Why Expanded Government Spying Doesn’t Mean Better Security Against Terrorism

images (61)By Barry Rubin:

What is most important to understand about the revelations of massive message interception by the U.S. government is this: in counterterrorist terms, it is a farce.

There is a fallacy behind the current intelligence strategy of the United States, behind this collection of up to three billion phone calls a day, of emails, and even of credit card expenditures, not to mention the government spying on the mass media. It is this:

The more quantity of intelligence, the better it is for preventing terrorism.

In the real, practical world this is untrue, though it might seem counterintuitive. You don’t need — to put it in an exaggerated way — an atomic bomb against a flea.  Basically the NSA, as one of my readers suggested, is the digital equivalent of the TSA strip-searching an 80 year-old Minnesota grandmothers rather than profiling and focusing on the likely terrorists.

Isn’t it absurd that the United States — which can’t finish a simple border fence to keep out potential terrorists; can’t stop a would-be terrorist in the U.S. Army who gives a PowerPoint presentation on why he is about to shoot people (Major Nidal Hasan); can’t follow up on Russian intelligence warnings about Chechen terrorist contacts (the Boston bombing); or a dozen similar incidents — must now collect every telephone call in the country?

Isn’t it absurd that under this system, a photo-shop clerk has to stop an attack on Fort Dix by overcoming his fear of appearing “racist” to report a cell of terrorists?

That it was left to brave passengers to jump a would-be “underpants bomber” from Nigeria, because his own father’s warning that he was a terrorist was insufficient?

Isn’t it absurd that terrorists and terrorist supporters visit the White House, hang out with the FBI, and advise the U.S. government on counter-terrorist policy, even while — as CAIR does — advising Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement? And that they are admiringly quoted in the media?

Meanwhile, a documented, detailed revelation of this behavior in MERIA Journal by Patrick Poole – ”Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy” — a report which rationally should bring down the governmentdoes not get covered by a single mass media outlet?

Imagine this scene:

“Sir, we have a telephone call about a potential terrorist attack!”

“Not now, Smithers, I’m giving a tour of our facility to some supporters of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

How about the time when the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem had a (previously jailed) Hamas agent working in their motor pool with direct access to the vehicles and itineraries of all visiting U.S. dignitaries and senior officials?

Instead of this kind of nonsense, the two key elements of counterterrorism are as follows:

First, it is not the quantity of material that counts, but the need to locate and correctly understand the most vital material. This requires your security forces to understand the ideological, psychological, and organizational nature of the threat. Second, it is necessary to be ready to act on this information not only in strategic terms but in political terms.

For example: suppose the U.S. ambassador to Libya warns that the American compound there may be attacked. No response.

Then he tells the deputy chief of mission that he is under attack. No response.

Then, the U.S. military is not allowed to respond.

Then, the president goes to sleep without making a decision about doing anything because of a communications breakdown between the secretaries of Defense and State, and the president goes to sleep because he has a very important fundraiser the next day.

But don’t worry — because three billion telephone calls by Americans are daily being intercepted and supposedly analyzed.

In other words, you have a massive counterterrorist project costing $1 trillion, but when it comes down to it, the thing repeatedly fails.

To quote the former secretary of State: “What difference does it  make?”

If one looks at the great intelligence failures of the past, these two points quickly become obvious. Take for example the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941: U.S. naval intelligence had broken Japanese codes — they had the information needed to conclude the attack would take place. Yet a focus on the key to the problem was not achieved. The important messages were not read and interpreted; the strategic mindset of the leadership was not in place.

Or, in another situation: the plans of Nazi Germany to invade the USSR in 1941, and the time and place of the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944, were not assessed properly, with devastating results. Of course the techniques were more primitive then, but so were the means of concealment. For instance, the Czech intelligence services — using railroad workers as informants — knew about a big build-up for a German offensive against the USSR. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin overrode the warnings. Soviet analysts predicting a Nazi invasion were punished.

Nothing would have changed if more material was collected.

So what needs to be in place, again, is a focus on the highest-priority material, on analyzing correctly what is available, on having leaders accept it and act upon it. If the U.S. government can’t even figure out what the Muslim Brotherhood is like, or the dangers of supporting Islamists to take over Syria, or the fact that the Turkish regime is an American enemy, or if they can’t even teach military officers who the enemy is … what’s it going to do with scores of billions of telephone calls?

Read more at PJ Media

 

Make Room for Islamistgate: The Obama Administration’s New Scandal

White_House_meeting_on_Boston_Marathon_bombing_investigation1-300x200By Barry Rubin:

Up to now the Obama Administration has faced three big scandals—the IRS, the bugging of AP and Fox, and Benghazi. And now here is scandal Number 4:
For the last four years the Obama Administration has conducted a major “outreach” program to Islamic groups in the United States and in the Middle East. Patrick Poole has been investigating this project and in a comprehensive article now presents the full scoop and scope of what’s been going on. His article, “Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Policy” in the new, Summer, issue of MERIA Journal is a gamechanger.
You may think that you know about this subject but it goes far beyond what you have heard about. The majority of groups and individuals promoted by the Obama Administration have been radical Islamists, particularly Muslim Brotherhood cadre, and more than occasionally people involved in terrorist activity.
Moderate Muslims have been neglected and isolated by this project which has helped the radicals, Islamists, and pro-terrorists gain hegemony in the Muslim community in America.
Again, you may think that you know this story but it is far more extensive than has ever before been revealed. Often, the White House and FBI have granted access and worked with those who were simultaneously being investigated on serious charges of terrorism.
 The whole “outreach” program has been a farce and it would be charitable to describe it as incompetent on the part of the Obama Administration.  Patrick Poole pulls all of the material together for the first time and shows serious flaws that have endangered Americans in scores of cases.
Radicals have been given credentials as moderates, been provided with information that should have remained secret, been allowed to advise and influence U.S. policy. The kind of government mishandling of terrorist threats that characterize the Fort Hood case and the Boston bombing has been business as usual.
Read more at The Rubin Report

 

PC Forces Busy Explaining Away the Boston Attack

BostonNewsIPBostoners listen to media reports as news comes in about the identity of the bombers. (Photo: Reuters)

By Barry Rubin

Now that the two (main at least) terrorists from the Boston Marathon attack have been killed or captured we enter a new phase, the phase in which the dominant Politically Correct (but Factually Incorrect) forces try to explain away the attack.

Can this be done? Will they really try? Well, yes. True, as one of my correspondents remarked it is much easier to obfuscate far distant Benghazi than the total shutdown and horror in the middle of a major American city. Yet the spin-masters are already at work.

The first step must be, in part, a stalling technique but it sets the pattern for what is to come.  As, in the words of a Reuters story, the “Boston Marathon bombing investigation turns to motive,” the motive must be obfuscated.

The Reuters piece is a good start. The article spends seven paragraphs discussing the parents’ claim that the two brothers were framed. This suggests that the mass media and politicians will not shrink from suggesting—perhaps I should say, gives fair hearing—to bizarre conspiracy theories and doubts. People shouldn’t believe these completely, is the theme, but you just can’t be too sure that two young Muslims would have any reason to harm Americans.

Indeed, there are now witnesses who heard the two terrorists’ mother claiming that September 11 was a U.S. plot to make people hate Muslims. That’s where playing with that kind of fire leads.

In the article, the word “Islam” is not mentioned, except to say that they once lived in one predominantly Muslim country and another place they lived, Dagestan, is “a southern Russian province that lies at the heart of a violent Islamist insurgency.” Here, we have another technique, minimize Islam as a factor and turn it into background noise.

Obviously, this will not apply completely both because the elephant in the room is too big and there is still some journalistic integrity in places. Both the Washington Post and Mother Jones took a lead in exposing the You-Tube likes of one of the terrorists which showed a propensity for Al-Qaeda views to say the least.

There are a lot of other quivers, however, in the arsenal of denial.

Read more at The Clarion Project

The Secret Document That Set Obama’s Middle East Policy

propheciesslide9by Barry Rubin:

“… we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms. … America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security — because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as president to protect the American people.”  – President Barack Obama, Cairo, June 2009

“The United States is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise. … Resistance is the only solution. [Today the United States] is withdrawing from Iraq, defeated and wounded, and it is also on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan. [All] its warplanes, missiles, and modern military technology were defeated by the will of the peoples, as long as [these peoples] insisted on resistance.”  – Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad al-Badri, Cairo, September 2010

What did the president know, and when did he know it? That’s a question made classic by the Watergate scandal. Now, it is possible to trace precisely what Obama knew and when he knew it. And it proves that the installment of power of the Muslim Brotherhood was a conscious and deliberate strategy of the Obama administration, developed before the “Arab Spring” began.

In February 2011, the New York Times ran an extremely complimentary article on President Obama by Mark Landler, who some observers say is the biggest apologist for Obama on the newspaper. That’s quite an achievement. Landler praised Obama for having tremendous foresight, in effect predicting the “Arab Spring.” According to Landler:

President Obama ordered his advisers last August [2010] to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday.

Which advisors? The then counter-terrorism advisor and now designated CIA chief John Brennan? National Security Council senior staffer Samantha Power? If it was done by Obama’s own staff, rather than State and Defense, it’s likely that these people were the key authors. Or at least one of them was.

So should U.S. policy help allies avoid such sweeping change by standing firm or by helping them make adjustments? No, explained the report, it should get on the side of history and wield a broom to do the sweeping. The article continued:

Mr. Obama’s order, known as a Presidential Study Directive, identified likely flashpoints, most notably Egypt, and solicited proposals for how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the United States, [emphasis added] these officials said.

The 18-page classified report, they said, grapples with a problem that has bedeviled the White House’s approach toward Egypt and other countries in recent days: how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.

As I noted, the article was quite explicitly complimentary (and that’s an understatement) about how Obama knew what was likely to happen and was well prepared for it.

But that’s precisely the problem. It wasn’t trying to deal with change, but was pushing for it; it wasn’t asserting U.S. interests but balancing them off against other factors. In the process, U.S. interests were forgotten.

If Landler was right, then Obama did have a sense of what was going to happen, and prepared. It cannot be said that he was caught unaware. This view would suggest, then, that he thought American strategic interests could be protected, and broader instability avoided by overthrowing U.S. allies as fast as possible and by showing the oppositions that he was on their side. Presumably the paper pointed out the strength of Islamist forces and the Muslim Brotherhood factor, and then discounted any dangers from this quarter.

Read more at PJ Media

Also see:

Democracy Is Not the Answer (frontpagemag.com)

Secure Freedom Radio: The Connection Between John Brennan and Benghazi 9/11/12 Revealed

705059705Secure Freedom Radio Podcasts:

With Jack Murphy, Michael Davidson, Barry Rubin, and Gordon Chang.

What ties does CIA Director nominee, John Brennan, have to what happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 that resulted in the death of an U.S. ambassador? JACK MURPHY, former US Army Ranger and author of Benghazi: The Definitive Report, answers this question, and reports on the situation in Benghazi since 9/11.

Continuing the Benghazi discussion, former CIA officer and author of newly released novel Incubus,MICHAEL DAVIDSON  explains what the CIA was doing at their annex in Benghazi on 9/11, and how Russia is arming Iran.

Director of the GLORIA Center, BARRY RUBIN reports on the Islamization of the Middle East as opposition parties in Egypt promise to boycott upcoming parliament elections, Turkey’s Prime Minister makes anti-Semitic comments, and the rebel groups in Syria are overwhelmed by extremists.

GORDON CHANG, from forbes.com, explains how the Chinese government has knowingly been distributing Chinese manpads to hostile state and non-state actors, how China perceives President Obama’s “open hand” policy as weakness, and reports on Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s recent visit to Washington.

To listen to the podcasts go to Center For Security Policy

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Secure Freedom Radio is pre-recorded and airs week days at 9 PM on 1260 AM WRC in Washington, DC. SFR is characterized by its high caliber guests in leading military and policy making positions.

Proof of a Scandal: U.S. Policy is Making Syria into an Anti-Western, Antisemitic Islamist State

Syrian Rebels ReutersBy Barry Rubin

In his article “The Revolt of Islam in Syria” (Jerusalem Post, December 12), Jonathan Spyer — senior fellow at the GLORIA Center — points out compelling information about the new Western-backed leadership in Syria.

The bottom line: if this is Syria’s new government, then Syria now has an Islamist regime.

This is happening with the knowledge and collaboration of the Obama administration and a number of European governments. It is a catastrophe, and one that’s taking place due to the deliberate decisions of President Barack Obama and other Western leaders. Even if one rationalizes the Islamist takeover in Egypt as due to internal events, this one is U.S.-made.

As Spyer points out, U.S. and European policy can be summarized as follows:

To align with and strengthen Muslim Brotherhood-associated elements, while painting Salafi forces as the sole real Islamist danger. At the same time, secular forces are ignored or brushed aside.

The new regime, recognized by the United States and most European countries as the legitimate leadership of the Syrian people, is the Syrian National Coalition, which has also established a military council.

Spyer’s detailed evidence for these arguments — much of which comes from raw wire service reports, for which praise is due to Reuters in this case — is undeniable. And if we know about these things, there is no doubt that the highest level of the U.S. government does as well.

Why is this happening? Because Obama and others believe that they can moderate the Muslim Brotherhood and this will tame the Salafists, despite massive evidence to the contrary. This is going to be the biggest foreign policy blunder of the last century, and the cost for it will be high. It should be stressed: such a strategy is totally unnecessary; the alternatives have been ignored; and the real moderates are being betrayed.

Read more at PJ Media

 

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The Islamist Regime’s Game Plan for Egypt

By Barry Rubin

What’s been happening in Egypt this week is as important as the revolution that overthrew the old regime almost two years ago. A new dictator has arrived and while the Muslim Brotherhood’s overturning of democracy was totally predictable, Western policymakers walked right into the trap. They even helped build it.

President Mursi has now declared his ability to rule by decree. The key concept is that he can do everything to protect the revolution. In doing so, he is defining the revolution — as the Iranian revolution of 1978-1979 which was made by a broad coalition of forces soon after became defined — as an Islamist revolution.

One could call the Islamist strategy a short march through the institutions. Once Islamists take power — in Iran, the Gaza Strip, and Turkey, perhaps too in Syria — that is only the beginning of the story. They systematically do a fundamental transformation.

The media, or at least a large part of it, is tamed. The draft constitution written by the Brotherhood and Salafists allows the government to shut down any newspaper or television station by decree. The courts are made impotent and judges replaced. Mursi’s decree said he could ignore any court decision.

At a November 18 press conference, a few days before Mursi issued his decree, the leading secular-oriented representatives in the constitution-writing constituent assembly resigned, charging the new document would enshrine Sharia law. The problem was not the statement in Article 2 about Sharia being the main source of Egyptian legislation but rather later provisions making it clear that Islamist-controlled institutions would interpret precisely what that meant. Amr Moussa, former foreign minister and Arab League secretary-general, said the new constitution would bring disaster for Egypt. Abdel Meguid called this combination “Taliban-like.”

Scattered secularist forces, Coptic Christians, liberals or the remnants of the old regime, and modern-minded women do not pose a real threat to the regime. They are not violent, not organized, and not flush with cash. They can expect no material international support. There will be no civil war between the moderates and the Islamists, the suppression of one by the other. The Salafists are itching for confrontation; the Muslim Brotherhood is patient. But when Salafists harass women or stab secularists or attack churches, the Brotherhood-controlled government will do nothing to protect the victims.

Of critical importance for Egypt is control over the religious infrastructure: the ministry of Waqf that supervises huge amounts of money in Islamic foundations; the office of qadi, the chief Islamist jurist; al-Azhar University, the most important institution defining Islam in the Muslim world; which clerics get to go on television or have their own shoes; and down to appointments of preachers in every public mosque in the country.

Many clerics are not moderate but most are not systematic Islamists. Soon they will be or at least talk as if they were. Revolutionary Islamism will become in Egypt merely normative Islam. Thus is the endless debate in the West about the nature of Islam — religion of peace or religion of terrorism? — short-circuited and made even more irrelevant. The real power is not what the texts say but who interprets them. And the Islamists will do the interpreting.

While the judges are still holding out bravely only the army has real power to counter the Islamist revolution transforming the most important country in the Arabic-speaking world into the instrument of the leading international anti-Western, anti-American, and antisemitic organization. It doesn’t matter how nicely Mursi spoke to Obama any more than say how Lenin — who moderated Soviet policy in the 1920s to consolidate the regime and get Western help — did in his day.

What is going on inside Egypt’s army, the last remaining institution that could offer resistance? We don’t really know but there are certainly some important indications. In theory, the army is the only force that can challenge the Muslim Brotherhood’s drive to transform Egypt into an Islamist state. But why should we believe the officers want to engage in such a battle?

Read more at PJ Media

Ceasefire: What It Means and Why Now

Israeli soldiers prepare to leave their position on the Gaza border at sunrise on Nov. 22, 2012, the beginning of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.(Photo: Reuters)

by: Barry RubinA ceasefire ending this round of the Hamas-Israel fighting went into effect at 9 p.m. local time, November 21, 2012. There were reports — still unconfirmed — of more rockets being fired from Gaza at Israel after the ceasefire was to be implemented. Hamas immediately claimed victory. So did Netanyahu, and here is his statement.

The brief agreement provides that both sides will stop all hostilities. For Israel, that included the targeted killings of terrorists and Hamas leaders. For the Palestinian side, the phrase “all Palestinian factions” was used. That means the Hamas regime is responsible for any attacks by Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda affiliates, and other small Salafist groups. According to the text, at least, Hamas cannot hide behind allowing or encouraging such groups to attack and then disclaiming responsibility.

Another provision is that Israel will reopen the crossings and let people (a small number of Gazans seeking medical attention in Israel) and supplies return to normal levels.

Egypt — not the United States, which isn’t mentioned in the agreement — is the sponsor of the ceasefire. According to some reports which seem accurate, the ceasefire was agreed to through Egypt but delayed until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived. By allowing Clinton to claim credit for the agreement, Israel may get something in return, including most obviously a greater U.S. commitment to make the agreement work.

There is an interesting hint on this kind of secret agreement contained in Netanyahu’s statement:

Israel obviously cannot sit idly while our enemy reinforces itself with weapons of terror. Therefore we decided, President Obama and myself, that the United States and Israel would work together to fight the smuggling of weapons to the terror organizations – weapons, virtually all of which come from Iran.

This suggests there will be some new anti-smuggling effort involving U.S. intelligence, cooperation with other countries, and pressure on Egypt to make it harder to get weapons — especially missiles — into the Gaza Strip. It is clear that long-range missiles are the hardest thing to bring in and the easiest weaponry for Egypt to stop at the border.

By doing so, Egypt also clinches its gaining more U.S. aid, though that probably would have happened anyway.

On Hamas’s side, the decision to reach a ceasefire was motivated by the damage the organization was suffering and fear of a massive Israeli ground attack. Perhaps most important, however, was that Hamas found it was not receiving strong support from Egypt and other states, especially because Cairo is now ruled by a Muslim Brotherhood government.

Hamas is an independent branch of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Apparently, Hamas did not consult with Egypt before escalating attacks against Israel, the factor that set off large-scale Israeli retaliation. In turn, Egypt, along with Qatar, the Hamas regime’s main Arab funder, pressured the regime to stop the fighting.

The timing for a crisis could not be worse for the new Egyptian regime. It has not yet tamed its army, finished writing its constitution, or established the legitimacy of the parliament it dominates.

At the precise time the war started, the Egyptian government was completing negotiations that can be expected to bring it almost $10 billion in aid from the European Union, International Monetary Fund, and United States. Whatever Egypt does in the future, it does not want trouble from Israel at present.

Read more at Radical Islam

Morsi’s First Move as Egyptian President? Attack Israel

by: Barry Rubin:

A well-organized, well-equipped group of terrorists has attacked Israel from Egyptian territory Monday morning, possibly the second such Egyptian-assisted assault in a week.

Mohamed Morsi

As for Egypt’s presidential election: Brotherhood candidate Muhammad al-Morsi is now clearly the likely winner by about 52 to 48 percent. His rival Ahmad Shafiq won Cairo by a big margin, but it was not enough to overcome al-Mursi’s lead in the countryside. The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists are claiming victory and appear to be accurate in doing so. Official results will be presented on June 21.

Al-Morsi has openly declared his support for Hamas and the priority of battling Israel on some level. Those campaigning for him have said – in his presence — that the Brotherhood is seeking a Sharia state in Egypt and a caliphate over the whole Middle East whose capital will be in a conquered Jerusalem. The Salafists — a coalition of many hardline Islamist groups — gave the Brotherhood candidate full support.

An armed squad of two men — said to be Hamas, though this is not confirmed — crossed the border after traveling 30 miles from the Gaza Strip through Egyptian territory. They wore flak jackets and camouflaged uniforms and carried a large amount of explosives. Members of their support team remained on the Egyptian side of the border. The two men hid by Israel’s Highway 12 near an area called White River Lake.

When two vehicles came by, carrying workers finishing up a security fence to guard against just such attacks, they set off a bomb that had been placed on the roadway and fired a rocket-propelled grenade. Both missed — but bullets from a Kalashnikov hit one of the vehicles, which flipped over. One Israeli, an ethnic Arab labor contractor, was killed. Two or three terrorists have been shot dead.

Within minutes, Israeli soldiers arrived and fired on the terrorists. Their bullets blew up a suicide vest being worn by one of them, killing two of the attackers.

This event follows a report in Haaretznewspaper attributed to Israeli security officials claiming the Muslim Brotherhood had asked Hamas to attack Israel. According to the story, an Egyptian Bedouin unit was given the job of firing a rocket, which landed in open ground in southern Israel. This story was not picked up by other Israeli newspapers, suggesting either that it was wrong or that it had been due to a security leak which the army then stopped.

So far this year, 280 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. This has prompted no international concern or action. The new fence along the Egypt-Israel border is mostly complete, but due to difficult terrain the last portion will only be finished late this year.

At any rate, we are now at the beginning of Egypt’s involvement, directly or indirectly, in a new wave of terrorist assault on Israel. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt — a likelihood made less probable perhaps by the military’s dissolution of parliament — this offensive will enjoy official support. Even if the army remains in control, the Brotherhood and Salafists will use their considerable assets to back this new insurgency war.

The ultimate scenario would be if Hamas decided to renew a large-scale offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip using rockets, mortars, and attempted cross-border attacks. Egyptian Islamists would send volunteers and money. The Egyptian army would not be scrupulous in stopping the smuggling of weapons, terrorists, and money across the border. As Egyptian fighters are killed in the Gaza Strip, the hysteria in Egypt would escalate.

In such a scenario, the army would also allow Hamas to have military bases and headquarters on Egyptian territory — where Israel could not attack them. Indeed, this is already happening. And the Egypt-Israel border would not be protected from cross-border attacks.

A most serious scenario would be if Egypt itself was dragged (under an army regime) or went willingly (under a Brotherhood one) to war with Israel.

Read more at Radical Islam

Barry Rubin is a professor at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, the Director of the Global Research and International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a Senior Fellow at the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism. Rubin has written and edited more than 40 books on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, with publishers including Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge University Press.

This article appeared originally on PJMedia.com

This Week, Turkey Went a Long Way Toward Becoming an Islamic Republic

by Barry Rubin

“My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth, and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will, every man can follow his own conscience provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him act against the liberty of his fellow men.” — Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Fazil Say

Fazil SayHardly surprising, deeply upsetting, and geostrategically catastrophic, it’s official. Turkey has now passed over towards being an Islamist state. That turning point is marked by a tiny event of gigantic importance.

Fazil Say is an internationally acclaimed Turkish classical pianist. He has performed with prestigious symphony orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Berlin, Israel Philharmonic, France, and Tokyo, and is a European Union cultural ambassador. The Turkish state is now going to put him on trial, as an Istanbul court has accepted the prosecutor’s charge, which amounts to heresy. Specifically: he is accused of insulting Islam because of tweets he sent.

Say suggested that since the Koran says there are rivers of drinks in heaven, that makes it sound like a pub, while the beautiful women available there make it sound like a brothel. A number of his tweets are quoted here. That’s his crime — writing a couple of sentences to describe his thoughts.

We are not talking of someone criticizing Say or disagreeing with him. We are talking about the power of the Turkish state being used to charge a man with a crime and to send him to prison for exercising free speech. True, they are only asking for a sentence of eighteen months in prison, but once the precedent is set their ambitions will expand.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

There are already hundreds of political prisoners in Turkey today who have been in prison for over three years without any trial. Now, if criticizing Islam in Turkey is a crime, Turkey is not a secular state. And with all of those innocent people already thrown in jail by the regime on trumped-up charges of treason and terrorism, Turkey is no longer a democratic state, either. (For a study of the conspiracy charges — actually a wave of repression and intimidation seeking to quell opposition to Turkey’s fundamental transformation — see this detailed article by Gareth Jenkins in MERIA Journal.)

This is the country that the Obama administration views as a role model for other Muslim-majority countries. In fact, though, Turkey is going down the same road of repression. In Saudi Arabia, a young man was recently indicted, extradited back from Malaysia, and put on trial for a similar offense. But we know where Saudi Arabia stands. Islamists in Egypt wanted to do the same to a leading Christian businessman for posting a picture of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in “Islamic” garb.

They acted too soon, while the military is still in power. Let them try it again in a few months.

In Kuwait, Hamad al-Naqi received a 10-year sentence, the maximum, for allegedly insulting Muhammad, his wife, and their friends. Al-Naqi claimed his Twitter account was hacked and someone else sent the messages. If true, that would be a very deadly way of getting someone else into trouble, right? Elsewhere, on the “Arab Spring” front, the Tunisian minister of religious affairs has sought indictment on blasphemy charges of Jelil Brick, a longtime dissident fighter against the former dictatorship who lives in Paris and makes YouTube videos. Brick previously survived an Islamist assassination attempt.

But unlike those Arab countries, Turkey has been a secular republic for decades. Its “progress” toward Islamization could not have been more obvious for the last few years, but the Western mass media generally ignores the evidence. The only thing that would save Turkey is if the current regime gets voted out of office before things go beyond a point of no return, and such an electoral defeat is not on the horizon.

Read more at Stop Radical Islam