Center for Security Policy, Nov. 18, 2015:
The Center’s Vice President for Research and Analysis, Clare Lopez discussing the Paris attacks on “Tipping Point w/Liz Wheeler” – One America News Network
Center for Security Policy, Nov. 18, 2015:
The Center’s Vice President for Research and Analysis, Clare Lopez discussing the Paris attacks on “Tipping Point w/Liz Wheeler” – One America News Network
Alert Long Island presents Clare Lopez – former CIA officer and Strategic Policy and Intelligence Expert – The US Response to the Global Jihad Movement
Albertson, NY Feb 24, 2015
Center for Security Policy, Oct. 29, 2015:
The Center’s Clare Lopez appeared on One America News Network Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler, to discuss Iran’s supreme leader and his statement that America is too hostile in Iran negotiations.
PJ Media, by Tyler O’Neil, September 29, 2015:
WASHINGTON – Three American women who have been branded as “anti-Muslim” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) spoke out against the threat of Islamism in the United States at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit on Saturday. Contrary to the rhetoric SPLC and others, these women are not “Islamophobes.”
“Americans need to know the threat is here. So many people, when I say ‘the Muslim Brotherhood,’ they say ‘that’s an Egypt problem.’ It’s not — it’s in every state of this country,” declared Cathy Hinners, a law enforcement instructor and founder of the website Dailyrollcall.com.
Hinners was joined by Clare M. Lopez, an intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, and Sandy Rios, director of government affairs for the American Family Association and Fox News contributor. All three women were attacked in the SPLC’s “Women Against Islam” pamphlet, which has been described by many conservative outlets as a “hit list.”
“This is dangerous because there is a basic principle of Islam which can turn every Muslim into a potential vigilante,” Lopez declared, citing the doctrine that Muslims must “forbid the evil and enjoin the good.” She, Rios and Hinners see the SPLC “hit list” as marking a target on their backs. When Rios declared, “By the way, we all carry,” the crowd erupted in applause.
Islamism in the United States
“Tennessee is ground zero for Muslim activism in the United States,” Hinners declared. In a separate interview with PJ Media, she explained the impact of Islamist activism in the schools.
Hinners specifically mentioned one recent “explosive discovery” in this Bible Belt state. “In one of the counties in Tennessee, we learned that children in seventh grade are saying the Shahada — that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is the messenger — in class,” she explained. While the teacher led the students to say this “under the guise of social studies,” Hinners argued that “there is no historical value in saying a prayer or the Islamic profession of faith.”
This is a serious issue because the Shahada is considered the most important part of converting to Islam — it is a public declaration that the speaker embraces the faith, rejects the “polytheism” of Christianity and follows Mohammed as the prophet of Allah.
Hinners also mentioned textbooks with subversive themes and instruction materials provided by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization with alleged ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups. Tennessee’s pacing guide also gives a disproportionate weight to Islamic civilization — 17 days — as opposed to the Roman Empire, which is only given four days of teaching. “We’ve been told by some teachers that they had to skip that part because they don’t have enough time for social studies, so Islam took priority over the Roman Empire.”
Hinners also argued that there are many other groups with terrorist connections here in the U.S. She mentioned the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC), arguing that there are “little offshoots” carrying “the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, usually run by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Islam as a Threat — A Political Religion
“Islam is not like Buddhism or Judaism or Christianity — it is a political system with religious elements,” Rios declared. In a post-conference interview with PJ Media, she clarified her position by contrasting Islam with Christianity.
“Speaking theologically, there could not be more difference between the two faiths,” Rios said. “The God of Christians gave His life to redeem, while Mohammed’s Allah is a god who demands vengeance and blood.” The Fox News contributor added that “Christianity is based on the ability to choose,” while “with Allah, it’s like ‘believe or die.’”
Defending this characterization of Islam, Hinners argued that “Islam was peaceful at first — on page one and two it is — but Mohammed turned violent.” Lt. Gen. (Ret) William G. Boykin, executive vice president at the Family Research Council (FRC), agreed. Boykin explained that the doctrines of “progressive revelation” and “divine abrogation” mean the later, more militaristic passages in the Q’ran supersede the peaceful passages at the beginning.
The military side of Islam explained why the building of a mosque at “ground zero” — the site of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York City — proved so controversial. “In the days of Mohammed, mosques were military buildings, and it is considered a victory when one is built,” Hinners explained.
Lopez said mosques are still used as military buildings in Islamic countries today. “American troops in the Middle East were surprised to be shot at from the minarets of mosques,” Lopez explained, because the troops thought mosques were merely religious buildings like Christian churches. The gunfire and weapons often found stockpiled in the religious centers proved otherwise.
Islam and Patriotism
During a Q&A session, Boykin was asked why he supports religious freedom for Christians, but not for Muslims. He responded that he supports religious freedom for everyone, but “no religion that threatens our Constitution can be tolerated under that constitution.”
Many Muslims, in advocating for the application of Sharia law (the Islamic legal code) in the United States, are de facto opposing the American constitution, Boykin argued. Rios wholeheartedly agreed.
“Sharia law is the part of Islam that demands obedience, that is brutal to women, enjoins female circumcision, honor killings, and throwing homosexuals from high buildings,” Rios explained.
Practices like female circumcision (forcing a woman to have her clitoris mutilated or removed in order to make her less likely to sleep around) and honor killings (a family putting their daughter to death for various offenses like marrying outside Islam) are rightly condemned as misogynistic under American law. The horrific murder of homosexuals is obviously also illegal in the United States.
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), is an outspoken Muslim patriot, and has supported statewide bans on Sharia law. Jasser and his group represent Muslims who “advocate for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state.”
AIFD’s website declares that the organization is dedicated to “directly confronting the ideologies of political Islam and openly countering the common belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic state (Islamism).”
While the panelists might be expected to disagree with Jasser, claiming that Islam is inescapably political, they had nothing but outspoken praise for the man. “He is a Muslim who has proven his loyalty to this country, and he is worthy of our respect. We need more like Zuhdi Jasser,” Rios declared. “He seems to be a really good man,” Hinners added.
“M. Zuhdi Jasser is a brave man, he is a patriot,” Boykin declared. “But how many M. Zuhdi Jassers do you know?” he asked, pointedly.
As illustrated by their praise for Jasser, the panelists do not consider all Muslims to be enemies of the United States, only those who advocate for what Jasser calls “political Islam” or “Islamism.” Lopez, Rios, Hinners and Boykin are not “anti-Muslim,” as SPLC claimed, but merely anti-Islamist.
In the Middle East, Support the Kurds
This support for American-friendly Muslims also extended to the Kurds, an ethnic group in northern Iraq and the surrounding area, which is currently fighting the Islamic State (ISIS).
“I would never advocate arming Muslim groups, but I would arm the Kurds,” Boykin declared. “I don’t understand why Obama refuses to do so.”
Hinners, who constantly warns about the Islamist influence in her area of Tennessee, called on Americans to reach out to Kurds living in the United States and offer assistance. “There are 1,100 Kurds in the Nashville area. Look for Kurds over here to help the Kurds in the Middle East,” the law enforcement instructor said.
Even so, the Kurds are a minority in the Middle East, and the panelists argued that the region is at war because of conflicting Islamist political ideologies.
“I see the conflict in the former Iraq and former Syria as an intra-Islamic conflict between Sunnis and Shi’ites,” Lopez added. Sunnis and Shi’ites, as the two largest denominations of Islam, have control in various parts of the Middle East. They are divided by the issue of the rightful caliph — the successor to the prophet Mohammed and head of the Islamic state — after Mohammed died.
While a vast majority of Muslims are Sunni, Iran is a Shi’ite state and has emerged in a very dominant position in the Middle East. While the majority of Iraqis are Shi’ite, Saddam Hussein was a Sunni and oppressed his own people. “When the U.S. attacked Iraq, we broke the balance between Sunni and Shi’ite,” allowing the Shi’ites to take the upper hand, Lopez explained.
These politico-religious divisions behind the warfare backed up the panelists’ claims that Islam is largely a political religion. But their support for Jasser and the Kurds also showed their belief that Islam does not necessarily have to be tied to a state ideology.
Contrary to the claims of SPLC and others, these panelists are not “Islamophobes” or “haters,” but Americans weary of a politico-religious ideology opposing their way of life. It’s high time others listened to their concerns and realize the dangers of Islamism.
A conservative fundraiser and commentator, Tyler O’Neil has written for numerous publications, including The Christian Post, National Review, The Washington Free Beacon, The Daily Signal, AEI’s Values & Capitalism, and the Colson Center’s Breakpoint. He enjoys Indian food, board games, and talking ceaselessly about politics, religion and culture.
Center for Security Policy, Sep. 15, 2015:
The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s stated goal in America is to “destroy the Western civilization from within.” Star-Spangled Shariah: The Rise of America’s First Muslim Brotherhood Partyshows the newest weapon in their arsenal for doing so – a self-described “political Party” called the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO). This new monograph “connects the dots” between the Brotherhood’s secret plan to impose Shariah here and the insidious use it intends to make of our democratic political system to that end.
The USCMO understands that in order for it to succeed, the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood must be galvanized to the execution of the “Civilization-Jihadist Process” – a term taken from a key 1991 Brotherhood document, An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America, submitted as evidence by the Justice Department in the landmark 2008U.S. v Holy Land Foundation, et al. HAMAS terror funding trial:
“The process of settlement is a ‘Civilization-Jihadist Process’ with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers, so that is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
By its nature, the object of such a stealthy form of jihad is to ensure that the target community remains unaware of the extent of the threat until it is too late. It is our purpose with this volume and the other monographs of the Center’s Civilization Jihad Reader Series to raise the alarm and to engage the American people and their elected representatives in countering this threat while there is still time.
Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney said of the new Civilization Jihad Reader:
The Muslim Brotherhood agenda for the United States demonstrably seeks through subversive infiltration of American institutions the triumph of shariah. We are now on notice that U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations is simply the leading edge of the jihadist movement in this country. While the USCMO seeks to cloak itself in red, white, and blue, it is only for the purpose of accomplishing what can aptly be described as “Star Spangled Shariah.”
The Center for Security Policy/Secure Freedom is proud to present this monograph as a superb addition to its Civilization Jihad Reader Series . Star-Spangled Shariah: The Rise of America’s First Muslim Brotherhood Party is available for purchase in kindle and paperback format on Amazon.com.
Click here for a full PDF of the newly released monograph.
Iran Truth, by Clare Lopez, August 19, 2015:
For those who have only experienced either democracy or dictatorship, it is difficult to grasp the complexities of Iran’s political system, which is an autocracy that has adopted some democratic features. A careful reading of the Iranian constitution, however, clarifies for the reader that the Supreme Leader is the one and only person who wields ultimate power in that system, including appointment power for a vast number of positions.
Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of Kayhan, the most important Iranian daily widely viewed as the regime outlet for the Supreme Leader’s ideas and policies, is one of those appointed to his job directly by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Thus, it was no surprise that Shariatmadari’s 15 August 2015 editorial, claiming that Khamenei opposes the nuclear deal, drew immediate attention. Obviously, Shariatmadari would not have written that without Khamenei’s consent. The confusing part, however, is that Hamid Reza Moghadam Far, top advisor to MG Mohammed Ali Jafari, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, then harshly criticized Shariatmadari and warned him not to ascribe to the Supreme Leader his own ideas and understandings.
Given that Jafari is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader (just like Shariatmadari), and that there’s little history of this Iranian regime sending out such mixed messages from its own top ranks, the only conclusion possible is that sowing confusion is a calculated move at this time, intended to serve a regime objective.
For over three decades, the Islamic regime of Iran has made implacable enmity toward the U.S. and Israel the foundation of its official foreign policy, reflecting its leaders’ ideological dedication and fervor. Generations of young people have been indoctrinated to Islamic beliefs and recruited to the IRGC, Qods Force, and Basij on the basis of commitment to these beliefs. A blood-soaked litany of terror attacks instigated by this mullahs’ regime stretches from the ruins of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut through Khobar Towers, the East Africa Embassy bombings, the USS Cole attack, 9/11 and hundreds of American troops killed and maimed by Iranian and Hizballah explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tehran’s support for Islamic terror groups has left a global trail of murder and mayhem. “Resistance” is what the Ayatollahs call it. “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are the slogans, chanted in endless repetition. America is the “Great Satan” and Israel the “Little Satan.” Never did the Supreme Leader imagine negotiating, much less reaching an actual agreement, with such hated enemies.
But the sanctions took their toll and financial collapse had to be avoided, even if it meant coming to the table to negotiate with the world’s superpowers, however noxious that was for Khamenei personally. Getting the West to believe Iran was desperate enough to obtain relief from sanctions that it would agree to limit its nuclear weapons program was only a clever ruse, of course, but it worked. The first step was allowing Hassan Rouhani, an old regime hand who’d served as negotiator in earlier talks, to become president. Khamenei needed Rouhani’s smiling demeanor to smooth international impressions of the Islamic Republic. The years-long cultivation of Secretary John Kerry by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also would pay off big time. The clincher was bringing in Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, an old friend of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, to push through to the final agreement. Intelligence services like Iran’s are willing to invest lots of time and effort with targets at this level.
The American collapse on every single key issue—from enrichment (a stipulation demanded—and obtained—even before the first secret talks began in Oman in 2011) to centrifuges, the Arak plutonium-producing reactor, off-limits facilities, Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), sanctions relief, and P5+1 technical assistance with nuclear development and site protection—surprised and delighted the Iranians. Contrary to Shariatmadari’s claims, the Supreme Leader is in fact quite satisfied with the nuclear deal; but, he cannot show that publicly, for two key reasons. If the U.S. Congress should vote against the deal, potentially leaving in place even some sanctions that President Obama could neither waive nor lift, Khamenei would find himself the public supporter of a failed deal. The powerful IRGC and Basij militia might hold him responsible for compromising the blood of martyrs and values of the Islamic Revolution for which the Iranian people sacrificed their economy and lives. And that would spell the end of the regime.
What to do? Khamenei wants the benefits of this deal without any of the possible liabilities. So, even as his trusted Iran Lobby pulls out the stops to make sure the deal goes through, he tries to find a way to support it without disappointing the guns that keep him in power. Solution: in public, Khamenei has spoken in general, nebulous phrases that convey no certain position. But in private, to certain audiences among the IRGC, Qods Force, and Basij, he pretends to oppose the deal. To others, he expresses support. Each group is allowed to go out and express its understanding of the Supreme Leader’s position with the media. Meanwhile, Khamenei plays the game safely and waits to see which way the deal will go.
If something goes wrong with the deal, Khamenei will be the one who warned Rouhani’s negotiating team not to trust the Americans. Publicly, then, he can discredit Shariatmadari and claim the media misstated his position (even though everyone knows that without Khamenei’s prior permission, neither Jafari nor Kayhan’s editor-in-chief would even discuss the subject). The regime is trapped in a web of its own making. It has radiated hatred toward Israel and the West for so long and so insistently that it cannot now just stop chanting “Death to America” or calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the map. Nor can it abandon its terror proxies across the region. Disappointing the IRGC and Basij that are the backbone of this regime would shake the very foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran: unthinkable.
Khamenei depends on the U.S. Congress to save his regime. Congressional members may want to think about that long and hard before voting on this disastrous deal next month.
This piece was co-written by Daniel Akbari, a lawyer certified to practice before the Supreme Court of Iran, holds a master’s degree from Texas State University and a graduate certificate in homeland security from the Bush School of Government and Public service.
The Hausman Memorial Speaker Series is proud to host three extraordinary individuals for the “Freedom Isn’t Free” Security Briefing, at Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, MA. Frank Gaffney, president and founder of The Center for Security Policy, Clare Lopez, former CIA operations officer and current VP of Research and Analysis at The Center, and Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, former Commander of the USN Pacific Fleet and current President and CEO of Lions Associates LLC offer their insights on topics including jihad, the Islamic State and the dangers and consequences of a bad Iranian nuclear deal. This straight forward presentation will undoubtedly reveal aspects of the Obama Administration’s policies that will leave you shaking your head!
Secure Freedom Radio, Aug. 7, 2015:
With Clare Lopez, Claudia Rosett, Dr. Michael O’Hanlon, Prof. Peter Navarro
CLARE LOPEZ, Vice President of Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy:
Dr. MICHAEL O’HANLON, Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution:
Prof. Peter Navarro, Author of the forthcoming Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World:
Dr Michael Rubin Ph.D.: The Iran Deal
Recorded at Center for Security Policy’s National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill on Thursday, July 24, 2015.
Recorded at a Center for Security Policy National Security Briefing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, August 6th, 2015.
Center for Security Policy, by Clare Lopez, June 30, 2015:
To no one’s surprise, the nuclear talks with Iran that were supposed to produce an agreement by tomorrow have been extended. Critics of the nuclear deal sought by President Obama fear that this will be a dangerous deal because of too many one sided U.S. concessions to Iran.
These include allowing Iran to enrich uranium and build advanced enrichment centrifuges while an agreement is in force. Iran will keep all of its nuclear infrastructure, including a plutonium-producing heavy–water reactor. (It is supposed to be re-engineered to produce less plutonium.)
Iran also will be allowed to keep its entire stockpile of the uranium it’s already enriched (although it’s supposed to dilute it down to a form less-readily usable to make a bomb). Nor does Iran have to come clean about its past nuclear weapons work. And the U.S. reportedly has now pledged to provide Iran technical assistance to further develop its nuclear program.
Israeli news sources over the weekend claimed that the U.S. has caved on inspections of nuclear facilities in a final agreement, a report that is consistent with other reports this month about such a concession.
But this story actually gets worse. In a June 29 Wall Street Journal article, columnist Jay Solomon wrote that the Obama administration has been secretly making concessions to Iran since 2009 to convince it to begin multilateral talks on its nuclear program.
These concessions included the release of four Iranians detained in the United States and the United Kingdom; two convicted arms smugglers, a retired senior diplomat and a scientist convicted of illegal exports to Iran. The U.S. also agreed to increase U.S. visas for Iranian students. According to Solomon, these concessions were arranged in secret by Oman.
Iran also asked the United States to blacklist groups hostile to Iran. The Obama administration reportedly replied to this request by sanctioning a Pakistani military group known as Jundullah which had attacked Shi’ite mosques in eastern Iran, killing hundreds.
According to the Journal article, the Obama administration did not agree to sanction other groups hostile to the Iranian regime such as a pro-monarchy group in Los Angeles. The MEK (Mujahedeen-e Khalq and the National Council of Resistance of Iran or NCRI, the political umbrella group to which it belongs) had already been put on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list in 1997 and 2003, respectively, at the request of Mohammad Khatami, a previous Iranian president.
The editorial also noted that on the day after the announcement of the framework agreement, the U.S. Treasury Department removed Buhary Seyed Abu Tahir, a Dubai-based Sri Lankan businessman, from a list of persons sanctioned in 2004 as part of the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network. This network provided secret assistance to the nuclear programs of Iran, Libya and North Korea.
What other concessions did the Obama administration make to get a nuclear deal with Iran? The overall picture that’s emerging suggests an even broader understanding: to what extent has the Obama White House agreed to Iranian regional hegemony, perhaps a dominance secured by a nuclear capability? How much worse does this story have to get before Congress puts an end to this dangerous farce?
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) serves as de factor influence for Iranian interests in Washington politics, as previously reported by the Center for Security Policy’s Clare Lopez. Trita Parsi, NIAC’s president, has been very influential in this process.
Yesterday, June 25, NIAC held a discussion on “The Geopolitical Implications of an Iran Deal”. The panel of speakers included: Peter Beinart, contributing editor forThe Atlantic and National Journal; Fred Kaplan, war stories columnist for Slate; Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council; and Barbara Slavin, South Asia Center senior fellow for the Atlantic Council.
The talk began with a discussion on how foreign policy has become a primary focus of the Republican party and how generally, the Democratic party tends to place more emphasis on social and economic issues. The discussion then drifted towards discussing the negotiation talks themselves and the ten-year time period aspect. The panel acknowledged the concern that many have, which is that the ten-year period is just delaying the inevitable truth that Iran could obtain a nuclear weapon within a year. But the panel emphasized the importance of those ten years. While that negative viewpoint is out there, why not try to focus on the time positively and the opportunity it provides for even more talks, negotiations, and compromising?
In trying to frame the ten-year period in such a positive manner, the NIAC panel attempted to depict a reality that is simply not accurate. Solely based on how the nuclear deal negotiations have gone so far, it would be foolish to think that ten years of talks and additional demands would go any better than what has transpired-which has not been good at all.
The discussion then moved to reflecting on the implications of all the money involved in the deal talks. “…[the US] will have released a total of $11.9 billion to the Islamic Republic [of Iran] by the time nuclear talks are scheduled to end in June, according to figures provided by the State Department”. The panel seemed to indicate that if a deal is successfully reached, Iran would utilize the freedom gained from lifted sanctions as well as the cash assets given from the United States to benefit the people of Iran. The panel’s theory was that if Iran continued, over the next ten years, to send money overseas for alternative projects, the people of Iran would start questioning the government and would become upset. In the past, Iran has used the funds it had to fund terrorism and terrorist organizations. If the country has placed an emphasis on aiding terrorism over taking care of its people in the past, why would that change after a new deal?
The last part of the discussion before questioning commenced revolved around the “misfortunate reality” that the US can’t work in alliance with Iran to combat the Islamic State. The panel emphasized how the Islamic State is well aware of the fact that all of its major opponents are at war with one another, and has already taken advantage of this situation. At first glance it does seem that Iran has taken steps towards combatting the Islamic State. However, Iran is actually continuing to fund Hezbollah as well as Shia tribes and militias. While the US clearly wants to abolish the Islamic State, this must be accomplished without simultaneously strengthening Iran and its militant connections. This hypothetical alliance with Iran against IS could never manifest itself in reality.
The last part of the discussion allowed for members of the audience to ask questions to the panel. One of the most prominent themes of questioning revolved around the exact details of the deal talks and their implications. The panel tried to emphasize with great significance the problem of coming to negotiations with lists of hardline demands, and with no willingness to compromise or concede anything on any of the details. The US tried to approach the talks with certain demands, and has essentially back peddled on almost all of them. There has been no compromising either side of the talks. A speaker on the panel described compromise as “a dirty word”. This is not the most effective way to reach agreements and negotiate.
More importantly, even if we were able to compromise and establish a negotiation with Iran on their desires and demands, we have no reason to believe that they will be honest and follow through on said demands in the future. Therefore, this essentially indicates that a “deal” is just a blissfully ignorant façade.
Conclusive, the discussion was polite, peaceful, and very informative. It would be easy to imagine a listener walking away with a positive mental image of Iran and the extensive benefits a successful nuclear deal agreement. However, we must take it upon ourselves to not be so easily deceived. Pursuing an agreement with Iran in nuclear talks is not only a waste of time and resources, it would result in directly providing Iran with significant relief from sanctions as well as billions of dollars. And contrary to what some apparently believe, these billions will in fact not be used towards benefiting the wellbeing of the Iranian citizens, but will continue to be used in funding terrorism and terrorist organizations.
We must abandon these attempts at negotiations with Iran before we make ourselves out to be even greater pushovers than we have already portrayed.
The Obama administration has been assuring lawmakers that there can be prompt reporting and measures such as “snap back” sanctions if Iran cheats. By now, the record goes far to suggest that in the time it takes State to transmit a legally required report to Congress, Iran could violate its way to a nuclear breakout.
Center for Security Policy, June 19, 2015:
The American Conservative Union Foundation hosted an expert discussion on the possible ramifications of the impending U.S.-Iran nuclear deal. The panelists included Lt. Gen Michael Flynn (Ret.), Clare Lopez, KT McFarland and Michael Rubin.
You can watch the event here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?326655-1/discussion-nuclear-deal-iran
– The Washington Times – Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Army Green Berets planned for a wide range of actions in Iraq this year but bemoaned the sorry state of U.S. intelligence assets in the country to help the local security forces find and kill Islamic State terrorist targets, an internal Army memo says.
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, states that when U.S. forces exited Iraq in December 2011, “all theater-level enterprise databases were terminated.”
This was forcing U.S. special operations forces in Iraq to track a wide range of intelligence reports “on individual service member laptops and share drives,” the memo says.
The memo was written in December by the commander of 1st Special Forces Group, a Tacoma, Washington-based command of about 1,400 Green Berets and support personnel, as it prepared to deploy some commandos to Iraq. The commander is now the top U.S. special operations officer in Iraq.
The commander asked Army headquarters to provide an intelligence architecture called Palantir. Its network specializes in storing and sorting all sorts of intelligence data that can be mined to create links between individuals and terrorist cells, such as the ones controlling parts of Iraq and Syria.
“This is proving to be a repeat of past mistakes from Iraq and Afghanistan where critical information at the early onset of a conflict is lost, and operational opportunities are missed throughout the remainder of the convict,” said the commander. “The lack of an enterprise-level intelligence infrastructure degrades [special operations forces’] ability to collaborate across formations and echelons, and reduces our ability to target ISIL.”
ISIL and ISIS are other names for the Islamic State.
The seven-page memo is, in a sense, an indictment of the ability to deploy U.S. war theater intelligence capabilities nearly 14 years after the declaration of the war on terrorism.
Mr. Hunter says the Army’s own intelligence network, the Distributed Common Ground System, is plagued with numerous flaws. He has pushed the Army to provide proven commercially available networks to the troops. SOCOM is operating its version of the common ground system.
He accused Gen. Votel’s staff of “discouraging commanders from requesting alternative solutions, and spending money duplicating capabilities that exist on the commercial market. In my oversight role, my objective is to help USSOCOM field tools that work right now.”
Mr. Hunter took issue with the general’s contention that requests for Palantir did not reflect a lack of capability by the common ground system. “The requested capability does not exist in the Army inventory and is not provided by the DCGS-SOF system,” he said.
The congressman said the Army plans to rush some common ground components to special operations forces who have told superiors that the system does not meet their needs.
The special operations version, Gen. Votel responded, “is USSOCOM’s overarching umbrella program to deliver world-class intelligence support to our deployed forces.”
He said “one of the strengths of the DCGS-SOF program” is “its open architecture and integration of commercial technology.”
Army Col. Thomas A. Davis, a SOCOM spokesman, told The Times, “Gen. Votel welcomes the opportunity to meet with Rep. Hunter to address any and all concerns he has regarding the Distributed Common Ground/Surface System — Special Operations Forces (DCGS-SOF) program. It would be premature to discuss any specifics related to this matter until after the two leaders have had the opportunity to meet.”
The 1st Special Group commander’s memo frequently used the word “no” to describe intelligence assets awaiting Green Berets in Iraq. They, like conventional U.S. troops, are there to perform the “advise and assist” role to organize Iraqi Security Forces into units that are capable of fighting the Islamic State.
“No common operating picture exists for USSOF partnered tactical operations centers,” the commander wrote. “No real time information collection capability exists for Iraqi soldier sensors. No capability exists for automated bilingual data sharing.”
The U.S. left the Iraqi army equipment to store ground intelligence data, but “No U.S. repository exists for this information and the information resides in Arabic only,” the memo says.
The commander then expressed effusive praise of Palantir and called it “the only solution that meets several” special operations goals and provides a network that lets analysts in the U.S. look at the same information.
“Palantir virtually synchronizes personnel and capabilities regardless of location,” the commander said. “It is the only platform that bridges the critical seams of SOF conventional and SOF interagency data sharing to effectively contribute to unified action.”
Though Obama administration policy prohibits the Green Berets from taking part in combat, the memo shows they planned to operate throughout Iraq in “remote outstages” and “team houses.”
“In the current operational environment, USSOF is not permitted to provide direct side-by-side advise-and-assist support to Iraqi tactical informations,” the memo says. “This operational constraint inhibits the rapid and accurate sharing of tactical information with troops on mission.”
The 1st Special Forces Group is not the first combat unit to ask higher-ups to let it deploy with Palantir, a system built by Palantir Technologies Inc. in Palo Alto, California, and now used by law enforcement as well as the military.
A stream of memos obtained by The Washington Times in recent years shows Army and special operations forces clamoring for Palantir and knocking the Distributed Common Ground System as too slow and prone to crashes.
Some memos showed that Army headquarters tried to block emergency requests for Palantir, a move Mr. Hunter said was an attempt by the Army’s top brass to protect congressional funding for the Distributed Common Ground System.
Pete Hoekstra: Obama Hung Iraqi Soldiers ‘Out to Dry’ With Pullout – Newsmax, by Tod Beamon, June 17, 2015:
The United States “hung” Iraqi soldiers “out to dry” when President Barack Obama pulled troops out of Baghdad in 2011 — and that will hamper any major effort to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS), former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.
“We had an integrated system that really gave us ground truth in real time for our troops,” Hoekstra, the former Michigan Republican who headed the panel from 2004 to 2007, told “Newsmax Prime” host J.D. Hayworth.
“When we pulled out, we pulled out the signals’ intelligence, we pulled out the overhead — but most importantly, we left our human intelligence.
“Those Iraqis that were partnering with us; we hung them out to dry,” he added. “As we now go back in and try to re-establish with the Iraqis, the people who we need in the ground to tell us what’s actually happening, they’re not going to partner with us.
“They saw what we did to the last folks that put their lives on the line,” Hoekstra added.
“They’re not going to take that risk again.
“It’s absolutely outrageous what we did in Iraq. We took great intelligence and we totally destroyed it — and now, we’ve got to try to recreate it.”
National defense expert Clare Lopez noted that U.S. intelligence has suffered greatly because of the lack of troops in in Iraq.
“It’s tough when you don’t have a presence on the ground in the person of troops, of Special Forces, or other intelligence operatives,” she told Hayworth. “When that goes away and when our troops are withdrawn, so do the intelligence-collection capabilities.
“The other part about that is we can operate out of different places, but it’s difficult when you don’t have the same amount of presence on the ground that we had back then,” Lopez said.
Hoekstra added that the charges filed Wednesday against a 20-year-old New York college student arrested over the weekend for allegedly plotting to set off a pressure-cooker bomb to support ISIS proved that Islamic jihadism is rapidly growing in the United States.
“The threat is alive and well in the United States, and congratulations to our law enforcement for continuing to catch these folks — but they’re not going to be able catch them all,” he said.
“The threat is real and it’s here in the homeland.”
Washington Free Beacon, by Gill Gertz, June 16, 2015:
The recent defection to the Islamic State (IS) of a special operations colonel in Tajikistan and the group’s infiltration of the Malaysian military are raising new concerns that the Islamist terror group is gaining military expertise, according to U.S. officials and experts.
Col. Gulmurod Khalimov, a commander of the Interior Ministry security unit known as OMON, disappeared in April and late last month surfaced in an IS video calling for jihad against Russia and the United States. Tajikistan is a former Soviet republic that is currently aligned with Russia.
In Southeast Asia, authorities in Malaysia broke up an Islamic State terrorist plot in March that involved two Royal Malaysian Air Force soldiers. The arrests revealed the terrorist group has infiltrated the military and that around 70 Malaysian army personnel are believed to be supporters or sympathizers with the Islamic State, according to U.S. officials.
A recent State Department security report said the defection of Khalimov could be a “game changer” for Islamic State terrorists in the region. The group is also known Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“While several hundred Tajik nationals are estimated to fight for ISIL, Khalimov’s defection has raised concerns about the threat of militants in Tajikistan and the security threat against U.S. citizens,” the June 10 report said.
The report said Khalimov’s defection is not expected to translate immediately into “increased capabilities” for IS, or a more open operating environment for the group in the region.
However, the State Department is warning Americans to be cautious in Tajikistan, specifically in three regions near the border with Afghanistan.
The defection is unusual because most of the population in Tajikistan are not receptive to the radical Islam espoused by IS or the Taliban in nearby Afghanistan.
That could change in the future if economic conditions deteriorate, something that would increase “the risk of Khalimov’s extremist message resonating with the poor and disenchanted.”
Average monthly wages in Tajikistan are the lowest in the region at $170 a month. By contrast, IS pays fighters $400 a month, “raising the risk that desperate Tajiks may be lured into joining ISIL [another name for the Islamic State] simply for financial purposes.”
The threat of terrorist attacks against Americans and U.S. interests is a concern and increased security at government facilities in the area may lead terrorist groups to seek out “soft, civilian targets like residential areas, clubs, restaurants, hotels, and outdoor recreation areas,” the report said.
The Department of State currently does not have a travel warning in place for Tajikistan, the report said, despite the fact that the British government has warned its citizens to avoid travel to Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, the region closest to Afghanistan.
A U.S. intelligence official said the Islamic State’s thousands of recruits include some with military and law enforcement training.
“ISIL’s access to thousands of foreign fighters, and the coalition’s engagement in Iraq since 2003, suggest the group has access to some individuals who have prior military or law enforcement training,” said the official.
The terrorist group is seeking to recruit and brand itself globally as a major Islamist fighting force, the official said. It uses social media and propaganda to reach a range of audiences in multiple languages.
An earlier State Department security report on ISIL in Southeast Asia quoted a Malaysian deputy defense minister as saying, “if army personnel are found to embrace elements of ISIS, the army and police will cooperate in our efforts to counsel them and restore their faith in accordance with proper teachings.”
The Malaysian government is said to be tracking IS infiltration efforts closely and seeking to temper or eradicate Islamist extremism within the military’s ranks.
“One of the principal targets espoused by ISIL leadership and its adherents abroad are ‘apostate regimes,’” the second report said. “Governments of countries in which extremist ideology may have infiltrated the military can ill afford to discount the possibility of insider threat.”
The U.S. intelligence official said: “It would not be surprising if those messages [put out by IS] resonate with some extremists in Southeast Asia.”
The defection of the Tajik colonel also highlights that Islamist fervor and not poverty and economic privation are a leading cause of terrorism.
Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism expert, said the infiltration of the Islamic State into foreign militaries is a key reason the group successfully eclipsed Osama bin Ladin’s al Qaeda in gaining control of the global jihad movement.
IS has exploited the Syrian civil war and developed a powerful propaganda machine across multiple social media platforms to recruit over 20,000 foreign fighters, said Gorka, the Horner distinguished chair of military theory at Marine Corps University.
“At the same time it has allowed professional military men to join its ranks—especially the Sunni officers of the Iraqi army disenfranchised by [former Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki’s Shia-dominated government,” he said.
“These officers, with others from other nations, have turned a ragtag former subunit of the terrorist group al Qaeda into the richest, most successful insurgency of the modern age,” Gorka said.
“In this way IS has empowered the ideology of holy war with a military expertise that makes the group a threat to all the countries of the Middle East as well as North Africa.”
Clare M. Lopez, a former CIA officer, said IS is not primarily targeting militaries as a recruiting ground. The problem is “so many, including our own [military], already have jihad-and-sharia-sympathetic members in their ranks,” she said.
“And so, instead of stewing silently, or venting their anger and frustration someplace, perhaps anonymously online, these essentially fifth columns are being lit up and sometimes recruited by IS’ own online ops,” said Lopez, now vice president for research and analyst with the Center for Security Policy.
Sympathizers of the terrorist group already exist in all societies but the Internet and social media have allowed for the widespread propagation of jihadist ideas and deeds, she added.
“On militaries, I think we can take it as a given that IS fields an impressive [counterintelligence] capability, too,” Lopez noted.
The spread of IS ideology among military personnel in Central and Southeast Asia comes as President Obama is under fire for stating publicly that the United States lacks a clear strategy for defeating the terror group. The president said he was waiting for the Pentagon to produce a strategy for additional training of Iraqi security forces.
Obama stated in Germany June 8 that “we don’t have a complete strategy,” and that details “are not yet worked out” for bolstering Iraqi forces.
Robert Gates, the former secretary of defense criticized the president on Friday for the lack of strategy.
“What it feels like to me is really what the president said last week, which was a lack of a strategy,” Gates told Yahoo News.
“Just adding a few hundred troops doing more of the same I think is not likely to make much of a difference,” Gates said. “I think that we have to figure out what our strategy is. We should have had a strategy a year ago that took into account differences within the Iraqi government and sectarian differences in the country and so on.”
Gates said militarily what is needed in Iraq are U.S. forward air controllers and spotters and U.S. trainers embedded with Iraqi forces at the battalion level.
“We have to be willing, if we think ISIS is truly a threat to the United States and to our interests … to be willing to put Americans at risk,” he said. “That’s just a fact of life. That doesn’t mean we reinvade Iraq.”
The authoritarian Tajik government in early June issued an international arrest warrant for Khalimov for crimes including treason and illegal participation in military action abroad.
The office of the country’s prosecutor-general stated in a June 3 notice of Khalimov: “Acting for mercenary means, he joined the international terrorist organization calling itself Islamic State,” according to a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The Tajik colonel appeared in the online video wearing a black turban and holding a sniper rifle. He said he had been trained by the U.S. contractor Blackwater.
“Listen, you dogs, the [Tajikistan] president and ministers, you don’t know how many of the guys here, our brothers, are waiting to return to Tajikistan to revive Sharia law,” Khalimov said. “We are coming to you with slaughter, inshallah.”
Regarding IS plans for the United States, Khalimov stated: “Listen, you American pigs, I’ve been three times to America, and I saw how you train fighters to kill Muslims. God willing, I will come with this weapon to your cities, your homes, and we will kill you.”
Gen. John Campbell, the senior military commander in Afghanistan, told the Army Times in January that IS was recruiting militants in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“The Taliban have their allegiance to Mullah Omar and a different philosophy and ideology than ISIS, but, potentially, there are people who are disgruntled with the Taliban, they haven’t seen [Taliban commander] Mullah Omar in years, or they want to go a different way,” Campbell said. “So there are people vulnerable to the Daesh message, and so we’re looking at it very hard.”
WND, by Garth Kant, June 4, 2015:
WASHINGTON – A Pentagon report claims Iran’s military doctrine is primarily “defensive,” but one of the nation’s top specialists on the Islamic theocracy calls the assertion “completely off the mark.”
In fact, Clare Lopez of the Center for Security Policy points out the Pentagon actually contradicts that claim itself, in its own report.
“In one sentence, the report describes the regime’s ‘aggressive policies, such as use of covert action and terrorism’ and then reverses itself by calling such policies ‘primarily defensive,’” Lopez told WND.
“This is the very definition of incoherence,” she added.
The Washington Free Beacon obtained a copy of the report, which is dated January 2015, and was due to Congress at the start of the year. Analysts told the Beacon, “the delay appeared designed to avoid upsetting Tehran and the nuclear talks.”
Lopez, who honed her analytical acumen during her 20 years of service as a CIA field operative and who has served as an instructor for military intelligence and Special Forces students, told WND, “The Pentagon clearly is completely off the mark when it characterizes Iran’s military doctrine as defensive.”
Indicating there was nothing in the report to suggest Iran had changed its stripes, Lopez cited a litany of specific historical instances of aggression either carried out, or supported by, Iran that were anything but defensive:
“This list could go on much longer, but there is virtually nothing about the Iranian military doctrine that isn’t offensive,” summed up Lopez.
The Pentagon report also claims Iran is developing ballistic missiles to deter U.S. and Israel, while not mentioning repeated threats by the Islamic Republic’s leaders to annihilate both countries:
“Since the Iran-Iraq War, Tehran has placed significant emphasis on developing and fielding ballistic missiles to counter perceived threats from Israel and U.S. and allied forces in the Middle East and to project power.”
Lopez isn’t buying it.
“An anti-ballistic missile system might be considered a defensive weapon, but ballistic missiles, let alone Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) of the kind that Iran has, including some with nosecones visibly configured to carry a nuclear warhead, are offensive weapons.”
She continued, “They are designed to carry WMD (weapons of mass destruction) warheads with intercontinental range. Iran’s current arsenal of ballistic missiles includes missiles with the range to reach not only the entire Middle East, but much of Europe, and the continental United States as well.”
Indeed, the report found Iran “continues to develop technological capabilities that also could be applicable to nuclear weapons, including ballistic missile development.”
Lopez issued a scathing indictment of the Pentagon report and its authors.
“Pentagon officials all took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. That they are either incapable or unwilling to fulfill that oath when it comes to the jihadist Iranian regime is dereliction of duty and a ‘Catastrophic Failure,’ to borrow a book title from my colleague, Stephen Coughlin.”
In a previous interview with WND, Lopez referred to another book, one that she believed served as “the blueprint for the Obama administration’s Middle East plan.”
She said, “The Devil We Know,” by fellow former CIA operative Robert Baer, advised America to seek a truce with Iran, deal with it as an equal and reach settlements on one issue at a time, “until Iran is ready for détente and maybe more.”
Lopez disagreed with the author’s conclusion that was a good idea, but believed the Obama administration is, in fact, following a plan to let Iran become the dominant power in the Middle East, with the intention of turning the state that sponsors more terrorism than any other, into a security partner of the U.S.
“I’ts not in the United States’ best interests, but it is one way of getting us out of Muslim lands, which is what this administration wants done,” she said.
That might explain the Pentagon now downplaying what virtually all analysts see as Iran’s aggressive military designs.
In sum, Lopez found the Pentagon report not only defied present reality, but history, as well.
“A quick look at the Iranian constitution shows that the Tehran regime was established from the beginning, after the 1979 Khomeini revolution, as a jihadist regime, with an Islamic identity, and a self-assigned mission to expand that revolution and Shariah via jihad to the entire world.”
She continued, “In the Iranian constitution, see especially in the Preamble the section about the ‘Religious Army,’ meaning Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, where it talks about its mission as not just defense of Iran’s borders, but jihad – jihad to spread the revolution and shariah to the whole world. And then it quotes from Quran verse 8:60 about ‘striking terror into the hearts of the enemy.’”
An exasperated Lopez concluded, “This is written right into the Iranian constitution! What on earth is not clear about this?!”
This is the section of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran to which she referred:
THE RELIGIOUS ARMY
In the organization and equipping of the countries defense forces, there must be regard for faith and religion as their basis and rules. And so the Islamic Republic’s army, and the corps of Revolutionary Guards must be organized in accordance with this aim. They have responsibility not only for the safeguarding of the frontiers, but also for a religious mission, which is Holy War (JIHAD) along the way of God, and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God’s Law in the world.
“Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of God and your enemies, and others beside.”
Quotation from the Quranic Arabic Corpus
WorldMag.com, By J.C. DERRICK, May 18, 2015:
WASHINGTON—Documents released today confirm the Obama administration knew weapons were flowing out of Benghazi, Libya, to Syrian rebels in 2012 even though the rebels had well-publicized ties to al-Qaeda and other extremist groups.
Previous reports, including one by WORLD in 2013, have linked U.S. involvement in Libya to arms flowing into Syria, but the new documents provide the first verification that contradicts administration officials and congressional Democrats who maintained there was no evidence to support it. The documents provide further confirmation that the CIA and the State Department—under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—received immediate intelligence that the attack was committed by al-Qaeda- and Muslim Brotherhood-linked brigades, even as Clinton and other officials claimed it was the result of rioting against a Muslim-bashing video.
“Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya, to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria,” says an October 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document released with heavy redactions. It notes the activity took place weeks before terrorists attacked the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, killing four Americans in September: “The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were  sniper rifles,  RPGs, and  125 mm and 155 mm howitzers missiles.”
Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group, obtained the cache of more than 100 documents after filing a lawsuit in federal court. The judge who ordered the release, Ketanji Brown Jackson, is a 2013 appointee of President Barack Obama.
“These documents are jaw-dropping,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said. “No wonder we had to file more FOIA lawsuits and wait over two years for them.”
Administration officials—including the CIA’s former acting director in sworn congressional testimony last year—have argued that initial intelligence showed no evidence of a pre-planned attack at Benghazi. But new documents undercut that assertion. A DIA memo dated September 12, 2012, says the attack was planned at least 10 days in advance to “kill as many Americans as possible” in revenge for a U.S. air strike that killed a militant leader in Pakistan and to commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
That document, also heavily redacted, was circulated to top administration officials, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, four days before U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice went on several national television shows claiming the attack was the result of a spontaneous protest.
Clare Lopez, a member of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi—a group of former intelligence officers, military personnel, and national security experts—told me it comes as no surprise that Benghazi was a retaliatory attack since al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a video had called on the “sons of Libya” to avenge his deputy’s death. Lopez said the Judicial Watch release is “very significant,” because it “begins to peel back a little more of the layers of the onion about what was going on in Benghazi, and why that mission [facility] was there.”
Lopez, a former CIA officer who is now a vice president at the Center for Security Policy, said the commission has confirmed it was not the CIA but the State Department that managed the gun-running operation. According to Lopez, the department put up between $125,000 to $175,000 for each surface-to-air missile it funneled out of Libya to the Syrian battlefield.
The new revelations raise the stakes in the ongoing Benghazi investigation, which threatens to extend deep into the 2016 presidential campaign season. Republican members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, created a year ago following another Judicial Watch release, say the administration is stalling in its production of documents. Democrats have accused Republicans of moving at a “glacial pace” to unnecessarily drag out the probe.
Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 race, has agreed to testify before the panel, but the Republicans who control the committee say they won’t call her until they receive all relevant documents.
Monday’s disclosure includes startling detail showing that U.S. intelligence agencies know about militant activities down to the measurements of a room where al-Qaeda collects documents in Libya. The militants responsible for the Benghazi attacks controlled large caches of weapons “disguised by feeding troughs for livestock” and trained “almost every day focusing on religious lessons and scriptures including three lessons a day of jihadist ideology.”
A DIA report from August 2012 detailed the “dire consequences” of unfolding events in the Middle East, and predicted the rise of ISIS and a possible caliphate 17 months before Obama called the group a “JV team.”
“This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaeda Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters,” the document reads. “ISI could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.”
J.C. is a reporter in WORLD’s Washington Bureau. He spent 10 years covering sports, higher education, and politics for the Longview News-Journal and other newspapers in Texas before joining WORLD in 2012. Follow J.C. on Twitter @jcderrick1.