From AQ to ISIS: The New Deadlier Face of Jihad

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Dr. Sebastian Gorka gave this excellent lecture to a Marine Corps audience in March 2015.

U.S. Conditions IS Libya Fight on Unity Government

US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni (R) hold a bilateral meeting before a summit regarding Islamic State with the foreign ministers of 23 countries from Europe, the West and the region, as well as by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on February 2, 2016 in Rome. Reuters/Nicholas Kamm/Pool

US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni (R) hold a bilateral meeting before a summit regarding Islamic State with the foreign ministers of 23 countries from Europe, the West and the region, as well as by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on February 2, 2016 in Rome. Reuters/Nicholas Kamm/Pool

CSP, by Kevin Samolsky, Feb. 2, 2016:

February 2, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry met with officials from 23 nations in Rome to discuss combating IS. Secretary Kerry addressed his growing concerns of the Islamic State’s (IS) presence in Libya especially. The growing fear is that the terrorist organization will take advantage of the lack of stability to control oil fields to further finance its operations.

Libya has been in turmoil since the NATO-backed ousting of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011. The Libyan government is currently split between an internationally recognized government in Tobruk, the General National Congress (GNC), and an unofficial government in Tripoli led by the Islamist Libya Dawn faction. Libya Dawn was able to force the GNC out of the Tripoli in 2014, and the international community has been working ever since to unite the two governments.

Libya Dawn and the GNC signed a UN-brokered agreement to unify the government last December. However, it is unclear what Libya Dawn hopes to get out of the agreement, as it was their decision to attempt to seize power following election losses that led to the current fissure.

While the Libya Dawn government may claim they want to end hostilities and unite the government, it’s likely just a play to regain power.

Libya Dawn is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the enemy of the El-Sisi government in Egypt. This had led to the decision by Cairo to fully back the GNC and openly opposed any agreement that would return the Islamists to legitimate political power. Egypt has been the driving force behind Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s anti-Islamist “Operation Dignity” campaign which has seen battlefield gains against the Islamist factions.

IS has become a growing concern to North African nations. The Free Fire Blog recently discussed the growing connections between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and IS’s growing trade network with Hamas in Gaza. In Libya, IS has taken control of Sirte, a city that links east and west of Libya, and has launched numerous attacks around the country.

International Business Times reported last year of IS threatening to wage war on Libya Dawn, but those hostilities may subside while both sides are being targeted by Egyptian and UAE airstrikes.

Breitbart News reports on troubling news of possible cooperation  between IS, Al Qaeda (AQ), and the Muslim Brotherhood within Libya. This merger would threaten any chance Libya has at stability, and if the Brotherhood were to take over, it would further threaten the neighboring government of Egypt.

Libya’s hopes for stability are quickly fading, and the Obama Administration may be apart of the blame. The Obama Administration allowed for weapon shipments to be sent to armed rebel groups during the uprising against Qaddafi. Some of these weapons fell in the hands of jihadist groups which allowed them to fight for control of Libya once Qaddafi was killed.

While the U.S. initially armed rebel groups, it has taken a step back from Libya. Instead, the Obama Administration has harshly criticized those who take part in Libya’s issues through violence, especially the UAE and Egypt. It seems ironic for the Administration to criticize others for trying to stop terrorism when they were the ones who facilitated it.

Libya’s stability is crucial against the fight against terrorism. Terrorists have beensmuggling fighters through Libya to Europe and Syria. Libya is also an important connector between Islamic State’s home base in Syria and it’s efforts in West Africa. Without a stable government to prevent this, it will continue to threaten the stability of the region.

While Secretary Kerry may be worried about IS in Libya, there must be a greater focus on the wider Islamist threat to the country. The Muslim Brotherhood poses just as large a threat to Libyan stability as IS, and if they are given any political legitimacy it will only serve to expand jihadist activity in the country. Despite the Obama Administration’s insistence to the contrary, a GNC victory over Libyan Dawn would have a better impact on security than enforcing upon Libya a unity government that neither side really wants.

Ansar al Sharia Libya relies on al Qaeda ideologues to guide followers

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Feb. 2, 2016:

Jihadist groups around the globe denounced Saudi Arabia’s execution of more than 40 men in early January. Some of those sentenced to death had taken part in al Qaeda’s first campaign to disrupt the kingdom between 2003 and 2006. It was only natural, therefore, that al Qaeda, its regional branches and other affiliated groups would decry the House of Saud’s decision to follow through on the death sentences.

However, Ansar al Sharia Libya’s response was especially noteworthy. In a three-page statement released via Twitter on Jan. 15, the group compared those executed to senior al Qaeda leaders killed in America’s drone campaign.

“Al Salul [a derogatory reference to the Saudis] recognizes the importance of the true righteous scholars who control jihad with the correct provisions from the book of Allah Almighty and the sunna of His messenger, peace and blessing be upon him, and the impact of the absence of these scholars on the jihadist arena,” Ansar al Sharia Libya’s officials wrote, according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal.

The jihadists claimed that the Saudis’ “message in this regard” is similar to “the acts of the head of global nonbelief, America, which has killed righteous scholars.”

Ansar al Sharia then listed eight such “scholars,” all of whom were al Qaeda leaders killed in US airstrikes: Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari, Ibrahim Rubaish, Anwar al Awlaki, Nasir al Wuhayshi, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, Abu Yahya al Libi, Atiyah Abd al Rahman (referred to as “Atiyatallah”), and Khalid al Husainan.

The list is no accident. Ansar al Sharia regularly promotes sermons delivered by some of these same ideologues. Web banners used to advertise the speeches, which were first produced by al Qaeda, can be seen at the end of this article.

Throughout December and January, the organization’s radio station, Ather al Madinah, posted clips on social media of lectures by Nadhari and Rubaish, two al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) clerics who were killed in 2015.

One of Nadhari’s talks was divided into seven parts. He covered various theological issues, including the concept of tawheed (or the oneness of Allah). Nadhari explained in another sermon why Muslims should answer the “call to jihad.”

Several lectures by Rubaish, a former Guantanamo detainee who became an influential AQAP theologian after he was released from US custody, covered similar themes. In one, Rubaish advised Muslims to avoid selling out their religion for the pleasures of this world. Still another featured Rubaish and Nadhari together.

Abu Yahya al Libi’s speeches have also been rebroadcast by Ather al Madinah. Al Libi blasted the supposed false “idol” of democracy in a talk disseminated online in December.

Al Libi was one of al Qaeda’s most prominent ideologues at the time of his death in June 2012. On Sept. 10 2012, al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri confirmed al Libi’s death in a video released online. Zawahiri also called on Libyans to avenge his fallen comrade. Ansar al Sharia Libya and other al Qaeda groupsattacked an American diplomatic mission and the CIA’s so-called Annex the following day.

Screen-Shot-2016-02-02-at-1.27.36-PM-300x168Ansar al Sharia continues to refer to the Benghazi assault in its propaganda. In a short video released in December, for instance, the group’s fighters are shown chanting: “O tell lowly America that we will free Abu Khattala.”

Abu Khattala is the lone suspect from the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi raids in American custody. A screen shot of the fighters who chanted in the video can be seen on the right. The video was shot at a training camp named after Mohammed al Zahawi, Ansar al Sharia’s first emir (or leader), who died as a result of injuries in either late 2014 or early 2015.

After Zahawi’s death was confirmed in January 2015, Nadhari released a eulogy for the slain jihadist. Nadhari explained that Zahawi had personally met with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s in Sudan and adopted al Qaeda’s methodology at that time.

Although Ansar al Sharia Libya was initially portrayed by some as purely a local jihadist group, it has been a part of the al Qaeda network since its inception in 2011. The Long War Journal has documented the organization’s ties to al Qaeda and its branch in North Africa, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), on multiple occasions.

And the group now openly promotes al Qaeda clerics to its followers on a regular basis.

Ansar al Sharia Libya’s banner ads promoting the lectures delivered by al Qaeda ideologues

Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari, an AQAP official killed in January 2015:

15-12-25-Nadhari-Ansar-al-Sharia-audio-768x277

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Ibrahim Rubaish, an ex-Guantanamo detainee who became an AQAP official and was killed in April 2015:

15-12-23-Ibrahim-Rubaish-Ansar-al-Sharia-audio-768x277

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Rubaish and Nadhari together:

15-12-20-Nadhari-and-Rubaish-Ansar-al-Sharia-Libya-audio-768x277

Abu Yahya al Libi was a senior al Qaeda ideologue until his death in June 2012:

16-01-30-Abu-Yahya-al-Libi-Ansar-al-Sharia-audio-768x277

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

The US Mosque Obama Has Chosen For His First Presidential Visit Has Deep Extremist Ties

Mehmet Kaman / Anadolu Agency/AFP

Mehmet Kaman / Anadolu Agency/AFP

Daily Caller, by Chuck Ross, Jan. 30, 2016:

The Baltimore mosque President Obama has chosen as the first U.S.-based mosque to visit during his presidency has deep ties to extremist elements, including to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The White House announced on Saturday that Obama will visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) on Wednesday. He has visited several mosques overseas as president but has resisted visiting one in the homeland. The purpose of the trip, according to the White House, is to “celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.”

But ISB is a curious choice for Obama’s first domestic visit.

The mosque is a member of a network of mosques controlled by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a Muslim civil rights group named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terror case. Several executives with that organization were convicted of sending money to aid the terrorist group Hamas. (RELATED: Here’s A Map Of Radical Mosques In The U.S. [Interactive])

An imam who served at ISB for a total of 15 years has also been a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood network and has worked for an Islamic relief group that was designated as a terrorist organization by the Treasury Department in 2004.

Mohammad Adam el-Sheikh, who served two stints as ISB’s imam, from 1983 to 1989 and from 1994 to 2003, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan in the 1970s. He also co-founded the Muslim American Society, a Falls Church, Va.-based group that is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

While in Baltimore, el-Sheikh served as a regional director for the Islamic American Relief Agency. That group’s parent organization is the Islamic African Relief Agency, which the Treasury Department says provided funds to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

After leaving Baltimore, el-Sheikh served as imam at the infamous Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church. That mosque has a lengthy roster of known terrorists and terrorist sympathizers. Its imam during much of the 1990s was Mohammed al-Hanooti. He was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people.

Dar al-Hijrah came under the control of Anwar al-Awlaki in 2001. He’s the American al-Qaeda recruiter who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army major who killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Nov. 2009, is said to have attended the Virginia mosque when al-Awlaki served there. The pair also reportedly exchanged emails. Two of the 9/11 hijackers also attended Dar al-Hijrah during al-Awlaki’s tenure.

El-Sheikh took over at Dar al-Hijrah in Aug. 2003, a little over a year after al-Awlaki left. While there he defended Palestianian suicide bombings against Israel.

“If certain Muslims are to be cornered where they cannot defend themselves, except through these kinds of means, and their local religious leaders issued fatwas to permit that, then it becomes acceptable as an exceptional rule, but should not be taken as a principle,” he said in 2004, according to a Washington Post article at the time.

As The Post reported Saturday, ISB’s website states that it seeks “to be the anchor of a growing Muslim community with diverse backgrounds, democratically governed, relating to one another with inclusiveness and tolerance, and interacting with neighbors in an Islamic exemplary manner.”

But that desire for tolerance — which President Obama frequently touts as well — does not appear to be a virtue shared by ISB’s resident scholar, Yaseen Shaikh.

Imam Yaseen Shaikh

Imam Yaseen Shaikh

A 2013 Youtube video shows Shaikh, who previously served as imam at a mosque in Plano, Tex., speaking out forcefully against homosexuality in Islam.

During an hour long diatribe, Shaikh called homosexuality a psychological disorder that has no place in Islam or society. He also lamented that gay rights groups have “hijacked” political discourse.

“This whole subject of homosexuality in the public sphere…is no longer a religious issue, unfortunately, as much as we want to use the religious card and try to defeat this, now it’s become a politicized issue,” Shaikh says in the video.

“Politicians are highly influenced by people who back them, and we find that these politicians who are calling for gay rights and marriage and supporting gay rights are lobbied and campaigned by gay activists, by gay groups. And they are throwing money at it left and right to gain some acceptance in society, to be considered normal people, to be treated normally.”

Obama is one such politician who has supported gay rights.

“We have to counter the efforts that are taking place elsewhere,” Sheikh says in the video, advising that “if our children are taught that [homosexuality is] okay, we have to teach them it’s not okay.”

***

Also see:

The CIA’s Syria Program and the Perils of Proxies

Fadi Al-Halabi/AFP/Getty Images

Fadi Al-Halabi/AFP/Getty Images

Daily Beast, by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Nathaniel Barr, Jan. 19, 2016:

After fighting al Qaeda and its affiliates for a decade and a half, the CIA is now helping them gain ground in Syria.
Almost every aspect of the Obama administration’s policy toward Syria has been scrutinized, lambasted or praised in recent months, but one of the most significant facets, the CIA’s covert aid program to Syrian rebels, has largely slipped below the radar.

It is time that we start paying attention, since this initiative is benefiting the very jihadist groups the U.S. has been fighting for the past 15 years.

America’s abrupt about-face is a mistake, but even those who would defend this new course as the least bad option should favor a more robust public debate.

The CIA’s program, launched in 2013, initially was conceived as a way of strengthening moderate rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime without significantly increasing the U.S. footprint in the conflict.

The program got off to a slow start, with rebel commanders grumbling that the CIA was stingy due to its concern that weapons would fall into extremists’ hands. As a result, moderate rebels were forced at times to ration ammunition. At least one rebel group severed its ties with the CIA and joined an Islamist-led coalition, while other CIA-backed rebels stopped fighting.

After these early hiccups, the program evolved.

Anonymous U.S. officials now tell the media that CIA-backed rebels have begun to experience unprecedented successes, particularly in northwestern Syria. Yet these gains reveal a darker side to the CIA-backed groups’ victories, and even American officials’ framing of these advances provides reason for concern. As the Associated Press reported in October, officials have explained that the CIA-backed groups were capturing new territory by “fighting alongside more extremist factions.”

Who are these extremist co-belligerents? Analysis of the geography of “moderate” rebels’ gains during this period and reports from the battlefield demonstrate that CIA-backed groups collaborated with Jaysh al-Fateh, an Islamist coalition in which Jabhat al-Nusra—al Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate—is a leading player.

Hassan Hassan, co-author (with The Daily Beast’s Michael Weiss) of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, suggested that rebel gains in Idlib in April 2015 showcased the symmetries between CIA-backed forces and Nusra when he attributed the rebels’ successes to suicide bombers (frequently deployed by Nusra and other jihadists) and “American anti-tank TOW missiles.” In southern Syria, the CIA-backed Southern Front fought alongside Nusra in the campaign to take the city of Deraa in June 2015.

CIA-backed groups in northwestern Syria publicly acknowledge their relationship with the al Qaeda affiliate. A commander of Fursan ul-Haq, a rebel group that received TOW missiles through CIA channels, explained that “there is something misunderstood by world powers: We have to work with Nusra Front and other groups to fight” both Assad’s regime and the Islamic State.

Similarly, a spokesman for CIA-backed Suqour al-Ghab justified his group’s collaboration with Nusra by noting that “we work with all factions when there are attacks on the regime, either through direct cooperation or just coordinating the movements of troops so we don’t fire at each other.”

The fact that CIA-backed groups collaborate with Nusra does not necessarily prove that they harbor jihadist sympathies, nor that they hoodwinked the American officials who vetted them. In many or perhaps most cases, these groups’ decision to cooperate with Nusra is born out of pragmatism.

When fighting a regime as brutal as Assad’s, it is natural to look for allies wherever they may be found. Further, as one of the dominant players in northern Syria, Nusra can dictate terms to smaller rebel factions. The experiences of Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front, two CIA-backed groups that Nusra literally obliterated in late 2014, are a stark warning.

Jamaal Maarouf, the commander of the Syrian Revolutionary Front, explainedafter his group was ousted from Syria that no militia in the rebel umbrella organization known as the Free Syrian Army can operate in northern Syria “without Nusra’s approval.”

Because of Nusra’s strength, CIA-backed factions have entered what has beencalled a “marriage of necessity” with the jihadist group, which is exploiting its position to gain access to American weapons.

After rebels seized a Syrian military base in Idlib province in December 2014, CIA-backed groups admitted that they had been forced to use U.S.-provided TOW missiles to support the Nusra-led offensive. One rebel explained that Nusra had allowed CIA-backed groups to retain physical control of the missiles so as to maintain the veneer of autonomy, thus allowing them to sustain their relationship with the CIA. In short, Nusra has at times gamed the system.

But such subterfuge notwithstanding, at this point it is impossible to argue that U.S. officials involved in the CIA’s program cannot discern that Nusra and other extremists have benefited. And despite this, the CIA decided to drastically increase lethal support to vetted rebel factions following the Russian intervention into Syria in late September.

Rebels who previously complained about the CIA’s tight-fistedness suddenly found the floodgates open, particularly with respect to TOW missiles. One rebel explained: “We can get as much as we need and whenever we need them. Just fill in the numbers.” Reports suggest that the Obama administration and Sunni states backing the opposition have also discussed, though not committed to, providing shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons to vetted groups.

With the CIA doubling down on its support for Syrian rebels, it is now more important than ever to have a candid and vigorous public debate about the agency’s program. Put simply, such an about-face in U.S. policy—backing groups that help al Qaeda to make advances, after spending a decade and a half fighting the jihadist group—should not occur without a public debate that helps Americans understand why such drastic changes in U.S. policy have occurred.

Several prominent figures have defended this program. For instance, Robert Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria, argued that by maintaining the supply of lethal support to moderate rebels, the CIA may ultimately be able to build up these factions as a viable alternative to Nusra, the Islamic State and Assad.

But the program’s costs outweigh its possible benefits. Though aiding al Qaeda’s advances is not the program’s intention, it is the effect. Thus, after fighting al Qaeda and its affiliates for a decade and a half, the CIA is now helping them gain ground in Syria.

At the moment, al Qaeda is trying to rebrand itself by contrasting its approach to that of the far more brutal Islamic State—and, unfortunately, it has experienced some success due to its jihadist competitor’s excesses and the escalating conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Al Qaeda has portrayed itself to Sunni states and the Muslim public as a bulwark against both the Islamic State’s growth and Iranian encroachment. If U.S.-backed rebels are cooperating with al Qaeda, the United States will be hard-pressed to stop al Qaeda from gaining more room to operate in the region.

It is unlikely that the United States, with no meaningful presence in Syria, understands the situation on the ground better than al Qaeda, and can strategically outmaneuver the jihadist group. The danger is too great that continuation of this policy will empower Nusra further, eventually forcing policymakers to confront a greatly emboldened al Qaeda force in Syria.

This is why, at the very least, we should have a robust public discussion about whether to continue this course in Syria—a debate that the U.S. Congress is well positioned to kickstart through public hearings on the CIA’s program. Allowing this program to continue without carefully thinking through the benefits, costs, and possible unintended consequences is incredibly risky, and could erode public trust and support.

***

Also see:

We’ve Got It Wrong: ISIS Is Not the Main Problem in the Middle East

ISIS-Sunni-Shia-Iran.sized-770x415xtPJ MEDIA, BY JONATHAN SPYER JANUARY 19, 2016:

On a recent reporting trip to Iraq and northern Syria, two things were made apparent to me — one of them relatively encouraging, the other far less so. The encouraging news is that ISIS is currently in a state of retreat. Not headlong rout, but contraction.

The bad news?

Our single-minded focus on ISIS as if it were the main or sole source of regional dysfunction is the result of faulty analysis, which in turn is producing flawed policy.

Regarding the first issue, 2015 was not a particularly good year for ISIS. In the course of it, the jihadis lost Kobani and then a large area to its east, bringing the Syrian Kurdish fighters of the YPG and their allies to within 30 km of the Caliphate’s “capital” in Raqqa city.

In late December, the jihadis lost the last bridge over the Euphrates that they controlled, at the Tishreen Dam. This matters because it isolates Raqqa, making it difficult for the Islamic State to rush reinforcements from Aleppo province to the city in the event of an attack.

Similarly, the Kurdish YPG advanced south of the town of al-Hawl to Raqqa’s east.

In Iraq, the Iraqi Shia militias and government forces have now recaptured Ramadi city (lost earlier in 2015) following the expulsion of ISIS from Tikrit and Baiji.

The Kurdish Pesh Merga, meanwhile, have revenged the humiliation they suffered at the hands of ISIS in the summer of 2014. The Kurds have now driven the jihadis back across the plain between Erbil and Mosul, bringing them to the banks of the Tigris river. They have also liberated the town of Sinjar.

The city of Mosul nestles on the western side of the river. It remains ISIS’s most substantial conquest. Its recapture does not appear immediately imminent, yet the general trend has been clear. The main slogan of ISIS is “Baqiya wa’tatamaddad,” “Remaining and Expanding.” At the present time, however, the Islamic State may be said to be remaining, but retreating.

This situation is reflected in the confidence of the fighters facing ISIS along the long front line. In interviews as I traversed the lines, I heard the same details again and again regarding changing ISIS tactics, all clearly designed to preserve manpower.

This stalling of the Islamic State is the background to their turn towards international terror, which was also a notable element of the latter half of 2015. The downing of the Russian airliner in October, the events in Paris in November, and the series of suicide bombings in Turkey since July attest to a need that the Islamic State has for achievement and for action. They need to keep the flow of recruits coming and to maintain the image of victory essential to it.

Regarding the second issue: seen from close up, the Islamic State is very obviously only a part,and not necessarily the main part, of a much larger problem. When talking both with those fighting with ISIS and with those who sympathize with it in the region, this observation stands out as a stark difference in perception between the Middle Eastern view of ISIS and the view of it presented in Western media. The latter tends to present ISIS as a strange and unique development, a dreadfully evil organization of unclear origins, which is the natural enemy of all mainstream forces in the Middle East.

From closer up, the situation looks rather different.

ISIS has the same ideological roots and similar practices as other Salafi jihadi organizations active in the Syrian arena. ISIS treats non-Muslims brutally in the areas it controls, and adheres to a rigid and fanatical ideology based on a literalist interpretation and application of religious texts. But this description also applies to Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria.

Nusra opposes ISIS, and is part of a rebel alliance supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. In March 2015, when Nusra captured Idleb City in northern Syria, the city’s 150 Christian families were forced to flee to Turkey. Nusra has also forcibly converted a small Druze community in Idleb. The alliance Nusra was a part of also included Muslim Brotherhood-oriented groups, such as the Faylaq al-Sham militia, which apparently had no problem operating alongside the jihadis.

ISIS is not a unique organization; rather, it exists at one of the most extreme points along a continuum of movements committed to Sunni political Islam.

Meanwhile, the inchoate mass of Sunni Islamist groups — of which ISIS constitutes a single component — is engaged in a region-wide struggle with a much more centralized bloc of states and movements organized around the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is committed to a Shia version of political Islam.

The Middle East — in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and to a lesser extent Lebanon, all along the sectarian faultline of the region — is witnessing a clash between rival models of political Islam, of which ISIS is but a single manifestation.

The local players find sponsorship and support from powerful regional states, themselves committed to various different versions of political Islam: Iran for the Shias; Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Muslim Brotherhood-supporting Qatar for the Sunnis.

The long awakening of political Islam as the dominant form of popular politics in the Middle East started decades ago. But the eclipse of the political order in the region, and of the nationalist dictatorships in Iraq, Syria, Egypt (temporarily), Tunisia, and Yemen in recent years, has brought it to a new level of intensity.

States, indifferent to any norms and rules, using terror and subversion to advance their interests, jihadi armed groups, and the refugee crises and disorder that result from all this are the practical manifestations of it.

This, and not the fate of a single, fairly ramshackle jihadi entity in the badlands of eastern Syria and western Iraq, is the matter at hand in the Middle East.

***

Also see:

The Muslim Brotherhood in America

us-fallschurch-va-dar-al-hijrah-islamic-center-jpg_095911Politically Short, by Nick Short, Jan. 14, 2016:

While much has been written on the terrorist organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood, for the most part the majority of Americans continue to remain unaware of this nefarious organization as it operates freely in America under a litany of various front organizations posing as charities and civil rights groups. Although terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS), and Hamas have clear tactical differences, they both share the exact same ideology and goals. In fact, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and ISIS would not exist today if it wasn’t for the Muslim Brotherhood which birthed these groups through the teachings of ideologues like Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutd. It is no understatement to say that the Muslim Brotherhood has inspired the entire modern Islamic terrorist enterprise.

Yet, too much attention has been given to groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS as they seek to bring about their ultimate goal of establishing Sharia law via the “Caliphate” through violence. The spotlight has been virtually ignored on the Muslim Brotherhood though as they seek the same goal of Sharia but through a gradual, termite-like approach that burrows deeply into a host society by eating away it’s institutions slowly from within. These are the two tactical differences that Americans need to become aware of as the former has virtually controlled the narrative while the latter is whitewashed away as not irrelevant. The Muslim Brotherhood in America has acquired positions of influence behind the scenes in the government, academia, and even the media with little to no resistance. For the Brotherhood, it all begins with the establishment of various innocuous sounding Islamic organizations created at the grassroots level which eventually serve the purposes of evolving into breeding grounds for radicalization.

More than thirty years ago the Muslim Brotherhood laid out a twelve point strategy to put up a false front of peace while acting covertly to subvert the Western world in a document that came to be known as “The Project“. The document was recovered by Swiss authorities as they raided the lakeside villa of the Brotherhoods’ then foreign minister Youseff Nada shortly after the September 11th attacks on the United States. The document was written in 1982 and it outlines a strategy for the Muslim Brotherhood to “establish an Islamic government on earth.”

Patrick Poole, a counter-terrorism consultant and National Security and Terrorism Correspondent for PJ Media, notes that “what makes The Project so different from the standard ‘Death of America! Death to Israel!’ and ‘Establish the global caliphate!’ Islamist rhetoric is that it represents a flexible, multi-phased, long-term approach to the ‘cultural invasion’ of the West. Calling for the utilization of various tactics, ranging from immigration, infiltration, surveillance, propaganda, protest, deception, political legitimacy and terrorism, The Project has served for more than two decades as the Muslim Brotherhood master plan.”

Rather than focusing on terrorism as the sole method of group action, as is the case with Al-Qaeda, Hamas, ISIS, and various other terrorist organizations, the use of terror falls into a multiplicity of options available to progressively infiltrate, confront, and eventually establish Islamic domination over the West. Poole highlights a few of the following tactics and techniques that are among the many recommendations made in The Project:

Avoiding open alliances with known terrorist organizations and individuals to maintain the appearance of “moderation”.

Infiltrating and taking over existing Muslim organizations to realign them towards the Muslim Brotherhood’s collective goals.

Establishing financial networks to fund the work of conversion of the West, including the support of full-time administrators and workers.

Cultivating an Islamist intellectual community, including the establishment of think-tanks and advocacy groups, and publishing “academic” studies, to legitimize Islamist positions and to chronicle the history of Islamist movements.

Inflaming violence and keeping Muslims living in the West “in a jihad frame of mind”.

Supporting jihad movements across the Muslim world through preaching, propaganda, personnel, funding, and technical and operational support.

Collecting sufficient funds to indefinitely perpetuate and support jihad around the world.

While these are just a few of the key bullet points outlined in the document, one only needs to look towards a 2005 report conducted by the Dutch on the Muslim Brotherhood clandestine infiltration in the Netherlands to get an idea of how the strategy operates within western society. The report, titled From Dawa to Jihad: The various threats from radical Islam to the democratic legal order explains that their exists in the Netherlands “radical branches of the Muslim Brotherhood which employs covert dawa (propagation of radical Islamic ideology and appeal to convert people to become Muslim) strategies that seek to gradually undermine it (the State) by infiltrating, and eventually taking over the civil service, the judicature, schools, local administrators, etc.”

Aiming at a clandestine infiltration of political and social institutions, the 2005 report goes on to state that their are also conceivable, for example, “attempts to infiltrate community-based organisations with the aim of monopolising them (thus obstructing the proper functioning of ‘civil society’). But in the long run, more serious forms of such covert subversion are also conceivable, for example attempts by radical Islamic organisations to infiltrate local administration, the judicature et cetera, whilst concealing their actual objectives and loyalties.”

“While the instigators themselves do not wish to openly present themselves as jihadists or even be associated with armed jihadists, they wish to promote violence in a covert way,” concludes the report. As we can see the influence of “The Project” not only matches exactly what is happening in the Netherlands, but also aligns identically to the Muslim Brotherhood’s 1991 Explanatory Memorandum On the General Strategic Goal for the Group In North America. This memo, meant for Brotherhood operatives working within the United States, explains the strategy behind the establishment of an Islamic Center in every city.

The memo notes, “The center we seek is the one which constitutes the ‘axis’ of our Movement, the ‘perimeter’ of the circle of our work, our ‘balance center’, the ‘base’ for our rise and our ‘Dar al-Arqam’ to educate us, prepare us and supply our battalions in addition to being the ‘niche” of our prayers. This is in order for the Islamic center to turn – in action not in words – into a seed ‘for a small Islamic society’ which is a reflection and a mirror to our central organizations.”

For an example on how this works in America, Erick Stakelbeck in his book The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy illustrates how the Brotherhood goes about establishing their Centers in the following illustration:

An Islamist organization—usually linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and flush with cash from Saudi Arabia and/or the Gulf states—spends big bucks to buy up several acres of property in a town where hardly any Muslims reside. Plans are announced to build an ‘Islamic Cultural Center’ where all faiths are welcome and diversity will be celebrated in a new, multiculti mini-utopia. But blindsided local residents, after doing some research, quickly learn of the nefarious connections of the mosque’s leadership and see a potential hub for terrorist plotting in their midst—one with financial backing from overseas radicals to boot.

Yet, when these same neighbors demand to know where the money is coming from to pay for the planned mega-mosque, smooth-talking Muslim spokesmen involved with the project just smile and calmly reassure all comers that the funds have been “locally raised.” The local city council, petrified of being called racist, ultimately approves the so-called Islamic center against the will of the people. On cue, the mainstream media and Islamic groups then team up to condemn critics of the mosque as “bigots” and “Islamophobes.” Neighbors are left feeling demonized, abandoned, angry, and alone. And the mosque is built—even though its leadership has been exposed as having ties to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, a hatred for Israel, and a fondness for sharia law.

Examples such as this can be seen virtually everywhere throughout the United States and represent a direct threat to Americans as the mosque nexus to terrorism can be found in the majority of cases in which the arrest or the attack of a “homegrown jihadist” hits the news. The reason for this is because these mosques are operating in the exact way described by both “The Project” and the 1991 memorandum.

In what should have been a major wake up call to law enforcement and those working within national security, a 2011 study originally published by the  Middle East Quarterly and examined in depth by Perspectives on Terrorism ,the correlation between sharia adherence and violent dogma in U.S. mosques is found to be shockingly high. In a random survey of 100 representative mosques in the U.S., the Shariah Adherence Mosque Survey found that 80% provide their worshipers with jihad-style literature promoting the use of violence against non-believers and that the imams in those mosques expressly promote that literature.

The study explains that the texts were selected for scoring based on the fact that they either called for violent jihad against non-Muslims or because the texts called for hatred of “the other.” For example, Reliance of the Traveller by Ahmad Ibn Lulu Ibn Al-NaqibThe Fiqh-us-Sunnahand Tafsir Ibn Kathirand authors including Maulana Maududi and Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayed Qutb  were selected because their texts make explicit demands for jihad against non-Muslims. As the study states, “texts authored by Maududi and Qutb and similar materials, such as pamphlets and texts published and disseminated by the Muslim Brotherhood, were selected in part because these materials strongly advocate the use of violence as a means to establish an Islamic state.” Remember, 80% of mosques surveyed carried such material, directly indicating that the Brotherhood is more than influential and flourishing within these mosques.

The study found that when a mosque imam or its worshipers were “sharia-adherent,” as measured by certain behaviors in conformity with Islamic law, the mosque was more likely to provide this violent literature and the imam was more likely to promote it. Moreover, the study also found that of the 80% of mosques that contained severe materials:

100% were led by an imam who recommended that worshipers study violent materials;

100% promoted violent jihad;

98% promoted the financial support of terror;

98% promoted the establishment of the Caliphate in the United States;

100% praised terror against the West;

and 76% invited guest speakers known to have promoted violent jihad.

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The survey’s results help to provide insight into the role that Sharia-adherent behaviors play in defining group identities, creating an us-versus-them outlook, and projecting violence against the West and non-Muslims, which is mirrored by the Sharia literature found in the mosques prone to violent literature. Ultimately, the survey concludes by suggesting that “Islam, at least as it is generally practiced in mosques across the United States, continues to manifest a resistance to a sufficiently tolerant religio-legal framework that would allow its followers to make a sincere affirmation of Western citizenship. This survey provides empirical support for the view that mosques across the U.S., as institutional and social settings for mosque-going Muslims, provide a milieu resistant to, the legal, theological, or political arguments that make political, civic, and social cooperation within a secular constitutional political order ideal.”

By providing the ideological breeding grounds for terrorists, mosques and various Islamic centers within the U.S. serve as a critical starting point in which the radicalization, justification, and resources for committing jihad is prevalent. So where are these mosques and Islamic centers located and can it be shown that they are tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and have produced jihadists?

To answer both questions all we need to do is look at a few examples of various instances in which either a jihadist has been arrested, carried out an attack, or joined a terrorist organization and note which mosque or center they attended as well if its linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The first mosque examined is the notorious Islamic Society of Boston (ISB). The ISB is owned and operated by the Muslim American Society (MAS) which federal prosecutors described in a 2008 case as being an “overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.” So far at least 8 former attendees to the mosque have become jihadists including the following; The boston marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev; Abdurahman Alamoudi, the mosque’s founder and first president, who in 2004 was sentenced to 23 years in prison for plotting terrorism. In 2005, the Treasury Department issued a statement saying Alamoudi raised money for al Qaeda in the U.S.; Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT scientist-turned-al Qaeda agent, who in 2010 was sentenced to 86 years in prison for planning a New York chemical attack; Finally, there’s Ahmad Abousamra, who was eventually killed in 2015 but not before becoming one of the top media propagandists for the terrorist group known today as the Islamic State or ISIS.

[Also see: ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON HOSTS PREACHERS WHO ADVOCATE SEX SLAVERY]

Next, we have the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCP) whose own website declares that it is “entrusted with the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). The importance of this cannot be understated as NAIT’s status as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity was confirmed by federal prosecutors during the 2009 prosecution of another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity named the Holy Land Foundation. The Justice Department designated NAIT as an unindicted co-conspiratorin that case. So far at least 4 former attendees to the Islamic Center in Phoenix are known jihadists. The most notorious are Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi who were killed last year while attempting to execute people holding a draw Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. Yet, as Patrick Poole of PJ Media notes, “two other previous ICCP mosque attendees — Hassan Abu-Jihaad and Derrick Shareef are currently in federal prison on terrorism-related charges.”

Most recently, and unfortunately tragically, is the Islamic Society of Corona/Norco (ISCN) which was attended by the San Bernardino jihadist Syed Farook and his friend as well as financier and arms supplier Enrique Marquez. According the federal complaint filed against Marquez he was charged with conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to commit crimes of terrorism, as well as unlawfully purchasing two assault rifles used in the San Bernardino massacre and defrauding immigration authorities by entering into a sham marriage conducted at the ISCN. The federal complaint also states that in 2012 Marquez and Farook were planning on carrying out an attack on a busy California freeway as well as a local community college but scrapped their plan as Marquez stated that he “distanced himself from Farook and ceased plotting with him after 2012 for a variety of reasons, including the arrest of Ralph Deleon and others on material support [for terrorism] charges in November 2012.” This statement by Marquez indicates that he knew whoRalph Deleon was, this is important to note because Deleon along with three others were charged on November 16, 2012, for conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists. All four men in that case were from the Riverside/San Bernardino area and according to the federal complaint, one of the informants for the FBI was told by Deleon that there were “a couple of brothers from the mosque who wanted to [travel abroad] for jihad.” While the FBI doesn’t identify which mosque, one can guess which one Deleon & his “brothers” were attending.

Finally, we have the example of the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center (DAH) located in Falls Church, Virginia. “Dar al-Hijrah, which fittingly means Land of Migration, is where the Brotherhood has settled in America,” writes former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy in his book The Grand JihadMcCarthy elaborates on Dar al-Hijrah explaining that, “in the shadow of the White House and Capitol Hill, it is the optimal location as the $6 million complex was established in 1991, the same year the Brotherhood playbook was written…The Dar al-Hijrah complex was purchased in the 1980s by the North American Islamic Trust. The Islamic Affairs Department of the Saudi embassy in Washington chipped in for the construction and the trustee was the Muslim Brotherhood operative Jamal Barzinji.” Supporting McCarthy’s claim, according to a 2002Customs and Border Protection document, DAH is stated as “operating as a front for Hamas operatives in U.S.” while a December 2007 document says it “has been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing” and “has also been associated with encouraging fraudulent marriages.”

Some of Dar al-Hijrah’s most infamous congregants have included Omar Abu Ali, who is now serving life in prison for joining al-Qaeda while also having plotted mass murder attacks against the United States and conspiring to murder former President George W. Bush. Then we have Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour, who are now better known for crashing Flight 77 into the Pentagon, just a short distance away from the Land of Migration. Adding to the list is probably the most infamous and, thanks to a drone strike in 2011, now deceased former Imam by the name ofAnwar al-Awlaki. Before going on to become the leader of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, al-Awlaki was the spiritual leader of Dar al-Hijrah and in 2001 the mosque just so happened to feature a worshiper by the name of Nidal Hassan. Hassan, now known as the Ft. Hood jihadist, went on a killing spree in a 2009 attack as he opened fire on his fellow soldiers killing 13 and wounding 30 at the Texas military base.

From Boston to California and Phoenix to Virginia, these four examples alone epitomize the threat posed to America by the ideological machinery of the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet, in the face of such evidence none of these mosques or Islamic Centers have been investigated let alone shut down for their ties to terrorism. Instead we are told by various Brotherhood front organizations such as theCouncil on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that these mosques and centers in no way, shape, or form serve as the ideological springboard for the promotion of violence. This, of course, serves the purposes of obfuscating the truth as the facts have repeatedly shown that the first step on the road to jihadist terrorism is the instruction in Islamist ideology.

The Islamist threat is very real and is the result of decades of networking, infrastructure building, and intellectual as well as ideological preparation. It is advancing at an unprecedented speed as it actively and openly creates a fifth column of activists, jihadists, and apologists who work tirelessly to undermine the very foundations of America with the establishment of new mosques and Islamic centers. It cannot be stressed enough that the very ideology that the Muslim Brotherhood supports is at the root of the majority of Islamic terrorist groups in the world today and without acknowledging the ideology America itself stands no chance in even beginning to fight.

So the next time a jihadist attack happens on American soil and representatives from organizations like CAIR immediately crawl out of their holes in an attempt to act as apologists for the jihadist, remember that they themselves are directly responsible for supporting the ideology that promotes jihad.

As the Brotherhood creed goes, “Allah is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

Nick Short, a graduate of Northern Arizona University with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice. Politically Short offers a millennials perspective over today’s news outside the beltway of Washington D.C. Follow Nick on Twitter , LinkedIn and Google+ You can also email him at Nds56@nau.edu

Islamic State launches suicide assault in Indonesia’s capital

Oscar Siagian/Getty

Oscar Siagian/Getty

Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio, January 14, 2016

The Islamic State claimed credit for a suicide assault in the capital of Jakarta that killed two people. Indonesian officials said the Islamic State fighters are fighters linked to a cell that is based in Syria.

Islamic State split up into at least two teams and opened fire at Starbucks and a department store in downtown Jakarta, according to Reuters. Police exchanged gunfire with the jihadists for three hours before the attack was defeated. Some of the gunmen were killed and some blew themselves up, while two of them were captured. The Islamic State fighters detonated several bombs during the fighting.

Civilian casualties were surprisingly low given that both attacks took place in crowded locations. One Canadian and one Indonesian citizen were killed during the fighting.

The Islamic State immediately claimed credit for the attack in an official communique that was disseminated by the groups supporters on social media websites.

“A security detachment from the soldiers of the Caliphate target a gathering of the charges of the Crusader alliance in Jakarta city,” according to the statement which was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The Islamic State claimed that fighters armed with “light weaponry and explosive belts” attacked after “several timed canisters” or explosives were detonated. According to the Islamic State, “nearly 15 Crusader foreigners” and their local guards were killed. The Islamic State routinely exaggerates the effects of their attacks.

Indonesian officials immediately linked the attack to the Islamic State’s headquarters in Syria. Jakarta’s police chief said that an Indonesian known as Bahrun Naim, who is based in Raqqa, Syria, plotted the Jakarta assault, Reuters reported.

Today’s attack in Jakarta is the latest claimed by the Islamic State outside of Iraq and Syria. Most recently, in November of last year, the Islamic State executed a complex suicide assault in Paris, France, that killed more than 120 people.

The Islamic State in Indonesia

Jihadists in Indonesia who previously have been loyal to al Qaeda have been divided since the Islamic State was formed in June 2014.  A number of jihadists previously loyal to Jemaah Islamiyah, al Qaeda’s branch in Indonesia, split from the group in August 2014 shortly after Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared the Islamic State and named himself as “caliph”.  Jemaah Islamiyah is responsible for numerous deadly terrorist attacks in Indonesia over the past two decades, including the deadly bombing in Bali.

Shortly after Baghdadi’s announcement, Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader and cofounder of Jemaah Islamiyah as well as the emir of Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, pledged allegiance to Baghdadi. Bashir, a veteran jihadist, made his pledge to Baghdadi while in prison. In 2011, he was convicted of “committing a criminal act of terrorism” by founding and supporting a terrorist group known as al Qaeda in Aceh and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The sentence was later reduced to nine years.

Following Bashir’s oath of loyalty to Baghdadi, Bashir’s sons, Abdul Iim Rohim and Rosyid Ridho, and a number of senior jihadists broke away from the veteran jihadist and spiritual leader and formed their own group, known as Jemaah Ansharusy Syariah. According to the Jakarta Post, more than 50 percent of Bashir’s followers abandoned him and joined Jemaah Ansharusy Syariah.

Mochammad Achwan, the emir of Jemaah Ansharusy Syariah, admitted to the Jakarta Post at the time of the split that his group is part of al Qaeda’s global network and receives orders and advice from leaders overseas.

“Our sharia councils in Yemen and Syria have denounced ISIL [Islamic State] because the group has deviated from the right course in forming a caliphate,” Achwan said. “We received our direction from our respected clerics in JN [Jabhat al Nusrah, or the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria], and we have supported the group in many ways.”

In addition to Bashir’s Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, another group, known as the Mujahidin Indonesian Timur, has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. Both groups are listed by the US as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Abu Warda Santoso, the leader of the Mujahidin Indonesian Timur, has also sworn allegiance to Baghdadi.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

***

Also see:

Dr. Walid Phares: ISIS in America

Jihad-in-America1In this short briefing, Walid Phares gives an overview of the “jihadist strata” in the U.S. beginning with with the Muslim Brotherhood’s arrival in the 1960’s and subsequent penetration of all of our institutions.

Published on Dec 28, 2015 by securefreedom

Recorded at Center for Security Policy’s National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

Also  see:

They’re ‘so nice,’ until they get religion and want to kill us

Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the two jihadists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California. (Photo: Screenshot from video)

Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the two jihadists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California. (Photo: Screenshot from video)

New York Post, by Paul Sperry, Dec. 13, 2015:

‘We see growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers,” President Obama said while addressing the nation in the wake of the latest homegrown massacre at the hands of Muslims.

But is that really what’s poisoning their minds?

FBI investigators are now operating on the belief that San Bernardino terrorists Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were individually “radicalized,” and for “quite some time,” possibly starting as early as 2013 — before the rise of ISIS and its Internet propaganda machine. So it wasn’t ISIS poisoning their minds, as the president suggests.

So what was it? The feds are still scratching their heads, willfully blind to the obvious religious factor.

But this much they know: “These two killers were starting to radicalize towards martyrdom and jihad as early as 2013, and so that’s really before ISIL [ISIS] became the global jihad leader that it is,” FBI Director James Comey testified Wednesday. “They were actually radicalized before they started dating.”

Unlike other mass murderers, who exhibit antisocial, paranoid, narcissistic or schizoid traits, Farook and Malik do not appear to be natural born killers. Neither had a history of violence nor criminal record, and both generally were described as pleasant people.

In fact, friends invariably called the 28-year-old Farook a “very nice person,” while his landlord even described him as a “very gentle person.” He enjoyed working on old cars and shooting hoops. For her part, the 29-year-old Malik was seen as “a good girl” and a good student who aspired to be a pharmacist. Before dressing in austere Islamic clothing, she was even viewed as a “modern girl.”

Muslims and non-Muslims alike spoke highly of them both. Then suddenly a switch went off, and the couple went medieval.

By all accounts, that switch was piety. They simply got closer to their religion, immersing themselves in Islamic scripture.

Farook and Malik devoted themselves to Islamic study, which culminated in both of them memorizing the Koran, a high honor in Islam. They began wearing traditional Islamic garb — Farook, a white tunic and skullcap, and Malik, a black veil and robe.

Before long, Farook was slaughtering fellow Americans, many of them co-workers, shooting them at point-blank range with his wife by his side, the two of them stopping only to reload. Why? Because as US taxpayers, the 14 people they killed supported Israel and the Jews.

We saw the same transformation in the Tsarnaev brothers of Boston, who were considered “nice” and “normal,” even partiers — until their mother made them stick their noses in their holy books and get religion. Within a matter of just a couple of years of becoming more fervent in their Muslim faith, these “typical American boys” were making shrapnel bombs and blowing off limbs of innocent bystanders at the Boston Marathon to “punish” fellow Americans for supporting wars in Muslim lands. And that was after the oldest boy, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, nearly beheaded a couple of Jews he once befriended.

“I told Tamerlan that we are Muslims, and we are not practicing our religion, and how can we call ourselves Muslims,” Mrs. Tsarnaev said. “And that’s how Tamerlan started reading about Islam, and he started praying, and he got more and more and more into his religion.”

The change was dramatic in both boys, who stopped partying and started hating — Jews, Christians, America. Suddenly they were growing out Islamic beards and saying they were “willing to die for Islam.”

A similar change came over the Chattanooga jihadist, Mohammad Abdulazeez, who was described as “very friendly” — until he became intensely observant in his faith and saw it as his religious duty to fatally gun down five soldiers in Tennessee earlier this year.

Moreover, two brothers suspected in last month’s Paris terror attacks were born-again Muslims as well. Reportedly, they really began to change around six months prior to the attacks, when they stopped drinking and started studying and praying.

This phenomenon is well documented in virtually every FBI case of homegrown American terrorism: the more religious, the more radical. The pattern is borne out in hundreds of criminal complaints and court documents since 9/11 that I’ve reviewed for my books on terrorism. Almost to a person, suspects are described by family, friends, neighbors or co-workers as “nice” — that is the universal adjective for these mass murderers — until they get closer to their religion and suddenly seek out infidels to kill.

Case agents have seen the link between Islamic belief and violence firsthand.

“Evidence exists to demonstrate that a greater level of adherence to Islamic law correlates to a greater likelihood of violence,” said FBI veteran John Guandolo, who worked some of the nation’s biggest terrorism cases out of the bureau’s Washington field office after 9/11.

Studies back him up, including one recently published in Europe that found that Islam is the only religion in the world in which people become more violent the stronger they believe.

Danish linguist Tina Magaard and a team of researchers spent three years examining the texts of the 10 largest religions to see if any incite violence. “The texts of Islam are clearly distinct from the other religions’ texts, as they, to a higher degree, call for violence and aggression against followers of other faiths,” she concluded. “There are also direct incitements to terror.”

A 2010 study of 45,000 teens by a German criminal research institute, moreover, found that young religious Muslim boys were much more likely to use violence than their non-Muslim counterparts, even when social factors were taken into account.

Unlike federal agents and investigators working terrorism cases on the ground, higher-ups in Washington are too clouded by politically correct fantasies about Islam to accept what is self-evident. They cannot even entertain religion as a motivating factor in terrorism. They cannot fathom that such heinous violence could be inspired by sacred texts.

Forced to rule out workplace rage, seduction and now ISIS as sources in the San Bernardino case, Comey now says: “We’re working very hard to understand the source of their inspiration.”

“The question for us is how and by whom and where were they radicalized?” said David Bowdich, the FBI’s assistant director in Los Angeles.

Brass will continue searching in vain for an “un-Islamic” motive — anything to avoid arriving at the inevitable, unspeakable conclusion that these Muslims, like countless jihadists before them, were faithfully following the dictates of Islam.

The switch that turns a good person into a “bad Muslim” isn’t heretical outside forces. The tens of thousands of jihadists threatening the West aren’t all “brainwashed” by evil modern cult figures. Though personalities certainly have an influence, the main influence is the religion itself. If there’s any radicalization, it’s self-radicalization through devotion.

“They think they’re doing something good for Allah,” al Qaeda informant Morten Storm, a former Muslim, said. “They really believe that.”

There’s a famous speech on the show “The West Wing” where the fictional president accosts a Christian radio host. She believes homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so. He points out that the Bible also allows him to sell his daughter into slavery and execute his chief of staff for working on the sabbath. The “West Wing” president, by the way, is a practicing Catholic — but he’s making the point that Christianity went through a reformation.

Most Christians today don’t read the Bible literally, and the ones that do are roundly mocked by liberals. But those same liberals bristle at any suggestion that Islam is inherently intolerant.

Islam is not a “religion of peace,” and won’t be until most of its followers — the Taliban, the Ayatollah, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, the mullahs of Saudi Arabia — reject tenets like jihad. To suggest otherwise is naive. Virtually everyone is hacking at the branches of this growing menace, and almost no one is striking at its root.

Paul Sperry, a visiting Hoover Institution media fellow, is author of “Infiltration” and “Muslim Mafia.” Sperry@SperryFiles.com.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka: How Islamic State ‘Outgrew the Mothership’ of Al-Qaeda

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Breitbart, by John  Hayward, Dec. 7, 2015:

The authorities have disclosed that San Bernardino jihadi Tashfeen Malik swore fealty to the Islamic State during her murder spree, but also that her husband Syed Farook was in contact with Syria’s Nusra Front and Somalia’s al-Shabaab – terrorist groups affiliated with the Islamic State’s rivals and progenitors, al-Qaeda.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka, a Breitbart National Security contributor and the Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University, explained this apparent ideological dissonance on Fox & Friends by noting that ISIS grew from al-Qaeda, and despite their current, occasionally violent rivalry, there is still ideological connective tissue between them.

gorka on f&f

“ISIS isn’t completely differentiated from al-Qaeda. ISIS came out of al-Qaeda,” Dr. Gorka said. “ISIS was originally al-Qaeda in Iraq, the organization run by Zarqawi, until we killed him. What’s happened in the last three or four years, it’s outgrown its mothership. It’s stolen the brand of jihad, and now ISIS is much more powerful than al-Qaeda.”

“These are all members of the same global jihadi movement, competing to be the lead brand,” he continued.  “But the connection is the same, whether it’s AQ, al-Nusra, al-Shabaab, or ISIS.  They’re all jihadis.”

Gorka said the Obama Administration was “living in a fantasyland, a bubble, where they have a pre-concocted narrative that terrorism is the result of economic hardship, political disenfranchisement… global warming, climate change is much more dangerous… the real jayvee team is ISIS, al-Qaeda is on the ropes… This is the narrative that they’ve spun themselves into for seven years, and anything that counters that, any shock of reality that goes against the White House meme, has to be ignored. So let’s talk about gun control. It’s incredible.”

Another persistent problem is the Left’s insistence on shoehorning terrorist attacks into their preferred victimhood narratives. As Gorka noted, there have been some efforts to portray the San Berardino jihadis as “oppressed,” their murderous rage an understandable response to verbal offense given by their victims, perhaps even by Farook’s employers holding a Christmas party.  Details of their family background have been searched for shopworn liberal excuses for crime and violence, such as a difficult home life.

“Who cares what his parents did to this man?” Gorka said about Syed Farook. “Did we talk about Hitler’s father being abusive to him? It’s not relevant.”

Gorka charged that the Administration is “allowing political correctness, and considerations of an ideological nature, to undermine the threat assessment work that needs to be done.”

“Let’s not talk about jihad, let’s not talk about why these people do it.  Let’s talk about gun control.  It’s like a bad SNL skit in my opinion,” he said, referring to the “Saturday Night Live” comedy show.

Gorka pointed to the San Bernardino attack as more obvious evidence that ISIS has arrived in America… but it’s hardly the first or only evidence, as a report he cited from the Threat Knowledge Group, written before the California attack, makes clear.

“The war is real.  The war is here,” he said.  “30 percent of the 82 people we’ve killed or arrested in America in the last two years [for ISIS involvement] didn’t want to go abroad to be jihadis. They wanted to kill Americans in America.  This is a war that is real and global.  Jihad has arrived at the shores of America.  9/11 isn’t history – it is now.

Gorka offered some safety advice for Americans, dismissing the Administration’s narrative about sudden radicalization and instant jihad to note that such attacks take careful preparation, and can be interrupted by alert citizens who keep their eyes open… if they disregard political correctness to report what they see.

He also dismissed the gun-control narrative to emphasize that individual American citizens must take responsibility for their own safety, and the safety of their loved ones.  “Do not expect Washington to save you when an attack occurs,” he warned.  “Dialing 911 is not gonna cut it. You have to take responsibility, you have to be aware, and if possible, fight back.”

“We need leadership that says one thing very clearly: we have an enemy – not global climate change, the enemy is global jihad, and these people are evil,” Gorka concluded.

Instead, we have leadership that stresses political correctness and refuses to admit the war is on, because they’re determined to push President Obama’s talking points about ISIS being “contained.”

“Tell that to the fourteen people dead in California,” Dr. Gorka suggested.

Benghazi Commission: Obama Admin Gun-Running Scheme Armed Islamic State

ISIS-fires-rockets-FlickrAmir-Farshad-Ebraham-640x480Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, Nov. 30, 2015:

The Obama administration pursued a policy in Libya back in 2011 that ultimately allowed guns to walk into the hands of jihadists linked to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda (AQ) in Syria, according to a former CIA officer who co-authored a report on behalf of the Citizen’s Commission on Benghazi (CCB), detailing the gun running scheme.

In Congress, the then-bipartisan group known as the “Gang of Eight,” at a minimum, knew of the operation to aid and abet America’s jihadist enemies by providing them with material support. So says Clare Lopez, a former CIA officer and the primary author of CCB’s interim report, titled How America Switched Sides in the War on Terror, speaking with Breitbart News.

The ripple effects of the illegal policy to arm America’s enemies continue to be felt as the U.S. military is currently leading a war against ISIS and AQ terrorists in Iraq and Syria, according to Lopez.

In late October, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that the U.S. would begin “direct action on the ground” against ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria who may have reaped the benefits from the gun-running scheme that started in Libya.

“The Obama administration effectively switched sides in what used to be called the Global War on Terror [GWOT] when it decided to overthrow the sovereign government of our Libyan ally, Muammar Qaddafi, who’d been helping in the fight against al-Qaeda, by actually teaming up with and facilitating gun-running to Libyan al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood [MB] elements there in 2011,” explained Lopez. “This U.S. gun-running policy in 2011 during the Libyan revolution was directed by [then] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and [the late Libya Ambassador] Christopher Stevens, who was her official envoy to the Libyan AQ rebels.”

To avoid having the funds tracked back to the Obama administration, the arms flow to Libya was financed thru the United Arab Emirates, while Qatar served as the logistical and shipping hub, she noted.

“In 2012, the gun-running into Libya turned around and began to flow outward, from Benghazi to the AQ-and-MB-dominated rebels in Syria,” Lopez added. “This time, it was the CIA Base of Operations that was in charge of collecting up and shipping out [surface-to-air missiles] SAMs from Libya on Libyan ships to Turkey for overland delivery to a variety of jihadist militias, some of whose members later coalesced into groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS [also known as IS].”

Jabhat al-Nusra is al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.

“The downstream consequences of Obama White House decisions in the Syrian conflict are still playing out, but certainly the U.S. – and particularly CIA – support of identifiable jihadist groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, the Islamic State and other [jihadists] has only exacerbated what was already a devastating situation,” declared Lopez.

Some of the other weapons that eventually ended up in Syria included thousands of MAN-Portable-Air-Defense-System (MANPADS) missile units, such as shoulder-launched SAMs, from late dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s extensive arms stockpiles that pose a threat to low-flying aircraft, especially helicopters.

“It’s been reported that President Obama signed an Executive Order on Syria in early 2012 [just as he had done for Libya in early 2011], that legally covered the CIA and other U.S. agencies that otherwise would have been in violation of aiding and abetting the enemy in time of war and providing material support to terrorism,” notes Lopez. “Still, such blatant disregard for U.S. national security can only be described as deeply corrosive of core American principles.”

Libya Amb. Stevens was killed by jihadists in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, along with three other Americans.

Echoing a Benghazi resident who provided a first-hand account of the incident, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dennis Haney, a CCB member, suggested to Breitbart News that Hillary Clinton’s State Department armed some of the al-Qaeda linked jihadists who may have killed the four Americans in Benghazi.

“The reason the U.S. government was operating in Libya is absolutely critical to this debacle because it reflects where America went off the tracks and literally switched sides in the GWOT,” points out Lopez. “This is about who we are as a country, as a people — where we are going with this Republic of ours.”

“There can be no greater treason than aiding and abetting the jihadist enemy in time of war – or providing material – weapons, funding, intel, NATO bombing – support to terrorism,” she continued. “The reason Benghazi is not the burning issue it ought to be is because so many at top levels of U.S. government were implicated in wrong-doing: White House, Pentagon, Intel Community-CIA, Gang of Eight, at a minimum, in Congress, the Department of State, etc.”

The State Department and the CIA did not respond to Breitbart News’ requests for comment.

Clinton was asked about the gun running operation when testifying before the House Select Committee on Benghazi in October.

The Democratic presidential frontrunner claimed she was not aware of any U.S. government efforts to arm jihadists in Libya and Syria.

Clinton did admit to being open to the idea of using private security experts to arm the Qaddafi opposition, which included al-Qaeda elements, but added that it was “not considered seriously.”

Members of the 2011 “Gang of Eight” mentioned in this report included: then-House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, then- Rep. Mike Rogers , Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger , then-Sen. Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, then-Sen. Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnellSen. Dianne Feinstein, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss .

Lopez is the vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the Canadian Meighen Institute.

‘Jihad Olympics’ Take Two: Al-Qaeda Shows Its Muscle in Mali

Security forces rescues hostage in Mali (Photo: Video screenshot)

Security forces rescues hostage in Mali (Photo: Video screenshot)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Nov. 26, 2015:

When al-Qaeda struck a hotel in Mali exactly one week after the Islamic State’s attacks in Paris, it was another competition in what we’ve dubbed the “Jihad Olympics.” Al-Qaeda’s latest assault also doubled as an attack ad against the Islamic State (ISIS), contrasting its relative mercy towards Muslims with the Islamic State’s complete disregard for Muslim casualties.

Watch Clarion Project’s National Security Analyst, Prof. Ryan Mauro, on FOX News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” as news broke of the attacks in Mali and the anchor noted our correct prediction of Al-Qaeda’s responsibility:

Responsibility for the attacks was claimed by two al-Qaeda branches: al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al-Mourabitoun. The Macina Liberation Front, a group that has links to Al-Qaeda but has not formally sworn allegiance, later also took credit.

Aside from the obvious fact that al-Qaeda believes it is required by Allah to carry out attacks like what we saw in Mali, the timing strongly suggests it wanted—and desperately needed—to show it still has a pulse. Success is seen as Allah’s endorsement, so al-Qaeda’s decline since 2001 and the rise of the Islamic State since 2014 have potentially existential consequences for the group.

Success wins arguments between Islamists. There are lengthy debates between Islamists referencing Islamic scripture and legal rulings and scholars’ interpretations, but at the end of the day, there’s no stronger argument than success (a.k.a. Allah’s blessing).

Temporary setbacks may be shrugged off as tests of faith, but undeniable defeat will cause even the most confident-sounding jihadist to privately question how he has offended Allah. This can be seen in letters between senior al-Qaeda leaders and public criticism from former al-Qaeda supporters, including a mentor to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

A second purpose of the Mali attacks was to serve as the jihadist equivalent of a political attack ad against the Islamic State. al-Qaeda made sure to release hostages who could recite verses from the Quran in order to minimize Muslim casualties, regardless of whether those Muslim hostages support the group or not.

Al-Qaeda supporters online immediately pointed this out. al-Qaeda derides the Islamic State as being equivalent to the Khawarij (or Kharijites), a puritanical Islamic sect that waged war against the ruling caliph and branded rival Muslims as apostates deserving of death. The comparison stings ISIS enough that its propaganda regularly addresses it.

Of course, the parallels can just as easily be seen with al-Qaeda and all the Muslim blood it has on its hands. The private communications of al-Qaeda leaders indicate they believe that its targeting of Muslims was frowned upon by Allah and so decided to calibrate their massacres. Al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban’s condemnation of the Pakistani Taliban’s massacre of Muslim children in Peshawar is an example of this course correction.

The “Jihad Olympics” can produce the desired headlines, such as news that al-Qaeda has delivered a “severe blow” to the Islamic State in the Golan Heights area by suicide bombing the leadership of one of its militias (the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigades). But the terrorist-on-terrorist violence comes with a price.

Attacks like those in Paris and Mali are benchmarks in the competition that each group must achieve, especially as its capabilities are doubted. The Islamic State attacked an Italian priest in Bangladesh not only because he is a legitimate target in their minds, but because Bangladesh is a focal point of a new al-Qaeda affiliate that attacked two publishers there only weeks earlier.

The competition and inter-jihadist bloodshed only raises the pressure on each group to attack Western targets. And the gold medal in this “Jihad Olympics” will unfortunately be won by whoever does the most damage inside Western countries, especially the United States.

Video: Stephen Coughlin unveils the dreadful lessons of ISIS’s Paris massacre

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We should expect to see large scale acts of terrorism culminating at the end of the year – Coughlin

JAMIE GLAZOV PRODUCTIONS, Nov. 25, 2015:

This special edition of The Glazov Gang was joined by Stephen Coughlin, the co-founder of UnconstrainedAnalytics.org and the author of the new book, Catastrophic Failure.

He came on the show to discuss The Dreadful Lessons of ISIS’s Paris Massacre, shedding troubling light on Jihadists’ dire warning to America.

[See also Stephen on the Glazov Gang special: How “Rules of Engagement” Get U.S. Soldiers Killed.]

Also see:

Must Read Report – Islamic State: ‘The Threat to the United States’

isis-marching-AP-640x480 (2)Breitbart, by Jordan, Schachtel, Nov. 23, 2015:

A Mclean, Virginia-based defense think-tank has published a prescient white-paper on the Islamic State terror group, which has been made available exclusively to Breitbart News prior to its release.

The Threat Knowledge Group (TKG), headed by Katherine C. Gorka, its President, and Dr. Sebastian Gorka, the Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University and a Breitbart Contributor, released a comprehensive study Monday titled “ISIS: The Threat to the United States.”

After last week’s attacks in Paris that killed over one-hundred people and wounded hundreds more, particular national attention has turned to national security issues, as the American people continue to fear that the United States is becoming more vulnerable to jihadist attacks.

“The scope and lethality of the Paris attack changes everything. The U.S. will have to take the domestic threat of ISIS much more seriously now,” Threat Knowledge Group President Katherine Gorka told Breitbart News.

“We wanted to do this study because we felt that the Administration was downplaying the domestic threat of ISIS, focusing instead on ‘right-wing extremism.’ The problem with that is that it means law enforcement is not prepared. They’re looking out the window while the threat is coming in the door,” she added.

Threat Knowledge Group supports the Defense Department and FBI with strategic analysis and training, and this latest report unveils the Islamic State’s recruitment network inside of the United States.

They found that over 250 people from the United States have attempted to join ISIS, according to a report from the House Homeland Security Committee. Also, some 82 individuals in the United States have been interdicted by federal agents as part of ISIS plots, according to a database compiled by Threat Knowledge Group.

And the FBI already has almost 1,000 active ISIS investigations in the United States, the report adds.

In its study, TKG also compares and contrasts the Islamic State with Al Qaeda.

The report notes that “ISIS is a fully-fledged insurgency” and has been able to achieve far more than Al Qaeda has in its past. In such a short amount of time, ISIS has been able to recruit a force of tens-of-thousands of jihadis while also controlling territory, a feat that Al Qaeda has never accomplished by itself.

ISIS has trumped Al Qaeda’s recruiting capacity as well, according to the report. TKG found that from March 2014 to November 2015, ISIS arrests occurred over three times more often than for Al Qaeda members, with 4.1 ISIS cases per month compared to Al Qaeda’s monthly 1.5 average.

In an ultra-important measure to establish legitimacy in the Islamic world, ISIS “successfully declared the Caliphate after 90 years of absence, and it is growing,” the report adds.

The study also delves into several other issues related to understanding ISIS as a jihadi organization, covering topics such as “What ISIS believes in” and “Who is ISIS recruiting?”

TKG warns that the United States must steel itself for the “difficult times ahead” and be ready to counter the threats posed by ISIS inside of the United States. They recommend that U.S. officials follow five steps in countering the current threat environment.

In summary, TKG recommends that American officials should:

  1. “Stop downplaying the seriousness of the threat.”
  2. “Recognize that ISIS is targeting youth, and do more to protect youth from radicalization.”
  3. “Target the ideologues.”
  4. “Better utilize open-source intelligence.”

TKG Report the ISIS Threat