The Lone-Wolf Canard

20141025_axNYcterroristZaleThompsonNo one self-radicalizes. Terrorists are radicalized by a scripturally based doctrine.

By Andrew C. McCarthy:

In Modern Times, his sweeping history of the 20th century, Paul Johnson recounts how Einstein’s theory of relativity, a strictly scientific principle, was contorted into relativism, a loopy social phenomenon, through a permanent campaign of serpentine rhetoric. It is, as Roger Kimball explains in The Fortunes of Permanence, a classic example of how a sensible concept or term of art that helps us grasp some narrow aspect of reality can end up distorting reality when ripped from its moorings and broadly applied.

Another good example is “lone wolf.”

Since Thursday afternoon, newscasters have incessantly told us that the late and unlamented Zale Thompson was a “lone wolf.” Thompson was the 32-year-old Muslim from Queens who attacked four New York City police officers with a hatchet on Thursday, breaking one’s arm and critically wounding another with a gash to the head.

Reading off the familiar script, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton insisted that “nothing we know at this time would indicate” a connection to terrorism. This, despite Thompson’s Facebook page on which he portrayed himself as a mujahed warrior superimposed on Koranic verses and called for “guerilla warfare” against the United States. Evidently, it is just one of those “violent extremism” coincidences that this “lone wolf” strike – translation: non-terrorist strike – occurred soon after the Islamic State urged Muslims in the West to “attack the soldiers of the tyrants and their police force.”

In addition to Americans, Europeans, and Australians, the Islamic State lists the “infidels” of Canada among its enemy “tyrants.” Thompson’s “lone wolf” jihad followed hard upon two separate “lone wolf” attacks in Canada this week. First, Martin Couture-Rouleau plowed a car into two soldiers, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Then, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo to death at the National War Memorial in Ottawa before spraying bullets inside Parliament (but fortunately killing no one else). Each “lone wolf” was killed in the aftermath, and each was reportedly a “recent convert to Islam.”

These latest atrocities follow last month’s decapitation of a woman at an Oklahoma food-distribution center by Alton Nolen, another “recent convert to Islam” whose Facebook page was a shrine to Osama bin Laden and the Islamic State. At the time, Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro noted that the Oklahoma attack was the latest of seven in the last few years by Muslim men acting alone. The count rises to eight if one accepts the Obama administration’s “workplace violence” rendition of the Fort Hood massacre, to wit: jihadist Nidal Hassan was a “lone wolf” – and therefore somehow not a terrorist – despite both his motive to prevent the U.S. soldiers he killed from fighting Taliban terrorists and his string of pre-massacre consultations with al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki (the imam who had ministered to the wolf-pack known as the 9/11 suicide-hijackers). At any rate, there are now so many “lone” jihadists we should probably start saying “clone wolf” instead.

So rote have the airbrushed news accounts of these incidents become that we could recite them in our sleep – which is exactly the condition those who write them hope to leave us in. We are to believe it is beside the point that the assailants happen to be Muslims. Sure, some may have been “inspired” by the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, but journalists, taking their cues from government officials, stress that the murderers lack “operational” ties to any recognized terrorist organization. So, presto, each is sloughed off as a “lone wolf.”

That once useful term of art is now used to convey two carefully crafted, politically correct narratives. For government officials and investigators, the “lone wolf” label has come to mean the atrocity in question cannot be categorized as “terrorism,” no matter how many “Allahu Akbars!” are shouted as bullets fly, bombs blast, or heads roll. For the commentariat, “lone wolf” signifies that the Muslim in question – whether a lifer or a “recent convert” – has “self-radicalized,” spontaneously becoming a wanton, irrational killer.

These two story lines transparently suggest that the government has quelled al-Qaeda and that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Though President Obama frequently makes both claims, they are delusional.

“Lone wolf” is actually a surveillance-law concept that signifies the antithesis of the government’s newfangled “no terrorism here” usage. Moreover, the term is utterly useless to our understanding of how, and by what, Muslims are “radicalized.”

The “lone wolf” concept goes back to the alarm that gripped the nation right after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks. That alarm was heightened by the discovery that incompetent surveillance practices prevented the government from interrupting the plot. So after 9/11, national-security surveillance law was overhauled.

Unlike ordinary criminal investigations, which focus on penal law offenses, national-security investigations target agents of “foreign powers.” Legally, an international terrorist organization qualifies as a foreign power. So if investigators can show a person is tied to an outfit like al-Qaeda, they can get court permission to eavesdrop on him.

As a practical matter, though, many terrorism investigations do not unfold that way. Sometimes, investigators develop evidence that someone is preparing to conduct terrorist activity (e.g., he buys explosive components, he cases a bridge) before they can figure out whether he is connected to a known terrorist organization. Since involvement by a foreign power was the necessary predicate for national-security surveillance, the government’s inability to establish al-Qaeda’s role in the plot would result in the denial of authority to eavesdrop on the apparent terrorist – even though he might be on the verge of striking.

To prevent such a critical intelligence gap, Congress enacted “lone wolf” surveillance authority as part of the PATRIOT Act (see here, pp. 5-6). Significantly, the statute makes precisely the opposite assumption that government officials now make when they label someone a “lone wolf.” The law says that if a person is engaged in what appears to be terrorist activity, the involvement of a foreign terrorist organization should be presumed and need not be established. So as conceived and codified, the lone-wolf designation means the government should regard a suspect as a terrorist, not strain against all evidence and logic to regard him as a non-terrorist.

Under the federal statutory definition, “international terrorism” happens when a person engages in activity intended to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.” If a person’s actions fit this definition, that is terrorism. That he may not have sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda or the Islamic State is immaterial . . . and the fact that he is a Muslim is not a reason to look the other way.

Read more: Family Security Matters

We Need to Call It Terrorism

Sources identify the suspected shooter as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Sources identify the suspected shooter as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

PJ Media, By Andrew C. McCarthy, October 22, 2014:

Within three days there have been two jihadist attacks in Canada, carried out by Canadian citizens who recently converted to Islam. No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility, at least as yet. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed no reluctance in calling the terrorists … terrorists.

Bravo!

Whether the attackers were incited by the summons to jihad from groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, or were actual members of such groups, there should be no question thatthese were terrorist attacks. The Obama administration’s practice of denying that terrorist attacks are terrorist attacks has been profoundly foolish – and it was good to hear the president seem to inch away from it today.

The point of this cockamamie denial approach is part political correctness and part plain politics.

President Obama has repeatedly claimed to have “decimated” al Qaeda and put it “on the path to defeat.” Actually, the terror network is on the rise. Furthermore, it is now rivaled by ISIS, a jihadist organization that may be even stronger. Denying obvious instances of terrorism, such as the jihadist mass-murder at Fort Hood, is a transparent effort to conceal the obvious falsity of the president’s claims. If these attacks are not really terrorism, the reasoning goes, then there must be less terrorism; therefore, the pretense of defeating terror networks can be spun as validated. As I’ve said before, it is a way of miniaturizing the threat.

It is more than that, though. Terrorism is fueled by an ideology. It is rooted, quite literally, in Islamic scripture. To cite one of many examples, in the Koran’s sura 8:12, Allah instructs Muslims: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them.” Thus, Omar Abdel Rahman, the infamous “Blind Sheikh” I prosecuted for terrorism in the nineties, used to exhort followers:

Why do we fear the word “terrorist”? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. . . . The Koran mentions the words “to strike terror,” therefore we don’t fear to be described with “terrorism.” . . . We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.

The United States government tried to portray Abdel Rahman as deranged and representative of no mainstream current of Islamic thought. In point of fact, he was a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence graduated from al-Azhar University in Cairo, the seat of Sunni learning for over a millennium. His capacity to command terrorists, although he was physically incapable of committing terrorist acts, stemmed from his indisputable mastery of sharia and Islamic doctrine – subjects I daresay he knew a good deal more about than President Obama. He was spokesman for a well-known interpretation of Islam that, as the Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayad Jamal al-Din recently acknowledged, has existed for 1,400 years.

A Muslim who commits an atrocious act with the purpose of becoming Allah’s instrument for “instilling terror into the hearts of the unbelievers” has committed terrorism. A Muslim who employs violence with the intention of “intimidating or coercing a civilian population; influencing the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or affecting the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping,” to borrow from the federal statutory definition of international terrorism, has engaged interrorism. He need neither be wearing an al Qaeda team jersey nor be formally sworn in as a member of ISIS for us to state this palpable fact with confidence.

Shouldn’t we be able to agree on at least that much?

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

 

NRO, By Andrew C. McCarthy:

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the transcript

New Benghazi Indictment Still Doesn’t Mention Al-Qaeda

20140916__benghazi_caskets_murdered_lby ANDREW C. MCCARTHY:

On September 10, 2012, al-Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued a lengthy statement to his fellow jihadists in Libya. He called on them to avenge the American military’s killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi, the highest ranking al-Qaeda operative in that country. His “blood is calling, urging and inciting you to fight and kill the Crusaders,” Zawahiri cried.

The diatribe was no surprise, the following day being the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities committed against the United States by the terror network with which we were – and are – still at war. Plus, jihadists in Benghazi, the terror network’s hub in eastern Libya, had repeatedly attacked American and other Western targets during the preceding five months.

The following night, September 11, 2012, jihadists from al-Qaeda’s main Libyan franchise, Ansar al-Sharia, laid siege to a U.S. State Department mission in Benghazi, the very target jihadists had detonated an IED against only three months earlier, on June 6. They torched the facility, murdered the American ambassador to Libya, killed three additional American officials, and wounded several others in an attack that lasted several hours – a terrorist attack by our wartime enemies during which President Obama and the U.S. armed forces took no meaningful action to respond or rescue our personnel.

Now, do you suppose what happened before the Benghazi massacre – the continuing war with al-Qaeda, the serial jihadist attacks, the call by the terror network’s leader right before the 9/11 anniversary to avenge a “martyr” by striking against the United States – just might shed some light on the terrorist attack involving al-Qaeda’s Libyan franchise against the State Department compound that night?

If you do, you clearly do not work for the Obama administration and its brazenly politicized Justice Department.

For them, as a superseding indictment filed on Monday reaffirms, “al-Qaeda” is a term not to be uttered – except at fundraisers, and only for the purpose of absurdly claiming victory over the terrorist group. And Benghazi is just a spontaneous protest that, somehow, came to involve terrorists – impossible to have foreseen and over in the blink of an eye, before any commander-in-chief could have done much about it.

Yes, Attorney General Eric Holder’s minions have finally filed their long-awaited superseding indictment against Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a ringleader in the Benghazi attack. It is a gussied up replay of the original indictment returned last summer, the one that was roundly mocked by critics, not least by your humble correspondent. That indictment was more a political than a legal document, hewing to the administration’s fictional account of Benghazi as a sudden uprising, not a coordinated attack within the framework of an ongoing terrorist conspiracy.

The Justice Department hopes you’ll miss the chicanery this time because, ostensibly, they’ve beefed up the charges. Instead of the original indictment’s bare-bones brevity – it was just two pages long (actually, just 15 lines) and alleged just one count against the single defendant – the superseding indictment comes in at about 21 pages and now levels 18 charges against Khatallah. But the additional heft merely comes from a mining of new statutory offenses out of the same version of events. The story has not changed.

That is, the new indictment does not allege an al-Qaeda terrorist conspiracy against the United States. It instead posits a scheme lasting just one day – indeed, perhaps just a few hours – in which Khatallah is accused of agreeing to lend material support, namely, himself, to unidentified terrorists who spontaneously attacked the State Department compound without much planning or warning. It is indictment as agitprop: a charging instrument designed to sit comfortably with the Obama administration’s political claims.

The superseding indictment makes no mention of al-Qaeda, much less of Zawahiri’s baying for American blood. After all, the president had said some three-dozen times during the 2012 campaign that he had already defeated al-Qaeda. In fact, Obama had the temerity to repeat that risible claim at his Vegas fundraiser the day after the massacre (“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”).

Read more: Family Security Matters

Why Won’t Republicans Get to the Bottom of Benghazi?

pic_giant_101114_SM_Trey-GowdyBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

Something bothers me about the first and only hearing of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Something I haven’t been able to shake.

It was a desultory hearing. That’s not the main thing that bothers me, but it grates. Many Americans still seek real accountability for the jihadist-empowering policies and recklessly irresponsible security arrangements that preceded the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack — to say nothing of the fraud and stonewalling that followed it. We were thus cheered when the GOP-controlled House finally appointed a select investigative committee . . . although we were equally puzzled why it took so much prodding, why Republican leadership seemed so reluctant. Five months have elapsed since then, and the committee has not exactly been a bundle of energy.

The panel is chaired by Representative Trey Gowdy. We were buoyed by that, too: He is an impressive former prosecutor from South Carolina. To date, though, he has convened just the one, remarkably brief public hearing. It was on September 17, a few days after the second anniversary of the Benghazi massacre, during which terrorists killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans: Sean Smith, Ty Woods, and Glen Doherty.

The hearing seemed to be a futile quest for buy-in from committee Democrats, whose mission is to undermine the legitimacy of an investigation their party opposed — one that, if thorough and competent, cannot but damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions. Representative Gowdy agreed to the minority’s request for a session that would explore the recommendations of the Obama State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) and the administration’s diligent implementation thereof.

The ARB probe, conducted by Washington fixtures handpicked by then–Secretary of State Clinton for damage-control purposes, was hopelessly conflicted. It failed to interview key witnesses — including, natch, Mrs. Clinton herself. Its recommendations are thus of dubious value. More to the point, they are far afield from the salient matter: accountability for the disastrous decisions, actions, and omissions before, during, and after the attack.

It was obvious why Democrats wanted a hearing focused on the ARB recommendations. It could nicely frame their contention that Benghazi has already been thoroughly investigated by bipartisan Beltway eminences who found fault (though not much, and not by anyone of significance) and proposed fixes, which fixes the Obama administration anxiously and responsibly adopted. End of story, which after all, dude, was like two years ago.

In spinning this yarn, Democrats could not have chosen a more perfect witness: Gregory Starr, assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security. Mr. Starr is a highly experienced diplomat, articulate with just the right edge of condescension, and, best of all, out of the loop on anything of consequence. He wasn’t at State when Benghazi happened. He was brought back to the Department by Mrs. Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, after a stint at the UN. He was therefore perfectly positioned to give forceful soliloquies about how crucial personnel security is to the State Department and the Obama administration, yet able to dodge any questions about the unconscionable security lapses in Benghazi under Secretary Clinton.

To their credit, committee Republicans did a fine job debunking the Democrats’ narrative. Chairman Gowdy in particular was characteristically effective in showing that the ARB recommendations were essentially the same ones proposed, and quickly forgotten, after every terrorist attack on a government facility over the past three decades. He also pointed out that security for high-threat facilities was supposed to be personally approved by the secretary of state, not a subordinate — a problem given that, under Secretary Clinton, security in Benghazi was decreased despite attacks, threats, and expert assessments that clearly signaled an intensifying threat.

Still, there was no reason for committee Republicans to put themselves in a defensive posture. Chairman Gowdy decides what the hearing topics will be. In the days before the hearing, three security contractors assigned to protect the CIA annex in Benghazi went public with allegations that they’d been obstructed by superiors when they tried to come to the aid of the Americans under attack. The delay may have cost lives. Was that not more to the point of the select committee’s mission — more appropriate fodder for its much-anticipated first hearing — than the ARB recommendations?

Of course, we conservatives are used to GOP accommodations designed to both entice Democrats into good-faith cooperation and impress the media with how bipartisan or, in Gowdy’s framing of it, how non-partisan Republicans can be. The civility and sobriety are always unrequited, yet they keep trying.

But that is not my main problem. What really bothers me is what happened toward the end of the hearing.

It was the day’s most dramatic exchange: Representative Gowdy was questioning Secretary Starr. The chairman had expertly set the stage by adducing Starr’s agreement that diplomatic security in dangerous places is a cost-benefit analysis. That is, the degree of risk tolerated depends on the government’s calculation of the benefit derived from whatever mission requires an American presence. With his witness thus cornered, Gowdy pounced: There being no more perilous place on the planet for Americans than the jihadist hornet’s nest of Benghazi, he asked Starr,

We know the risk of being in Benghazi. Can you tell us what our policy was in Libya that overcame those risks? In other words, why were we there?

Starr tried to dance away, going into a speech about how such questions “have been fundamental to the Department for over thirty years,” and that there have thus been evacuations, removal of family members, reductions of personnel, etc. Gowdy, however, would have none of it — after all, none of the measures Starr listed was taken in Benghazi. So again, the chairman demanded,

We know the risk in Benghazi. My colleagues and you and others have done a wonderful job of highlighting some of the “trip wires” — I think [that] is the diplomatic term. What policy were we pursuing in Libya that was so great that it overcame all of the trip wires?

After some hesitation, Secretary Starr meekly replied: “Not being here at the time, sir, I cannot answer that question for you.”

Really?

Read more at National Review

Also see:

White House’s ‘Attempt to Miniaturize the Enemy’ Ignores Dangerous Ideological Link Between Islamic State, Al Qaeda

TheBlaze TV’s For the Record spoke to counterterrorism experts who said the Islamic State beheaded American journalist James Foley in part as a commitment to its Salafi-jihadist end goals, the underlying ideology that bonds dozens of terror groups across the region. (AP)

TheBlaze TV’s For the Record spoke to counterterrorism experts who said the Islamic State beheaded American journalist James Foley in part as a commitment to its Salafi-jihadist end goals, the underlying ideology that bonds dozens of terror groups across the region. (AP)

The Blaze, by Elizabeth Kreft, Sep. 24, 2014:

You may not have heard the terms ISIS, ISIL, the Islamic State or caliphate in the mainstream media until this summer, but that doesn’t mean the violent Islamic jihadist organization is a completely new entity.

A Salafi-jihadi by any other name still beheads their victims.

The headline-grabbing introduction of the Islamic State in the last several months was a calculated rebranding by the Al Qaeda offshoot, with its specific, deadly strain of Islamic ideology dubbed Salafist jihadism. This ultra-strict ideology suggests the Koran must be followed word-for-word and may not be interpreted by anyone else. Rather than the violent uprising of a new breed of terrorist, the Islamic State is simply embracing the strictest ideology associated with the first three decades of Islam.

This is the ideology that connects all terror groups — the Islamic State and Al Qaeda alike — and it’s the brutal mindset they hope to impress upon the hearts of jihadi sympathizers susceptible to radicalization.

It’s an important connection to grasp, since President Barack Obama declared on multiple occasions that “Al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead,” indicating the primary Al Qaeda threat to the U.S. — the ability to attack the United States within its borders — was removed. But one former federal prosecutor says the commander in chief downplayed the enemy in his descriptions, creating a gap in understanding about the Al Qaeda-spawned organizations that have actually increased in number by 58 percent since 2010.

“What the Obama administration in particular has done … since the president took office in 2009, in claiming to have decimated Al Qaeda, in claiming to have rolled back the terrorist threat, in claiming that we are a safer place than we were before he took office, has been a real purposeful attempt to miniaturize the enemy,” said Andrew McCarthy, who led the prosecution of the ”Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. McCarthy spoke to TheBlaze TV’s For the Record for Wednesday’s new episode, “Total Confrontation” (8 p.m. ET).

That might be the one thing the Islamic State and the Obama administration have in common: They’ve both attempted to minimize Al Qaeda, but for very different reasons. Obama thinks Al Qaeda is “decimated”; Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current leader of the Islamic State, thinks Al Qaeda moves too slowly.

In this way, the Islamic State likely sees Al Qaeda as its unwelcome anchor rather than as a supporting parent organization. But the two organizations are inextricably linked, even though the Islamic State is attempting to prove daily that it is willing and able to take its tactics in more brutal directions, and is pushing a more aggressive timeline for a full establishment of a caliphate.

Al-Baghdadi’s calculated rebranding of his terror branch this year — first as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant before the condensed “Islamic State” — is a purposeful honing of that vision and message.

“IS was formerly constituted as Al Qaeda in Iraq, but was disowned by ‘core’ al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in February 2014. This fracture resulted in all-out war between the two groups for the leadership of the international jihad movement,” said Brian Fairchild, a former CIA operations officer. “Some describe it as Al Qaeda 6.0.”

The significant differences between Al Qaeda and the Islamic State could almost be seen as an upgrade for millennial jihadis: they embrace a newer, social-media friendly recruiting pattern and a penchant for self-promotion while focused on immediate results.

But the most important connection between the younger-seeming Islamic State and old-school Al Qaeda is the identifier the Obama administration has vehemently suppressed, both in narrative and in function: the underlying Salafi-jihadist ideology.

“The game-changing rise of the Islamic State and the phenomenal flood of radicalized foreign fighters flowing to the new ‘caliphate’ make political correctness and willful ignorance … of the jihad a recipe for national disaster,” Fairchild wrote in an analysis post on his website.

This means several organizations with different names and leadership charisma remain linked by their underlying mission and jihadist vision. Core Al Qaeda in Pakistan; formal affiliates that have sworn allegiance to core Al Qaeda (located in Syria, Somalia, Yemen and North Africa); the panoply of Salafi-jihadist groups that have not sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda; and inspired individuals and networks all have their own terrifying tactics — the common bond between these various terror networks is their relentless commitment to establishing an extremist Islamic emirate and returning Islam to its purest form.

The Islamic State group is often described as the most fearsome jihadi outfit of all: a global menace outweighing Al Qaeda, but experts interviewed by For the Record argue it’s the underlying Salafi-jihad mindset that fuels the brutal group, and this mindset is the foundational connection between multiple terror networks. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)

The Islamic State group is often described as the most fearsome jihadi outfit of all: a global menace outweighing Al Qaeda, but experts interviewed by For the Record argue it’s the underlying Salafi-jihad mindset that fuels the brutal group, and this mindset is the foundational connection between multiple terror networks. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)

“Government recognition of the Islamic religious foundation of jihad is essential for two specific national security reasons. The Muslim dilemma can never be successfully addressed until this fact is acknowledged, and official recognition of the religious nature of jihad would provide American counterterrorism officers with an investigative direction,” Fairchild wrote.

The ongoing feud between the Islamic State and Al Qaeda has only added to the confusion for average citizens trying to understand the connections between the violent groups.

Fairchild said the rivalry between the Salafi-jihadist organizations boils down to a single point: it means more violence will be directed at anyone who disagrees with a strict interpretation of the Koran.

Some experts say the Islamic State’s intense, regional focus to push for the caliphate proves the group is less a threat to the United States than core Al Qaeda, but as experts told For the Record, the end goal of all the Salafi-jihadist organizations remains the same: convert or kill.

“I don’t pretend that ISIS doesn’t see itself now as different from some of the other Al Qaeda groups, but an awful lot of the labeling that’s gone on has been the West trying to miniaturize Al Qaeda into a bunch of little regional and parochial branches that don’t really glue together because then you’d have to acknowledge the ideology that does bring all the stuff together,” McCarthy said, “and more of that has been labeling by us than self-identification by the jihad.”

Fairchild put it bluntly: It doesn’t matter how the U.S. classifies the Islamic State or other Al Qaeda affiliates; if a terror network self-identifies as Salafi-jihadist, they are embracing literal interpretation of the Koran’s commands to wipe out both Muslim “apostates” who disagree with violent jihad tactics, and nonbelievers in other countries.

No matter how the West defines the groups, Fairchild notes, if ideology that links them is ignored or minimized, intelligence groups have missed the point.

“And the enemy always gets a vote,” he said.

For The Record: Total Confrontation

 

TheBlaze TV’s For the Record will take an in-depth look at the Islamic State in the new episode “Total Confrontation,” Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Also see:

The Islamic State . . . of Saudi Arabia

pic_giant_092014_SM_John-Kerry-King-AbdullahNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Sep. 20.2014:

The beheadings over the last several weeks were intended to terrorize, to intimidate, to coerce obedience, and to enforce a construction of sharia law that, being scripturally rooted, is draconian and repressive.

And let’s not kid ourselves: We know there will be more beheadings in the coming weeks, and on into the future. Apostates from Islam, homosexuals, and perceived blasphemers will face brutal persecution and death. Women will be treated as chattel and face institutionalized abuse. Islamic-supremacist ideology, with its incitements to jihad and conquest, with its virulent hostility toward the West, will spew from the mosques onto the streets. We will continue to be confronted by a country-sized breeding ground for anti-American terrorists.

The Islamic State? Sorry, no. I was talking about . . .  our “moderate Islamist” ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

But the confusion is understandable.

Islamic State terrorists have infamously decapitated three of their prisoners in recent weeks. That is five fewer than the Saudi government decapitated in August alone. Indeed, it is three fewer beheadings than were carried out in September by the Free Syrian Army — the “moderate Islamists” that congressional Republicans have now joined Obama Democrats in supporting with arms and training underwritten by American taxpayer dollars.

The Obama administration regards the Saudi government as America’s key partner in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. The increasingly delusional Secretary of State John Kerry reasons that this is because the fight is more ideological than military. Get it? The world’s leading propagators of the ideology that breeds violent jihad are our best asset in an ideological struggle against violent jihadists.

Aloof as ever from irony, Mr. Kerry gave this assessment while visiting King Abdullah in Riyadh on, of all days, September 11 — the thirteenth anniversary of the day when 15 Saudis joined four other terrorists in mass-murdering nearly 3,000 Americans in furtherance of the Islamic-supremacist ideology on which they were reared. The 19 were, of course, members of al-Qaeda, the jihadist network sprung from Saudi Arabia and its fundamentalist “Wahhabi” Islam.

Secretary Kerry and President Obama, like British prime minister David Cameron, insist that the Islamic State, an al-Qaeda-launched jihadist faction, is not Islamic. Evidently, this is owing to the terrorists’ savage tactics. In essence, however, they are the same tactics practiced by our “moderate Islamist” allies.

Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam: the birthplace of Mohammed, the site of the Hijra by which Islam marks time — the migration from Mecca to Medina under siege by Mohammed and his followers. The Saudi king is formally known as the “Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques” (in Mecca and Medina); he is the guardian host of theHaj pilgrimage that Islam makes mandatory for able-bodied believers. The despotic Saudi kingdom is governed by Islamic law — sharia. No other law is deemed necessary and no contrary law is permissible.

It is thus under the authority of sharia that the Saudis routinely behead prisoners.

I happen to own the edition of the Koran “with English Translation of ‘The Meanings and Commentary,’” published at the “King Fahd Holy Qur-an Printing Complex” — Fahd was Abdullah’s brother and predecessor. As the introductory pages explain, this version is produced under the auspices of the regime’s “Ministry of Hajj and Endowments.” In its sura (or chapter) 47, Allah commands Muslims, “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks.”

The accompanying English commentary helpfully explains:

When once the fight (Jihad) is entered upon, carry it out with the utmost vigor, and strike home your blows at the most vital points (smite at their necks), both literally and figuratively. You cannot wage war with kid gloves. [Italicized parentheticals in original.]

Sura 8 underscores the point with another of Allah’s exhortations: “I am with you: Give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: Smite ye above their necks and smite ye all their fingertips off them.”

Following the 9/11 attacks, Americans Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg were among prisoners notoriously decapitated by al-Qaeda. Reacting to their beheadings, Timothy Furnish, a U.S. Army veteran with a doctorate in Islamic history, wrote a comprehensive Middle East Quarterly essay on “Beheading in the Name of Islam.” As Dr. Furnish recounted,

The practice of beheading non-Muslim captives extends back to the Prophet himself. Ibn Ishaq (d. 768 C.E.), the earliest biographer of Muhammad, is recorded as saying that the Prophet ordered the execution by decapitation of 700 men of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina for allegedly plotting against him.

As is always the case, the prophet’s example has been emulated by Muslims through the centuries. When Muslims conquered central Spain in the eleventh century, for example, the caliph had 24,000 corpses beheaded; the remains were piled into makeshift minarets atop which muezzins sang the praises of Allah. In more modern times, Furnish adds, “The Ottoman Empire was the decapitation state par excellence” — employing the practice to terrorize enemies for centuries, including, to take just one of many examples, beheading hundreds of British soldiers captured in Egypt in 1807.

A pity Sheikh Cameron was not around back then to correct the caliphate’s understanding of Islam.

The Saudis behead prisoners for such “offenses” as apostasy. You see, our “moderate Islamist” allies brook no dissent and permit no freedom of conscience. In this, the world’s most identifiably Islamic regime is no different from its Shiite counterpart (and regional competitor) in Tehran — to which President Obama respectfully refers by its preferred name, “the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Sharia is the law there, too. While the regime is said to have repealed the punishment of decapitation, it still prescribes stoning, flogging, and amputation for various violations, such as adultery and petty theft.

Such cruel — but not at all unusual — punishments are designed to enforce a societal system that, as I’ve previously outlined, degrades and dehumanizes women, while subjecting apostates and homosexuals to death and non-Muslims to systematic discrimination.

As night follows day, young Muslims schooled in the ideology promoted in Saudi Arabia gravitate to jihadist networks such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. As recited in Reliance of the Traveller, an authoritative sharia manual endorsed by scholars at the ancient al-Azhar University in Egypt and the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Saudi Arabia, “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims.” They are simply acting on what “moderate Islamists” have been teaching them.

And now Republicans in Congress have joined Democrats to support President Obama’s hare-brained scheme to train 5,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels. As every sentient person knows, a force of that size will have no chance of defeating the Islamic State or al-Qaeda — even if we charitably assume that many in its ranks do not defect to those organizations, as they have been wont to do. The rebels will similarly have no chance against the Iran-backed Assad regime. In sum, our government, nearly $18 trillion in debt, will expend another $500 million to school 5,000 “moderate Islamists” in military tactics that cannot win the war in Syria but could eventually be used in the jihad against the United States. Welcome to Libya . . . the Sequel.

Oh, and did I mention that the training of these “moderate” rebels will take place in “moderate” Saudi Arabia?

— 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:

Obama’s Go-To ‘Moderate Islamist’

pic_giant_091714_SM_-Mohamed-ElibiaryNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, SEPTEMBER 17, 2014:

On Monday, I had a follow-up to last week’s column on why members of the Obama administration and other transnational progressives deny that the Islamic State is Islamic — viz., because they want to ally with what they call “moderate Islamists.” If Americans grasp that “moderate Islamists” and violent jihadists share the same basic ideology, such an alliance becomes politically untenable.

Case in point: The curious tale of Mohamed Elibiary, the Obama administration’s go-to “moderate Islamist” for counterterrorism advice.

The “moderate Islamist” folly has both domestic and international components, and the Obama administration is far from alone in it. On the foreign-policy side of the equation, see David French’s excellent post on Monday highlighting how the administration (echoed by the GOP’s McCain wing) is again calling for the arming of the purportedly “moderate Syrian rebels” — and don’t miss continuing coverage of these U.S.-backed “moderates” as they collude with terrorists from al-Qaedaand the Islamic State. When that same strategy was applied in Libya, it gave us the Benghazi Massacre, contributed to the rise of the Islamic State, and left the country in jihadist clutches.

My Monday follow-up column dealt with the domestic side of our government’s “moderate Islamist” charade: the appearance last week of several administration officials with a number of their Islamist advisers — leaders of enterprises linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. These organizations and institutions continue to have Obama’s ear even though some were proved in court to have conspired in the Brotherhood’s conspiracy to provide material support to Hamas, its Palestinian terrorist branch, through a “charity” known as the Holy Land Foundation.

Now the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reports on Mr. Elibiary, Obama’s appointee to the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council . . . though not for long. The administration has quietly announced that Elibiary is about to be cashiered.

Obama and then–DHS secretary Janet Napolitano made Elibiary a key counterterrorism adviser even though he had been a regular contributor to the very Holy Land Foundation charity the Justice Department had prosecuted. The HLF, it turns out, was established by Elibiary’s longtime friend Shukri Abu Baker. The latter was among the defendants convicted of using the “charity” to finance Hamas — he is serving a 65-year sentence from the prosecution that Elibiary dismisses as Islamophobic persecution.

Elibiary’s intriguing credentials also include his appearance at a 2004 conference in Dallas that paid “Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In addition, he has publicly praised the Islamic-supremacist writings of Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb, so inspirational to Osama bin Laden, Omar Abdel Rahman (the Blind Sheikh), and other infamous terrorists.

As I’ve previously recounted, Elibiary was tapped by the Obama Homeland Security Department for its expert working group on “Violent Extremism” (because we wouldn’t want to call it “Jihadist Terrorism”). It was this panel that formulated the president’s vaunted counterterrorism strategy, which envisions having law-enforcement agents pare back their intelligence-gathering activities and take their marching orders from “community partners” (i.e., local Islamist organizations).

Elibiary’s star has fallen because even this Islamist-friendly administration is embarrassed over his commentary about the “inevitable” return of the Muslim “caliphate.” Islamic-supremacist rhetoric is not out of the ordinary for this, shall we say, nuanced counterterrorism expert, but it was a tad untimely: Elibiary’s tweets are being praised by Islamic State affiliates, potentially facilitating their recruitment of young Muslims into the anti-American jihad.

That’s not all. There are also allegations, broken by investigative journalist Patrick Poole in 2011, that Elibiary used the access to sensitive information afforded by his DHS position to obtain documents that he is said to have peddled to the media for purposes of manufacturing a claim of “Islamophobia” (what else?) against Texas governor Rick Perry.

Congressman Louie Gohmert (R., Texas), among others, has been pressing the administration for an explanation regarding both the leak allegations and how Elibiary managed to get a security clearance. Representative Gohmert, you may recall, is also one of the five House conservatives who asked how Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, managed to get a security clearance despite her extensive (and not very moderate) Islamist connections. For their trouble, the five were vigorously attacked by Senator McCain, who took time out from calling for arming the “moderate Islamists” in Libya — or was it in Syria? — to defend Ms. Abedin on the Senate floor.

Obama’s DHS denied any wrongdoing by Elibiary after what it claimed was a full investigation. Nevertheless, Mr. Kredo reports that when Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act claim for details about this investigation, DHS said it did not have any. After the usual Obama-administration foot-dragging, DHS finally acknowledged in a 2013 letter that it could not find any “investigative records regarding the alleged mishandling” of sensitive information by Elibiary.

Was there a real investigation by the Obama administration of its Islamist counterterrorism adviser? We don’t know. We just know it has suddenly been announced that Elibiary won’t be reappointed.

By the way, the Obama administration also consulted with Muslim “experts” when it purged information about Islamic-supremacist ideology from the materials used to train our law-enforcement, intelligence, and military personnel. I know you’ll be shocked to hear this, but the administration refuses to identify its expert consultants — in fact, the administration took the astonishing step of classifying their identities when Congress started asking questions.

But don’t worry: We can rest assured that the experts Obama put in charge of what our national-security agents get to learn about our enemies are very “moderate Islamists.”

— 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.

In Search of the ‘Moderate Islamists’

pic_giant_091514_SM_Hasmas-Muslim-BrotherhoodBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

It is not out of ignorance that President Obama and Secretary Kerry are denying the Islamic roots of the Islamic State jihadists. As I argued in a column here last week, we should stop scoffing as if this were a blunder and understand the destructive strategy behind it. The Obama administration is quite intentionally promoting the progressive illusion that “moderate Islamists” are the solution to the woes of the Middle East, and thus that working cooperatively with “moderate Islamists” is the solution to America’s security challenges.

I wrote a book a few years ago called The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America that addressed this partnership between Islamists and progressives. The terms “grand jihad” and “sabotage” are lifted from an internal Muslim Brotherhood memorandum that lays bare the Brotherhood’s overarching plan to destroy the West from within by having their component organizations collude with credulous Western governments and opinion elites.

The plan is going well.

As long as the news media and even conservative commentators continue to let them get away with it, the term “moderate Islamist” will remain useful to transnational progressives. It enables them to avoid admitting that the Muslim Brotherhood is what they have in mind.

As my recent column explained, the term “moderate Islamist” is an oxymoron. An Islamist is a Muslim who wants repressive sharia imposed. There is nothing moderate about sharia even if the Muslim in question does not advocate imposing it by violence.

Most people do not know what the term “Islamist” means, so the contradiction is not apparent to them. If they think about it at all, they figure “moderate Islamist” must be just another way of saying “moderate Muslim,” and since everyone acknowledges that there are millions of moderate Muslims, it seems logical enough. Yet, all Muslims are not Islamists. In particular, all Muslims who support the Western principles of liberty and reason are not Islamists.

If you want to say that some Islamists are not violent, that is certainly true. But that does not make them moderate. There is, moreover, less to their nonviolence than meets the eye. Many Islamists who do not personally participate in jihadist aggression support violent jihadists financially and morally — often while feigning objection to their methods or playing semantic games (e.g., “I oppose terrorism but I support resistance,” or “I oppose the killing of innocent people . . . but don’t press me on who is an innocent”).

Understandably, the public is inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to people the government describes as “moderates” and portrays as our “allies.” If transnational progressives were grilled on these vaporous terms, though, and forced to concede, say, that the Muslim Brotherhood was the purportedly “moderate opposition” our government wants to support in Syria, the public would object. While not expert in the subject, many Americans are generally aware that the Brotherhood supports terrorism, that its ideology leads young Muslims to graduate to notorious terrorist organizations, and that it endorses oppressive Islamic law while opposing the West. Better for progressives to avoid all that by one of their dizzying, internally nonsensical word games — hence, “moderate Islamist.”

I rehearse all that because last week, right on cue, representatives of Brotherhood-tied Islamist organizations appeared with Obama-administration officials and other apologists for Islamic supremacism to ostentatiously “condemn” the Islamic State as “not Islamic.”

As I recount with numerous examples in The Grand Jihad, this is the manipulative double game the Brotherhood has mastered in the West, aided and abetted by progressives of both parties. While speaking to credulous Western audiences desperate to believe Islam is innately moderate, the Brothers pretend to abhor terrorism, claim that terrorism is actually “anti-Islamic,” and threaten to brand you as an “Islamophobe” racist — to demagogue you in the media, ban you from the campus, and bankrupt you in court — if you dare to notice the nexus between Islamic doctrine and systematic terrorism committed by Muslims. Then, on their Arabic sites and in the privacy of their mosques and community centers, they go back to preaching jihad, championing Hamas, calling for Israel’s destruction, damning America, inveighing against Muslim assimilation in the West, and calling for society’s acceptance of sharia mores.

The Investigative Project’s John Rossomando reports on last Wednesday’s shenanigans at the National Press Club. The Islamist leaders who “urged the public to ignore [the Islamic State’s] theological motivations,” included “former Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR) Tampa director Ahmed Bedier, [who] later wrote on Twitter that IS [the Islamic State] ‘is not a product of Islam,’ and blamed the United States for its emergence.”

Also on hand were moderate moderator Haris Tarin, Washington director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Imam Mohamed Magid, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and Johari Abdul-Malik, an imam at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. All of these Islamists are consultants to the Obama administration on policy matters; Magid is actually a member Obama’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Where to begin? CAIR, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, is a Muslim Brotherhood creation conceived to be a Western-media-savvy shill for Islamic supremacism in general, and Hamas in particular. At the 2007–08 terrorism-financing prosecution of Hamas operatives in the Holy Land Foundation case — involving a Brotherhood conspiracy that funneled millions of dollars to Palestinian jihadists — CAIR was proven to be a co-conspirator, albeit unindicted. Mr. Bedier, who is profiled by the Investigative Project here, is a notorious apologist for Hamas — the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, which is formally designated as a terrorist organization under U.S. law. He also vigorously championed such terrorists as Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Sami al-Arian (who pled guilty in 2006 to conspiring to provide material support to terrorism).

I’ve profiled MPAC here. It was founded by disciples of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and champions of both Hezbollah and the Sudanese Islamists who gave safe-haven to al-Qaeda during the mid Nineties. After the atrocities of September 11, 2001, MPAC’s executive director, Salam al-Marayati, immediately urged that “we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list.” Without a hint of irony, MPAC’s main business is condemning irrational suspicion . . . the “Islamophobia” it claims Muslims are systematically subjected to. Like many CAIR operatives and other purveyors of victim politics, MPAC officials tend to double as Democratic-party activists.

Read more at National Review

The Islamic State Is Nothing New

pic_giant_090314_SM_ISIS-FightersBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

The beheading of yet another Western journalist, Steven Sotloff, has ignited another round of commentary suggesting that the Islamic State is the worst terrorist network ever. There is value in this: The current jihadist threat to the United States and the West is more dire than the threat that existed just prior to the 9/11 attacks, so anything that increases pressure for a sea change in our Islamic-supremacist-enabling government’s policies helps. Nevertheless, the perception that the Islamic State is something new and different and aberrational compared with the Islamic-supremacist threat we’ve been living with for three decades is wrong, perhaps dangerously so.

Decapitation is not a new jihadist terror method, and it is far from unique to the Islamic State. Indeed, I noted here over the weekend that it has recently been used by Islamic-supremacist elements of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Armyagainst the Islamic State. It was only a few years ago that al-Qaeda beheaded Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg. Jihadists behead their victims (very much including other Muslims) all the time — as Tom Joscelyn notes at the indispensable Long War Journal, the al-Qaeda-tied Ansar al Jerusalem just beheaded four Egyptians suspected of spying for Israel.

Yet, the recent Islamic State beheadings, in addition to other cruelties, is fueling commentary portraying the Islamic State as more barbaric and threatening than al-Qaeda. This misses the point. The Islamic State is al-Qaeda. It is the evolution of the ruthless al-Qaeda division that grew up in Iraq under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In order to make the Islamic State seem different from al-Qaeda — i.e., to make it seem like something that has spontaneously appeared, rather than something Obama ignored and empowered — some reporting claims there are “ideological” and “doctrinal” differences between the two. This is true in only the most technical sense, a sense that is essentially irrelevant vis à vis the West.

What is going on among the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood (including Hamas), and other factions is a power struggle for leadership of the Sunni side of the global Islamic-supremacist movement. Because of the audience to which these actors play, some of their differences are framed as sharia-based. Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda leaders (who are allied against Assad in Syria and were allied with the Islamic State until fairly recently) contend, for example, that the Islamic State’s unilateral declaration of a caliphate transgresses Islamic principles that call for consultation and consensus among sharia-adherent Muslims. They argue that Islamic-supremacist groups should work cooperatively in the formation of local or regional emirates, with an eye toward eventually assembling the global caliphate.

From our perspective, so what? Both sides regard the West as the enemy to be conquered. Their differences are germane only to the extent that sharia fidelity, in addition to sheer brute force, will determine who comes out on top in their intramural warfare. As we have been observing here for years with respect to al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood, their disputes are mostly tactical; their splits on the finer points of Islamic-supremacist ideology bear only on how they regard each other. When it comes to the West, both see us as the enemy — and they put aside their differences to attack us.

The same has also always been true of the ideological/doctrinal divide between Sunni and Shiite jihadists. For example, al-Qaeda has had cooperative and operational relations with Iran since the early 1990s. Iran collaborated with al-Qaeda in the 1996 Khobar Towers attack that killed 19 U.S. airmen; probably in the 9/11 attacks; certainly in the aftermath of 9/11; and in the Iraq and Afghan insurgencies. Al-Qaeda would not be what it is today without state sponsorship, particularly from Iran. The Islamic State might not exist at all.

The point is that al-Qaeda has never been anything close to the totality of the jihadist threat. Nor, now, is the Islamic State. The challenge has always been Islamic supremacism: the ideology, the jihadists that are the point of the spear, and the state sponsors that enable jihadists to project power. The challenge cannot be met effectively by focusing on one element to the exclusion of others.

Read more at National Review

 

But They Were Really Moderate Beheadings . . .

Moderate_Rape_Beheadings_KerryNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy:

My weekend column asks whether Obama’s “no strategy” regarding the Islamic State terror group is really worse than the delusional strategy – popular throughout our bipartisan foreign policy clerisy – of arming and training the purported “moderate opposition” in Syria.

Those repeating the “moderate opposition” refrain – in Washington it is virtually one word now, moderateopposition – hope you won’t notice that the anti-Assad factions are dominated by Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, which is still regarded by Beltway oxymorons as a “moderate Islamist” group (indeed, a “largely secular” group) despite the recent demonstrations of their unique brand of moderation in Egypt and Gaza – and despite the fact that the moderateopposition routinely colludes with al Qaeda jihadists.

Case in point: After American citizen Douglas McArthur McCain was killed while fighting for the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest was quick to credit the moderateopposition with having done him in, an exhibition of its commitment to fight these “dangerous” jihadists:

Even the reports of the death of the American who was fighting in Syria on behalf of ISIL, he was reportedly killed by elements of the moderate opposition as they were fighting ISIS [ACM: same as ISIL] elements in their country. So it’s no secret that the moderate opposition is fighting not just the Assad regime but also the dangerous elements of ISIL as well.

But alas, there is this eye-opening passage – overlooked by most, but not all commentators – from the New York Times’ report about “Mr. McCain”:

Mr. McCain moved back and forth from Minneapolis to San Diego and then abroad. Officials now know he ended up in Syria, where three days ago, Mr. McCain became the first American to die while fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He was 33. The rebels who killed him were fighting for the Free Syrian Army, a rival group backed by the United States, and they went on to behead six ISIS fighters — but not Mr. McCain — and then posted the photographs on Facebook.

Doesn’t seem very moderate to me.

Also see:

In Search of a Strategy

U.S. President Obama addresses reporters ahead of national security council meeting at the White House in WashingtonNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Aug.30, 2014:

Is it better to have no strategy or a delusional strategy?

The question arises, of course, after President Obama’s startling confession on Thursday that he has not yet developed a strategy for confronting the Islamic State, the al-Qaeda-rooted terrorist organization still often called by its former name, ISIS – an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Al-Sham refers to Greater Syria.

You may have noticed that President Obama calls the group ISIL, preferring the acronym that refers to the Levant to the one referring to al-Sham. After all, anything that invokes Syria might remind you of red lines that turned out not to be red lines and the administration’s facilitation of the arming of “moderate rebels” who turned out to include, well, ISIS. The fact is that the president has never had a Syria strategy, either — careening from Assad the Reformer, to Assad the Iranian puppet who must be toppled, to Assad who maybe we should consider aligning with against ISIS — ISIS being the “rebels” we used to support in Syria . . . unless they crossed into Iraq, in which case they were no longer rebels but terrorists . . . to be “rebels” again, they’d have to cross back into Syria or cruise east to Libya, where they used to be enemy jihadists spied on by our ally Qaddafi until they became “McCain’s heroes” overthrowing our enemy Qaddafi.

Got it?

No? Well, congratulations, you may have caught mental health, a condition to be envied even if it would disqualify you from serving as a foreign-policy and national-security expert in Washington. In either party.

The Islamic State’s recent beheading of American journalist James Foley is not the only thing that captured Washington’s attention of late. The Beltway was also left aghast at the jihadist’ rounding up of over 150 Syrian soldiers, forcing them to strip down to their underpants for a march through the desert, and then mass-killing them execution style.

Shocking, sure, but isn’t that what the GOP’s foreign-policy gurus were telling us they wanted up until about five minutes ago? Not the cruel method but the mass killing of Assad’s forces. Nothing oh nothing, we were told, could possibly be worse than the barbaric Assad regime. As naysayers — like your faithful correspondent— urged the government to refrain from backing “rebels” who teem with rabidly anti-American Islamic-supremacist savages, top Republicans scoffed. It was paramount that we arm the rebels in order to oust Assad, even though “we understand [that means] some people are going to get arms that should not be getting arms,” insisted Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Turns out that quite a lot of people who shouldn’t have gotten arms have gotten quite a lot of arms. And that is because Syria is not the only place as to which Republicans urged Obama to ignore federal laws against arming and otherwise supporting terrorists. They did it in Libya, too.

We have several times documented here that influential Republicans led by Senator John McCain were champions of Moammar Qaddafi before they suddenly switched sides — along with President Obama — in campaigning to oust the Libyan regime they had only recently treated (and funded) as a key American counterterrorism ally. The resulting (and utterly foreseeable) empowerment of Islamic supremacists in eastern Libya directly contributed to the Benghazi Massacre of four Americans on September 11, 2012; to the rise of the Islamic State and the expansion of al-Qaeda franchises in Africa, all of which were substantially strengthened by the jihadist capture of much of Qaddafi’s arsenal; and to what has become the collapse of Libya into a virulently anti-American no-man’s land of competing militias in which jihadists now have the upper hand.

The disastrous flip-flop was no surprise. When Mubarak fell in Egypt, Senator McCain stressed that the Brotherhood must be kept out of any replacement government because the Brothers are anti-democratic supporters of repressive sharia and terrorism. He was right on both scores . . . but he soon reversed himself, deciding that the Brotherhood was an outfit Americans could work with after all — even support with sophisticated American weaponry and billions in taxpayer dollars. The Brothers were in power because, in the interim, McCain’s good friend Secretary Clinton pressured Egypt’s transitional military government to step down so the elected “Islamic democracy” could flourish. When the Brothers took the reins, they promptly installed a sharia constitution, demanded that the U.S. release the Blind Sheikh (convicted of running a New York–based terror cell in the 1990s), rolled out the red carpet for Hamas (the terror organization that is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch), and gave free reign to terrorist leaders — including the brother of al-Qaeda’s leader and members of the Blind Sheikh’s Egyptian jihadist organization — who proceeded to foment the violent rioting at the U.S. embassy in Cairo the same day as the Benghazi Massacre.

I could go on, but you get the point. While ripping Obama for having no Islamic State strategy, Republicans are now reviving the inane strategy of supporting the illusory “moderate Syrian opposition.” Those would be the same forces they wanted to support against Assad. The only problem was that there aren’t enough real moderates in Syria to mount a meaningful challenge to the regime. The backbone of the opposition to Assad has always been the Muslim Brotherhood, and the most effective fighters against the regime have always been the jihadists. So we’re back to where we started from: Let’s pretend that there is a viable, moderate, democratic Syrian opposition and that we have sufficient intelligence — in a place where we have sparse intelligence — to vet them so we arm only the good guys; and then let’s arm them, knowing that they have seamlessly allied for years with the anti-American terrorists we are delegating them to fight on our behalf. Perfect.

There is no excuse for a president of the United States to have no strategy against an obvious threat to the United States. But at least with Obama, it is understandable. He is hemmed in by his own ideology and demagoguery. The main challenge in the Middle East is not the Islamic State; it is the fact that the Islamic State and its al-Qaeda forebears have been fueled by Iran, which supports both Sunni and Shiite terrorism as long as it is directed at the United States. There cannot be a coherent strategy against Islamic supremacism unless the state sponsors of terrorism are accounted for, but Obama insists on seeing Iran as a potential ally rather than an incorrigible enemy.

Moreover, the combined jihadist threat is not a regional one merely seeking to capture territory in the Middle East; it is a global one that regards the United States as its primary enemy and that can be defeated only by America and its real allies. This is not a problem we can delegate to the basket-case governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, or to the “moderate” Syrian “rebels.” Yet the Obama Left’s relentless indictment of American self-defensive action in the Middle East has sapped the domestic political support necessary for vigorous military action against our enemies — action that will eventually have to include aggressive American combat operations on the ground.

But the GOP should take note: The jihad is not a problem we can delegate to the Muslim Brotherhood, either. We will not defeat our enemies until we finally recognize who they are — all of them.

— 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.

 

 

 

McCarthy: Obama Administration ‘Ideologically Entrenched’ in Not Calling IS a Serious Threat

National Review:

Andrew recently wrote about the growing threat of the Islamic State in the Middle East, “Obama’s America Is September 10th America.”

Inside Hamas: How To Understand the Global Jihadist Threat

 

PJ Media, By Andrew C. McCarthy:

In-depth reporting by the Wall Street Journal’s Nicholas Casey and Adam Entous takes us inside Gaza, into the minds, indoctrination and support system of Hamas. The report is here (but behind the paper’s subscriber wall).

It will be a tough one to refute for the willful blindness crowd – i.e., the bipartisan Beltway ruling class and its cooperative mainstream media – who insist that Islam is innately a religion of peace. The report illuminates the reality that Islamic study is the basic pathway to jihadist militancy and that, for members of Hamas, the jihad against Israel is not a parochial political affair but part and parcel of a global ideological movement that is very much driven by a perception of divine directive.

To observe what Hamas members and their supporters believe, and to learn that even non-adherents of Hamas respect the organization’s tenets as an entirely legitimate construction of Islam, is to elucidate the stubborn stupidity of the claim that “true” Islam is unconnected to terrorism committed by Muslims – and that we should regard such Muslims as irrational “violent extremists” rather than jihadists.

The report introduces us first to Abu Thoraya, a Hamas jihadist killed in the recent fighting:

[He was] in some respects a typical young man in his 20s. He was unmarried, worked a clerical job and lived with his parents, whom he and his brother supported. He took long morning runs down the Gaza Strip toward Egypt. He had a pious side which drew him to Hamas. He made connections to the group at the Abu Salim Mosque, an old stone prayer hall down the street from his home.

We learn from his brother that family members “didn’t share the same views” as Abu Thoraya, but it quickly becomes clear that the narrow disagreement is about jihadist aggression. The report explains that the brother is an “Islamist.” This means (although the report does not go into it) that he is an Islamic-supremacist: a supporter of sharia government – i.e., imposition of Islam’s societal framework and legal code. That is Hamas’s goal as well. The only real difference is that the brother belongs to an Islamic supremacist faction, the Dawa movement, that does not have a military wing.

Why is it so important to understand the ideological sympathies, rather than narrow disagreements about tactics that Western leaders obsess over? Because it shows that even dissenters from Hamas respect the terrorist organization’s beliefs and goals. Despite their differences, the report explains, “the family accepted and supported Mr. Abu Thoraya’s decision to plumb the world of Hamas through Islamic study and religious training.”

And, whether we choose to see it or not, fundamentalist Islamic religion includes the call to violent jihad and the veneration of it as the highest service to Allah – the surest path to paradise. The Obama administration can try to erase this incontestable fact out of the materials used to train the intelligence, law-enforcement and military personnel charged with protecting us. It will not, however, be erased from the scripture-based materials used to educate and indoctrinate Islamic supremacists. As the report relates Abu Thoraya’s seamless transition from education to indoctrination to terror:

At some point, religious study transitioned into fighting. “You start as a fan of Hamas, then eventually, if they trust you, you join the armed movement,” said his brother.

Of course, besides the Palestinian families that may disagree with Hamas’s tactics but “accept and support” their sons’ decision to join the jihad are the families that are with Hamas all the way. Such was the family of 39-year-old Abdullah Al Masri, also killed in the recent fighting. The report recounts:

He worked as a police officer in the Hamas-run city bureaucracy and was known as the most devout of a strongly Muslim family. “We were almost brought up at the Abu Salim Mosque,” said his brother, also named Mohammed. Following Friday prayers, Mr. Al Masri would spend the afternoon lecturing children on the virtues of Islam.

He joined Hamas more than a decade ago and told his family about the decision a few years ago, his brother said. “We were absolutely OK with this. There was an Israeli occupation that he needed to fight against,” his brother said, citing the justification many Palestinians give for attacking Israel. The Israeli government considers any attacks for political purposes to be terrorism.

While the enthusiasm of Al Masri’s brother for the Islamic-supremacist cause is so common as to be unremarkable, his mother’s incitements are chilling, even though they, too, are ubiquitous in Gaza. The report describes the lead-up to the battle that led to Al Masri’s death:

Mr. Al Masri’s mother, Latifa, was with him in the living room during the daytime Ramadan fast when they heard the sound of tank shelling outside Deir Al-Balah. “Are you afraid of it?” she said her son asked. “Because I’m not. What better thing than to be a martyr during Ramadan.”

Toward the conclusion of the report, we are left with the mother’s response to her son’s death in the jihad:

“God be praised,” she said. “We knew he was part of the resistance and we knew the day would come that he would die.”

It is a global jihad. Like the Israelis, the United States and the West are up against an ideologically driven enemy that believes, based on Islamic teachings that are mainstream in the Middle East, it is under a command from Allah to conquer non-Muslims. Its jihadists are willing to die to carry out the mission – having been indoctrinated to believe that that death in the cause is better than life on earth.

We will never design an effective global strategy to defeat the threat unless and until we finally open our eyes and understand it.

Also see:

Carter and Robinson: The Hamas Jihad’s Useful Idiots

Former US President Jimmy Carter Visits South Koreaby Andrew C. McCarthy:

Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson have jointly penned a characteristically appalling op-ed in Foreign Policy magazine assigning primary blame to Israel for the war in the Middle East. The key to ending the violence, they contend, is for the United States and the European Union to recognize the Hamas terrorist organization as a legitimate “political force.”

According to the authors, the latest outbreak of fighting was triggered neither by Hamas’s murder of three Israeli teenagers nor its firing of thousands of missiles into Israel. Rather, they proceed from the premise that Israel is the culprit, for what Carter and Robinson deceitfully describe as:

[Its] deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government’s deployment in Gaza.

This surely reflects Obama administration thinking, as well. Obama’s presidency has aptly been called the second (and now third) Carter term — a downward spiral from the shambles made of American foreign policy in the late seventies. Mrs. Robinson is the former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner for human rights, whose pro-terrorist sympathies and anti-Israel animus were ably chronicled several years back by Michael Rubin. (See “Mary Robinson, War Criminal?”) In 2001, she led the notorious Durban conference (the “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Zenophobia and Related Intolerance”) that was so rabidly anti-Semitic the American delegation stormed out. Yet, eight years later under a new, hard-Left administration, there stood Robinson in the White House being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Of course, anyone who grasps the details of the “unity government” and Hamas’s strategy in agreeing to it quickly realizes it is the antithesis of “a promising move toward peace.” In fact, Hamas is simply applying the Hezbollah model to the Palestinian territories. In Lebanon, the Hezbollah terrorist organization — Iran’s forward jihadist militia and oft-time Hamas mentor — agreed to participate in a unity government while maintaining the independence of its jihadist military and intelligence apparatus. That is exactly what Hamas has done.

As this excellent analysis by Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute relates, Hamas’s agreement to join its rival Fatah in a unity government does not relinquish control of either its 20,000-strong jihadist force, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, or its internal intelligence and security apparatus. These forces are already far stronger than the Palestinian Authority’s security forces under the control of Fatah (which Hamas routed and ejected from Gaza in 2007).

Note, moreover, the stealthy hand of Iran in the mix. Hamas has had to come crawling back to the mullahs, hat in hand. After angering Tehran (and thus losing much of its funding and weapons support) by jumping on the Sunni side of the Syrian civil war, Hamas saw its preferred patron, the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian regime, overthrown. The terrorist organization now finds itself opposed by the new anti-Brotherhood government in Cairo, and thus on the outs with that government’s backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Isolated more than ever, Hamas is working hard to get back in Iran’s good graces. Its leaders conducted extensive meetings with top Iranian and Hezbollah officials prior to agreeing to cede governing authority over Gaza to the unity government. Carter and Robinson claim that this was a “major concession.” In truth, it was a coup, as Iran’s enthusiastic endorsement of the pact attests.

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