How France Became an Inviting Target of the Jihad


PJ Media, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Nov. 14, 2015:

Earlier this year, following the Charlie Hebdo massacre and related terrorist attacks in and around Paris, I wrote Islam and Free Speech, a Broadside” that is part of the series published by Encounter Books. The following is an excerpt.

How did we get to this historical anomaly in France where, as the estimable scholar Daniel Pipes observes, “a majority population accepts the customs and even the criminality of a poorer and weaker community”? It is the result of a conquest ideology taking the measure of a civilization that no longer values its heritage, no longer regards itself as worthy of defense.

France’s population of 66 million is now approximately 10 percent Islamic. Estimates are sketchy because, in a vestige of its vanishing secularist tradition, France does not collect census data about religious affiliation. Still, between 6 and 7 million Muslims are reasonably believed to be resident in the country (Pew put the total at 4.7 million back in 2010 – other analysts peg it higher today). To many in France, the number seems higher, due to both the outsize influence of Islamist activists on the political class and the dense Muslim communities in and around Paris – approximating 15 percent of the local population. An online poll conducted by Ipsos Mosi in 2014 found that the average French citizenbelieves Muslims make up about a third of the country’s population.

As night follows day, when Muslim populations surge, so does support for jihadism and the sharia supremacist ideology that catalyzes it. The reason is plain to see, even if Western elites remain willfully blind to it: For a not insignificant percentage of the growing Muslim millions in Europe, infiltration – by both mass immigration and the establishment of swelling Islamic enclaves – is a purposeful strategy of conquest, sometimes referred to as “voluntary apartheid.”

One of its leading advocates is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. A Qatar-based Egyptian octogenarian, Qaradawi is a Muslim Brotherhood icon. He is a copiously published scholar graduated from Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni Islamic learning for over a millennium, and thus oversees both the International Union of Muslim Scholars and the European Council for Fatwa and Research. Thanks to his pioneering of the highly trafficked IslamOnline website and, especially, to his hugely popular al-Jazeera television program, Sharia and Life, he has become the world’s most influential sharia jurist.

Qaradawi is the sharia backbone of the violent jihad to exterminate Israel – a tiny country surrounded by hundreds of millions of hostile Muslims. The sheikh also vows that Islam will “conquer” both Europe and America, but acknowledges that this conquest will require a strategy more suited to a determined minority that knows it cannot win by force of arms. The key, he asserts, is dawa, the Muslim equivalent of proselytism. In radical Islam, it is hyper-aggressive, pushing on every cultural cylinder, pressuring every institution, and exploiting the atmosphere of intimidation created by jihadist terror to blur the lines between legal advocacy and extortion.

In France, dawa presses against laïcité, the credo of secularism through the strict separation of religion and the state. Qaradawi is quite clear that “secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.” He is equally adamant that Muslims, who are bound to live in accordance with the strictures of sharia, must reject a secular framework because “acceptance of secularism means abandonment of sharia, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions.” Thus, he elaborates, “The call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of sharia is downright apostasy.”

This nexus between free speech and Western democracy is worth pausing over. Notice that, in focusing on the incompatibility between Islamic law and democracy’s secular, pluralist underpinnings, Qaradawi draws the inevitable conclusion that democracy equals apostasy. The term apostasy is not invoked idly in radical Islam. As explained in Reliance of the Traveller, a classic sharia manual endorsed by al-Azhar scholars, the renunciation of Islam is a death penalty offense.

Free speech does not exist in a vacuum. It is the plinth of freedom’s fortress. It is the ineliminable imperative if there is to be the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas, the rule of reason, freedom of conscience, equality before the law, property rights, and equality of opportunity. That is why it must be extinguished if there is to be what Qaradawi calls a “place of religion” – meaning his religion. For all its arrogance and triumphalist claims, radical Islam must suppress speech because it cannot compete in a free market of conscience.

To sustain their movement, therefore, Islamist leaders must separate Muslims from secular society. In the West, this means forming Islamic enclaves in which sharia gradually takes root as the de facto and, eventually, the de jure law – enabling Muslims to resist the challenge of critical thinking under the guise avoiding the near occasion of apostasy. Over time, dominion is established over swaths of not only physical territory but legal privilege. Qaradawi puts the matter succinctly:

Were we to convince Western leaders and decision-makers of our right to live according to our faith — ideologically, legislatively, and ethically — without imposing our views or inflicting harm upon them, we would have traversed an immense barrier in our quest for an Islamic state.

The key to the conquest strategy is to coerce the West into accepting a Muslim right to resist assimilation, to regard sharia as superseding Western law and custom when the two conflict. For precisely this reason, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – a bloc of 56 Muslim countries (plus the Palestinian Authority) – has decreed that “Muslims should not be marginalized or attempted to be assimilated, but should be accommodated.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Islamist president of Turkey who has systematically dismantled that country’s secular, pro-Western system, similarly pronounces that pressuring Muslims to assimilate in the West “is a crime against humanity.”

Free expression is the gateway to assimilation. Consequently, radical Islam cannot tolerate it.

As a result, France is now rife with Zones Urbaines Sensibiles – “sensitive urban areas.” The government officially lists some 751 of them: Islamic enclaves in the banlieues, often referred to as “no go zones” because the indigenous populations discourage the presence of non-Muslims who do not conform to Islamic standards of dress and social interaction, and of public officials – police, fire-fighters, emergency medical teams, and building inspectors – who are seen as symbols of the state’s effort to exercise sovereignty in areas Muslims seek to possess adversely.

Some of these zones inevitably evolve into hotbeds of jihadist activity. As the Gatestone Institute’s Soeren Kern notes, there has been no shortage of Internet traffic suggesting, for example, “the killing of France’s ambassadors, just as the manly Libyan fighters killed the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi.” In a low-intensity jihadist thrum stretching back several years, the torching of automobiles has become a commonplace – as many as 40,000 cars burned annually. Perhaps most alarmingly, over a thousand French Muslims, more than from any other Western country, are estimated to have traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS – meaning many will return to the country as trained, battle-hardened jihadists. Beyond the direct ISIS participants, moreover, the Washington Post has reported that a recent poll found 16 percent of French citizens expressing some degree of support for ISIS – an organization whose rule over the vast territory it has seized is best known for decapitations, rapine, the execution of homosexuals, mass graves, and the enslavement of non-Muslim communities.

Once one grasps the voluntary apartheid strategy, it becomes obvious why radical Islam’s inroads in France, and elsewhere in Europe, seamlessly translate into demands for the enforcement of sharia’s curbs on speech and artistic expression. What is not so obvious is just how profound a challenge to the West this constitutes.

The War That Hasn’t Ended

Paris attackNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy,Nov. 13, 2015:

There is always the chance that the next attack will knock the scales from our eyes. Always the chance that we will realize the enemy is at war with us, even as we foolishly believe we can end the war by not fighting it, by surrendering.

As this is written, the death count in Paris is 158. That number will grow higher, and very many more will be counted among the wounded and terrorized.

“Allahu Akbar!” cried the jihadists as they killed innocent after French innocent. The commentators told us it means “God is great.” But it doesn’t. It means “Allah is greater!” It is a comparative, a cry of combative aggression: “Our God is mightier than yours.” It is central to a construction of Islam, mainstream in the Middle East, that sees itself at war with the West.

It is what animates our enemies.

Barack Obama tells us — harangues us — that he is the president who came to end wars. Is that noble? Reflective of an America that honors “our values”? No, it is juvenile.

In the real world, the world of aggression — not “micro-aggression” — you don’t get to end wars by pronouncing them over, or mistaken, or contrary to “our values.”

You end them by winning them . . . or losing them.

If you demonstrate that you are willing to lose, then you lose. If you sympathize with the enemy’s critique of the West on the lunatic theory that this will appease the enemy, you invite more attacks, more mass murder.

France is hoping the night’s bloodshed is done as it counts its dead. And perhaps it is for now. But the atrocities are not over, not even close.

In Paris, it has been but the blink of an eye since the Charlie Hebdo massacre, after which Western nations joined together in supposed solidarity, supporting the fundamental right to free expression.

That lasted about five minutes.

Intelligentsia on both sides of the Atlantic rationalized that, while we of course (ahem) champion free expression — “Je suis Charlie!” and all that — columnists and cartoonists who dare lampoon a totalitarian ideology are bringing the jihad on themselves.

It was a familiar story. In 2012, jihadists attacked an American compound in Benghazi, killing our ambassador and three other officials. The president responded by . . . condemning an anti-Muslim video that had nothing to do with the attack, and by proclaiming that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

Islamic supremacism killed Americans, and America’s president validated Islamic supremacism.

How did the French and the rest of the West react when jihadists attacked Charlie Hebdo in Paris?

After a fleeting pro-Western pose, they condemned . . . themselves.

What happened when American commentators who had spent years studying Islamic-supremacist ideology warned that mainstream Muslim doctrine was fueling jihad against the West?

The Obama administration — the president and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton — reacted by targeting the messengers, not the aggressors.

Jihadist terror would be obfuscated by euphemisms like “violent extremism” and “workplace violence.” The critics of jihadist terror would be smeared as racist “Islamophobes.” Mrs. Clinton led the administration’s effort to portray examination of Islamic doctrine as hate speech, to brand commentary about radical Islam as illegal incitement.

Wouldn’t that be a betrayal of First Amendment free expression? If so, Mrs. Clinton declared, the government had other ways to suppress it. The administration, she said, would resort to extra-legal extortion: “old fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming.”

American government intimidation, not against the jihad but against opponents of the jihad. Could we tell the enemy any more clearly that we don’t think we are worth defending? Could we tell the enemy any more clearly that we are ripe for the taking?

Hard experience has taught us that when jihadists have safe haven, they attack the United States and our Western allies. But as ISIS and al Qaeda expand their safe haven in Syria and Iraq, we tell the world it is everyone else’s problem — the Kurds have to do the fighting, or the Yazidis, the Iraqis, the “rebels,” anyone but us.

As hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the region — many of them young, fighting-fit men whose potential terrorist ties cannot possibly be vetted — we encourage Europe to open its arms and borders to them, promising to open our own as well.

After all, to do otherwise would be to concede that the war is against us — and Obama is the president who “ends” war.

The enemy is not impressed. What Obama calls “ending” war the enemy sees as surrender, as the lack of a will to fight, much less to prevail.

So, as night follows day, the enemy attacked Paris tonight, yet again. Jihadists brazenly proclaimed that they were from Syria, spreading their jihad to France.

Obama responded by soft-peddling the atrocity as a “tragedy,” the acts of war as a “crime.”

A “crime” that tonight killed 158 people (and counting). A “crime” by “criminals” who vow more jihadist acts of war against Paris, Rome, London, Tel Aviv, and New York.

We did not ask for a war with jihadists. Years ago, they commenced a war of aggression against us. Pace Obama, you can’t end such a war by withdrawing, or by pretending it is just a crime. You end it by winning it or losing it.

The enemy senses that we are willing to lose it. Tonight, they pressed their advantage. It won’t be the last time.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

Ongoing Paris Terrorism

People run after hearing what is believed to be explosions or gun shots near Place de la Republique square in Paris

People run after hearing what is believed to be explosions or gun shots near Place de la Republique square in Paris

National Review, by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY,  November 13, 2015:

Fox News is reporting that there are at least 35 dead and 100 hostages taken in a series of at least three terrorist attacks in Paris – involving bombing outside a stadium where tens of thousands of people were watching a soccer game, a mass-murder shooting at a restaurant, and mass abductions at the Bataclan concert hall.

It is obviously too early to draw any definitive conclusions, but we must note that both ISIS and al Qaeda have threatened Europe in general and France in particular; France was recently the site of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and related killings; and the French government has recently stepped up its support for combat operations against jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

I would further note that these attacks have been roughly simultaneous, which is the longtime practice of al Qaeda (and remember that ISIS is a breakaway faction of al Qaeda – the two are more the same than different when it comes to the jihad against the West).

There have also been reports – unverified so far as I know – of grenade explosions near the stadium. It is not yet clear to me whether there was a bomb detonation of some kind in conjunction with the grenades. But it is worth observing that when al Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassy in Kenya in 1998, it exploded grenades just before the bombing – a tactic that enabled the terrorists to both (a) distract police attention so the truck carrying the bomb could get close to the embassy, and (b) butcher many more people – they looked out building windows when they heard the grenades and were killed by flying glass when the bomb exploded seconds later.

Moreover, in my 1995 prosecution of the Blind Sheikh’s terrorist cell, we proved the jihadists were plotting to bomb the FBI’s headquarters in lower Manhattan. The plan involved exploding grenades up the street to distract police attention in order to enable a bomb-laden car to crash through the security barrier of the federal building.



Also see:

Ted Cruz Is Right: The Muslim Brotherhood Is a Terrorist Organization

Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Jordan, November 2014 (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty)

Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Jordan, November 2014 (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Nov.7, 2015:

“The Muslim Brotherhood youth in Egypt reject any form of violence.” So said Rachid Ghannouchi, who — you’ll no doubt be stunned to hear — heads up the Muslim Brotherhood’s Tunisian branch, Ennahda.

Naturally, Ghannouchi gave his Egyptian confederates a clean bill of health while speaking as an invited guest of the U.S. Institute for Peace in Washington. He is a master of the Brotherhood game, consulted by the State Department and a bipartisan Beltway clerisy ever on the hunt for that elusive “moderate Islamist.” He is an Islamic supremacist who knows he can worm his way into Washington’s heart by whispering sweet nothings about “democracy,” “pluralism,” and their seamless compatibility with sharia — Islam’s authoritarian, discriminatory, and brutally punitive legal code and societal framework.

It is nonsense, but Ghannouchi knows it is precisely the nonsense our government wants to hear. We don’t want to know about the Brotherhood, but man oh man do the Brothers ever go to school on us. Ghannouchi understands that if he chants “democracy” and “non-violence” enough times, there will be no inconvenient mention of his support of Hamas — the terrorist organization that is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch. No one will bring up his 2009 call for the opening of a “third jihadist front” against Israel. No one will quote his proclamations such as “I bring glad tidings that the Arab region will get rid of the germ of Israel” or “There are no civilians in Israel. Men, women and children, they are all reserves soldiers and can therefore be killed” — or that the United States government is “the great Satan.” Not a word will be uttered about his close alliance with Brotherhood eminence Yousef al-Qaradawi, the influential sharia jurist who calls for suicide bombings against the Jewish state and terrorist attacks against American soldiers in Iraq.

This week, finally, Ted Cruz decided enough is enough. The Texas senator and Republican presidential hopeful has proposed a bill to force the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as what it actually is: a terrorist organization.

The legislation, Senator Cruz tells me, “is part of a larger effort to expose the various radical elements that are trying, both at home and abroad, to undermine our very way of life.”

A parallel focus of this effort is Iranian aggression — manifested again this week with the regime’s taking of yet another American hostage. Cruz has been a vigorous critic of the deal, negotiated by President Obama, that will make the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism a threshold nuclear power while materially supporting its terror promotion with over $100 billion in funding. The senator has also joined with colleagues in the House on a bill to apply the terrorist designation to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — the elite regime force that orchestrated much of the terrorist insurgencies against American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, to say nothing of the 1995 bombing that killed 19 American airmen at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

The menace that is Iran is clear to most Americans outside the Obama administration. The Brotherhood, though, is a “complicated case,” Cruz acknowledges. They’ve managed to “convince the Obama administration they are a secular, political entity” that can be America’s “moderate partner and assist in outreach to the Muslim world.”

The proposed legislation corrects this dangerous misimpression by sketching the Brotherhood’s history and the centrality of violent jihad to it. It details, for example, the instruction of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna that “jihad is an obligation from Allah on every Muslim and cannot be ignored or evaded.”

From its origins in the 1920s, Brotherhood doctrine has taught that jihad means “fighting the unbelievers,” “including beating them, plundering their wealth, destroying their places of worship and smashing their idols.” It has called for willing “martyrs” who understand the necessity of terrorism as “the art of death” — the route to ensuring Islam’s global dominance by convincing enemies that Islamic forces “loved death more than life” and were willing to perform any atrocities necessary to prevail.

While Ghannouchi would have us believe he has no information connecting the Egyptian Brotherhood with violence, Cruz’s bill recounts that, from its earliest days, the Egypt-based movement “established a terrorist wing, referred to as the ‘secret apparatus’, which conducted bombings and assassinations.” The savage use of force continues to this day, spearheaded by Hamas (designated as a terrorist organization since the mid-1990s), the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood (Lajnat al-Dawa al-Islamia — designated as a terrorist organization in 2001), and Brotherhood factions in Egypt that oppose the current government and torment Coptic Christians, torching scores of churches, businesses, and homes.

Indeed, in 2010, the bill relates, the Brotherhood’s “supreme guide,” Mohamed Badie, “called on Arab and Muslim regimes to confront not just Israel but also the United States,” declaring that “resistance is the only solution against the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny.” The call to jihad followed the 2008 convictions of Hamas operatives in the Holy Land Foundation case. There, the Justice Department proved that the Brotherhood was the core of an elaborate conspiracy to support and finance Hamas — a conspiracy in which leading American Islamist organizations were complicit.

Cruz could not be more right in describing the Brotherhood as “the key foundation stone for radical Sunni terrorism that has spawned both al-Qaeda and ISIS.”  In fact, as the bill describes, there is a significant history of Brotherhood underwriting of terrorism. In addition, key al-Qaeda figures have been launched by immersion in Brotherhood ideology.

It should come as no surprise, then, that where the Brotherhood is active, ISIS and al-Qaeda thrive.

This is notoriously the case in Syria, headquarters of the ISIS “caliphate,” where opponents of the Iran-backed regime are labeled “moderates” and “rebels” — a clear case of Washington straining to obscure the opposition’s significant Brotherhood and jihadist elements. Top Cruz adviser Victoria Coates points out that several years and millions of dollars have been squandered because the Obama administration “refuses to see that the Brotherhood is every bit as hostile to America as Assad is.”

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood is a prominent agitator in Libya, where al-Qaeda affiliates helped massacre Americans in Benghazi and where ISIS has established a beachhead. As Cruz’s legislation relates, Brotherhood factions are now colluding with jihadist groups fighting with great success against the failed government.

The United States will not have success in this volatile region until we have a strategy based on reality. Cruz persuasively contends that reality begins with no longer allowing the Brotherhood “to perpetuate the fiction that they are somehow reasonable and should be advising the highest levels of our government.”

To disastrous effect, the Obama administration has indulged the fantasy that American interests are served by making common cause with virulently anti-American Islamists who want Israel wiped from the map. Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, has been an enthusiastic partner in the project to cultivate the Brotherhood. And too many Republicans have fallen prey to the illusion of a Middle East tamed by “sharia democracy” — an illusion that portrays enemies as friends and is continually surprised by the rising tide of jihadism.

Ted Cruz understands the threat and is distinguishing himself by charting a very different policy direction. It will serve him well. And it would serve the country well.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.


Clarion Project national security analyst Ryan Mauro debates Nezar Hamze of CAIR-Florida about whether the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The discussion follows the United Arab Emirates’ designation of CAIR and Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist groups. This illustrates why CAIR is able to bamboozle everyone. THEY LIE AND PEOPLE BELIEVE THEM!

Delusional White House on Iran Missile Test: UN Resolution Implementing Iran Deal ‘Altogether Separate’ from Iran Deal

20151015_ObamaDelusional_Family Security Matters, by Andrew McCarthy, Oct. 16, 2015:

In its continuing humiliation of President Obama – who clings to his Iran deal despite Iran’s continuing to call for “Death to America,” banning of further negotiations with the U.S., convicting of one of its American hostages of bogus espionage charges, joining with Russia to prop up Assad by bombing America-backed insurgents, and contemptuously asserting that it will ignore provisions of the deal to which it objects – the jihadist regime in Tehran tested a ballistic missile over the weekend in blatant violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 2231, which codifies the Iran deal.

The Obama White House response to Iran’s brazenness today is astonishing, even by delusional Obama standards. The president’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, acknowledged there were “strong indications that those missile tests did violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that pertain to Iran’s ballistic missile activities.” Nevertheless, he maintained with a straight face that “this is altogether separate from the nuclear agreement that Iran reached with the rest of the world.”

What? The resolution that implements the said nuclear agreement directs Iran, for approximately the next eight years,

not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology[.] [Annex B, Paragraph 3.]

This, mind you, is the resolution that Obama ran to the U.N. to get before Congress was permitted to review and vote on the Iran deal. Since that deal expressly prohibits the precise activity in which Iran has now engaged, how can this violation be “altogether separate” from the deal?

According to Earnest, they are separate because (a) nuclear activities are somehow separate from activities involving ballistic missiles that can deliver nuclear weapons; (b) Security Resolution 2231 that implements the Iran deal is somehow separate from other Security Council resolutions that ban Iran’s ballistic missile activities even though Resolution 2231, too, bans Iran’s ballistic missile activities; and (c) Iran’s pattern of violating international law pertaining to ballistic missiles that can deliver nuclear weapons is somehow irrelevant to the administration’s level of confidence that it will adhere to its commitments regarding nuclear weapons development, notwithstanding that it has a history of flouting those commitments, too.

Obama promised that if Iran cheated, the sanctions would instantly “snap back.” As I’ve pointed out before, there was never the remotest chance that this was true – indeed, the fine print of the Iran deal ensures that sanctions will not snap back by exempting commerce with Iran undertaken pursuant to the deal.

But here Iran is not just cheating. It is mocking its commitments in broad daylight. And what is Obama’s reaction? He takes on the role of Iran’s defense lawyer, parsing and nullifying the restrictions in his own deal.

The ink hasn’t yet dried and it is already manifest that Obama’s Iran deal is a farce that provides aid and comfort to a committed enemy of the United States. Is Congress planning to do anything about that?

A version of this piece previously appeared on National Review Online.


Also see:

Hillary’s Dangerous Negligence over Benghazi — Again

hillary-email-threatens-benghazi-prosecution-bThe attempt to convict Khatallah for the attack that killed four Americans could falter over Clinton’s deleted e-mails.

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, August 15, 2015:

Who cares if Hillary Clinton is convicted of a crime? What we ought to care about is if Ahmed Abu Khatallah is convicted of a crime.

Khatallah is the only person charged thus far in the attack on a shadowy U.S. government compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Dozens of jihadists participated in the attack, during which four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens, were slain. Yet Khatallah has been singled out for prosecution. As I’ve previously detailed (here and here), the Obama Justice Department has filed an indictment that infuses evidence with politics: Trying to prove the terrorist conspiracy that actually occurred without refuting the Obama/Clinton fiction that the attack was a spontaneous protest ignited by an anti-Muslim Internet video.

That’s why there are worse jobs to have right now than defense counsel for a murderous jihadist.

Mrs. Clinton has spent the last few weeks learning that federal court is not the mainstream media. Because of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits brought by Judicial Watch, she and her top aides are finally being asked tough questions about conducting government business over a private communications system — a system that Clinton designed in order to hide her communications from public inspections, congressional inquiries, and judicial proceedings. We’ve thus learned that Team Clinton may have concealed government records, stored and transmitted classified information on private e-mail systems, and erased tens of thousands of government files.

If Mrs. Clinton thinks FOIA is a headache, wait until she sees what happens when a top government official’s reckless mass deletion of e-mails takes center stage in a terrorism prosecution of intense national interest. Federal criminal court is not the nightly news. There, mass deletion of files is not gently described as “emails a government official chose not to retain”; it is described as “destruction of evidence” and “obstruction of justice.”

RELATED: Contrary to Media Spin, It’s Hillary Who’s Being Investigated, Not Her Server

In criminal cases, the government is required to disclose to the defense any information in its possession that may tend to prove the defendant not guilty of the charges. That includes information that calls into question the prosecution’s version of events, theory of guilt, and credibility.

In the indictment against Khatallah, the Justice Department alleges that nothing of consequence happened until the day of the Benghazi attack, when he is said to have complained aloud that “something” had to be done about “an American facility in Benghazi” that he believed was an illegal intelligence operation masquerading as a diplomatic post. Suddenly, at 9:45 that night, “twenty armed men,” including “close associates of Khatallah” (not identified by prosecutors), “violently breached” the facility. In the ensuing violence, the Americans were killed. Khatallah is alleged to have participated in the mayhem and to have prevented “emergency responders” from stopping it.

Of course, there is far more to the story than the Justice Department has elected to tell.

RELATED: Why Hillary’s Wiping Her E-mail Server Clean Matters More than It Might Seem

In the months preceding September 11, the “diplomatic facility” and other Western compounds in Benghazi had been targeted in terrorist bombings and threats. September 11 would be the eleventh anniversary of the killing of nearly 3,000 Americans by al-Qaeda, which had every incentive to mark that occasion with a significant attack. American forces, moreover, had recently killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaeda’s top Libyan operative; that prompted Ayman al-Zawahiri, the terror network’s leader, to call on fellow jihadists to avenge al-Libi — an incitement issued just a day before the Benghazi attack.

So al-Qaeda was very much on the offensive. Obama, however, was on the campaign trail falsely assuring Americans that the terror network had been “decimated.” Obama’s decision to back Libyan “rebels” against Moammar Qaddafi had resulted in the arming of anti-American jihadists and the teetering of Libya on the brink of collapse. Obama, however, was on the campaign trail pronouncing his Libya policy a boon for regional stability.

As Obama next called for the ouster of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and reports surfaced of covert American support for the Syrian “rebels,”arms used by jihadists in Libya were shipped to jihadists in Syria by way of Turkey. Was that why we needed a “diplomatic facility” with a CIA annex in Benghazi, which was a transit point for some of these weapons? Was that why Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi meeting with Turkey’s ambassador on September 11 despite the obvious peril? The Obama administration refuses to say.

Throughout 2012, American personnel in Benghazi were under heightened terrorist threat. Despite their pleas for more protection, however, the State Department under Secretary Clinton actually reduced security.

Finally, when the September 11 siege occurred, the Obama administration knew from the first moments that it was a terrorist attack of the sort that any competent assessment of the red-blinking intelligence would have predicted. Obama and Hillary Clinton, however, colluded in an elaborate scheme to convince the public that the atrocity was not an al-Qaeda-connected terrorist attack but a spontaneous protest run amok, provoked by an anti-Muslim video.

EDITORIAL: As the FBI Seizes Clinton’s Server, Her E-Mail Scandal Enters a More Serious Phase 

Like all indicted defendants, Khatallah has the right to defend himself by putting the government’s story on trial. Specifically, he could contend that he is being scapegoated for an al-Qaeda plot that was longer in the making. I’d expect him to elaborate that the government singled him out — even though many others were involved — because he was a known critic of American policy who had the misfortune of being in the vicinity of the “diplomatic facility” that night. His prosecution for an allegedly spontaneous attack, he will claim, is an effort to deflect attention from the State Department’s failure to upgrade security, from Obama’s complicity in arming jihadists long before the Benghazi attack, and from the administration’s decision to downplay the role of al-Qaeda (which is not even mentioned in the indictment) while pretending the attack was caused by a video.

Mind you, a defense theory does not have to be true. The defendant has no burden to prove his innocence. To be admissible, it is enough for a defense theory simply to have the potential to cast doubt on the government’s version of events.

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To press such a theory, Khatallah’s lawyer can be expected to argue that the government is hiding evidence that (a) the State Department knew of the continuing al-Qaeda threat but recklessly reduced security before September 11; (b) administration policies had empowered jihadists in Benghazi, who later carried out the attack for which Khatallah is being blamed; and (c) high administration officials, including Secretary Clinton and President Obama, concocted the video story during a tight presidential-election race to divert public attention from questions about who really carried out the Benghazi attack and what was really going on at the “diplomatic facility.”

Her criminal liability is quite beside the point. This is about judgment, credibility, and character.

Laying out this scenario, you can almost hear Khatallah’s lawyer saying, “Your Honor, we believe we are entitled to communications by the secretary of state with other officials. They would demonstrate the government’s knowledge of security lapses, the rising al-Qaeda threat, the fact that the September 11 operation was a terrorist attack, and the identities of attack participants whom the government has chosen not to charge while singling out my client. They would also show the connivance of top government officials in a scheme to convince the public this was a spontaneous attack caused by the video — a scheme that made it easy to frame my client because he happened to be on the scene that night, rather than the terrorist organization that planned it long before.”

A judge gets reversed if he fails to ensure that a defendant gets a fair trial — he cannot ignore defense lawyers the way the press ignores administration critics. On such a showing, then, a judge would be expected to order the prosecutors to search all of the government’s files, including communications by the State Department, and report back to the court about whether there is anything that tends to support the defense claims.

RELATED: Hillary’s E-mail Server Contained Classified Information — Hold Her Accountable

In this instance, the prosecutors would have to reply, “Your Honor, we wish we could but it seems the former secretary of state ran her own e-mail system outside government servers. It also turns out that she destroyed over 30,000 e-mails that she says were about yoga and her daughter’s wedding.”

As the judge’s head seemed to explode, the prosecutor would stammer on: “We’re afraid we can’t verify exactly how many e-mails she destroyed and exactly what they were about. You see, she hit ‘DELETE’ before reviewing them with State Department records custodians, as government guidelines require. And I know this may sound a bit, well, convenient, but it seems there are remarkably few existing e-mails that have anything to do with Benghazi. . . . And, no, we can’t explain why the secretary of state would have had more yoga e-mails than Benghazi e-mails.”

At that point, thanks to Hillary Clinton, the case of a terrorist allegedly responsible for the murder of Americans becomes a trial of whether the government is covering up embarrassing missteps, derelictions of duty, and efforts to deceive the public.

Prior to trial, judges almost never dismiss indictments based on allegations of government misconduct. Such motions are better addressed after the trial is over, when a non-speculative record of the misconduct and its effect on the truth-seeking process has been fully developed.

But there is no need to grapple with such a motion unless the defendant is first convicted. Khatallah’s trial — if the Obama administration goes through with it — will not be an easy one. Expect his lawyers to be given considerable leeway to claim egregious governmental derelictions of duty.

Good defense lawyers can go far on a little leeway. And most of them would tell you they’ve never had a windfall quite like 30,000 e-mails destroyed by the government official at the center of the case.

The Clinton camp is desperate to narrow the latest Hillary scandal to the question of whether she committed indictable classified-information offenses. Her criminal liability is quite beside the point. This is about judgment, credibility, and character.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.


Also see:

Modern Middle East Studies vs. Scholarship

(Majid Saeedi/Getty)

(Majid Saeedi/Getty)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Aug. 10, 2015:

It would be a mistake to say Middle East Studies have been corrupted. For the program’s very purpose has been to serve as a corrupting agent. Specifically, it puts the essence of study — the objective pursuit of knowledge — in disrepute.

Here, of course, I am referring to the modern incarnation of Middle East Studies: an amalgam of leftist and Islamist political dogma that masquerades as an academic discipline. By contrast, the actual study of Middle Eastern history, like the intimately related study of Islamic civilization, is a venerable and vital pursuit — and is still pursued as such by, to take the best example, ASMEA, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa. Alas, in our hyper-politicized society, the traditional notion of study seems quaint: a vestige of a bygone time when the designations “Orientalist” and “Islamist” referred to subject-matter expertise, not political activism, much less radicalism.

Yet, for Edward Said, the seminal figure in modern Middle East Studies, the object of the game was to slander knowledge itself. Joshua Muravchik nailed it in a 2013 profile of the renowned academic. Said’s animating theory held that “knowledge” was the key that enabled the West to dominate Orientals: The point of pursuing knowledge about “the languages, culture, history, and sociology of societies of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent,” Said elaborated, was to gain more control over the “subject races” by making “their management easy and profitable.” With real study caricatured as the engine of colonial exploitation, the way was paved for a competing construction of “study” — political agitation to empower the have-nots in the struggle against the haves.

Said was a fitting pioneer for such a fraud. To begin with, he was a professor not of Middle East Studies but of comparative literature. Moreover, the personal history he touted to paper over his want of credentials was sheer fiction: Far from what he purported to be (a Palestinian victim exiled by Jews from his Jerusalem home at age twelve), Said was actually a child of privilege, raised in Cairo and educated in top British and American schools. His Palestinian tie of note was membership in the PLO’s governing council. Like Rashid Khalidi — his protégé, who was later awarded the chair in Modern Arab Studies that Columbia University named in Said’s honor — Said was a reliable apologist of Yassir Arafat, the indefatigable terrorist who infused Palestinian identity with a Soviet-backed Arab nationalism.

To thrive in an Islamic culture, it was not only useful but necessary for Palestinian militancy to accommodate the Islamist sense of divine injunction to wage jihad. From its roots, then, modern Middle East Studies is a political movement aligning leftism and Islamism under the guise of an academic discipline. It is not an objective quest for learning guided by a rich corpus of history and culture; it is a project to impose its pieties as incontestable truth — and to discredit dispassionate analysis in order to achieve that end.

The embrace of Islamism usefully advances this project because Islamist ideology similarly stigmatizes the pursuit of knowledge. Where the leftist frames the West’s reverence for reason as imperialism, the Islamist attacks it on theological grounds.

Sharia, they maintain, is the complete and perfect societal framework and legal code, the path to human life lived in conformity with Allah’s design. Thus, what the West calls “reason” or “the objective pursuit of knowledge” is merely a rationalization for supplanting Allah’s design with the corrupting preferences of Western civilization.

We see how this teaching plays out in practice. Muslim countries that supplement sharia with other legislation add the caveat that no man-made law may contradict Islamic principles. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation — a group of Islamic governments that form a large bloc in the United Nations — even found it necessary in 1990 to promulgate a Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, because Islamists could not accept the Universal Declaration of Human Rights spearheaded by non-Muslim governments after World War II.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamist organization, refers to this enterprise as “the Islamicization of knowledge,” the weaving of historical events and cultural developments into Islamist narratives that confirm sharia-supremacist tenets. The “Islamicization of knowledge” is the express and unapologetic mandate of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Virginia-based think tank established by the Brotherhood in 1981.

There are two pertinent observations to be made about the IIIT. First, it has provided an enthusiastic endorsement of Reliance of the Traveller, the English translation of Umdat al-Salik, a classic Arabic sharia manual. The publisher found this seal of approval sufficiently significant to be included in the manual’s preface, along with an endorsement from scholars at the ancient al-Azhar University in Cairo.

The manual is an eye-opener. In addition to detailing sharia’s gruesome hudud penalties (e.g., scourging and death for such offenses as extramarital or homosexual relations), it provides instruction on Islam’s brutally enforced proscriptions against blasphemy and apostasy. These are salient to our consideration: They include prohibitions not only against renunciation and ridicule of Islam but even against objectively true statements that contradict sharia, promote other belief systems, or might otherwise sow discord in the Islamic community.

Obviously, the animating purpose of these principles is to discourage severely the robust exchange of ideas, and even more the scholarly examination of Islamic doctrine and culture. The Islamicization of knowledge is possible only if the objective pursuit of knowledge is not permitted to compete.

That brings us to the second noteworthy observation about the IIIT: It has longstanding ties to the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Several of these were traced by Cinnamon Stillwell in a 2014 American Thinker essay.

This alliance, the sponsorship by the IIIT of Middle East Studies programs throughout North America, the collaborations between the IIIT and MESA scholars — these are easy to understand. Modern Middle East Studies is a counter-scholarship enterprise that subverts truth to the ends of leftist and Islamist politics. To be clear, it is not an alternative interpretation of reality competing in the marketplace of ideas; it is an anti-Western program that is oblivious to reality and seeks to shut down the marketplace.

We do ourselves and the search for truth great harm by indulging the fiction that anti-American power politics is credible American scholarship.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, thanks the Middle East Forum for its sponsorship of this column.

The Ideology Problem in Timbuktu Is Not al-Qaeda’s Making — It Is Classical Islam

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy:

Andrew’s post describing the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Mali is essential, if excruciating, reading. Beyond the monstrously cruel but all too usual punishments being imposed, I’m struck by two things, which really show how willful blindness leads inexorably to spring fever: The Guardian attributes the atrocious penalties to the “menace of al-Qaida”; it also notes, however, that the “ban [on music] comes in the context of a horrifically literal and gratuitous application of Sharia law in all aspects of daily life.”

Much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, al Qaeda did not make up sharia law. Islam did. And in the West, it is a key tenet of due process that law is imposed literally — ambiguous laws violate the principle that people of ordinary intelligence must be on fair notice of what is prohibited. There’s nothing “gratuitous” about applying as it is written.

16044762We can keep our heads tucked snug in the sand, or we can recognize the source of the problem. As I detail in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, the literalist construction of sharia that al Qaeda’s local franchise is enforcing in Mali is “literal” because it comes from Islamic scripture, not from some purportedly “extremist” fabrication of Islam. Moreover, while it seems only militant jihadists proudly urge this construction in practice, it is enthusiastically endorsed in principle by two of the most influential institutions in the Islamic Middle East: al Azhar University and the Muslim Brotherhood.


Don’t just take my word for it. Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law is not some al Qaeda pamphlet. It is a renowned explication of sharia’s reliance (1)provisions and their undeniable roots in Muslim scripture. In the English translation, before you get to chapter and verse, there are formal endorsements from the International Institute of Islamic Thought — a U.S.-based Muslim Brotherhood think-tank begun in the early eighties (and to which American administrations of both parties have resorted as an exemplar of “moderation”) — and from the Islamic Research Academy at al Azhar University, the ancient seat of Sunni learning to which President Obama famously turned to co-sponsor his cloyingly deceptive 2009 speech on relations between Islam and the West (“We certify,” the famed scholars wrote, that the “translation corresponds to the Arabic original and conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni Community…. There is no objection to printing it and circulating it…. May Allah give you success in serving Sacred Knowledge and the religion.” There could be no more coveted stamp of scholarly approval in Islam.).


Reliance is also endorsed by Islamic authorities in Jordan (leading influences on a largely Palestinian population that may well overthrow the pro-Western monarchy) and Syria (leading influences on the “rebels” on whose side interventionists — including both presidential candidates — would have us jump to abet the Muslim Brotherhood’s ongoing campaign to oust the minority Alawite Assad regime).

Here, as I summarize in Spring Fever – quoted verbatim and supported by citations — is what Reliance has to say about the arts:

It is forbidden to make pictures of “animate life,” for doing so “imitates the creative act of Allah Most High”; “Whoever makes a picture, Allah shall torture him with it on the Day of Judgment until he can breathe life into it, and he will never be able to.” (Reliance w50.0 & ff.)

“Musical instruments of all types are unlawful.” Singing is generally prohibited (for “song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage), and “[o]n the Day of Resurrection Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.” However, if unaccompanied by musical instruments, song and poetry drawn from Islamic scripture and encouraging obedience to Allah are permissible. Ironically, although music is generally forbidden, dancing is permissible “unless it is languid, like the movements of the effeminate.” (Reliance r40.0 &ff.)

Those sharia provisions are complemented by these — again, endorsed by al-Azhar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and our “moderate” “allies” in the region:

Apostasy from Islam is “the ugliest form of unbelief” for which the penalty is death (“When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed”). (Reliance o8.0 & ff.)

Apostasy occurs not only when a Muslim renounces Islam but also, among other things, when a Muslim appears to worship an idol, when he is heard “to speak words that imply unbelief,” when he makes statements that appear to deny or revile Allah or the prophet Mohammed, when he is heard “to deny the obligatory character of something which by consensus of Muslims is part of Islam,” and when he is heard “to be sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law.” (Reliance o8.7; see also p9.0 & ff.)

[Note: These latter prohibitions against denying or reviling any aspect of Islam, Allah or the prophet are the basis for imposing death for blasphemy. The call to kill apostates for such offenses obviously applies with equal or greater force to non-Muslims, who are pervasively treated worse than Muslims by sharia (see, e.g., Sura 9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold forbidden which had been forbidden by Allah and his Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the people of the book [i.e., Christians and Jews], until they pay the jizya [the poll tax imposed on non-believers for the privilege of living in the Islamic state] and feel themselves subdued.”)]

“Jihad means to war against non-Muslims.” (Reliance o9.0.)

It is an annual requirement to donate a portion of one’s income to the betterment of the ummah (an obligation called zakat, which is usually, and inaccurately, translated as “charity” –zakat can only be given to Muslims and is designed strictly to fortify the Muslim community, not benefit the less fortunate generally); of this annual donation, one-eighth must be given to “those fighting for Allah, meaning people engaged in Islamic military operations for whom no salary has been allotted in the army roster…. They are given enough to suffice them for the operation even if they are affluent; of weapons, mounts, clothing and expenses.” (Reliance, h8.1-17.)

Non-Muslims are permitted to live in an Islamic state only if they follow the rules of Islam, pay the non-Muslim poll tax, and comply with various adhesive conditions designed to remind them that they have been subdued, such as wearing distinctive clothing, keeping to one side of the street, not being greeted with “Peace be with you” (“as-Salamu alaykum”), not being permitted to build as high as or higher than Muslims, and being forbidden to build new churches, recite prayers aloud, “or make public displays of their funerals or feast-days.” (Reliance o11.0 & ff.)

Offenses committed against Muslims, including murder, are more serious than offenses committed against non-Muslims. (Reliance o1.0 & ff; p2.0-1.)

The penalty for spying against Muslims is death. (Reliancep50.0 & ff; p.74.0& ff.)

The penalty for fornication is to be stoned to death, unless one is without the “capacity to remain chaste,” in which case the penalty is “being scourged one hundred stripes and banished to a distance of at least 81 km./50mi. for one year.” (Relianceo12.0 & ff.)

The penalty for homosexual activity (“sodomy and lesbianism”) is death. (Reliance p17.0 & ff.)

A Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man; a Muslim man may marry up to four women, who may be Muslim, Christian, or Jewish (but no apostates from Islam). (Reliance m6.0 & ff. – Marriage.)

A woman is required to be obedient to her husband and is prohibited from leaving the marital home without permission; if permitted to go out, she must conceal her figure or alter it “to a form unlikely to draw looks from men or attract them.” (Reliancep42.0 & ff.)

A non-Muslim may not be awarded custody of a Muslim child. (Reliance m13.2-3.)

A woman has no right of custody of her child from a previous marriage when she remarries “because married life will occupy her with fulfilling the rights of her husband and prevent her from tending to the child.” (Reliance m13.4.)

The penalty for theft is amputation of the right hand. (Relianceo14.0.)

The penalty for drinking alcohol is “to be scourged forty stripes.” (Reliance o16.3; p.14.2.)

The penalty for accepting interest (“usurious gain”) is death (i.e., to be considered in a state of war against Allah). (Reliancep7.0 & ff.)

The testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man. (Relianceo24.7.)

If a case involves an allegation of fornication (including rape), “then it requires four male witnesses.” (Reliance o24.9.)

The establishment of a caliphate is obligatory, and the caliph must be Muslim and male. “The Prophet … said, “Men are already destroyed when they obey women.” (Reliance o25.0 & ff; see also p28.0, on Mohammed’s condemnation of “masculine women and effeminate men.”)

This is not al Qaeda doctrine. This is sharia, authoritatively explained and endorsed. It is not the construction of Islam that many Muslims in the West wish to live under. But it is the mainstream supremacist Islam of the Middle East, which Islamic leaders — including those who come to the West to preach it — would not dream of discrediting, even if they are not as enthusiastic as al Qaeda where imposing it is concerned.

The State Department and the leading foreign policy voices of both major American political parties say sharia is perfectly compatible with “democracy” and the Western conception of human rights — of liberty and equality. Sure it is. And then you wonder why the Obama administration opens a consulate in Benghazi, one of the most perilous places in the world for Americans, refuses to safeguard it despite multiple pleas for beefed up security, and then fraudulently claims a pluperfectly predictable atrocity was caused by a video no one ever saw. If you’re going to live in a dreamworld, better get used to nightmare consequences.

The Beltway’s Syria Fairy Tales

pic_giant_111114_SM_Syria-Civil-WarNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Nov. 11, 2014:

Since the outbreak of the latest Middle East war a few years back, we have been chronicling the Washington political class’s Syria Fairy Tales. In particular, there is the story line that Syria is really teeming with secular democrats and authentic moderate Muslims who would have combined forces to both overthrow Assad and fight off the jihadists if only President Obama had helped them. But his failure to act created a “vacuum” that was tragically filled by Islamist militants and gave rise to ISIS. At this point in the story, you are supposed to stay politely mum and not ask whether it makes any sense that real democrats and actual moderates would agree to be led by head-chopping, mass-murdering, freedom-stifling sharia terrorists.

In point of fact, there simply have never been enough pro-Western elements in Syria to win, no matter how much help came their way. There was never going to be a moderate, democratic Syrian state without a U.S. invasion and occupation for a decade or more, an enterprise that would be politically untenable — and, as the Iraq enterprise shows, unlikely to succeed. The “moderate rebels” had no chance against Assad unless they colluded with the Islamist militants, who are vastly superior and more numerous fighters. And they would have even less chance of both knocking off Assad and staving off the jihadists.

The Obama administration and the Beltway commentariat have done their best to obscure these brute facts. Their main tactic is to exploit the American public’s unfamiliarity with the makeup of Syria. Obama Democrats and much of the Beltway GOP continue to invoke the “moderate Syrian rebels” while steadfastly refusing to identify just who those purported “moderates” are.They hope you won’t realize that, because of the dearth of actual moderate Muslims and freedom fighters, they must count among their “moderate rebels” both the Muslim Brotherhood (which should be designated as a terrorist organization) and various other Islamist factions, including . . .  wait for it . . . parts of al-Nusra — i.e., al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise.

We’ve also noted that a new wrinkle has recently been added to the Beltway’s Syria Fairy Tales: Obama’s Khorasan Fraud. In a desperate attempt to conceal the falsity of Obama’s boasts about destroying what is actually a resurgent al-Qaeda, the administration claimed that the threat to America that impelled Obama to start bombing Syria was not ISIS (supposedly just a “regional” threat), not al-Qaeda (already defeated, right?), but a hitherto unknown terrorist organization called the “Khorasan group.”

To the contrary, the Khorasan group, to the extent it exists at all, has never been a stand-alone terrorist organization. It is an internal component of al-Qaeda — specifically, an advisory board (or, in Islamic terms, a shura council) of al-Qaeda veterans who advise and carry out directives from Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s emir. During the fighting in Syria, some of these operatives were sent there by Zawahiri to conduct operations under the auspices of al-Nusra. These operations have included jihadist activity against both the United States and Assad allies, plus negotiations for a rapprochement with the Islamic State (or ISIS). The limited success of those negotiations has led to fighting among the jihadists themselves.

The ball to keep your eye on here is al-Qaeda. The al-Nusra terrorist group is just al-Qaeda in Syria. Even ISIS is just a breakaway faction of al-Qaeda. And the Khorasan group is just a top-tier group of al-Qaeda veterans doing al-Qaeda’s work in conjunction with al Nusra — i.e., al-Qaeda.

The Obama administration disingenuously emphasizes these various foreign names to confuse Americans into thinking that there are various factions with diverse agendas in Syria — that al-Qaeda is no longer a problem because Obama has already dealt with it, and what remains are sundry groups of “moderate rebels” that the administration can work with in the effort to vanquish ISIS. Meanwhile, you are supposed to refrain from noticing that Obama’s original Syrian project — remember, he wanted Assad toppled — has given way to fighting ISIS . . . the very Sunni jihadists who were empowered by Obama’s lunatic policies of (a) switching sides in Libya in order to support the jihadists against Qaddafi and (b) abetting and encouraging Sunni Muslim governments in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey to arm Sunni militias in the fight against Assad — those militias having all along included al-Qaeda elements, some of which split off to become ISIS and now threaten to bite off the very hands that once fed them.

If you thought the Khorasan fraud was just a passing fad to get Obama through the initial stages of trying to rationalize his incoherent Syria air campaign, think again.

You see, Obama continues to have a problem. Everyone knows that ISIS, the main target of U.S. bombings in Syria and Iraq, cannot be defeated — or even stalled much — by a mere air campaign, which has been half-hearted at best anyway. Ground forces will be needed. So the administration and Washington’s foreign-policy clerisy keep telling Americans: Never fear, there is no need for U.S. ground troops, because we can rely on “moderate rebels” to fight ISIS. But the so-called “moderates” Obama backs have been colluding with al-Qaeda (i.e., al-Nusra) for years — at least when not being routed by al-Qaeda/al-Nusra.

Now, the sensible thing at this point would be to concede that there are no viable moderate forces in Syria, and that it would be folly for us to continue pretending those forces either exist or will materialize anytime soon. But no, that would be honest . . . which is not the Obama way — nor, frankly, is it the Washington way — to end our willful blindness to the lack of moderation among Middle Eastern Muslims.

So if honesty is not an option, what to do? Simple: Let’s just pretend that al-Nusra — part of the al-Qaeda network we have been at war with for 13 years — is, yes,moderate!

But wait a second? How can we possibly pull that off when we know al-Nusra/al-Qaeda is also plotting to attack the United States and the West?

Easy: That’s why we have the “Khorasan group”!

I kid you not. Even as al-Nusra/al-Qaeda mow down any “moderate rebels” who don’t join up with them, the Obama administration is telling Americans, “No, no, no: The al-Nusra guys are really good, moderate, upstanding jihadists. The real problem is that awful Khorasan group!”

Tom Joscelyn and Bill Roggio have the story at The Long War Journal:

CENTCOM draws misleading line between Al Nusrah Front and Khorasan Group

US Central Command [CENTCOM] attempted to distinguish between the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, and the so-called Khorasan Group in yesterday’s press release that detailed airstrikes in Syria.

CENTCOM, which directs the US and coalition air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, denied that the five airstrikes targeted “the Nusrah Front as a whole” due to its infighting with the Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front, but instead claimed the attacks were directed at the Khorasan Group.

“These strikes were not in response to the Nusrah Front’s clashes with the Syrian moderate opposition, and they did not target the Nusrah Front as a whole,” CENTCOM noted in its press release.

The CENTCOM statement goes a step further by implying that the Al Nusrah Front is fighting against the Syrian government while the Khorasan Group is hijacking the Syrian revolution to conduct attacks against the West.

“They [the US airstrikes] were directed at the Khorasan Group whose focus is not on overthrowing the Assad regime or helping the Syrian people,” CENTCOM continues. “These al Qaeda operatives are taking advantage of the Syrian conflict to advance attacks against Western interests.”

[Emphasis added.]

Read Tom and Bill’s entire report, which sheds light on the web of jihadist connections.

Understand, the Khorasan group is al-Nusra, which is al-Qaeda. The “moderate Syrian rebels” are neither moderate nor myopically focused on Assad and Syria. (Indeed, Syria does not even exist as the same country anymore, now that ISIS has eviscerated its border with Iraq while capturing much of its territory.) The overarching Islamic-supremacist strategy of al-Qaeda has never cared about Western-drawn borders. The ambition of al-Qaeda, like that of its breakaway ISIS faction, is to conquer both the “near” enemies — i.e., the Middle East territories not currently governed by its construction of sharia — and the West. Al-Qaeda (a.k.a. al-Nusra, a.k.a. the Khorasan group) wants to overthrow Assad, but it still regards the United States as its chief nemesis.

The Khorasan group exists only as an advisory group around Zawahiri. The Obama administration’s invocation of it to divert attention from al-Qaeda and launder al-Nusra into “moderate Syrian rebels” is sheer subterfuge.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s

A Mismanage-able Problem


Obama’s belief that he can “manage” the Islamic State may collide with reality.

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Sep. 10, 2014:

President Obama says he intends to shrink the al-Qaeda-spawned Islamic State into a “manageable problem.” Perhaps we’ll learn more about how when he speaks to the nation on Wednesday evening. Still, the question presses: Is he the manager for the job?

In answering that question, past performance is more a guarantee of future results than is any statement of newfound purpose from a president whose innate dishonesty has turned his signature phrase “Let me be clear” into notorious self-parody.

In late September 2012, Mr. Obama’s administration quietly approved the transfer of 55 jihadist prisoners out of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. As Tom Joscelyn explained at the time, most of the detainees had previously been categorized as “high risk” because they were deemed “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies” if released. Almost all of the rest had been assessed “medium risk” — still posing a threat, albeit one less certain than the “high risk” jihadists.

But Obama officials overruled those judgments. Rife with members of the Lawyer Left vanguard who had stampeded to volunteer their services to al-Qaeda detainees during the Bush years, who had smeared Gitmo as a gulag, and who had fought bitterly against the Bush/Cheney paradigm that regarded al-Qaeda’s jihad as a war rather than a crime wave, the administration determined that the anti-American terrorists were fit to be sprung from American custody.

Wait a second . . . two years ago in September . . . what was going on then? Why yes, the Benghazi massacre — whose second anniversary we mark this Thursday.

The Obama administration would like us to forget that bit of old news since “dude, this was like two years ago.” You may nonetheless recall it as an act of war in which al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists attacked a sovereign American government compound. The terrorists murdered our ambassador to Libya, killed three other Americans, and wounded many more in an eight-hour siege during which President Obama declined to take any meaningful responsive action. Indeed, agents of the U.S. security team in Benghazi say they were prevented from trying to save Ambassador Stevens.

Among those carrying out the attack were operatives of Ansar al-Sharia. That’s the al-Qaeda affiliate with cells in Eastern Libya’s jihadist hotbeds, Benghazi and Derna.Ansar is led by Sufian Ben Qumu, a former Gitmo detainee who, inexorably, went right back to the jihad.

News of Obama’s approval of the mass transfer of Gitmo detainees came less than two weeks after the Benghazi massacre. Let that sink in: The Obama administration knew that a former Gitmo detainee was complicit in the most humiliating defeat suffered by the United States since the 9/11 attacks that took the nation to war; yet, the president approved the transfer of dozens more Gitmo terrorists. Just as, only a few months ago, he approved the transfer of five top Taliban commanders even as the Taliban was (and is) continuing to conduct terrorist operations against American troops in Afghanistan.

Shocking, yes, but how surprising from Barack Obama? Mind you, this is the president who, though AWOL (and still unaccountable) while terrorists were killing and wounding American personnel in Benghazi, had the temerity not just to fly off to a Vegas fundraiser the very next day but to pick that setting, and that moment, to declare victory: “A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead.”

Yes, bin Laden is dead. But the terrorist hordes chanted, “Obama, we’re all Osama!” as they torched our embassies and raised the black flag of jihad — the flag the Islamic State vows to fly over the White House. And just two days after Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” fundraiser, Ansar al-Sharia’s Tunis cell attacked the American embassy there. That al-Qaeda franchise is led by Seifallah ben Hassine, long-time jihadist confidant of bin Laden and his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Some path to defeat.

Of course, the Benghazi massacre would never have happened had Obama not switched sides in Libya, dumping the Qaddafi regime — theretofore an American counterterrorism ally — and partnering with Eastern Libyan jihadists. The president’s strategy ensured that enemies of the United States would acquire much of Qaddafi’s arsenal, empowering jihadist cells throughout North Africa and the Middle East, growing al-Qaeda and what would become the Islamic State. And as we have seen in just the last few weeks, Obama’s “lead the jihad from behind” strategy has resulted in the near complete disintegration of Libya, with Ansar al-Sharia and its allies now controlling much of Tripoli.

Nor is that all. Hours before the Benghazi attack began on September 11, 2012, there had been rioting at the American embassy in Cairo. It was stoked by al-Qaeda leaders — including Zawahiri’s brother, Mohammed. The latter had called for attacks against the United States to avenge the recent killing of the network’s leader in Libya. The al-Qaeda leaders had also been threatening to besiege the embassy to extort the release of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, imprisoned in the U.S. on terrorism charges. These jihadists had been enabled in their incitements against America by the Muslim Brotherhood–controlled government — a government the Obama administration had pressured Egypt’s military leaders to make way for.

When the Left says it intends to make the challenge of international terrorism “manageable,” that is usually code for saying it wants to return counterterrorism to the law-enforcement paradigm, in which terrorism is a crime addressed by indictments. Crime — petty theft, graft, racketeering, and the like — is a constant that society manages. National-security threats, on the other hand, cannot be indicted into submission. And they are not “managed” by imagining that if we ignore them they will go away.

President Obama probably does believe the Islamic State could become a manageable problem. Unfortunately, he also believes that when his ideology collides with reality, it is reality that must give. Reality does not see it that way.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, was released by Encounter Books on June 3.

Obama’s America Is September 10th America

Barack ObamaNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy:

Our barbaric jihadist enemies – the ones President Obama repeatedly assured us he had “decimated” and put on “the path to defeat” – are now stronger than ever. Not stronger than they have been in years, or decades – stronger than ever. They have seized a country-size swath of territory (and growing). They have just beheaded an American journalist – which is the sort of thing they do as a matter of routine but has obviously, and finally, gotten our attention.

Not to worry, though: The Obama Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation. I’m sure ISIS is quaking.

The Obama administration has spent six years miniaturizing the global jihad as a series of non-ideological, unconnected groups of “violent extremists,” pursuing parochial political objectives through acts of “workplace violence.” The enemy kills our ambassador to Libya, a palpable act of war, and the administration pretends it’s about a video. The enemy decapitates an American because he’s an American, and the administration announces the opening of a criminal investigation. The enemy bombs and beheads, we subpoena and indict.

The title of this post, “Obama’s America Is September 10th America” is not a random description of the now. It’s the title of a column I wrote six years ago … when then-candidate Obama was promising policies that would, inevitably, lead to an increasingly imperiled America – a provocatively weak America that regarded our enemies as mere defendants, just as we did before 9/11 … when our enemies responded by attacking us again and again.

The column was prompted by then-Senator Obama’s remarks during an astounding 2008 campaign speech:

What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated. And the fact that the [Bush] administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, “Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.” So that, I think, is an example of something that was unnecessary. We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws.

As I noted at the time, this was “a remarkably ignorant account of the American experience with jihadism.” The vast majority of terrorists responsible for attacks against us had not been “brought to justice.” In fact, the major terrorists who orchestrated strikes against us – Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to name just a few – remained at large for a decade or more despite being under indictment. From foreign safe havens far removed from the writ of American courts and the authority of American law-enforcement, they continued choreographing terrorist attacks against the United States. To the extent top jihadists were “neutralized,” it was because our armed forces killed or captured them. We had no chance of suppressing the enemy by relying on American judicial processes.

Here was my conclusion in mid-2008:

The fact is that we used the criminal justice system as our principal enforcement approach, the approach Obama intends to reinstate, for eight years — from the bombing of the World Trade Center until the shocking destruction of that complex on 9/11. During that timeframe, while the enemy was growing stronger and attacking more audaciously, we managed to prosecute successfully less than three dozen terrorists (29 to be precise). And with a handful of exceptions, they were the lowest ranking of players.

When an elitist lawyer like Obama claims the criminal-justice system “works” against terrorists, he means it satisfies his top concern: due process [for the terrorists.]. And on that score, he’s quite right: We’ve shown we can conduct trials that are fair to the terrorists. After all, we give them lawyers paid for by the taxpayers whom they are trying to kill, mounds of our intelligence in discovery, and years upon years of pretrial proceedings, trials, appeals, and habeas corpus.

As a national-security strategy, however, and as a means of carrying out our government’s first responsibility to protect the American people, heavy reliance on criminal justice is an abysmal failure.

A successful counterterrorism strategy makes criminal prosecution a subordinate part of a much broader governmental response. Most of what is needed never happens in a courtroom. It happens in military operations against terrorist strongholds; intelligence operations in which jihadists get assassinated — without trial; intelligence collections in which we cozy up to despicable informants since only they can tell us what we need to know; and aggressive treasury actions to trace terror funds.

That is how you stop the homeland from being attacked, which is what we have done for the last seven years. And it is that from which Obama wants to move away.

Obama would bring us back to September 10th America. And September 10th is sure to be followed by September 11th.

Admittedly, that was before Obama empowered the virulently anti-American Muslim Brotherhood; made Islamic supremacists key administration advisors; blinded our national security agents by purging Islamic-supremacist ideology from training materials; colluded with Islamic-supremacist countries to restrict American free speech rights; tried to give civilian trials to enemy-combatant terrorists responsible for mass-murdering Americans; imported enemy-combatant jihadists for civilian trials despite congressional proscriptions; waged an unauthorized war in Libya that enabled our enemies to kill American officials and besiege North Africa and the Middle East; negotiated with Iran-backed terrorists in trading jihadist leaders for the remains of British casualties; negotiated with Taliban terrorists in trading jihadist commanders for a deserter; assured Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arms; issued visas to terrorist operatives for consultations on American foreign policy; sided with Hamas during its latest war of aggression against Israel; and declined to acknowledge that the jihadist mass-murder of 13 American soldiers at Fort Hood was a terrorist attack.

But I still think it holds up fairly well.

How Not To Indict a Terrorist

pic_giant_070514_SM_How-Not-to-Indict-a-TerroristBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

What happens when the president who has politicized law-enforcement to a degree unprecedented in American history meets a terrorist responsible for killing Americans he has recklessly failed to protect, decimating his pretensions about “decimating” al-Qaeda?

What happens is: You get the most politicized terrorism indictment ever produced by the Justice Department. Behold United States v. Khatallah, Case No. 14 Crim. 141, quietly unsealed in a Washington courtroom last Saturday while the country dozed off into summer-vacation mode.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, of course, is the only suspect apprehended in connection with the Benghazi massacre, a terrorist attack on a still-mysterious U.S. diplomatic installation. J. Christopher Stevens, the United States ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans — State Department official Sean Smith and two former Navy SEALs, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty — were killed. Until recently, such attacks have been known as acts of war carried out by the enemy. In the age of Obama, they are now known as “crimes” for which “defendants” like Khatallah are “brought to justice” — rather than brought to Gitmo. Meaning: They are whisked into our country when no one’s paying much attention. The red carpet is rolled out at a federal courthouse, where the “defendant” is given Miranda warnings, taxpayer-funded counsel, and all the rights of the American citizens they plot to kill, including lavish discovery-of-intelligence files relevant to their civilian trial.

Gold-plated due process for our enemies begins with the constitutional right to an indictment returned by a grand jury, providing the “defendant” with notice of the charges against him. In Khatallah’s case, the first thing you’ll notice is that the indictment is tiny: less than two pages long — 15 measly lines of text once you discount the caption, citations, and signature lines. This is a startling departure from Justice Department indictments in jihadist terror cases, a turn to brevity that cannot be explained solely by Obama’s banning of words like “jihadist” from the government lexicon.

Read more at National Review

Tax Dollars for Terrorists – Will Congress stop Obama’s lawless material support to Hamas?


By Andrew C. McCarthy:

The problem with writing a book about President Obama’s lawlessness, as I have just done in Faithless Execution (which will officially be published Tuesday), is that eventually the author has to stop writing so the book can be printed. The administration’s illegal conduct, by contrast, rolls right along — so by the time the book comes out, I find myself several impeachable offenses behind.

At the moment, we are still processing the latest executive malfeasance: the president’s release this weekend of five senior Taliban jihadists in exchange for a U.S. soldier who is alleged to have abandoned his post in 2009 after complaining that “the horror that is America is disgusting” (and whose father is on a campaign to free all anti-American terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay).

Some lawmakers have pointed out that the release, which flouts American policy against negotiating with terrorists (Obama is a recidivist offender on that score), also violates federal law. Specifically, the president must give Congress 30 days’ notice before transferring detainees out of Gitmo, in addition to explaining how the threat to the United States has been mitigated so that the release is justified. Obviously, the president disregarded the law because complying would have made it clear that the transfer exacerbates the threat to the United States, sparking public and congressional protests that would have scotched the deal. It is a swap that the administration, which is delusionally courting the Taliban in hopes of an Afghan peace settlement, has been trying to make for years. So Obama did what Obama does when the law is against him: He ignored it, claiming not to be bound by it if he concludes the circumstances are “unique and exigent,” as a White House spokesman put it.

The swap, it should be noted, also violates federal laws prohibiting material support to terrorism. The Obama administration may think it can sidestep this inconvenience by its longstanding refusal to designate the Afghan Taliban as a terrorist organization. Federal law, however, bars giving support — including providing personnel, as Obama has done here — not only to formally designated terrorist organizations but to groups known to engage in terrorist activity, whether the State Department gets around to designating them or not. (See Sections 2339A and 2339B of Title 18, U.S. Code.) There is no doubt that the U.S. government knows the Taliban and its confederates engage in terrorist activity — it has been telling us for 13 years that this is why we must have thousands of American troops in Afghanistan.

Even as we come to grips with the administration’s newest outrage, though, it is necessary to look ahead to the next one — actually, an ongoing one that is about to get even worse: our government’s material support to the Hamas terrorist organization.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, announced Saturday that a “unity government” has been formed between his faction, Fatah, and Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law. It is pledged by charter to the destruction of Israel.

Read more at National Review

Faithless Execution

book_coverBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column is adapted from a speech I gave in New York City on May 29, announcing the publication of Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

Faithless Execution is about presidential lawlessness.

Specifically, my new book, which Encounter Books will release this week, is about how the Framers of our Constitution fully anticipated that a president could fail to honor his core duty to execute the laws faithfully — could fail to meet his basic fiduciary obligations to the American people.

Viewing the Obama presidency through the prism of these constitutional norms, Faithless Execution argues that we are experiencing a different kind of presidential lawlessness than our nation has ever known: a systematic undermining of our governing framework, willfully carried out by a president who made no secret of his intention to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.”

What is the president trying to transform?

Well, the constitutional framework he is undermining enshrines two core principles: separation-of-powers and accountability.

The first is the foundation of a free society. President Obama presumes the power to decree, amend, and repeal laws as he sees fit, effectively claiming all government power as his own. But as James Madison, the principal author of our Constitution, put it, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” And so it is.

Accountability, the second constitutional principle at issue, is how our system holds a president singularly responsible for executive lawlessness. The Constitution vests all executive power in a lone elected official — the president. Not in the broad, dizzying array of executive-branch agencies; in the president himself.

Meaning that if the IRS harasses the president’s political opposition in violation of their First Amendment rights; or if the Justice Department recklessly orchestrates the transfer of thousands of guns to violent Mexican gangs, resulting in the murder of a Border Patrol agent; or if administration officials willfully defraud the American people about the cause of the Benghazi massacre or about being able to keep their health insurance; it is the president whom our Constitution holds responsible. Not Lois Lerner or Susan Rice. Not Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Kathleen Sebelius, or Eric Shinseki. The president.

The president does not get to vote “present.” The Constitution does not permit him to be a mere spectator to abuses of power by his subordinates. It holds the president accountable, whether he quietly engineered the administration’s lawlessness or stood idly by while others ran amok.

The subtitle of Faithless Execution — “Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment” — has caused something of a stir. But any serious discussion of these issues has to consider impeachment. As a number of legal scholars testified at a congressional hearing late last year, impeachment was quite intentionally included by the Framers as the ultimate check against presidential lawlessness.

This is where “high crimes and misdemeanors” comes in.

As Faithless Execution recounts, at the time of the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, this standard was well established in British law. The Framers thus borrowed it in order to address not only intentional abuses of power but gross negligence or incompetence.

Contrary to popular belief, the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” does not refer to ordinary crimes. It does not mean a president has to be indictable before he is removable. Instead, high crimes and misdemeanors are the political wrongs of high executive officials in whom great public trust is reposed.

Again, it is all about separation-of-powers and accountability. The idea is that the president is fully responsible: not just for criminal acts, but for abuses of power committed by himself and his subordinates — abuses of power that very much include misleading the public and stonewalling Congress.

To borrow a familiar phrase, “Let me be clear”: Faithless Execution is not a call for President Obama’s immediate impeachment and removal. In fact, I contend that the best thing for the country would be for the president to honor his oath, execute the laws faithfully, and finish his term that way.

The Framers of our Constitution understood this, too — understood how divisive the removal of a president could be for our society. Thus, as the book makes very clear, impeachment is a political remedy, not a legal one. You can have a thousand provable impeachable offenses, but before Congress may remove the president from power, there must be strong popular support — a public will that cuts across partisan and ideological lines.

That is to say: Unless there is such public outrage over presidential lawlessness that two-thirds of the Senate can be pressured into voting for the president’s removal, it would be pointless for the House of Representatives to file articles of impeachment. Not just pointless but counterproductive. That is why I spend most of a chapter in the book rebutting arguments from some on the right that, because Republicans control the House, impeachment articles should be filed right now.

By all means, impeachment must be considered. It is the Constitution’s ultimate answer to presidential lawlessness, and the only way to build public support for it is to consider it.

Read more at National Review

Confusion on Boko Haram and Terrorism

George Will3By Andrew C. McCarthy, May 17, 2014:

For admirers of George Will and Charles Krauthammer, it’s a real treat to find them together many nights on Bret Baier’s panel on Special Report. But I must confess to nearly falling out of my chair upon watching the replay of a segment last night in which Mr. Will opined that Boko Haram seemed to him more like “a military insurgency” than a terrorist organization. Dr. K vigorously refuted this assertion and was right to do so.

At issue was the State Department’s failure, during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary, to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. I sympathize with Will’s (very) general premise that “terrorist” is an overused term. But the premise was inapposite in this case.

Terrorism is the use and threatened use of mass violence in violation of the laws of war in order to coerce a government or society into policy changes or the acceptance of some ideological agenda. It does indeed trivialize the term to apply it to people who do not commit terrorism, whether they are serious criminals (e.g., mafia hit-men or serial murderers) or, as is fashionable on the Left, to people who merely represent things with which one disagrees (e.g., energy-producers, “the one percent,” or the Tea Party). It is not wrong, however, to refer to terrorists as terrorists—it’s entirely accurate.

Will said he sees terrorism as “random” violence, while Boko Haram seemed to him more like a military insurgency against the Nigerian government. Since Boko Haram has what Will sees as “military objectives,” that somehow suggests to him that its violent attacks are more like lawful combat operations than terrorism. It is tough to unwind all he gets wrong here (though Krauthammer did a very good job of it).

A terrorist organization is distinguished from a militia by its failure to comply with the laws and customs of war—particularly, its intentional targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. Al Qaeda has military objectives, too; so does every terrorist organization. The fact that a terrorist organization has “military objectives” is beside the point if it pursues those objectives through mass-murder attacks in conjunction other operations distinguished by their extreme cruelty—like brutally murdering scores of school boys and turning young girls into sex slaves, as Boko Haram does.

I assume that by “random” attacks, Will means that terrorists terrorize by creating an atmosphere of intimidation in which anyone could be attacked at any time. Military insurgencies, by contrast, conduct more regular, predictable attacks, concentrating on targets that have military value (even if hitting them causes collateral damage to civilians). If that’s how he sees it, one has to assume that he simply does not know much about Boko Haram. Its attacks are as random as any other terrorist organization’s. There are more of them, but that is because Boko Haram is a particularly vicious group, not because it is fighting a traditional battlefield campaign. And while it attacks government targets (just like al Qaeda has attacked the Pentagon, U.S. embassies, and U.S. military installations), Boko Haram routinely targets civilian centers, school children, churches, and other Western targets that could only be considered “military objectives” by a violent jihadist who sees non-Muslims as “at war with Islam.”

Moreover, as Bret Baier pointed out, Tom Joscelyn has outlined long-standing ties between Boko Haram and al Qaeda. (Tom’s latest on that, in the Weekly Standard, is here.) Will appears to be under the misimpression (one the State Department promotes) that Boko Haram is not part of the global jihad but is simply waging a local war for political control of Nigeria. But this canard elevates what progressives want to believe about Boko Haram (and radical Islam generally) over the reality of how these groups define themselves.

Boko Haram’s official name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, meaning “People (or The Group) Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teaching and Jihad.” The short handle Boko Haram reflects a part of this overarching Islamic supremacist mission: “Western education is forbidden.” (Note the wishful thinking of progressives repeatedly peddled over the past few days: Boko Haram, we’re told, is not an Islamist group; they are just a backward-thinking political group opposed to education. In fact, what they oppose is Western education; they are all for Islamic education because they are an avowedly Islamist group.)

Boko Haram’s explicit goal is the imposition of sharia law, first in Nigeria (because that’s where they are) but ultimately worldwide. Even then-Secretary Clinton, despite failing to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, acknowledged in congressional testimony that Boko Haram shared al Qaeda’s “jihadist” ideology (see the clip Bret played last night—jihadist is the word Clinton used … no doubt because the Obama administration was being criticized at the time for suppressing it). This jihadist ideology does not recognize national borders, so it is foolish to portray it as content to wage local wars for political control of this country or that. It sees the world as Dar al-Harb (the realm of war) versus Dar al-Islam, in which the latter must conquer the former. In fact, as I noted here at Ordered Liberty a few days ago—citing Tom Joscelyn’s Long War Journalpartner, Bill Roggio—Boko Haram’s leader, Abubaker Shekau, explicitly threatened the United States (in sympathy with al Qaeda) in 2010: “Do not think jihad is over. Rather, jihad has just begun. America, die with your fury.” Like al Qaeda, Boko Haram sees itself as at war with the West and non-Muslims generally, not just with the Nigerian government.

Read more at PJ Media