria, yet at the time when the Common Word letter was being released to the Christian world in 2008 under Jordanian royal sponsorship, its own Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought had posted on its website fatwas by its Chief Scholar – the former Mufti of Jordan – which declared death for Christians for the crime of leaving Islam, and even identified one person by name (see here).

King Abdullah has on the one hand been a champion of the rights of displaced Christians in the Middle East, and God knows they surely need one.  On the other hand he has held up the notorious Pact of Umar as evidence of Jordan’s history of religious tolerance:

“Jerusalem, which is, regrettably, subject to the worst forms of Judaisation today, stands witness to fourteen centuries of  deep, solid and fraternal relations between Muslims and Christians, enhanced by the Pact of Omar [ibn al-Khattab], and promoted by my grandfather, Sharif Hussein bin Ali, may God bless his soul.”

In contrast to this historical revisionism, the renowned Muslim jurist Ibn Kathir, accurately described the intent and effect of the conditions of the Pact of Umar as guaranteeing the continued degradation of Christians under Islamic rule:

“This is why the Leader of the faithful ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace.”

Readers who read classical Arabic may consult the Royal Jordan Aal al-Bayt Institute’s own database of commentaries here, to view Ibn Kathir’s original text.

The problem is that as long as Muslims allow derogatory words like mushrik‘associator, polytheist’ and kafir ‘infidel’ to be applied to Christians, while also preaching Qur’anic verses which denigrate non-Muslims, the hostility and hatred can only continue.

As long as the highest legal authorities of the Islamic mainstream continue to assert the right of Muslims to kill those who leave Islam, bursts of extreme religious hatred such as we have just seen in Libya can only continue.

As long as Muslims claim that the well-documented brutal slaughters of Islamic conquest and the ensuing oppression of nations under the Islamic system of dhimmitude were a mercy to the world, the ‘opening’ up (al-futuh) of dark nations to light and truth, hatred towards non-Muslims will continue to arise in the house of Islam.

The fundamental problem is not peculiar variants of extreme religious worldviews, it is a deeply engrained religious worldview that is not acknowledged by many who hold it.  Those who, like King Abdullah, allow it room to breathe by claiming that it is something other than what it really is are as much a part of the problem as the violent jihadis who are proud to own the worldview.

In the house of Islam, hatred has deep roots stretching back through time.  In 1836 Edward Lane reported in The Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians that it was standard practice in many Cairo schools to require Muslim school boys to invoke daily curses on the heads of Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims.  In essence these curses called for the looting, killing and enslavement of non-Muslims.   It is only against the backdrop of inter-generational hatred that a television series on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion could have become mainstream viewing in Egyptian society, and continuing kidnapping, rape and killings of Copts are perpetrated without justice for the victims.

There is an ill-wind of hatred blowing in the house of Islam and it has been blowing for a very long time indeed.  When this wind is whipped up into a tornado, the world is appalled, but it is the constant steady breeze of hatred that is the root of the problem.

As this letter was addressed to the Christians of the world, here I give my personal reply to the Islamic State, written as a Christian:

I am not intimidated by your hatred.  Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us not to fear those who may kill the body.  The people of honour on that beach in Tripoli were those 21 courageous Copts, who dared to confess the name of Christ, even with a knife to their necks. They knew well what choice they were making. You thought to humiliate them, but the Word of God tells me they are the vindicated ones, the men of glory.  I believe they knew that full well.

For you I have no hate, only pity.  You wield the sword to kill ideas and worship you do not understand, but you do this in vain. The truth cannot be killed by your knives.

General Sisi of Egypt was right: because of you, people all over the world are doubting Islam.

Here is how a young Egyptian girl reacted to what you did:  

‘I am encouraged because now I know that what we have been taught in history books about Egyptian Christians being martyred for their faith is not just history, but that there are Christians today who are brave enough to face death rather than deny their Lord! When I saw these young men praying as they were being prepared for execution and then many of them shouting ‘O Lord Jesus’ as their throats were being slit, I realized that the Gospel message can still help us to hold on to the promises of God even when facing death!’

This is the true truth, and it is precisely because of this truth that a new wind is blowing in the house of Islam: a fresh breeze of questioning, a wind of gentleness and openness. This is the life-giving breath of hope that there must be a different way to walk with God.  You are men of the past: the future belongs to those you killed on the beach.

To read the second part of this post, go to this link.

Mark Durie2Dr Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992.

What the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism Can’t Fix

President Obama speaking at the White House summit on countering violent extremism on Feb. 19. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

President Obama speaking at the White House summit on countering violent extremism on Feb. 19. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

WSJ, by Aaron David Miller, Feb. 19, 2025:

The problem that Barack Obama’s summit to counter violence and extremism is meant to address isn’t one that community activism can resolve. The president’s message about the need for tolerance, understanding, and  inclusiveness to prevent and preempt radicalization of American youth is well suited to our historic notion of the “big tent.” But the world confronts a radicalized version and vision of Islam that requires a military and political approach. This isn’t something that Washington can fix quickly or comprehensively. First and foremost, the Arab states and the Muslim world must own up to the radical extremists in their midst.

We aren’t at war with Islam, and the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims aren’t jihadis. President Obama has acknowledged this. But he won’t clearly define the enemy we face. Determination to avoid playing into jihadi hands or alienating our Arab friends has led the president to a world of obfuscation and denial. The current threat isn’t from Basque separatists, Chechen radicals, or the Kurdish PKK; it’s from radicalized Muslims who are spreading their poison from Pakistan to Syria to Nigeria to the alienated and aggrieved Muslim communities of Europe.

This is a long war, specifically against those individuals and groups that have chosen to resurrect an austere, violent and fundamentalist version of their religion. To describe the fight by claiming, as President Obama did in his Los Angeles Times op-ed, as a battle against terrorism gets at only the visible hunk of the iceberg. The mass below the water line is where the danger lurks. And that threat is not some generic global challenge but resides primarily in the lands of the Arabs and among disparate Muslim groups such as Boko Haram that thrive in empty spaces and highly fractured societies.

The rise of Islamic State–and that’s why this summit is taking place–is a direct result of years of no governance, bad governance, and Sunni-Shiite sectarian rivalry fostered willingly (see: Iran) and unwillingly (see: U.S. invasion of Iraq) in the Middle East and South Asia. Force is required to preempt, contain, and to keep these radical jihadis at bay. The problem of ISIS will not be resolved until the broken spaces in which it thrives are filled with good governance, security, and prosperity. And that is not only beyond U.S. capacity but also may not necessarily be desired by the Iranian and Arab governments that play this dangerous game. Iran, the United States’ new putative partner, isn’t interested in turning Iraq into a cohesive state where the majority Sunnis rule; nor is Tehran–or the Russians and the U.S., for that matter–interested in getting rid of Bashar al-Assad, who feeds ISIS recruitment by killing Syrian Sunnis. Islamic State can’t be “ultimately defeated,” as President Obama is fond of saying, without a fundamental transformation in the Middle East.

The notion that Washington can somehow take the lead in this effort is preposterous. In conjunction with our regional partners, particularly the Gulf states, we must play a relentless and key role on the military aspect of the fight. But the U.S. should be under no illusions that we can fix what ails the Middle East. Some of our regional allies–the Saudis, Qataris, and Kuwaitis in particular–have funded and supported Islamist fundamentalist groups, including those on the Syrian battlefield. By propagating their own fundamentalist version of Islam, the Saudis contributed for years to the problem we all face now. And because we have so few friends in the region, we have no choice but to continue to depend on states (think Egypt and Saudi Arabia) whose values are fundamentally different from ours and whose repressive policies toward legitimate dissent help feed radical jihad.

We may not be able to come up with a neat prescription for how to defeat Islamic State and jihadi radicals. But as we fight this long war we can at least be honest about the challenge and the enemies we face. That clarity might bring more focus and urgency to the fight.

Aaron David Miller is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and most recently the author of “The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President.” He is on Twitter: @AaronDMiller2.

Secure the Border!

aisis-426x350Frontpage, February 19, 2015 by Raymond Ibrahim:

Originally published by PJ Media.

In a move reminiscent of “ancient history,” Saudi Arabia is building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall”  –  a combined fence and ditch  –  to separate itself from the Islamic State to the north in Iraq:

Plans for the 600-mile wall and ditch Saudi Arabia will build with Iraq in an effort to insulate itself from the chaos engulfing its neighbors.

Much of the area on the Iraqi side is now controlled by Isil [the Islamic State], which regards the ultimate capture of Saudi Arabia, home to the “Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal….

The irony here is that those Muslims that Saudi Arabia is trying to keep out are the very same Muslims most nurtured and influenced by a Saudi — or “Wahabbi,” or “Salafi” — worldview.

Put differently, Saudi Arabia is again appreciating how jihad is a volatile instrument of war that can easily backfire on those who support it.  “Holy war” is hardly limited to fighting and subjugating “infidels” — whether the West in general, Israel in particular, or the millions of non-Muslim minorities under Islam — but also justifies fighting “apostates,” that is, Muslims accused of not being Islamic enough.

Indeed, the first grand jihad was against Muslim “apostates” — the Ridda [“apostasy”] Wars.  After Muhammad died in 632, many Arab tribes were willing to remain Muslim but without paying zakat (“charity”) money to the first caliph, Abu Bakr.  That was enough to declare jihad on them as apostates; tens of thousands of Arabs were burned, beheaded, dismembered, or crucified, according to Islamic history.

Accordingly, the Islamic State justifies burning people alive, such as the Jordanian pilot, precisely because the first caliph and his Muslim lieutenants burned apostates alive, and is even on record saying that “false Muslims” are its first target, then Israel.

This is the problem all Muslim nations and rulers risk: no one — not even Sharia-advocating Islamist leaders — are immune to the all-accusing sword tip of the jihad.  If non-Muslims are, as “infidels,” de facto enemies, any Muslim can be accused of “apostasy,” instantly becoming an enemy of Allah and his prophet.

A saying attributed to the Muslim prophet Muhammad validates this perspective: “This umma [Islamic nation] of mine will split into seventy-three sects; one will be in paradise and seventy-two will be in hell.”  When asked which sect was the true one, the prophet replied, “al-jama‘a,” that is, the group which most literally follows the example or “sunna” of Muhammad.

This saying perfectly sums up the history of Islam: to be deemed legitimate, authorities must uphold the teachings of Islam — including jihad; but it is never long before another claimant accuses existing leadership of not being “Islamic enough.”

Enter the Saudi/Islamic State relationship. From the start, the Arabian kingdom has been a supporter of the Islamic State.  It was not long, however, before IS made clear that Saudi Arabia was one of its primary targets, calling on its allies and supporters in the kingdom to kill and drive out the Saud tribe.

Nor is this the first time the Saudis see those whom they nurtured — ideologically and logistically — turn on them.  Back in the 1980s, the Saudis were chief supporters of the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan and helped create al-Qaeda.

But once the “distant” infidel was subdued, al-Qaeda and its Saudi-born leader Osama bin Laden came home to roost, doing the inevitable: pointing the accusatory finger at the Saudi monarchy for not being Islamic enough, including for its reliance on the great American infidel during the First Gulf War.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia is not only a chief disseminator and supporter of the Salafi ideology most associated with jihad, but the Arabian kingdom itself was forged in large measure by articulating and calling for holy war in the 19th and -20th centuries, including against Turks and fellow Arab tribes (both Muslim).

The Saudi argument then was the very same argument now being made by the Islamic State — that the rulers of Islam’s holiest mosques in Mecca and Medina (in this case, the Ottoman Turks) were not “Islamic” enough.

Such is the double-edged sword of jihad.   All Islamic governments, regimes, and kingdoms must always try to direct this potent instrument of war against enemies or neutral targets — preferably ones far away from their borders (Afghanistan, America, etc.). For they know that the longer the jihad waxes in strength and goes uncontained, the more it becomes like an all-consuming fire indiscriminately scorching all in its path.

And this explains why Saudi Arabia is a chief funder and supporter of external jihads: to send its own zealots out of its borders to fight distant infidels (a “better them than me” mentality).  It also explains why nations like Saudi Arabia, which were forged by the jihad, continually find themselves threatened by the jihad — or, to paraphrase a young Jewish rabbi: “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

EXPERT: FBI ‘NEUTERED’ BY MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

muslim-brotherhood-white-houseWND, by F. MICHAEL MALOOF, Feb. 9, 2015:

WASHINGTON – A veteran national-security specialist disputes FBI Director James Comey’s contention that restrictions on information-gathering are the main hindrance to uncovering ISIS conspiracies in the U.S.

Clare Lopez, who served in the CIA for 20 years and is senior vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy, said the problem isn’t with working-level FBI agents, who know the jihadi threat is “nurtured” in mosques. The hindrance is from “higher-level” FBI management and the national security leadership, she insisted.

She said the FBI for too long has allowed itself “to be influenced by operatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates whose objective is to neuter U.S. national security defenses.”

Lopez was responding to Comey’s recent comment that restrictions on information-gathering stemming from intelligence leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have created barriers for law enforcement and the intelligence community.

Comey made the comment as he revealed the FBI has opened cases in 49 U.S. states of people suspected of having ties to ISIS.

Lopez said that when someone such as Michael Steinbach, an assistant director for the FBI Counterterrorism Division, publicly complains that he cannot fathom the recruitment appeal of ISIS or understand why parents in the U.S. encourage their children to join ISIS, “then, America, we have a problem.”

“That means the FBI’s top [counter-terrorism] official has no idea how to identify and stop that ISIS recruitment process before more young Muslims answer the call to jihad,” Lopez said.

She noted, however, that Steinbach was one of the FBI’s key figures in the “Great Purge” of 2011-2012 when, “at the urging of its Muslim Brotherhood advisers, the FBI literally purged hundreds of pages of training curriculum that used to educate agents about how Islamic doctrine, law and scripture inspire Islamic terrorism.”

The FBI, she said, “banished the instructors whose knowledge of these things was deemed so threatening by the Brotherhood.”

Lopez said the move was an illustration of the Muslim Brotherhood strategy – outlined in a document entered into evidence in a terrorism trial – to destroy the Western civilization from within, by their hands.”

That means, Lopez said, “We’re going to be induced to destroy ourselves.”

Lopez also referred to a document published by a combined team of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the FBI on how to make mosques off-limits to law enforcement.

She pointed out that Islam’s founder, Muhammad, had established mosques with “command and control centers” for the Muslim community’s earliest jihad wars.

Despite that history, she said U.S. troops nonetheless “were shocked” when they were first fired upon from within mosques and when they entered mosques in Iraq and Afghanistan and discovered weapons caches.

Similar concern over the potential of violence emanating from mosques in the U.S. was outlined in a Middle East Quarterly article. It raised concerns regarding the extent American Muslims, native-born a well as naturalized, are being radicalized by Islamists.

The article showed how modern jihadists legitimize their violent actions by relying on the same textual works as their nonviolent Salafist counterparts.

Lopez said the 2011 study of mosques in the U.S. found that some 80 percent promote jihad violence and that the more Shariah-compliant the mosque is, the more likely it will be to promote jihad.

“And you’re still wondering if the FBI is going to be aggressive in infiltrating mosques and Islamic centers?” Lopez asked.

“Unless our law enforcement professionals are permitted to understand the indicators and warnings that signal development of an Islamic jihad threat, in advance,” she said, “the FBI will be desperately scrambling to keep up with an ever-expanding pool of potential jihad recruits.”

She identified the threats as passport-carrying American citizens, immigrants with residence status, or documented refugees, some of whom have returned from ISIS battlefields in Iraq and Syria.

She pointed out that al-Qaida and ISIS have issued calls for individual jihad, meaning Islamic terror at home and unconnected in any formal way to a group on the Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.

She said law enforcement officials need to understand how Muslims can become radicalized without ever joining al-Qaida, ISIS or any other group on the FTO list.

“How can the FBI or any national security agency even begin to understand this process when they are forbidden even to use the words ‘Islamic terror’ or ‘jihad?’” she asked.

She referred to many examples of individual jihadists who were not associated with any organizations or groups on the FTO list but undertook serious violent actions in the name of jihad.

The examples of individual jihadists include Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 service personnel at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009; Carlos Bledsoe, who in June 2009 murdered Amy Long at the Little Rock, Arkansas, Army recruitment center; and the Tsarnaev brothers, who learned how to make pressure cooker bombs by reading al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine and then exploded two at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

“The common identifier for these individual jihadists was their deep Islamic faith and decision to answer the call to jihad,” she said. “The other common marker was that law enforcement had no clue these Muslims were on a pathway to violent jihad, despite all the associations, all the indicators and all the warnings.

“So yes, there will certainly be more individual jihad attacks, and it is likely they will choose soft targets, as they did in Paris and Brussels and Sydney,” Lopez said.

“And without the official knowledge or training or authority to identify and stop such jihadis in advance, our front line of homeland defense increasingly becomes ourselves.”