ISIS has Capability and Intent to Attack the Homeland

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

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

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

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

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

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

FACTS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINDINGS:

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

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

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

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

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

FORECAST:

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

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

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

 

FBI National Domestic Threat Assessment Omits Islamist Terrorism

Medical workers aid injured people near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following two bomb explosions / AP

Medical workers aid injured people near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following two bomb explosions / AP

Internal report labels white supremacists, black separatists, militias, abortion extremists main domestic extremists

Washington Free Beacon, By Bill Gertz, August 29, 2014:

The FBI’s most recent national threat assessment for domestic terrorism makes no reference to Islamist terror threats, despite last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting—both carried out by radical Muslim Americans.

Instead, the internal FBI intelligence report concluded in its 2013 assessment published this month that the threat to U.S. internal security from extremists is limited to attacks and activities by eight types of domestic extremist movements—none motivated by radical Islam.

They include anti-government militia groups and white supremacy extremists, along with “sovereign citizen” nationalists, and anarchists. Other domestic threat groups outlined by the FBI assessment include violent animal rights and environmentalist extremists, black separatists, anti- and pro-abortion activists, and Puerto Rican nationalists.

“Domestic extremist violence continues to be unpredictable and, at times, severe,” the report states.

A copy of the unclassified, 60-page National Threat Assessment for Domestic Extremism, dated Aug. 14, was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. It warns that the threat of domestic-origin extremism was moderate in 2013 and will remain so for this year.

“Domestic extremists collectively presented a medium-level threat to the United States in 2013; the FBI assesses the 2014 threat will remain close to this level,” the report said.

On black separatists, the report warned that a “high-profile racially charged crimes or events” could lead to an expansion of black separatist groups. The report identified three such groups as the New Black Panther Party, the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, and the Black Hebrew Israelite group as extremists under FBI scrutiny.

An alternative assessment section in the report warned that radical black activists could “reinitiate violence at the historically high levels seen for the movement during the 1970s, when bombings, assassinations, hijackings, and hostage-takings occurred.”

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“Such a scenario could occur as an extreme response to perceptions of devolving racial equality or perceptions of racially-motivated police brutality, or racially-biased injustice, oppression, or judicial rulings,” the report said. “Indicators include increased weapons procurement, reports of sophisticated plots, and development of an explosives capability.”

Black extremist groups may also seek “stronger ties to foreign governments in exchange for financial resources,” the report said.

The report was written before the racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo. However, it mentions that black separatist extremists stepped up threats against law enforcement officers, the U.S. government, and non-blacks following the Trayvon Martin shooting in 2012.

“FBI investigations reveal black separatist extremists engaged in financial crimes, and drug and weapons trafficking, possibly to finance activities and maintain access to weapons,” the report said.

FBI intelligence sources reported that domestic extremist groups “aspired” to carry out violent attacks. “Of a sample of 50 credible violent threat intelligence reports analyzed for this assessment, nearly 60 percent expressed lethal violence as an ultimate goal,” the report said, noting militias seeking the overthrow of the U.S. government, sovereign citizens, white supremacists and black separatists were among those seeking to conduct deadly attacks.

“Lone actors and small cells will continue to present the greatest threat in 2014,” the report says. “Some of these individuals will engage in lethal violence, although it is most likely the majority of violent criminal acts will continue to be characterized as serious crimes, such as arson and assault, but which are not, ultimately lethal.”

The Bureau anticipates an increase in activity by animal rights and environmental extremists, such as releasing animals and damaging property, as both movements began expanding in late 2013. Additionally, a similar level of activity is expected this year for anarchist, anti-government militias, white supremacy, and sovereign citizen extremists.

For abortion extremism, the report says violence prone groups fall into two categories, “anti-abortion” and “pro-choice,” but notes the primary threat of abortion extremism comes from lone individuals, not groups.

Puerto Rican nationalist extremists were described as “followers of Marxist-Leninist ideology,” have targeted the U.S. government for destabilization, and are seeking to create an independent island nation.

The FBI estimates domestic extremists caused more than $15 million in financial loses in 2012 and 2013, mainly through animal rights and environmental activities that targeted U.S. agriculture.

“It is highly likely extremists will continue to exact financial losses in 2014, with the agriculture, construction, and financial sectors serving as the most probable targets.”

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson had no immediate comment on the report.

One indirect explanation for the omission of Islamist extremism in the report is provided in a footnote to a graphic describing an “other” category of domestic extremism not included in the report. “The ‘Other’ category includes domestic extremist [sic] whose actions were motivated by beliefs which fall outside the eight designated [domestic terrorism] subprograms,” the footnote stated.

The footnote indicates the FBI has separated Islamist terrorism from other domestic extremism.

The Obama administration in 2009 adopted a new policy that substituted the vague term “violent extremism” as a replacement for terrorism.

The graphic showed that domestic extremists killed 43 people from 2003 to 2013 carried out by five categories of terrorists—abortion extremists, black separatists, sovereign citizens, white supremacists, and “others.”

The report left out all references to the April 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, which killed three people and injured some 264 others. Two brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who were motivated by Islamist extremist beliefs, carried out the bombing. They learned the techniques for the homemade pressure cooker bombers from an al Qaeda linked magazine.

The FBI had been warned in advance of the attack by Russian security services that the brothers may have links to Chechen terrorists but failed to act.

The FBI report also made no direct reference to the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, by radicalized Army Maj. Nidal Hasan. The mass shooting left 13 dead and more than 30 injured.

Former FBI Agent John Guandolo said he was not surprised the report did not include any reference to domestic-origin Islamic terror.

“It should not surprise anyone who follows the jihadi threats in the United States that the FBI would not even include ‘Islamic terrorism’ in its assessment of serious threats to the republic in an official report,” Guandolo said.

“Since 9/11, FBI leadership—as well as leaders from Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, CIA, Pentagon, and the National Security Council—relies on easily identifiable jihadis from the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas, al Qaeda and elsewhere to advise it on how to deal with ‘domestic extremism.’”

Patrick Poole, a domestic terrorism expert, also was critical of the report’s omission of U.S. Islamist extremism, blaming “politically correct” policies at the FBI for the problem.

“At the same time we have senior members of the Obama administration openly saying that it’s not a question of if but when we have a terror attack targeting the United States by ISIL, we have the FBI putting on blinders to make sure they don’t see that threat,” Poole said.

“These politically correct policies have already allowed Americans to be killed at Fort Hood and in Boston,” he added

Guandolo said the failure to recognize the domestic Islamist threat had allowed domestic jihadist groups and their sympathizers to shape U.S. government create policies that do not acknowledge jihad as the root cause for the current global chaos.

An example, he said, is that the FBI has appointed a domestic Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support organization leader to an FBI advisory council at the Washington headquarters.

Additionally, the FBI is failing to train agents and analysts on the Muslim Brotherhood network in the United States, Guandolo said.

“The FBI, no matter how diligent its agents are in their pursuit of ‘terrorists’, will never defeat this threat because its leaders refuse to address or even identify it,” he said. “This level of negligence on the part of the FBI leaders and their failure to understand the jihadi threat 13 years after 9/11 is appalling.”

Poole said the failure of the FBI to understand the domestic Islamist threat led to the U.S. government categorizing the 2009 Fort Hood shooting Army Maj. Nidal Hasan as “workplace violence.”

“In the case of Fort Hood, the FBI was monitoring Maj. Hasan’s email communication with al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki but the FBI headquarters dismissed it because they were talking about ‘religious’ subjects,” Poole said.

“In the Boston bombing case the FBI cleared Tamerlan Tsarnayev with nothing more than a house visit after receiving a tip from Russian intelligence, and never making the connection that he was attending a mosque founded by an imprisoned al Qaeda financier and previously attended by two convicted terrorists,” Poole added.

As a result “we have more than a dozen dead Americans killed here at home because of these politically correct FBI policies, and with threats emerging from all corners this doubling-down on political correctness when it comes to Islam is undoubtedly going to get more Americans killed,” he added.

The domestic threat assessment is the latest example indicating the FBI has been forced by Obama administration policies from focusing on the domestic terror threat posed by radical Islamists.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R., Texas) said in a 2012 House floor speech that the FBI was ordered to purge references to Islam, jihad, and Muslims in its counterterrorism “lexicon” guidelines for its reports.

As a result, the FBI is hamstrung from understanding the threat of terrorism from groups like al Qaeda that have declared jihad, or holy war, on the Untied States, Gomert said.

Guandolo, the former FBI agent, said the vast majority of U.S. Islamic organizations were identified in recent U.S. terrorism trials as part of the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent group for the Palestinian terror group Hamas. Thus, these groups are aligned with the same objectives as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, al Qaeda, and others, he said.

“Our FBI is not teaching their agents and analysts this information; they are not sharing it with local and state law enforcement officials; and they are not investigating and pursuing the very individuals and organizations which are supporting and training jihadis in America,” Guandolo said.

Guandolo said former FBI director Robert Mueller testified to Congress that he was unaware that the Islamic Society of Boston was the organization behind the radicalization of the Tsarnaev brothers. “That tells you all we need to know about the FBI’s leadership about the threat here in America from the Islamic Movement—they are clueless,” he said.

Bill Would End Outrageous Loophole Allowing ISIL Fighters to Return to U.S.

Mideast Syria Lines in Sand AnalysisBy Adam Kredo:

Americans who have travelled to foreign countries to train and fight with terror groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) are not being barred from freely returning to America, where they post a substantial terror threat, according to a leading member of Congress.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been tracking Americans who travel abroad to join jihadist groups, but there is no law on the books restricting travel to countries posing a substantial terror threat, according to Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.). He is proposing a new law that would significantly restrict travel to Syria and other “nations of concern.”

Wolf, who originally introduced the bill earlier this year, is leading a new push to pass legislation that would imprison for up to 20 years Americans who travel to these countries following the reported deaths of at least two Americans who had travelled to Syria to fight alongside ISIL.

At least 300 Americans are believed to be fighting alongside ISIL, according to U.S. intelligence sources, who have reportedly expressed concern about these fighters returning to carry out terror attacks in America.

Wolf petitioned other members of Congress on Thursday to finally “do something to prevent Americans fighting with ISIS from freely returning to the U.S,” according to a copy of a letter sent across the Hill.

“Limited U.S. intelligence about their activities in the region effectively means our law enforcement can do nothing when they return home, despite concerns about their activities, contacts and training while in Syria,” Wolf writes. “I think most would agree we need to do more to prevent these terrorists from returning freely to the U.S.”

The United States is not doing enough to prevent radicalized Americans from travelling back-and-forth between countries dominated by Islamist radicals, Wolf said.

“The U.S. is not taking any substantial steps to discourage Americans from going over to fight—and these would-be fighters can see there is little price to pay for doing so,” the letter states. “This is an untenable situation that puts our country at greater risk of attack from a radicalized American who trains and fights with these groups and later returns home.”

While U.S. officials have claimed they are tracking suspect Americans abroad, Congressional sources working on the issue say this is “completely unrealistic.”

“Think of all the FBI resources needed to follow each suspect once they return to the U.S.,” the source said. “Countless hours of agent time diverted just to piece together what they were doing over there and how much of a threat they pose back home. Why wouldn’t we try to preemptively address it instead?”

The security and intelligence gap has already been exploited by radicalized Americans, Wolf warned, referring to the case of Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a Florida resident who was radicalized in Syria and travelled back to the United States to try and recruit his friends and family.

Abusalha ultimately fled Florida and returned to Syria, where he carried out a suicide bombing on a government building.

“Incredibly, he traveled to and from Syria with impunity—because there are no restrictions on Americans going there,” Wolf wrote to other lawmakers.

The law as it stands currently takes a passive approach to those who travel between America and countries such as Syria.

U.S. authorities do not have the power to detain an American returning from a country like Syria unless there is definitive evidence the individual has joined a terror group. This type of evidence is often difficult to fully secure given the limitations of the U.S. intelligence community, Wolf explained.

“Currently, unless the U.S. has solid evidence that they have joined one of these terrorist groups, the FBI can’t detain and arrest suspects upon their return,” he wrote.

Wolf’s bill, the International Conflicts of Concern Act, seeks to mitigate the terror threat by giving the president authority to restrict travel and material support to nations where radical terror organizations are based.

The bill has been endorsed by FBI Director James Comey, who recently discussed the “enormous challenge” of tracking Westerners who travel to nations such as Syria.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Shouldn’t fighting for ISIS disqualify you as a US Citizen?

articlesfedsrevokecitizenship-fullCSP, by Ben Lerner:

Fox News is reporting that a second American citizen has been killed while fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in Syria.  That same report goes on to note that federal investigators estimate roughly one hundred American citizens have gone to Syria to fight for various jihadist organizations.  Other sources have indicated that the number of US citizens joining up with ISIS is as high as three hundred.

Homeland security officials are rightly concerned about this development.  American citizens fighting for ISIS and other groups can potentially return to the United States and apply their battlefield-acquired skills to carry out attacks against American targets – a list of which was just published in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) publication, Al Malahem.

One way to inhibit such operatives from coming back to the United States to carry out such plans is to revoke their US citizenship, a move that would invalidate their US passports and make it that much harder to set foot on American soil.  Revocation of citizenship would have the added benefit of making such individuals eligible for trial by military commissions (assuming such individuals fall within the purview of an Authorization for the Use of Military Force, be it the one currently in effect or one passed in the months to come).

The United States government arguably already has the authority to revoke citizenship under these circumstances.  Title 8, Section 1481 of the U.S. Code lays out the various scenarios through which a US citizen could lose his/her citizenship, and states in part:

(a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—…

… (3) entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if

(A) such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States, or

(B) such persons serve as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer; …

Could existing law perhaps be tweaked to include US citizens who join the ranks of non-state actors like ISIS or al Qaeda?  Perhaps – then-Senators Joe Lieberman and Scott Brown introduced legislation a few years ago along these lines.  Such an effort may need to be undertaken again.

It is true that especially these days, ISIS and company need only cross our southwest border to do us harm from within.  But a vulnerable back door is no reason not to lock the front door.

Security Expert: Our Southern Border Is A War Zone

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Center For Security Policy:

In Part 2 of The Daily Caller’s video interview with Clare Lopez, a senior official with the Center for Security Policy, she explains how the collapse of America’s southern border was a planned, willful refusal to maintain national sovereignty. Citing a January budget request from the Department of Homeland Security requesting funding based on the expectation of new flows of some 65,000 immigrants including children, Lopez thinks Americans, especially at the border, are threatened.

She discusses how narco-traffickers are flowing through, organized in columns at night in military formations guarded by sentinels and scouts, and armed with advanced weaponry. To her, the southern border is a war zone. As these undocumented immigrants are dispersed by air or bus throughout America, the threat widens, she reports.

To Lopez, President Obama is “consciously trying to diminish America’s leadership in the world.” She discusses the “great purge” that occurred early in the Obama administration where there was a comprehensive removal of training materials from departments and agencies who were engaged in ferreting out jihadi threats from radical Islamic terrorists. This purge, Lopez says in this video interview, “crippled and neutralized American national security interests.”

Discussing lessons learned from the Iraq war, Lopez says, “the U.S. never understood the “fundamental incompatibility between Islamic law and liberal western democracy, and in particular, the U.S. Constitution.” She continues, “Islamic law and Islam’s doctrine mandates inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims, between men and women.” She ends by stating, “As long as a people remain enthralled to Islamic law, there cannot be genuine, true liberal Western style democracy.”

To view Part 1, Clare Lopez on Benghazi, click here.

Intel believes 300 Americans fighting with Islamic State, posing threat to U.S.

 

Photo by: Uncredited A convoy of vehicles and militant fighters move through Iraq's Anbar Province. The U.S. government is tracking and gathering intelligence on as many as 300 Americans who are fighting side-by-side with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and are poised to become a major threat to the homeland, according to senior U.S. officials. (Associated Press)

Photo by: Uncredited
A convoy of vehicles and militant fighters move through Iraq’s Anbar Province. The U.S. government is tracking and gathering intelligence on as many as 300 Americans who are fighting side-by-side with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and are poised to become a major threat to the homeland, according to senior U.S. officials. (Associated Press)


Officials say concern is widespread in Washington that radicalized foreign fighters could return to the homeland and commit terrorist attacks with skills acquired overseas, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information. Those concerns were heightened by the disclosure Tuesday that a California man was killed fighting alongside militants with the group, also known as ISIS.

The U.S. government is doing its best to keep track of the foreign fighters, who have been shifting back and forth between Iraq and Syria, according to a senior U.S. official.

“We know that there are several hundred American passport holders running around with ISIS in Syria or Iraq,” the official said, offering a figure well above widespread reports of about 100 such fighters. “It’s hard to tell whether or not they’re in Syria or moved to Iraq.”

The State Department did not respond to a request for the number of Americans traveling in Iraq and Syria.

Read more at Washington Times

Also see:

 

US reportedly recruiting allies to support expanded airstrikes, Syrian opposition

 

Fox News:

The Obama administration is pressing U.S. allies to increase their support for moderate rebel groups in Syria, as well as possible military operations, according to a published report.

The New York Times reported late Tuesday that White House officials believe that Great Britain and Australia would be willing to join the United States in a campaign of airstrikes in Syria, while the administration hoped that Turkey would give it access to key military bases.

The Times also reported that the U.S. has asked Turkish government to help seal that country’s border with Syria, which has proven to be an easy crossing point for foreign militants looking to join up with the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS, in northern Syria. The paper reported that the White House is also seeking intelligence help from Jordan, as well as financial support for groups like the moderate Free Syrian Army from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

The political calculus of such maneuvering among America’s Western allies is unclear. Last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron experienced one of the most humiliating defeats of his premiership when a motion to join potential airstrikes against Bashar al-Assad’s government was rejected by Parliament. However, the atrocities committed by ISIS since its overrunning of broad swathes of Syria and Iraq, have seemingly galvanized Cameron to press for action. In a recent opinion piece in the Sunday Telegraph, Cameron said that Britain was “in the middle of a generational struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology.”

Late Monday, the Pentagon began sending surveillance drones on flights over Syria to gather intelligence on ISIS positions after Obama approved their use over the weekend. The Times cited a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that “non-Syrian spy planes” on Monday carried out surveillance of ISIS positions in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

The Assad government in Damascus has warned the U.S. not to strike ISIS positions on Syrian territory without asking permission. However, on Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki emphatically rejected that condition, telling reporters “We’re not going to ask permission from the Syrian regime.” However, Psaki also noted that Obama had not made a final decision on whether to approve airstrikes in Syria.

The Times also reported that the White House was also close to a decision to authorize airstrikes and aid drops around the town of Amerli in northern Iraq, home to a community of ethnic Turkmens, which has been besieged by ISIS for more than two months. The Turkmens, as Shiite Muslims, are thought of as infidels by the Sunni members of ISIS.

Over the weekend, the United Nations’ special representative to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said the situation in Amerli was “desperate, and called for “immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens.” The BBC reported Saturday that the town had no electricity or drinking water, and is running out of food and medical supplies.

Obama’s Escape from Planet Reality

By David Wood at Answering Muslims:

Just minutes after defending Islam in a speech about the beheading of James Foley by the Islamic State (ISIS), President Barack Obama was back on the golf course. There’s something quite significant and symbolic about the President rushing to the golf course to avoid the horrors of a beheading. It’s analogous to the mental running our leaders have to do in order to avoid the truth about Islam.

 

Also see:

 

An American-Led Coalition Can Defeat ISIS

BN-EF900_edp082_G_20140824115055By JACK KEANE And DANIELLE PLETKA:

Two months ago we laid out a plan on these pages to bring Iraq back from the abyss of terrorist domination, turn the tide in the Syria conflict, and crush the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The need for such a plan is now more urgent as ISIS has since advanced dramatically, the Iraqi army and Kurdish militia initially performed poorly, and the terror group has threatened to kill more Americans as it did James Foley last week.

President Obama has so far ordered some 1,100 troops into Iraq and conducted close to 100 airstrikes. While it is important that the president has recognized the growing threat to U.S. security, these limited tactical measures will neither permanently reverse ISIS gains nor address the maelstrom in the Middle East. A combined political, economic and military strategy is needed, and one element without the others will likely doom the effort.

First, the political challenge: The Islamic State, like its predecessor al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda itself, has its roots in the swamp of Arab political life. Extremists gain purchase because the region’s leaders have delivered so little to the hundreds of millions over whom they rule. The Obama administration appeared to recognize this problem when it demanded the ouster of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had estranged the nation’s Sunni tribes, leading some to welcome ISIS from Syria.

Regional leaders are aware of these problems and exploit them through proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and the Palestinian territories. This is a recipe for endless conflict, and those leaders should be forced into a dialogue to resolve grievances and develop a regional strategy to defeat ISIS, al Qaeda and their ideological brethren.

Only the United States has the clout to convene such a summit. Only the U.S. can demand real change, and only the U.S can offer security reassurances to turn the political tide in the Middle East.

In particular, the time has come to confront the government of Qatar, which funds and arms ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas. The tiny Gulf potentate has never had to choose between membership in the civilized world or continuing its sponsorship of regional killers. The U.S. has the most leverage. We have alternatives to our Combined Air and Operations Center in Doha, the al Udeid air base, other bases and prepositioned materiel. We should tell Qatar to end its support for terrorism or we leave.

Second, the economic challenge: ISIS may now be the richest terror group in the world. Through hostage taking, criminality, conquest and outside financial support, ISIS is building a war chest measuring in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It has portfolio managers, bankers and other accouterments of a proto-Treasury.

These facilitators have not come under pressure in the way the West has challenged al Qaeda and Iran’s bankers. The intelligence is available to exert this pressure, but the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world are moving at a glacial pace.

Third, the military component: ISIS is at war and wants to control as much territory as possible. Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon are in the group’s sights. The Islamic State wants to control oil fields, financial and political centers and create a quasi-state with self-proclaimed emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in charge.

Read more at WSJ

Gen. Keane, a retired four-star general and former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, is the chairman of the Institute for the Study of War. Ms. Pletka is the senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Destroy the ‘Islamic State’

pic_giant_082514_SM_ISIS-FightersBy John R. Bolton:

The recent military successes of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, and the ongoing disintegration of Iraq’s “central” government have created a strategic crisis for the United States. Barack Obama’s belated, narrow authorization to use military force against the Islamic State does not constitute a coherent response, let alone a comprehensive one. The president seems curiously inactive, even as American influence in the region collapses and, not coincidentally, his political-approval ratings suffer. From the outset of the Islamic State’s campaign, his policies have been haphazard and confused, especially the halting, timid decision to intervene militarily. And, based on his record as president, there is no reason to believe a strategic vision of the Middle East’s future will ultimately emerge from his administration.

Approving U.S. military force against the Islamic State on August 7, Obama stressed two limited goals: protecting U.S. civilian and military personnel in Irbil, the Kurdish capital, which the Islamic State was rapidly nearing; and aiding refugees who had fled as the group advanced into Iraq from Syria. These are legitimate objectives, but they are far too constrained even in humanitarian terms, let alone against the serious regional and global strategic threats the Islamic State poses. The approximately 40,000 Yazidis were clearly in dire straits, but their plight had been preceded months earlier by the even greater number of fleeing Christian families. Obama stood by while the Islamic State butchered its way around Iraq.

Although the initial U.S. air strikes provided the refugees breathing space, the Islamic State still basically has the initiative. Ironically, Obama the multilateralist has not yet followed George H. W. Bush’s roadmap after the first Persian Gulf War in assembling an international coalition to achieve his humanitarian objectives. In April 1991, Kurdish refugees fled Saddam Hussein’s repression, and Bush persuaded the U.N. Security Council to adopt Resolution 688, declaring the refugee flows a threat to international peace and security. He then launched Operation Provide Comfort, later supplemented by aid to the Shiites in southern Iraq.

Today’s ongoing tragedy would have been entirely avoidable had Obama not withdrawn U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011. By so doing, he eliminated a considerable element of U.S. leverage in Baghdad, one that had significantly limited Iran’s ability to expand its influence inside Iraq. With substantial U.S. forces still present, Iraq’s various ethnic and confessional groups were more likely to make progress knitting together a sustainable national government and to lessen their profound, longstanding mistrust, which existed well before the Islamic State erupted from Syria.

We must now decide on U.S. strategic objectives in light of the dramatic, albeit still-tenuous, territorial gains by the Islamic State; the unfolding disarray in Iraq’s government; the grinding conflict in Syria; and the looming threats to stability in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. This will require some unpleasant choices, as well as recognition of the obvious reality that many policy options are simply unavailable until Obama leaves office in 2017.

America’s basic objective is clear: We must seek to destroy the Islamic State. It is simply not enough to block the group’s threat to the Kurds or other vulnerable minorities in the region. The risks of even a relatively small “state” (or “caliphate,” as they proclaim it) are chilling. Leaving the Islamic State in place and in control only of its current turf in Iraq and Syria (including northern-Iraqi hydrocarbon deposits and associated infrastructure) would make it viable economically and a fearsome refuge for terrorists of all sorts. Just as Afghanistan’s Taliban gave al-Qaeda a base of operations to launch terrorist attacks culminating in 9/11, a similar result could follow if the Islamic State successfully erased and then redrew existing boundaries.

Read more at National Review

ISIS Declares War

black-flag-of-isisBlind Eagle blog, By Brian Fairchild, Aug. 23, 2014:

The final letter sent by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to the family of the butchered James Foley is widely misunderstood.  While it states ISIS’ decision to murder Mr. Foley, the letter is not addressed to the Foley family, nor is Foley its primary subject.  Rather, the letter, which was addressed to the American government and its citizens, is a declaration of war against the United States, and it promises attacks against both government entities and civilians in retaliation for recent American airstrikes and support for Kurdish proxy forces.  Only after making the case for war does ISIS mention Foley, and then he’s described as the war’s first casualty.

ISIS’ rationalization for attacks against American citizens is their support for US military operations against it, a precedent set in 2002 by Osama bin Laden to justify al Qaeda’s attacks against American civilians:

  • “The American people are the ones who pay the taxes which fund the planes that bomb us in Afghanistan, the tanks that strike and destroy our homes in Palestine, the armies which occupy our lands in the Arabian Gulf, and the fleets which ensure the blockade of Iraq. These tax dollars are given to Israel for it to continue to attack us and penetrate our lands. So the American people are the ones who fund the attacks against us, and they are the ones who oversee the expenditure of these monies in the way they wish, through their elected candidates…”[1]

The ISIS letter might also contain a hint about the type of attacks it will launch against the homeland.  In it, ISIS states that it requested the release of Pakistani al Qaeda member Afia Siddiqi, who was sentenced to 86 years in prison on September 23, 2010.  Although al Qaeda leaders previously called for her release, these calls were always combined with the demand for the release of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman.  Assuming that the message in the ISIS letter was carefully crafted by ISIS leaders, the fact that ISIS singled Siddiqi out in this letter might indicate that it’s planning “mass casualty” attacks through the use of weapons of mass destruction, which was her specialty according to court documents:

  • “…the documents the government introduced pursuant to Rule 404(b) detail, among other things, the construction of fertilizer and plastic explosives.  One document in particular discusses radioactive bombs, biological weapons, and chemical weapons.  That document also contains the phrase “mass casualty attack” and lists a number of New York City landmarks, including Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge.[2]

Al Qaeda and ISIS have consistently sought to develop biological, nuclear and chemical weapons, and to upgrade conventional explosives.  In early July 2014, ISIS sought-out and seized 88 pounds of uranium compounds from a science lab at the University of Mosul that could be used to construct a dirty bomb.  In 2003, al Qaeda launched an operation to disperse cyanide in the New York subway system, but the operation was called off at the last minute, most likely because its leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, believed such an attack would adversely impact on his Muslim support base.  ISIS would not hesitate to launch such an attack.  On July 2, 2014, the US government increased security at international airports with nonstop service to the US because it obtained intelligence revealing that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) developed a new explosive compound that cannot be detected by standard sensors.  To make matters worse, on August 20, 2014, AQAP expressed solidarity with ISIS and vowed to attack the US on its behalf.

ISIS’ de facto declaration of war puts the United States and its citizens squarely in its sights.  It not only has the technology to inflict grave damage in the homeland, but its capability is enhanced by the fact that the radicalized American and Western European citizens currently in its ranks can travel in the United States virtually unimpeded.  Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel reported yesterday that ISIS represents a “whole new dynamic…as sophisticated and well-funded as any organizations we’ve seen”.  These developments demand the highest level of vigilance by all local, state, and national security agencies.

The full text of ISIS’ letter is provided below exactly as it appeared:

HOW LONG WILL THE SHEEP FOLLOW THE BLIND SHEPPARD?

A message to the American government and their sheep like citizens: 

We have left you alone since your disgraceful defeat in Iraq. We did not interfere in your country or attack your citizens while they were safe in their homes despite our capability to do so!

As for the scum of your society who are held prisoner by us, THEY DARED TO ENTER THE LION’S DEN AND WHERE EATEN! 

You were given many chances to negotiate the release of your people via cash transactions as other governments have accepted,

We have also offered prisoner exchanges to free the Muslims currently in your detention like our sister Dr Afia Sidiqqi, however you proved very quickly to us that this is NOT what you are interested in. 

You have no motivation to deal with the Muslims except with the language of force, a language you were given in “Arabic translation” when you attempted to occupy the land of Iraq!
Now you return to bomb the Muslims of Iraq once again, this time resorting to Arial attacks and “proxy armies”, all the while cowardly shying away from a face-to-face confrontation!
 

Today our swords are unsheathed towards you, GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENS ALIKE! AND WE WILL NOT STOP UNTILL WE QUENCH OUR THIRST FOR YOUR BLOOD.

You do not spare our weak, elderly, women or children so we will NOT spare yours!

You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings! 

The first of which being the blood of the American citizen, James Foley! 

He will be executed as a DIRECT result of your transgressions towards us!

 

Judge Jeanine Calls Obama Response to Foley Beheading Wimpy and Pathetic

Published on Aug 24, 2014 by Steven Laboe

Judge Jeanine Pirro’s Opening Statement blasts Obama for playing golf instead of dealing with ISIS.

 

Is ISIS Already Here?

Published on Aug 24, 2014 by Steven Laboe

Brigitte Gabriel joins Judge Jeanine to address the domestic terrorist threat by ISIS upon U.S. soil.

 

Also see:

And now we have ISIS.  The terror group that will stop at nothing to destroy our nation.   I know they are here.  I know this because there is a congressional report from 2012 that states the drug cartels are working with terror networks.  I know it because I have seen places along the border where the fence has been cut down on 50 separate occasions to allow huge trucks of drugs to drive through.  Despite all the technology and border patrol station presence, not once has a truck been stopped.   I understand that Anthrax, the makings for dirty bombs, radio-active material and explosive devices can be smuggled across the border without anyone or anything stopping the evil folks who smuggle them through.

I know what I know, and I have been ahead of this story for years.  It’s a matter of time before a city is destroyed.  I guess the only line of defense you have at this point is prayer.  Pray it isn’t your city.

RET USAF GENERAL WARNS OF POSSIBLE 9/11/14 COMING

btvBreitbart:

Saturday on Fox News Channel’s “America’s News HQ,” network military analyst Ret. Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney told host Uma Pemmaraju that in oder to address the current threat ISIS posses, the Untied States should “go to DEFCON 1, our highest state of readiness and be prepared as we lead up to 9/11,” because he warned “we may even see a 9/11/14.”

McInerney referenced the missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 from earlier this year and said, “On the seventh of September, a major news network and publishing network are going to put out a book. It is going to be earth shattering of what’s happening and what happened. The fact is we may even see a 9/11/14 MH-370 surface again. We should go to DEFCON 1, our highest state of readiness and be prepared as we lead up to 9/11.”

Pemmaraju asked, “When you say a major news organization is coming forward with a publication, what are you referring to specifically? Can you allude to that, give us more details?

McInerney continued,”I can’t give you any more than what I’ve just said. But it is going to be extremely important  and America should take notice. We are less safe today than we were six years ago.”

The general again confirmed America should raise the terror level threat at this point ahead of the anniversary of 9/11.

OBAMA’S POST-FOLEY FRAUD ABOUT SHARIAH

isil-journalistBreitbart, by FRANK J. GAFFNEY, JR.:

President Barack Obama found time between golf rounds Thursday to condemn the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State (also known as the Islamic State in the Levant or ISIL) and to assure the American people that he was all about protecting them against similar fates.

Unfortunately, aside from the President’s welcome condolences to the Foley family, the rest of his remarks amounted to serial misrepresentations about this latest act of terrorist violence at the hands of shariah-adherent jihadists. Such conduct can only assure that more of us will die at their hands.

For example, Mr. Obama declared: “No faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” Actually, the authoritative Islamic doctrine (or ideology) known as shariah explicitly calls for violent jihad to force infidels to submit to Islam and, as the Koran puts it, “to make them feel subdued.”

The President sought to reinforce the notion that, because ISIL’s “victims are overwhelmingly Muslim,” the group’s terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. In fact, practically from Islam’s inception, innumerable Muslims have been massacred by their co-religionists over such matters as Sunni-Shia differences concerning fine points of theology or insufficient conformity with shariah.

Mr. Obama also asserted that the Islamic State’s “ideology is bankrupt.” Calling that ideology bankrupt at a moment when it is palpably on the march from North and sub-Saharan Africa to the Far East and Latin America bespeaks a contempt for the intelligence of the American people. It is approximately as delusional and misleading as Obama’s previous, electioneering claim that one of shariah’s other jihadist franchises, al Qaeda, is “on the path to defeat.”

In short, President Obama’s comments marking the decapitation of James Foley are but the latest in a series of instances of national security fraud on his part. Intentional or not, they have the effect of engendering a false sense of security at home, even as they embolden our jihadist and other enemies – who are ever-alert to weakness, lack of seriousness, or irresolution on America’s part.

A particularly unsettling example of those qualities was evident in the President’s closing assurance that “we will be vigilant… and relentless” in protecting the American people. Actually, at the moment he is being clueless, disingenuous, and ineffectual in doing so. And that puts us all at risk.

EXCLUSIVE: RALPH PETERS ON OBAMA’S REIGN OF ERROR AND HOW AMERICA LOST ITS WAY IN THE WAR AGAINST JIHAD

Cain-author-photos-009jpg

There is widespread confusion over the Obama administration’s seemingly contradictory policies due to a lack of understanding of how the left has gradually changed our military culture as well as Obama’s own particular ideologies formed by his life experiences. This is a very insightful analysis by Ralph Peters which, if understood, makes sense out of everything Obama has done-  CJR

Breitbart, by DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, Aug. 22, 2014:

Ralph Peters, the iconoclastic author and military strategist has been very vocal of late regarding US national security policy and the growth of the global jihadist movement. 

A former US Army intelligence officer, he is a prolific and very successful author of over thirty works of both fiction and non-fiction including Endless War: Middle-Eastern Islam vs. Western Civilization.  Breitbart’s national security editor Sebastian Gorka spoke to the author about the current threats to the Republic and what should be done about them. Here is the first part of the three-part interview.

BREITBART: Several years ago you wrote a short piece berating the lack of strategic thought by the American officer corps. Why is it that what seems to be the most powerful nation the world has ever seen actually doesn’t think or act strategically?

PETERS: Well, several things have happened and one hardly knows where to begin. There’s a certain correlation between the rise of civilian think-tanks and a decline in military thought. It was a curious thing because, the military of course– especially the Navy, but the Army as well, and in the postwar period for a brief time the Air Force– really dominated strategic thought.

As the think tanks gained power, the strangest phenomenon occurred where those in uniform unaccountably paid more heed to civilians with Ph.Ds than they did to experienced soldiers. And the trend grew stronger and stronger. The military always had a strain of anti-intellectualism that really grew stronger. There was ever less tolerance for eccentricity. I do not speak from personal experience, the military was great to me and I could have stayed in a lot longer, but generally speaking, and no pun intended, there was a greater push for uniformity, not just visually, but in terms of intelligence.

I also think, and it pains me to say this, that as broader opportunities opened up in our society for the best and brightest, fewer of the best and the brightest went into the military. You still got very good people in the officer corps but, for instance, in the 19th century and right into the 20th, there were just fewer opportunities. People went to West Point and the Naval Academy and got engineering degrees and they were often brilliant. They built America, they built the canals, they built the lighthouses, they laid out the highways, they mapped the country.

Now, while we still have very good quality people in the military, it’s actually very difficult to have a sophisticated conversation with our generals, our flag officers. Our senior military can talk about the military itself and about professional sports, but it’s really rare to find one who is well read in the way that, for instance, obviously Patton was well read or many 19th century military figures, or even Marshall.  We’ve turned out a range of narrow military specialists, of technicians, rather than broad thinkers. Certainly you need technicians, there’s no question about that, especially in the ‘technical services’, the Navy and the Air Force.  I divide it between the Navy and the Air Force, where people support machines, and the Army and the Marines where machines support people as another parenthetical.

The rise of the think-tanks, the decline in the intellectual level of the officer corps, side by side, and then the officer corps got lazy. They were amazingly willing by the 1970s– and even before that, by the 1960s– to abdicate responsibility for their strategic thought to civilians. Now the non-military have a great deal to contribute to strategic thought, but when it comes to how to structure, organize, develop, train, and wield the military, one would think you would want at least military veterans in the lead. So we had all sorts of cockamamie theories come down the road.

BREITBART: Has this abdication of strategic thought by the senior military been compounded in the last 13 years since 9/11? Has there been a politicization of the officer corps as well as growing intellectual laziness?

PETERS: Yes, absolutely.

At the top levels, of course all presidents want a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs with whom they can feel comfortable. But beginning with the Rumsfeld ‘reign of terror’ and continuing into the Obama ‘reign of error,’ you see this utter politicization of the top ranks. Politicization, feminization, stress on political correctness, seeking out yes men. Rumsfeld was really, really terrible in the sense that he always wanted generals who were dumber than him. He wanted to know he was smarter than the generals in the room, and he made sure he was. Rumsfeld was brilliant at managing senior generals.

For instance, with poor Pete Schoomaker, a well-meaning and good solider, Rumsfeld gave him a couple little areas to play with as Chief of Staff of the Army. Then Rumsfeld did what he wanted.  And certainly the SecDef is senior to the service secretaries and Chairman, but a good SecDef (and a good president) would want intellectually capable men and women of integrity who not only could, but would, be willing to challenge him behind closed doors. And the sense I get is that under Rumsfeld, and now under Obama, they don’t want anybody challenging them, not at all.

There was a key turning point which came with the Neocons pushing so hard for the Iraq war that they essentially shut the military voices out. So we had a war that was designed by people who had never served in uniform. Rumsfeld, who was sort of a fringe Neocon and had briefly served in uniform, actually refused to allow the military to plan for an occupation following the invasion. (For evidence of this startling fact see the Dov Zakheim’s biography A Vulcan’s Tale. Zakheim was the Pentagon Comptroller during the Second Gulf War. Ed.) This obstruction was really at the behest of the Neocons at the top of national security in the Bush administration because they knew if the military planned for an occupation, the troop numbers would be so high that Congress would never approve it.

Their focus was strictly on getting their war without understanding basic things– such as, when you take down a country’s government, you’re going to be there for at least a few months– so Rumsfeld personally cut MP brigades from the troop deployment list. When we got to Baghdad, what did we need? We needed MP brigades.

By late 2002, early 2003, the military’s advice was not desired, not even tolerated. So that was a crucial turning point where unelected officials and civilians with no military experience designed a war. The one thing the military can do well, one of the things, is to plan and plan. And they forbade them to plan, the option of planning– not the option, the duty– of planning. And when you’re going to a war you can hope for the best, but you absolutely plan for the worse. As a nation, we didn’t.

BREITBART: But now we don’t have the Neocons, so let’s talk about what’s going on with regards to the firestorm around the world today. What do you respond to those who say one of the big problems is that now we not only have a political elite that has no military experience, but a leadership which really isn’t interested in foreign affairs or the military, with at the top a Commander-in-Chief who is a product of the insular political machine that is Chicago?

PETERS: Well, yes, certainly they came to office with zero interest in international affairs except for a few pet projects and with the naiveté to believe that the president, President Obama, through sheer charm and force of personality, could change the world.

The Cairo Speech is classic evidence. The new political elite came with a very negative view of the United States, very much formed by the likes of Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright, that entire milieu. So as you heard in speech after speech from the President, America wasn’t the solution. The United States of America was the problem, or at least part of the problem.

This is a group that is very uncomfortable with the idea of American leadership, made up of people inculcated with the belief that all cultures are equal – except that we may be less equal than others – and that there’s a virtue in all developing cultures, or underdeveloped cultures. This is combined with an utter lack of appreciation of the brutality that exists in most of the rest of the world.

Additionally elements of the President’s personal biography clouded his judgment terribly: the fact that he always claimed how well he knew Islam, that he lived in Indonesia, in Java, a few years and attended school there. But Islam is at its absolutely most benign in Indonesia, except for the odd case of Aceh, on the extreme western tip of Java, which has been Arab-influenced since the Middle Ages. I’ve been there, I’ve done a research project there, and compared to Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, or Iran, it’s completely different. In a nation of 225-230 million Muslims, you had a few hundred terrorists.  Just run the numbers, we’ve had more native-born terrorists in the United States if you include White Supremacists, etc.

So those that make up the administration were distinctly unequipped for this role. They didn’t understand history, didn’t understand foreign affairs. They came to office with a very strong domestic agenda and that’s what they wanted to concentrate on. They regarded foreign affairs as a nuisance—something that, well, you just have to deal with sometimes. And also, they came to the office with a very strong, not just anti-militarist, but anti-military bias.

A classic example among many is their handling of the Private Bergdahl case. For five years since he walked off his post, I’ve been scratching my head and other body parts wondering why they were so intent on shielding this person, of covering for him when the evidence from the start was overwhelming that he deserted. Then you get all the way to the Rose Garden debacle with his parents, and just the other day, driving home from Fox, it hit me. It’s really very simple, flash of the obvious. The people in the administration understand, given their worldview, why someone would desert from the military. They just don’t understand why somebody would join the military. And if you look at their overall actions – and you know, I never blame a conspiracy for anything that can be explained by incompetence – but they really have tried to use the military as a tool of social engineering, essentially to neuter the military. And the generals and admirals have not resisted in any meaningful way. To circle back to what I argue about regarding the intellectual decline of the officer corps, about 30 years ago something bad happened, with the best intentions, something akin to the military equivalent of the Great Society.  You started getting these “official” reading lists.

BREITBART: Yes, I was about to ask you about things like “The Commandant’s Reading List” and so on.

PETERS: The problem with the idea that the head of a service annually mandates a list of books his officers should read is that you have all the officers reading the same books! So the range of knowledge, of intellectual depth, is narrowed down even further.

Added to that, you have this ongoing vogue for management books. Management is a subset of leadership, not the other way around, and the notion that the military can learn to fight wars by studying how Microsoft developed a given program is absolutely ludicrous. It’s not that we shouldn’t be willing to learn from all sources, but you have people narrowing the field down too much.  They’re reading about World War II, Vietnam, Korea, maybe the Civil War, but virtually nothing about deep history and past wars, nothing about other civilizations and cultures.  As a result we have created an often narrow-minded and insular officer corps, since the goal of the reading program was to get everyone on the same sheet of music and, unfortunately, they succeeded.

A good sign that I’ve seen, though, is a lot of mid-grade officers are now self-organizing. There are more and more informal groups being created, study groups at the War Colleges, for example. The students are organizing off campus or among themselves, the officers are trading ideas, because I think there’s a lot of frustration with the current leadership. We have a leadership that appears to lack moral courage and intellectually deficient Titans on the battlefield become mice when they get to Washington.  And right now since Jim Mattis retired (Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis USMC, former Commander US Central Command, Eds.), I’m not sure who’s sticking up for the grunts.

CONTINUED IN PART TWO