Dr. Sebastian Gorka on Conventional vs Irregular War and the Cult of Complexity

Dr. Sebastian Gorka briefing at SOCOM Wargame Center

Dr. Sebastian Gorka briefing at SOCOM Wargame Center

May 2, 2015 Webinar: 

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I highly recommend watching this 2012 interview of Dr.Sebastian Gorka:

Gorka interview with Ginni

http://thegorkabriefing.com/leaders-with-ginni-thomas/

The Daily Caller spoke with Gorka about President Obama’s muddled foreign policy choices, the threat political correctness poses to our national security, the threats to our constitutional order from forces both outside and inside our borders, myths of conventional thinking on national security matters and much more.

Questions asked:

  • Help us make sense of President Obama’s foreign policy
  • What is at stake in America right now?
  • Have conservatives, Republicans and their donors put too many eggs in the political basket?
  • What is your background and your mission in life?
  • If you could have national attention for a moment, what would you tell every American?
  • What are three myths of conventional thinking?
  • What is the optimal way to oppose jihadi ideology?
  • How would you balance liberty and security in practical circumstances?
  • What gives you hope, and what can ordinary citizens do to help?

Also see:

George W. Bush Didn’t Create ISIS; Islam Did

pic_giant_052115_SM_ISIS-FightersNRO, by David French, May 21, 2015:

There are few things the Left loves more than a college liberal “speaking truth” to conservative power. Days ago, 19-year-old University of Nevada student Ivy Ziedrich seemed to enjoy just such a moment and “made headlines around the world” when she confronted Jeb Bush about ISIS. Ms. Ziedrich had the gumption to confront Bush in the midst of a scrum of reporters and confidently recite leftist conventional wisdom about the current Middle East crisis, declaring: “Your brother created ISIS!” After all, according to accepted academic conventional wisdom, the war in Iraq is the source of all (recent) jihadist evil.

And with that statement, the clock started running on 15 minutes of fame — no, 15 minutes of public adulation. Interviews with ABC News, the New York Times, and other outlets followed, with reporters eager to hear her thoughts on the Middle East. And while Ms. Ziedrich is no expert, there is one thing she said that is all too true: “It’s frustrating to see politicians ignore the origins of our conflicts abroad.”

Yes, Ms. Ziedrich, it certainly is. And if you’re on the left or from some quarters of the right, it must be downright exhausting to not only “understand” those origins but also link them in some way to the failings of American, Israeli, or imperialist European policies. Here’s the current scorecard: ISIS is George W. Bush’s fault. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban exist because of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush (through the Afghan war against the Soviets and then the Desert Storm-related American troop presence in Saudi Arabia, of course), with the various al-Qaeda franchises in Syria, Yemen, and North Africa merely the fruit of the same poisonous Reaganite tree. The jihadist destruction of ancient — pre-Muslim — world heritage sites? That’s just collateral damage in the war against Reagan and the Bushes. Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO are easy to peg — Israeli creations, one and all, existing solely because of the “Occupied Territories.” As for Libya, we actually put those jihadists in power. But what about Boko Haram? I’m sure any decent professor can tell me some way we’re responsible for their atrocities.

But that’s just the last few decades. What about tracing further back? To the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood or to the Ikhwan of the Arabian peninsula? The Ikhwan — as savage as ISIS — trace their origins back to 1913, before the Europeans dominated the Middle East. What about the centuries of conflict between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire? Vienna must have richly deserved its sieges. After all, Europeans launched the Crusades, right?

And before the Crusades, when jihadist Muslim armies invaded and conquered the Christian lands of the Middle East and North Africa, capturing the Iberian Peninsula and threatening modern-day France, there’s little doubt that they were simply striking out at . . . something the Christians did. No, Ms. Ziedrich, George W. Bush didn’t create ISIS. Islam did. Embedded within this faith is a concept called “jihad,” and no matter how many professors tell you otherwise, there are countless millions of Muslims throughout more than a millennium of history who’ve interpreted “jihad” not as a mandate for self-help and personal improvement but as a mandate for war and conquest, a mandate to purify and spread the faith at the point of the sword. The influence of militaristic jihadists waxes and wanes, but it is there, always.

To believe that American actions have created the jihad is to give America greater influence over the Muslim heart than Allah. The current jihad is an extension of the ancient jihad. The foes have changed (the Habsburgs are long gone, and the Holy League peaked at Lepanto in 1571), but the motivation is the same. Why did Osama bin Laden mention “the tragedy of Andalusia” (the more than 500-year-old reconquest of Muslim Spain) in his post-9/11 address? Because, for the jihadist, it’s all one war.

So, by all means, let’s not ignore “the origins of our conflicts abroad.” Regarding our conflict with Islamic terrorists, the origins lie in a religious imperative, one that predates the founding of the United States by more than ten centuries. George W. Bush is no more responsible for creating that conflict than he is for writing the Koran, passing down the Hadith, or establishing the first Caliphate. And in confronting that foe, our choices are the same choices faced by the great non-Muslim powers that came before us: convert, submit, die, or fight. Given those options, there is but one valid choice for a free people. It’s too bad that Ms. Ziedrich, her peers, and her media cheerleaders can’t see past the politics to understand the troubling truth. After all, it will soon be her generation’s turn on the wall. Will they accept the challenge? — David French is an attorney, a staff writer at National Review, and a veteran of the Iraq War.

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Daniel Greenfield explains another leftist narrative:

‘Terrorism has gone viral': US officials, lawmakers warn of growing jihad-inspired attacks

ISIS_Twitter_2Fox News, May 10, 2015:

Top U.S. officials and lawmakers on Sunday intensified concerns about the growing threat of jihad-inspired terror attacks against the United States, after last week’s attempt in Texas and the dire FBI warning that followed.

“I think there’s been an uptick in the stream of threats out there,” Texas GOP Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told “Fox News Sunday.” “We’re seeing these directives on almost a daily basis. It’s very concerning. Terrorism has gone viral.”

McCaul’s comments follow the May 3 attack by two gunmen outside a “Draw Muhammad” event in Garland, Texas.

Tweets by one of the two gunmen, killed by police in the attack, appear to link him to radical Islamic terror groups. And Internet chatter purportedly tipped off officials about a possible attack on the event.

On Thursday, FBI Director James Comey said the attack, in which a security officer was shot in the leg, highlights the difficulties the FBI faces — as social media facilitates communication between terror groups and potential homegrown extremists.

He also said the Islamic State terror group has thousands of English-language followers on Twitter, including many in the U.S.

tfss-01f17193-eb53-4fa3-b838-98d2381295de-811740152The group also is increasingly steering followers into forums that allow for encrypted communications that can be harder for law enforcement officials to access.

In addition, the Islamic State has been encouraging followers to travel to Syria to join the self-created caliphate there, but if they can’t do that, to “kill where you are,” Comey said.

“The siren song sits in the pockets, on the mobile phones, of the people who are followers on Twitter,” Comey said. “It’s almost as if there’s a devil sitting on the shoulder, saying ‘Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill,’ all day long.”

McCaul said Comey was “exactly right” and that trying to find ISIS’ calling for terror attacks across the broad spectrum of social media is “like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”

He also said the terror threat now is “one of the highest that I’ve ever seen” and warned of similar incidents in the future.

“It’s going to get worse, not better,” he said. “This is very difficult to stop.”

Also on Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the U.S. is facing a new phase of terrorism in which a so-called lone-wolf terrorist, inspired by Islamic State propaganda on social media, could “strike at any moment.”

The Obama administration has said the attack in suburban Dallas last week was a “lone wolf” effort.

“We’re very definitely in a new environment, because of ISIL’s effective use of social media, the Internet, which has the ability to reach into the homeland and possibly inspire others,” Johnson said on  ABC’s “This Week.”

On Friday, the Pentagon increased security measures for military bases across the country based on what officials said are increasing but non-specific threats from Islamic State extremists and supporters.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Sunday also agreed with Comey.

“I think [the Islamic State’s message] is ‘kill, kill, kill,’ ” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s a force that we really haven’t seen before, and we have to begin to cope more seriously with it, and that includes social media.”

She also suggested a changing terror environment in which Islamic extremist groups encourage a lone wolf to commit an attack, then “take credit for it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Why There Are No ISIS ‘Lone Wolves’

Lone-Wolf-Terrorists1
PJ Media, By Bridget Johnson, On May 7, 2015:

An ISIS call-to-arms posted online nearly two weeks ago mocked the term that the West uses for the terror group’s members abroad — a big picture of a lone, grey wolf accompanied the text.

“Jihad is going through various stages to reach the state of empowerment and the rule of the land, as it does our brothers in the land of the caliphate,” said the call for jihadists in Egypt to activate.

“Wolves,” the message said, are “one of the first jihad work stages” and simply indicates “individual small cells” who have a greater chance of taking the enemy by surprise or taking down his compatriots. They don’t need “strength or muscle, huge experience in jihad work” and “each wolf chooses what suits him and what fits his goal and location of the implementation of the action.”

“Small firewood is what ignites huge and large flames… wolves will increase their expertise and will move with the time and expertise to the largest operations and to expand and diversify the weapon used.”

A “lone wolf” would be a jihadist taking it upon himself with no direct outside involvement — be it direction or support — to commit an attack. But recent attacks have shown government’s desire to rush to “lone wolf” judgment, be it to placate a nervous public, cover intelligence about wider plots or networks, or just save face for counter-terrorism efforts that let one slip through the cracks.

Government officials use the less alarming terminology that the U.S. suffered an attack from disaffected loners rather than the U.S. suffered an ISIS attack.

“There are a lot of challenges associated with trying to root out and prevent essentially lone wolf attacks,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday. “And again, based on what we know now, and there’s still a lot more that we have to learn, this is consistent with what has previously been described as a — a lone wolf attack, that essentially you have two individuals that don’t appear to be part of a broader conspiracy, and identifying those individuals and keeping tabs on them is difficult work.”

“Lone wolf” also disassociates the assailant from the broader ideological movement, painting the attacker as a disaffected, impressionable individual who is lured to a life of crime by a magazine, video or tweets.

“We continue to be keenly aware and vigilant about the threat that is posed by a so-called lone wolf, where you have an individual who is disaffected and is vulnerable to some of the kind of recruitment efforts that we see ISIL employ through social media,” Earnest said Tuesday.

Not only had Garland, Texas, shooter Elton Simpson been on the FBI’s radar for years after lying about plans to go join jihad in Somalia, but he distributed ISIS propaganda via social media. Simpson announced the Texas attack less than half an hour before shots were fired outside of the Muhammad cartoon contest, and jihadists who quickly tweeted about the attack expressed no surprise. The other shooter, Nadir Soofi, was Simpson’s roommate in Phoenix — so at what point do roommates who plan and conduct attacks graduate from “lone wolves” to a cell?

Both men were in their 30s and born in the United States. They had jobs and attended the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix. Soofi left behind a young son.

ISIS included the attack in its daily report of operations distributed to its fighters. “Two soldiers of the Khilafah carried out an assault on a convention in Garland, Texas… We say to the America, the defender of the cross, what’s coming will be even worse.”

ISIS wants to populate the caliphate, no question about it. They’ve put out the call for Muslims to contribute in ways that don’t involve fighting but are necessary for civic infrastructure, from teachers to tech specialists. A recent video about the Islamic State Health Service featured an Australian doctor — a white man with a barely-there beard — treating babies and talking about his decision to come to the Islamic State.

A 50-page handbook released earlier this year detailed tips for jihadists wanting to come to the Islamic State, from what to pack to contacts who would try to smuggle them across the Turkish border. But it acknowledged that things are getting tougher for those who want to immigrate: “Lately things have got harder at the Turkish border, so Islamic State members often meet new people in Turkey hotels and smuggle them across the border,” though the safehouses are “usually males only” and can only be accessed with “a paper signed by an existing member to show he is trustworthy.”

A month ago, an ISIS cyber unit threatened Turkey with hacking attacks if it didn’t stop impeding the flow of foreign fighters into the Islamic State. Turkey has been under intense international pressure to crack down on the flow of goods and people across the 500-mile border.

So while ISIS encourages its followers to make hijrah to the caliphate, it also encourages its followers to be part of the caliphate wherever they may be. This isn’t just because of the physical difficulties of getting to the Islamic State — ISIS regularly distributes “if I did it, so can you” stories from other jihadists who made the trip — but because of ISIS’s overall strategy.

Consider it like crowd-funding for jihadists: encouraging followers to be part of the cause however they can, whatever they can contribute, wherever they can.

They plan on building their “army” not in one centralized location straddling Iraq and Syria, but in grass-roots pockets around the globe to grow and converge upon major targets. The ISIS e-book detailing how the terror group plans to sack Rome describes drawing not just from Muslim communities across Europe but from anti-Israel activists, anarchists and ethnic minority military defections.

These cells won’t need complicated support from an ISIS HQ to plan and coordinate attacks, the book stresses, because of the open-source support for terrorists out there today. “All the Islamic groups use Google Earth today to plan their attacks…. Usually only powerful countries had power to satellite technology, now everyone can use it for free.”

Another e-book this year, The Islamic State, claims self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi does not micromanage his commanders, which gives them “a lot of flexibility and makes the Islamic State harder to defeat” unlike “conventional national armies who have a long chain of command and a common pattern in style of war.”

Their media structure is so diffuse — from “professionally edited videos” and scores of social media accounts (including coordinated hashtags) to e-books and magazines — because “by not having a website, no one can hack it and claim an online victory.”

“Each province has its own responsibility in creating its own videos and social media accounts to share its successes. By decentralising everything from the core leadership, even if a province fails online or offline, the leadership and overall Khilafah (Caliphate) leadership project is still safe and can grow elsewhere.”

The book notes that social media is its own kind of jihad. “What the Islamic State has done for Islam online: Just do a quick search for the word: ‘Islam’ on youtube: What we see is that even though Muslims have been trying to tell people about Islam for the past 20yrs, there have been more searches for ‘Islamic State’ on youtube in the past 3yrs than there have been for ‘Islam’ since youtube has ever existed.”

ISIS has turned skirting around Twitter suspensions into an art form; one jihadist on the social media site announced this week his 32nd comeback under a different Twitter handle, and jihadists whose accounts are still active spread the word about the new account of a booted member.

And if lone wolves are branded so because they haven’t received formal training in terrorist camps, consider that ISIS encourages self-training even for members located in the Middle East. A recent e-book on how the terrorists plan to seize Israel gives Krav Maga tips and suggests using “open-source technology” such as 3-D printers and reverse engineering to mass produce replicas of captured Israeli weapons. Like other ISIS materials, the book stresses that cyber jihadists are valuable recruits who can operate anywhere.

A guide for jihadists in the West issued in late March gives instructions on using secure browsers, watching Bourne films, bomb-making, physical training at home, practicing with Nerf or paintball guns, and moving up to “primitive weapons” such as crossbows. “Playing games like Call of Duty gives you knowledge of techniques used in warfare on different terrains.”

And ISIS jihadists in the West shouldn’t call themselves lone wolves, but an ISIS “special services secret agent.”

They’re encouraged to take advantage of symbolic dates for attacks, to target places like synagogues and gas pipelines, and embrace one- or two-man operations like in France. If they need to flee the West, they’re told to escape to “the Islamic State in Libya, or Khorasan (Waziristan in Pakistan), or in Nigeria (under Boko Haram territory)” if they can’t get to Iraq and Syria.

The ISIS strategy is to have jihadis of varying skills nestled in every corner of the globe, some with no more contact with fellow ISIS fighters than tweets.

In the wake of the Garland attack, a message online claiming to be from a Western member of ISIS noted that their cells abroad conduct another type of training you can’t do in a camp: learning from the successes and mistakes of other cells, soaking in every bit of media coverage. “We have been watching closely who was present at this event and the shooter of our brothers,” the message said, and have “71 trained soldiers in 15 different states ready at our word to attack any target we desire.”

EXCLUSIVE: FBI, DHS Assessed Terror Attack Threat to Texas ‘Draw Muhammad’ Contest as ‘UNLIKELY’

h0ixM.AuSt.91PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, May 5, 2015:

The Feds, influenced by false narratives about the causes of terror, failed yet again. Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Public Safety took the threats seriously and saved lives.

As online chatter about a Muhammad cartoon contest began to escalate last week, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Joint Intelligence Bulletin last Thursday. The bulletin acknowledged the potential threat, but downplayed the possibility of any violence targeting the event.

The bulletin concluded that while the event could inspire violence abroad by contributing to terrorist messaging, it was “unlikely” that such violence would happen in the United States.

A copy of the FBI/DHS bulletin is provided exclusively by PJ Media below.

On Sunday night, two men – Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, roommates from Phoenix — did in fact show up at the event location in Garland, Texas, armed with semi-automatic weapons and body armor. Both were quickly killed in an exchange of gunfire before there was any direct threat to anyone inside the facility. One police officer was shot in the ankle — he was treated at the hospital and later released.

According to sources involved in the investigation into the terror attack and law enforcement preparations leading up to last Sunday’s event, there was virtually no online chatter about the cartoon contest until early last week.

The chatter began when news broke that two Muslim congressmen, Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, had appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry to deny entry into the U.S. for Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.

Wilders was scheduled to be the featured speaker at Sunday’s cartoon contest.

One law enforcement source who was monitoring potential threats to the event told PJ Media the following:

[Ellison and Carson] clearly set things off. Nothing was being said until that news story came out, and then the usual suspects began to talk about it. By the time the weekend rolled around, there were clear and identifiable incitements calling for an attack on the event.

During this crescendo of online chatter, an FBI/DHS bulletin titled “‘Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest’ in Texas on 3 May Likely to Prompt Violent Extremist Reaction Abroad; Violence Less Likely at Home” was sent out to law enforcement agencies four days before the event was held.

The bulletin initially acknowledges a potential threat existed following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January and the attack on an event where a Muhammad cartoonist appeared in Copenhagen in February:

On 3 May 2015 the “American Freedom Defense Initiative USPER” (AFDI) is sponsoring in Garland, Texas a “Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest,” for the stated purpose of “defend[ing] free speech and not give[ing] in to violent intimidation.” The FBI and DHS assess this motivation refers to deadly violent extremist attacks over recent months on institutions or events perceived as defaming the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Although there is no specific, credible intelligence concerning threats to the event thus far, we assess that this event carries the risk of being targeted by violent extremists because past events involving the alleged defamation of Islam and the prophet, Muhammad, have resulted in threats or overt acts of violence overseas, to include threats against both artists and publishers.

But by the end of the FBI/DHS analysis, they conclude that since such attacks had not happened here yet, they were unlikely to now:

Although past events involving the alleged defamation of Islam and the prophet, Muhammad, have resulted in threats or overt acts of violence overseas, we have not yet seen such violence in the United States. The most frequent reaction among US-based homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) is discussion and verbal disapproval via online communication platforms, including websites with violent extremist content and social media sites.† We assess it is unlikely that any one event perceived to defame Islam would alone mobilize HVEs to violence; however, such events are incorporated into violent extremist messaging and narratives involving Western persecution of Muslims, which we do assess overall to contribute to radicalization to violence.‡ US-based HVEs remain largely unconnected to each other, and their behaviors are often highly individualized, impeding our ability to predict their reactions with a great deal of confidence. We also judge US-based HVEs and violent extremists in other Western nations who are skilled in information technology have the capability to carry out a cyber-intrusion attack against organizations or individuals perceived to be defaming Islam.

On Sunday night, that analysis proved to be wrong.

The bulletin concluded with a list of suspicious activities, which they warn could still be “constitutionally protected.”

A source I spoke to last night suggested that the conventional wisdom of federal law enforcement and homeland security agencies on the nature of the domestic terror threat is reminiscent of a pre-9/11 mentality:

These agencies are stuck in a belief that domestic terrorism is something that happens “over there” and that will never come here. They get reinforced by our media and academics who tell them that jihadist terror in Europe is something that only happens because of alienation and poverty — not realizing how dramatically things have changed over the past few years. Where we used to see individuals and small groups traveling overseas to fight with terrorists, virtually every Western country, including the U.S., now have hundreds who have joined the jihad in Syria and Iraq.

This bulletin they put out last week is an example of how analysis and threat assessment gets done. Rather than looking at what happened in Paris and Copenhagen and determining that the threat was escalating, they rely on preformed biases to spin the facts to fit their narrative to conclude there was no threat. My concern is that they are now going to look at what happened [Sunday night] and determine that it was a random one-off event rather than a warning sign of what’s quickly headed our way.

According to those close to the investigation, the real heroes who quickly eliminated the threat on Sunday were the Texas Department of Public Safety, who took the online threats seriously. The threats included inciting tweets from known foreign Islamic State operatives overseas (namely, IS cybercaliphate chief Junaid Hussain), leading them to deploy a “massive” presence at the cartoon contest event.

The response from the FBI and DHS following yet another intelligence failure remains to be seen.

FBI/DHS JIB & Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Texas on 3 May;

Egypt, Libya: U.S. Not Supporting Us Against the Islamists

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood attack the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012. Several Islamic State flags can be seen in the crowd. (Photo: © Reuters)

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood attack the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012. Several Islamic State flags can be seen in the crowd. (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 9, 2015:

The anti-Islamist governments of Egypt and Libya are complaining publicly that the U.S. is not providing enough counter-terrorism assistance and is supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood. They remain appreciative of the U.S.-backed intervention to topple Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, but criticize the U.S. for not having a plan to contend with Islamist terrorists and militias afterwards.

Egyptian President El-Sisi is gently criticizing the U.S. for not supporting the anti-Islamist government of Libya enough. He said, “there is a legitimate [Libyan] government and that government is denied the weapons it needs to confront terrorists.”

El-Sisi traces it back to original mistakes that the West made in Libya He said that the military intervention to overthrow Gaddafi was the correct decision but the West failed to implement a strategy to help Libyans tackle Islamist forces afterwards.

“The NATO operation in Libya was not complete, which led the North African country to fall under the control of militant and extremist groups,” he said. He was more forceful in another statement that “we abandoned the Libyan people to extremist militias.”

Gaddafi supported terrorism, hid chemical weapons and spread anti-Americanism and radical Islamic propaganda. His relatively secular dictatorship stimulated Islamism and committed gross human rights violations. The NATO and Arab League alliance militarily intervened when the Libyan rebels—a mixture of Islamists, designated terrorists and secular-democrats—were about to experience a bloodbath in Benghazi.

The Muslim Brotherhood lost the first elections in a landslide despite massive organizational advantages. Unfortunately, the U.S. turned a blind eye to Islamism and even welcomed the participation of Qatar, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s biggest allies.

The Qatari-backed Islamists stabbed the West in the back by undercutting the secular-democrats and using its influence to benefit the Muslim Brotherhood’s political and militia operations. The West doesn’t even see the backstabbing because it doesn’t view the Muslim Brotherhood as part of the problem.

Libya is now in a civil war. The internationally-recognized government in the east, based in Tobruk, is backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. A rival government is based in the west at Tripoli and it has a coalition of loyal Islamist militias named the Libyan Dawn. This government is led by the Muslim Brotherhood and backed by Qatar, Turkey and Sudan. The West is neutral.

The chaos has allowed ISIS to grow in the north. The terrorist group has captured Derna and expanded to Sirte. ISIS is reported to have 800 fighters in Derna alone. The Libyan Foreign Minister says 5,000 foreign jihadists are now in the country.

And it’s getting worse. The spiritual leader of Ansar al-Sharia, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Libya responsible for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, announced his allegiance to ISIS. Abu Abdullah al-Libi tweeted a photo of a book titled, The Legal Validity of Pledging Allegiance to the Islamic State” and started a pro-ISIS Arabic website.

One of the biggest problems facing ISIS is that the legitimacy of its caliphate was widely rejected on procedural grounds and al-Libi can help craft rebuttals. He is presented expert on Sharia Law so he speaks with religious authority, making him a dangerous addition to the relatively unpopular ISIS’ ranks.

ISIS says Tunisia is next and its largest training camp is less than 30 miles from the border. The anti-Islamist government there faces a major threat because Tunisia is the greatest source of foreign fighters for ISIS.

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni chastised the U.S. and Europe in February for not providing its army with the weapons to fight ISIS and the Libyan Dawn coalition of Islamist militias who loyal to the rival government in Tripoli. A growing chorus of U.S. officials are urging a lifting of the U.N. arms embargo on Libya.

“Libya Dawn is part of militant Islamists which get weapons, ammunition and supplies from all over the world, but America and Britain have other ideas against the interest of the Libyan people,” Al-Thinni said.

He accused the U.S. and U.K. of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood and trying to get the “terrorist grouping” into political power. Al-Thinni said his country would instead look to Russia and accused Turkey of supporting the Libyan Dawn forces.

“The British are trying with all their power to save the Brotherhood and ensure their involvement in Libya’s political scene,” said an anonymous member of Al-Thinni’s cabinet in December.

The Libyan Foreign Minister likewise lamented that his country is “not part of any international strategy against terrorism.”

The U.S. ambassador to Libya pushed back against Libya and Egypt’s statements in February that the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamist militias are part of the same problem as ISIS. She rejected the notion that the U.S. should favor the Tobruk-based secular-democratic government over the Islamist one.

” This is not to suggest that ideology has played no role in Libya’s internal conflict, although it is not the defining role that some – particularly external parties – have sought to highlight; Libyans are by and large conservative, Sunni Muslims who share similar values.  Labels are unhelpful and misleading,” she wrote on the fourth anniversary of Libya’s revolution.

The Libyan embassy’s charge d’affairs and women’s rights activist Wafa Bugaighis said the U.S. is not supporting the Libyan government enough with intelligence-sharing, arms transfers and training. She emphasized that Libya is not requesting U.S. airstrikes or ground forces.

Read more

Obama’s Militarization of CIA

cia (2)By John R. Schindler, April 3, 2015:

One of the standard tropes about the Central Intelligence Agency, and the whole Intelligence Community, in recent years is that CIA has become excessively militarized since 9/11. To meet the needs of the War on Terror, the story goes, Langley ditched conventional espionage and analysis in favor of drones and paramilitary operations that pleased the White House — especially when George W. Bush lived there — at the expense of traditional CIA missions.

Like all enduring myths, there’s more than a little truth to all this. There’s no doubt that, in response to 9/11, CIA’s counterterrorism mission, which was awfully important before the Twin Towers fell (few remember that then-Director George Tenet told the Agency it was “at war” with Bin Laden after Al-Qaida’s 1998 East African embassy bombings), became even more so mid-morning on September 11, 2001. CIA got into the killing business in a serious way, in many places, developing a close-to-seamless relationship between itself, NSA, and the military’s spooky Joint Special Operations Command to hunt down terrorists worldwide.

This represents the most impressive secret killing machine in military history, with lethal snake-eaters guided by real-time, precise intelligence, and one which President Obama especially has not been squeamish about using. This militarization of CIA has led to criticism of the Agency from outsiders, many of whom didn’t like CIA anyway and really don’t like it when it has its own drones and special operators. They have some valid points to make, not least that years of prioritizing the counterterrorism mission has cost the Agency some capabilities in more traditional espionage and analysis, particularly because Langley’s best and brightest, as always, wanted to be where the action is — that’s the path to promotion and secret fame — and eschewed “legacy” missions in favor of killing bad guys in tandem with JSOC. Rising stars have flocked to the Agency’s Counterterrorism Center — led since 2006 by “Roger,” a convert to Islam (he has a prayer rug in his office), who looks like an undertaker but whose dedication to the mission is legendary — since that’s CIA’s pointy spear. Needless missteps that have gotten CIA officers killed thanks to sloppy tradecraft are grist to the mill of “too-much-CT” criticism.

However, it’s easy to overstate all this. CIA has kept on doing all its traditional missions since 9/11. Spies and analysts have been rolling along, doing what they’ve done since the Agency was established in 1947. Outside critics often miss the big picture, as I’ve noted before, and few journalists and academics have much “feel” for how CIA and the whole IC actually operate. It all looks rather different when you’re inside the bubble.

It’s disappointing that hardly any commentators have noted that CIA is currently being taken down a path of real militarization. The major reformsrecently proposed by Director John Brennan are causing serious bureaucratic churn out at Langley. Brennan, using the highly successful Counterterrorism Center (CTC) as a model of how to fully integrate case officers and desk-bound analysts, wants to fundamentally transform CIA by creating a series of mission centers that will bring the spooks and geeks together in one big happy intelligence family.

There are many reasons to be skeptical. First, Brennan, a skilled politician who has Obama’s ear, adheres to the view that what ails CIA are “stovepipes” — what cynics term “cylinders of excellence” — that separate the spooks (the Directorate of Operations or DO) and the geeks (the Directorate of Intelligence or DI). Breaking the 1947-era china, then, will fix all this, or so the theory goes. This seems unlikely, given the IC’s spotty history of reorganizations. Moreover, the differences between the DO and the DI, which can create friction, are mainly due to the very different personality types that occupy them. Besides, few care to note that the CTC, Brennan’s model for CIA integration, actually belongs to the DO.

Brennan’s reorganization plan recasts the Agency along the lines of the U.S. military, where the armed services are the force providers but operations are placed in the hands of the joint Combatant Commands. In this concept, for instance, the DO will train up case officers, then send them to mission centers to do their job. This model, which copies how the Pentagon does business, represents a far greater militarization of CIA than anything else since 9/11, or in the Agency’s entire history. Yet hardly any outsiders have noticed this, much less commented on it.

Many spooks are none too happy about Brennan’s reorganization since they believe it will reduce the DO’s ability to control espionage operations, which seems to be a safe assumption, and what the director actually intends. As a sop, the DO got its old name back — it was rebranded as the National Clandestine Service in the post-9/11 reforms, for no particular reason — while the DI will berenamed the Directorate of Analysis. However, the discomfort in spook circles was serious enough that the Deputy Director for Operations, the mighty DDO,announced his retirement rather than preside over changes that many think equal disbanding the DO, de facto.

The outgoing DDO, Frank Archibald — Langley never admitted his true name but it was outed in the media years ago — was a career case officer and a former Marine with extensive experience in covert action and tours with the Special Activities Division, the CIA’s in-house snake-eaters. The paramilitary SAD, which has expanded enormously since 9/11, has been a focus of criticism by outsiders as its relationship with JSOC has grown exceptionally close.

It’s perhaps surprising, then, that Archibald’s replacement as DDO is “Mike” — another former Marine and veteran paramilitary operator whose last job was the chief of SAD. Brennan leapfrogged over several more senior DO officers to elevate “Mike” to the top spy job, so the intent is clear, as the new DDO is known to be a “team player” regarding the nascent reorganization of the Agency.

Recasting CIA along Pentagon lines and putting a hardcore snake-eater in charge of remaking the DO sends a strong message that Brennan, and therefore Obama, think a more military-like Agency is what the country needs. This, to be charitable, is a debatable point, not to mention something that Congress should be discussing.

It doesn’t help that the media is silent about the implications of all this. Like so many things, the voices that waxed hysterically when Bush was said to be militarizing CIA are quieter when Obama does that, and more. This follows the usual pattern in Washington, DC. CIA involvement in extraordinary renditions — the bureaucratic term for kidnapping terrorists abroad — generated massive media attention during Bush’s second term, yet not much since, while hardly anybody cares to note that the policy actually commenced in 1995, under President Clinton, with the abducted terrorist being executed. Like so many things, it seems to be different when Democrats do it.

Based on the IC’s history, it feels safe to predict that Brennan’s far-reaching reorganization will cause years of churn out at Langley, and eventually there will be a re-reorg to undo these deep organizational changes when they turn out to have created more problems than they solved. That do-over will be the task of the next director, and will be handled tactfully, once Brennan has gotten his Medal of Freedom and his book deal. In the meantime, CIA personnel will do their best to complete their mission, as they have done every day for nearly seven decades.

These five potentially banned pages tell you everything you need to know about the disastrous state of America’s national security

The Blaze:

Major Stephen Coughlin, an attorney, decorated intelligence officer and the man known as the Pentagon’s leading expert on Islamic law has been warning America for years about our inability or unwillingness to know, let alone define our enemy, and the disastrous consequences we will face as a result.

Catastrophic-Failure-ShrunkIn spite of his groundbreaking work for the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center, the National Military Joint Intelligence Center, the National Security Council’s Interagency Perception Management Threat Panel and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Intelligence Directorate, along with lectures at practically all of America’s leading national security institutions, by his own admission Coughlin’s work is no longer welcomed in much of Washington D.C.

Fearing such censorship, he has decided to bring his critical work to the public, in the form of a forthcoming book titled ”Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad.”

Below is a Blaze exclusive excerpt from “Catastrophic Failure,” illustrating the dire state of America’s national security and what the country can and must understand to effectively counter our enemies.

Introduction

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny. All of those may be turned against us without making us weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.

Abraham Lincoln Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois

September 13, 1858

Why Me?

I did not set out in life to be a student of jihad and Islamic-based terrorism. In the fall of 2001, I was a reserve officer in the United States Army, called to active duty from the private sector due to the events of September 11.

My posting was to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Intelligence Directorate (JS-J2). As I watched America respond to events across the world, I noticed with alarm that decisionmaking seemed to be increasingly less focused on the threat as it presented itself and more on the narratives that reduced the threat to a nameless abstraction.

As a mobilized officer brought into the heart of the strategic intelligence world, I knew there would be a large learning curve involved in formulating the threat doctrine of an enemy that had brought down the Twin Towers in the name of Islam and according to Islamic law.

I made a point of going to the source. I found actual books of Islamic law. I read them and found they could be mapped, with repeatable precision, to the stated doctrines and information that groups like al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood disclosed about themselves and used when speaking to each other. My analysis helped me develop a threat doctrine, an understanding of the enemy as he understands himself unconstrained by the influences of the environment – Sun Tzu’s “Know your enemy.” That threat analysis was in line with all the standard doctrines on threat development I had been taught when I learned to do intelligence analysis. Because the declared enemy stated that his fighting doctrine was based on the Islamic law of jihad, Islamic law had to be incorporated into any competent threat analysis. When assessing al-Qaeda in light of the jihad doctrines that the group’s members actually cite, I came to realize that such doctrines did exist, they are generally cited properly, and that al-Qaeda made plausible claims to be actually following those doctrines. In legal parlance, al-Qaeda’s claims to be operating in accordance with mainstream Islamic law could at least survive summary judgment. By the same token, any analysis of al-Qaeda that failed to account for such a self-disclosed component of an identified threat doctrine could not be competent. I assumed everyone with whom I worked in the intelligence directorate was aware of the most basic aspects of intelligence, such as threat identification.

I was wrong. I had entered the Intelligence Directorate adhering to the traditional methods of analysis. Soon, however, I discovered that within the division there seemed to be a preference for political correctness over accuracy and for models that were generated not by what the enemy said he was, but on what academics and “cultural advisors” said the enemy needed to be, based on contrived social science theories.

It seemed the enemy was aware of this as well. Forces hostile to the United States in the War on Terror appeared to have successfully calculated that they could win the war by convincing our national security leaders of the immorality of studying and knowing the enemy. It is not our fault that the threat we face identifies its doctrine along Islamic lines, but it is our fault that we refuse to look at that doctrine simply because our enemy wishes to blind us to its strategic design.

Some time ago, I had an opportunity to analyze the Muslim Brotherhood in North America’s strategic documents, which were entered into evidence in a federal terrorism trial. In those documents, the Muslim Brotherhood explicitly states its designs for “civilization-jihad” and its intent to sabotage America by getting us to do the job for them. This doctrine of subversion could likewise be mapped to mainstream Islamic law. Individuals and organizations named in the Brotherhood’s documents were shown in the government’s investigative files, surveillance photos, audio recordings, and wiretaps to have been aligned with or members of the Muslim Brotherhood. But while the government was identifying many of these people and entities as providing material support to terrorism in a federal court, it was also seeking out those same people as cultural experts, “moderates,” and community outreach partners.

As early as 2003, I began putting together briefings that easily outperformed competing explanations for the enemy’s doctrinal motivations. My briefings have always spoken to verifiable and authoritative facts. Others, however, were based on social science modeling and depended on dubious academic constructs—which, of course, were needed to satisfy the overriding requirement that we avoid associating the war we were fighting with the very Islamic concepts that the enemy self identified as the justification and basis for their actions.

Before demobilizing from the Joint Staff in 2004, I wrote a forecast of adverse events that would occur because of our refusal to undertake evidentiary threat analysis. Eighteen months later, while standing on a Metro platform in downtown Washington, D.C., I happened to run into the senior civilian in the Joint Staff Intelligence Directorate, retired Marine Corps Colonel David Kiffer. He told me he was impressed by my briefs, particularly by how the presentations accurately frame emerging events to that day.

When asked how I could identify emerging threats with such precision, I explained that there is no crystal ball. It’s just that al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, and others have knowable threat doctrines. Forecasting is as simple as mapping their stated objectives to the doctrines they follow in conjunction with their known capabilities. At the core of those doctrines, of course, was Islamic law.

As a retired Marine Corps officer, the senior civilian intelligence officer understood my concern for the lack of basic analysis. He asked me to come to the Pentagon and brief the Flag and General officers on the J2 Staff. I accepted the offer but insisted that I be able to present what I believed to be the central problem in the War on Terror. He agreed, so I put a briefing together and spoke at the Pentagon around Christmastime in 2005. The briefing culminated in a slide that raised two central questions:

Can overdependence on “moderates” to explain non-Western motivations and beliefs lead us to (overly) depend on them for the decisions we make?

Is there a point where the outsourcing of an understanding of events leads to the outsourcing of the decisionmaking associated with those events?

Underlying both questions was my concern that decisions central to the warfighting effort are based solely on the inputs of experts on subjects that the decisionmakers themselves do not understand. When such a practice becomes chronic, actual decisionmaking shifts from those responsible for making decisions to the experts they rely on for information. It is a subversion of both the decisionmaking and the warfighting processes.

At the Pentagon, after I had expressed my opinion on these issues directly, I was asked to join the Intelligence Directorate as a full-time consultant. Since then, while I repackaged my presentations and restated them in many ways with greater demonstrated foreseeability, the central issue has remained the same: Senior leaders remain profoundly unaware of the Islamic doctrines that frame the War on Terror. Tragically, not knowing these doctrines kills Americans and undermines our security.

Read more at The Blaze

Center for Security Policy sends A team to Canada’s Parliamentary committee on terrorism bill C51

csis

Vlad Tepes:

Begin Transcript.

Clare Lopez: Thank you. Thank you very much. We would like to thank Steven Blainey, Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Chairman Darrell Craft, and the Committee on Public Safety and National Security for the opportunity to testify here today. We consider this to be a particularly auspicious time as Canada has recently shown itself an international leader in the effort to combat the global jihad movement. By way of introduction the Center for Security Policy is an American national security think-thank in Washington D.C. that was founded in 1988 by former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Gaffney in the year since then we have focused on the greatest security threat to America and our allies. My name is Clare Lopez, the center’s Vice President for Research and Analysis. I previously served as a CIA Operations Officer and later served in a variety of contract positions within the U.S. defense sector. I have also served as an instructor of military intelligence and special forces on terrorism related issues and I am honored to mention my affiliation with the Board of Advisors for the Toronto based McKensey Institute. My colleague is Kyle Shideler, he’s the Director of our Threat Information Office, where he specializes in monitoring Sunni jihadist movements; most especially the Muslim Brotherhood. He has briefed Congressional staff and Federal law enforcement officials on the history, ideology, and operations of the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly their role in supporting terrorism activity. Recent devastating attacks by individual jihadist on Canadian soil demonstrate the critical need for better understanding of, and appropriate tools to deal with the global jihad threat. Specifically understanding that terrorism does not begin with the violent act itself, but rather with financing, indoctrination, and propaganda, and stopping these elements are key to stopping the attacks themselves. In particular we applaud the decision to list as a terrorist entity the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy. An organization that was according to available reports engaged in financing the terrorist organization Hamas.

We are hopeful that the Canadian law enforcement and security services will be able to use information gleaned through this investigation and subsequent investigations to further hamper terrorist efforts. It was also a Hamas terror financing case that provided U.S. law enforcement with information regarding the depth of the threat posed to North America       . In that case the Holy Land Foundation trial, U.S. Federal law enforcement uncovered voluminous documents representing the archives of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. Thanks in part to the evidence provided in these documents the Holy Land Foundation Hamas terror funding front was shut down, and prosecutors secured multiple convictions on terrorism financing charges. These documents come together to tell the story of a multi-decade long effort by the Muslim Brotherhood in North America to establish itself, create front-groups, seize control of mosques and Islamic centers, indoctrinate young people through youth organizations and Islamic schools, mislead the mass media, conduct intelligence operations against law enforcement and security services, and influence politicians. This carefully organized campaign of subversive activity forms the basis for what was called a Grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western Civilization from within, in the Brotherhood’s explanatory memorandum uncovered during the Holy Land Foundation case.

There has been a tendency to divorce the physical manifestations of individual acts of Islamic terrorism, such as the recent attacks here in Canada, from the extensive support infrastructure provided by this Global Jihad Movement. But the reality is that men and women do not seek to travel to fight in Syria or Iraq, or engage in attacks domestically, without first having been indoctrinated obligation to wage jihad. Such individuals have been instructed to put loyalty to a global Islamic ummah above loyalty to one’s own country. They are educated to believe that Muslims have a right to impose Sharia, a foreign source of law upon one’s fellow citizens. All of these elements of indoctrination must occur before an individual would ever express interest in al-Qaeda or Islamic State propaganda. Providing the government an enhanced ability to target or take down propaganda that promotes a doctrinal command to wage jihad against unbelievers or the call to use force to overthrow the government and impose Sharia in our judgment would be beneficial. As it would help to disrupt indoctrination before individuals reach a stage at which they are considering attacks against a specific target. Laying this ideological ground is exactly the mission and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood. Which has undertaken the mission to support movements that engage in jihad across the Muslim world, according the Muslim Brotherhood documents seized by U.S. law enforcement in 2001. Given this obligation to support it is not surprise that terrorist recruits repeatedly have been traced back to an Islamic center, school or mosque, established or controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood; as was the case in our own Boston Marathon bombing back in April, 2013. Subsequently organizations with ties to the Brotherhood have repeatedly sought to undermine and impose counter-terrorism strategies that rely on aggressive police intelligence work to disrupt plots and arrests those responsible, the kind of strategy currently under discussion here in Canada.

We have considered how these policies under discussion would help Canada to address the common threat. It is necessary to address the whole-host of activities which undermined the security of Canada, to include interfering with the ability of the government to conduct intelligence, defense, public safety or other activities or attempting to unduly change or influence the government by unlawful means or to engage in covert foreign influenced activities. Likewise address the full scope of jihadist operations including indoctrination, propaganda, and subversive activities. It seems to us that threats such as these emerging in the pre-attack phase of the jihadist campaign are exactly the modus operandi of the Muslim Brotherhood. As it seeks to undermined constitutionally established Western governments including that of Canada to the benefit of global jihad movement. We asses that legislation that would permit Canadian intelligence services to engage in actions to disrupt terror plots and threats to Canada would likely be effective at helping to thwart Islamic terror attacks in the pre-violent stage. Such a policy provided do-over site creates a necessary capability to intervene and undermine indoctrination and recruiting networks which lead individuals to become jihadists, and either travel abroad, join jihadist groups, or conduct attacks at home, even without a definite connection to any terrorist group. While we understand that there is a debate over how such capabilities could be overseen the use of an intermediary review committee rather than direct parliamentary oversight has advantages when it is often the legislators themselves who are at risk of being targeted by these influence activities.

There has already been controversy in the United States over an appointee to the U.S. Congressional House Select-Committee on Intelligence having received campaign funds from and having numerous associations with the Muslim Brotherhood linked organizations in our country. Muslim Brotherhood organizations also have been aggressive in utilizing the media to target legislators engaged in oversight hearings as well as threatening to fundraise for their political opponents if they dare to examine issues related to jihadist indoctrination in serious detail. In our opinion any oversight committee dealing with these issues risks being an immediate target for similar efforts, creating a buffer of intelligence professionals between ceases and the members of parliament maybe useful therefore to preserve and protect important information insolate MP’s from aggressive influence operations to undermine their support to Canadian counter-terrorism efforts, while also ensuring respect for civil rights generating appropriate oversight that has a detailed understanding of the law enforcement and intelligence techniques involved. Certainly it is to be expected that the parliament would be vigilant in examining the reports generated by the minister and it would take full advantage of opportunities to examine and discuss the reported data. In dealing the threat posed by jihadist fighters living amidst our own communities efforts have focused primarily on either methods to keep them from traveling abroad or revocation of passports to keep individuals from returning.

The Center for Security Policy generally has been supportive of such measures, as currently are under discussion in the U.S. Congress and that would take passports away from those who would travel, or seek to travel abroad to fight for terrorists forces. Likewise changes and extensions to the current peace bond provisions here would appear to us to help address substantial difficulty faced by counter-terrorism agencies which is that in numerous recent cases we have seen the terrorist who perpetrated attacks on the U.S., Britain, France, and Australia have been what terrorism experts in the U.S. have begun to describe as known-wolfs. That is, rather than being undetected and operating without connection to other jihadists groups, a genuine lone-wolf, what we are seeing instead is that most individuals identified as lone-wolfs in fact have had ties or at least a known proclivity to support jihadist ideology groups or terrorists networks and frequently were already under some level of surveillance. It is not a lack of awareness but rather an inability to take preventive action or disrupt the plot, that all to often has resulted in these individuals successfully carrying out an act of Islamic terrorism. In conclusion, the Center of Security Policy believes Canada is in a position to put into practice a forward-thinking approach that gives police officers and intelligence operatives the tools they need to not only surveil and detect terror threats, but to disrupt and dismantle the jihadist networks which seek to use terrorism as only one method of among others to undermine and weaken the security of Canada. Thank you very much.

End Transcript.

***

Also see:

France Declares War on Radical Islam

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, March 25, 2015:

The moves are part of a raft of new anti-terrorism measures aimed at preventing French citizens or residents from joining jihadist groups abroad. The new powers are controversial because they can be implemented without judicial approval.

“These are legal tools, but not tools of exception, nor of generalized surveillance of citizens. There cannot be a lawless zone in the digital space. Often we cannot predict the threat, the services must have the power to react quickly.” — Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of France.

“When you do a projection for the months to come, there could be 5,000 [Europeans waging jihad in Iraq and Syria] before summer and 10,000 before the end of the year. Do you realize the threat that this represents?” — Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of France.

The French government has cut the social welfare benefits of nearly 300 jihadists who have left France to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Amid a rapidly expanding jihadist threat, it has also started confiscating passports, imposing travel bans and blocking access to jihadist websites.

The moves are part of a raft of new anti-terrorism measures aimed at preventing French citizens or residents from joining jihadist groups abroad, and at slowing the spread of radical Islam at home. Muslim groups are criticizing the flurry of activity as “Islamophobia.”

On March 17, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve revealed that the government has stopped paying welfare benefits to 290 French jihadists fighting with the Islamic State. He said that the agencies responsible for distributing welfare payments were being notified as soon as it was confirmed that a French citizen had left the country to fight abroad.

At least 1,200 French nationals or residents are believed to have joined the Islamic State, but Cazeneuve did not say whether any of those were receiving benefits. “We should not make a controversy out of this subject or allow people to think that no action has been taken,” he said. “We are taking this seriously and will continue to do so.”

The debate over benefits payments to jihadists erupted in November 2014, when Eric Ciotti, the president of Alpes-Maritimes, a department in southeastern France, suspended the payment of a welfare benefit known as the RSA to a French jihadist fighting in Syria. “I cannot conceive that public money goes into the pockets of someone who harbors terrorist designs against our nation, against its vital interests and against democracy, and that money is being used to fund jihad,” Ciotti said at the time.

Meanwhile, for the first time ever, French authorities on February 23 confiscated the passports and identity cards of six French citizens who were allegedly planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State. The government said it might seize the passports of at least 40 other French citizens.

On March 16, the Interior Ministry also blocked five Islamist websites that, it said, were promoting terrorism. The sites included one belonging to al-Hayat Media Center, the propaganda wing of the Islamic State.

The actions were carried out in accordance with new rules that grant French authorities the power to block websites that “glorify terrorism,” and to impose entry and exit bans on individuals “whenever there are serious reasons to believe that they are planning to travel abroad… to take part in terrorist activities, war crimes or crimes against humanity.” The new powers have been controversial because they can be implemented without judicial approval.

Cazeneuve said that the websites were blocked to prevent people from “taking up arms” on the Internet. “I make a distinction between freedom of expression and the spread of messages that serve to glorify terrorism,” he said. “These hate messages are a crime,” he added. Cazeneuve said his ministry was targeting “dozens” of other jihadist websites.

But the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, criticized the move because it was carried out without judicial oversight. “Limiting human rights to fight against terrorism is a serious mistake and an inefficient measure that can even help the terrorists’ cause,” he said.

Muižnieks added that he was “worried” about the “exclusively security-driven approach” shaping French counter-terrorism legislation, and warned that if adopted, “this legislation could have the effect of killing freedom and creating a dangerous social climate in which all individuals are considered potential suspects.”

Muižnieks was referring to a new bill that was unveiled by Prime Minister Manuel Valls on March 19, which would allow intelligence services to monitor and collect the email and telephone communications of anyone suspected of being a terrorist. The bill will be debated in the French parliament in April and is expected to be approved in July.

Among other features, the new law would force Internet service providers and telephone companies to allow intelligence services to record metadata, which could be stored for up to five years and would be analyzed for potentially suspicious behavior. If intelligence agents detect anything suspicious, they could ask an independent nine-person panel for permission to conduct more intense surveillance.

Amnesty International said the law would pave the way for intrusive surveillance practices with no judicial pre-authorization. In a statement, the group said:

“The surveillance practices envisaged in the draft legislation would give the French authorities extremely broad surveillance powers running against fundamental principles of proportionality and legality, which ought to govern all restrictions on the right to privacy and free speech.”

Valls defended the bill. “These are legal tools, but not tools of exception, nor of generalized surveillance of citizens,” he said at a press conference. “There will not be a French Patriot Act,” he said, referring to American legislation bearing the same name. “There cannot be a lawless zone in the digital space. Often we cannot predict the threat, the services must have the power to react quickly.”

The majority of French citizens seem to agree. An Ipsos survey for Radio Europe 1 and the French daily Le Monde on January 28 showed that 71% of people were in favor of general surveillance without the need to get a warrant from a judge.

Other counter-terrorism initiatives include:

On March 3, Valls announced that the state would double the number of university courses on Islam in an effort to stop foreign governments from financing and influencing the training of French imams. Valls said that he wanted more imams and prison chaplains who have been trained abroad to “undergo more training in France, to speak French fluently and to understand the concept of secularism.” There are currently six universities in France offering courses in Islamic studies and theology. Valls said he wanted to double that number to 12 and that the courses would be free.

On February 25, Cazeneuve unveiled a plan to “reform” the Muslim faith in order to bring it into line with the “values of the French Republic.” This would be done by means of a new “Islamic Foundation” devoted to conducting “revitalizing research” into a form of Islam that “carries the message of peace, tolerance and respect.” Among other measures, the government would create a new forum to: promote dialogue with the Muslim community; improve the training of Muslim preachers; combat radicalization in French prisons; and regulate Muslim schools.

On January 21, Valls announced a 736 million euro ($835 million) program to augment its anti-terrorism defenses. He said the government would hire and train 2,680 new anti-terrorist judges, security agents, police officers, electronic eavesdroppers and analysts over the next three years. The government will also spend 480 million euros on new weapons and protective gear for police. The initiative includes an enhanced online presence based on a new government website called “Stop Djihadisme.”

“They tell you: Sacrifice yourself with us, you will defend a just cause.” The French government’s anti-jihadist website, called “Stop Djihadisme,” features videos debunking jihadist recruitment propaganda.

Valls recently warned that as many as 10,000 Europeans could be waging jihad in Iraq and Syria by the end of 2015. “There are 3,000 Europeans in Iraq and Syria today,” he said. “When you do a projection for the months to come, there could be 5,000 before summer and 10,000 before the end of the year. Do you realize the threat that this represents?”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Presidential Race 2016 Candidate Profile – Ted Cruz, Republican

PresidentialRace2015Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, March 24, 2015:

The Presidential race for 2016 is gearing up and candidates are preparing themselves for the upcoming campaign. Senator Ted Cruz is the first to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

As each candidate announces their intention to run, Clarion Project will provide a summary of each candidate’s positions on issues relating to Islamic extremism, in order to help our readers make the most informed possible choice come voting day. Should there be any significant changes, we intend to update our readers on the positions of any given candidate.

As Clarion is a bipartisan organization, we will not be endorsing any party or any candidate. All information provided is intended as informative only and should not be taken as evidence of Clarion’s preference for any given candidate.

As Senator Ted Cruz is the first candidate to announce, a summary of his record on Islamic extremism is what follows:

Ted-Cruz-Inside-Pic-245x306GOP Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz: Record on Islamist Extremism

Senator Ted Cruz announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on March 23, 2015.

The following is the Clarion Project’s compilation of Senator Cruz’s positions on Islamist extremism. It will be updated as the campaign develops.

Relevant Experience

Single-term Republican Senator from Texas (2012-Current)

  • Serves on Senate Committee on Armed Services:
    • Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
    • Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
    • Subcommittee on Seapower

Islamist Groups in America

Iran

Iraq and ISIS

  • The U.S. should not deploy ground troops to Iraq to fight ISIS if they must rely on the Iraqi government or Iran-linked militias for security.
  • The U.S. should first increase support for the Kurdish Peshmerga instead of sending additional ground troops to Iraq.
  • The citizenships of Americans that have joined terrorist groups like ISIS overseas should be revoked so they cannot reenter the country or receive constitutional protections.

Muslim Brotherhood & Egypt

  • The U.S. should have successfully pressured Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to oversee a democratic transition but should not have supported his removal because he was an ally.
  • Criticism of his human rights abuses was acceptable but “[President Obama] went further than that to topple him and replace him with the Muslim Brotherhood, whose interest and animus was rabidly anti-American.”
  • The U.S. should have demanded concessions from the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Egypt in return for pledges of additional foreign aid.
  • He said the U.S. should have severed aid to Egypt once the protests against the Muslim Brotherhood began. The lack of support for the opposition made the U.S. “in both perception and reality — entrenched as the partner of a repressive, Islamist regime and the enemy of the secular, pro-democracy opposition,” he wrote.
  • The Egyptian military’s popularly-supported overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood is a “coup” and all U.S. aid to Egypt should have been suspended. Sen. Cruz’s position was even more hostile to the new Egyptian military’s overthrow of the Brotherhood than that of the Obama Administration.
  • The Egyptian military’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhoodis responsible for provoking the Islamist group into violence and attacking Coptic Christians.
  • The U.S. should only provide aid to Egypt if it advances the creation of a secular and inclusive government that honors the peace treaty with Israel.
  • He praised Egyptian President El-Sisi for calling on the Muslim world to stand against terrorists who act in the name of Islam.

Syria

  • The U.S. should have swiftly called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2011 “when there was a unified, peaceful and secular opposition to him.” However, on March 24, 2015, Cruz appeared to disavow a policy supporting Assad’s removal by saying he’s a “monster” but does not “pose a clear and present danger to America.”
  • The U.S. must not arm Syrian rebels because of the inability to determine which rebels are a threat to the West and the likelihood that U.S. supplies will fall into the hands of terrorists.
  • The U.S. must take the lead in developing a plan to “go in” and eliminate Syrian stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. This was stated in June 2013.
  • In September 2013, he opposed the Obama Administration’s proposal for airstrikes on Syrian WMD capabilities and other regime targets after it ignored U.S. warnings against using chemical weapons in the civil war.

Spirited counterterrorism discussion/debate – watch Brooke Goldstein call out CAIR representative!

Brooke Goldstein‘New Terror Threat’ discussed by experts during NewsChannel 8 town hall roundtable

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) – NewsChannel 8 on Tuesday evening hosted a live Your Voice, Your Future town hall roundtable discussion with top experts entitled “The New Terror Threat: The Countdown.”

The discussion, hosted by senior political reporter Scott Thuman, examined a wide range of topics involving growing tensions and issues in the Middle East that are impacting and potentially threatening other parts of the world.

Among the items discussed included the U.S./Iran nuclear talks, U.S./Israel relations, the Afghanistan/Iraq conflicts and terrorism in general.

Panel members included:

Rep.Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD2), Brooke Goldstein (lawfare Project), Jamal Abdi (NAIC), Clifford May (Foundation for Defense of democracies), Zainab Choudry (CAIR), Adelle Nazarian (Breitbart), Dr. Faheem Younis (Muslimerican) and Kamal Nawash (Free Muslim Coalition)

Ignore the short glitch in the beginning:

We Are Our Own Obstacle in Fighting al Qaeda

Army Magazine, By Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, U.S. Army retired: (h/t Fortuna’s Corner)

The U.S. and others have been fighting al Qaeda and their ilk for going on 15 years. After countless drone strikes, special operations raids and two invasions, we have killed Osama bin Laden and scores of other key leaders. Our enemy may be disrupted periodically, but they are far from being dismantled or defeated. Why is that? Partly, it’s because they have proven to be more resilient and adaptive than we expected, but it is also partly because we are our own obstacle to taking effective counteraction. We still don’t understand the kind of war we’re in, haven’t structured a proper strategy to prevail and remain institutionally misaligned. Our self-imposed obstacles are three: intellectual, organizational and institutional.

Intellectually, our model for understanding war remains a conventional one: armies facing armies. We treat everything else as “not war” or “pseudo-war.” If we acknowledged we were at war, for example, we would identify a proper set of aims, ones that were neither expansive and unachievable, given the means available, nor so restrictive that achieving them accomplishes nothing worth the sacrifice. Then we would identify a set of military and nonmilitary strategies, policies and campaigns, all of which would contribute to attaining those aims. We would create the necessary set of organizations to make sure our decisions, and those of our allies and partners, could be translated into properly coordinated plans, executed in a coherent way and adapted quickly enough to address the uncertainties of war as it unfolds. We would see evidence of these behaviors if we were waging a war, but no objective assessment of the past decade and a half would conclude that this description fits our actual behavior. Rather, the more reasonable conclusion is that we are not really waging a war.

A decade and a half of fighting has been insufficient to move us from our default setting. Sometimes, the language our senior political and military leaders use is war language; at other times, it’s the language of law enforcement. We have yet to understand that, as Carl von Clausewitz says, “war is more than a true chameleon.” We have yet to follow his first principle: “The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish … the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.” It’s no wonder, therefore, that we have been more successful tactically than we have been strategically.

When will we finally conclude that the enemies we face are waging some form of a global insurgency, a revolutionary war that seeks to seize the territory from those they call apostate governments and replace those “apostates” with a caliphate? Perhaps it was difficult to see this clearly at the start, but after 15 years of watching our enemies attempt to overthrow the government in Iraq, weaken Pakistan’s government, retake Afghanistan, create an Islamic state out of parts of Syria and Iraq, expand their influence in Somalia and other African states, and seize Yemen and Libya, the patterns of their war should be clearer. While they do not form a monolith, there is a pattern.

If we can put our intellectual bias behind us, perhaps we will be able to see reality as it is and set ourselves and our allies on a better strategic path. As long as our enemies wage some form of an insurgency or revolutionary war and we respond with a mixture of either a counterterrorist leadership decapitation and law-enforcement approach or an invade-and-rebuild approach—the two strategies that have gotten us to where we are—the strategic advantage will stay with our enemies.

Organizationally, we seem locked in a model that limits understanding organizational behavior as hierarchical: the higher-ups directing the underlings through echelons of leaders—the chain of command. The enemies we are fighting also have chains of command and sometimes work that way. An operation is planned, prepared and supported by “central al Qaeda” or the “headquarters” of an affiliate or spinoff. Then the attack is executed using the tools, money, training and equipment provided by the higher-ups. There are other forms of organizational behavior at play, however.

Discipleship is another way to understand how individual members of a group act on behalf of that group. In this model, individual members or small groups are inspired to take action by the power of the group’s narrative and belief in the group’s ideology. They don’t have to be directed to do anything; they act on the strength of their belief. Their commitment to their beliefs encourages them to act—even drives them to act in some cases—because not to do something would be a manifestation of the weakness of their beliefs. This kind of behavior is hardly “lone wolf”; rather, it is inspired by the pack. Often, there are no hierarchical command-and-control dots to connect in these kinds of cases other than the dots that create and grow a belief strong enough to form a determined and dedicated disciple.

Over 60 years ago, Eric Hoffer, when analyzing mass movements in The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, said that “many who join a rising revolutionary movement are attracted by the prospect of sudden and spectacular change in their conditions of life.” He goes on to say that the chief preoccupation of the leaders of a mass revolutionary movement, therefore, is to “kindle and fan an extravagant hope” and “foster, perfect, and perpetuate a facility for united action and self-sacrifice”; that is, they seek to create disciples, true believers, who will act—even alone, if necessary—to advance the cause.

Disciples and true believers are connected by “dots,” just not in the same way that conventional hierarchies are connected. Disciples and true believers still need motivation, leadership or inspiration, and they still need money, supplies, equipment or training. Some of these dots are vague and are often not clear except in retrospect, after an attack of some sort. We’re seeing this phenomenon in the wake of the Paris attacks. All too often, even if partially detected beforehand, the connection is insufficient for probable cause, let alone arrest. Even when disciples or true believers are arrested, the available evidence may not be strong enough to hold them very long. No crime has been committed. Therein we return to the first obstacle: Are we waging a war or fighting crime?

The intellectual model we select has practical consequences. If we are waging war, then the threshold for action is actionable intelligence, but if we are fighting crime, the threshold is sufficient evidence, which may never emerge. The difference between actionable intelligence and sufficient evidence is real. This leads to the last self-imposed obstacle: institutional.

We have separate, stovepiped institutions to deal with crime and war. This separateness rests upon an important understanding of the balance between civil liberties and common good. Departments or ministers of defense and intelligence agencies deal with war; departments or ministers of interior or justice and police agencies attend to crime. We also have another level of institutions that we hold responsible for our common safety and security: sovereign states. Such separation normally serves a democracy well.

The global insurgents or revolutionaries that we are fighting, however, like so many before them, slip back and forth from using criminal action, low-level terrorism, insurgency and formal military action, depending upon which tactic is most useful to attain their political aim. They operate in the institutional space between war and crime, using this gap to their advantage. They weave criminal and military action into one coherent whole. Our law enforcement, military and intelligence agencies—and those of our allies—have done yeoman’s work trying to stitch this gap, balancing the protection of their nation’s citizens with individual civil rights, but the gap remains.

If we were fighting a war, the stitching would be less ad hoc both internally to our nation and externally among the set of nations that face a common threat. We would have formed a real coalition or alliance, one in which the members of the alliance have a voice in the creation and execution of a long-term strategy, not one in which members are treated as if they were a posse going after bad guys with a U.S. sheriff. In addition, we would have sought to establish the kind of robust conventions, authorities and coordinative bodies that would facilitate coherent transnational action among allies. We would have conducted a counternarrative campaign aimed to erode the attractiveness of the insurgents’ motivational ideology. Finally, we would have educated the American people beyond bumper-sticker slogans.

Over the past 15 years, all of us have seen the common threat grow—not just in size, but also in modus operandi. How many more Paris-style attacks are necessary to convince us that we are at war and our mutual enemies are more than just criminals, even if they are not conventional soldiers? While the insurgency we face is not an existential threat to the U.S. in one sense, who can argue that their actions have not already altered the way we live at home and especially abroad? Who doubts that if they create the world they envision, it would be counter to the security and economic interests of the U.S. and our allies?

We have gotten better at killing those whom we identify as an enemy and uncovering some plots before they are hatched, but we have not yet reached “good enough”—not for ourselves as individual nations or as a set of sovereign bodies. Until we heed Clausewitz’ advice to fully adapt to the form of war that has been thrust upon us, we will continue to be our own impediment to effectively countering our enemies, thus allowing them to expand their influence and grow even stronger.

* * * *

Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, USA Ret., is a former commander of Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and a senior fellow of AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare.

US military, diplomatic personnel quit Yemen as country descends into civil war

A protest against the Houthis on Sunday in Taiz, Yemen. Credit Anees Mahyoub/Reuters

A protest against the Houthis on Sunday in Taiz, Yemen. Credit Anees Mahyoub/Reuters

LWJ, by BILL ROGGIO, March 22nd, 2015:

The US governemnt has withdrawn its military and remaining diplomatic personnel from Yemen as the security situation has spiraled out of control over the past week. Among the forces pulled from Yemen were more than 100 military advisors who were training Yemeni counterterrorism personnel to battle al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The withdrawal of US forces from Yemen takes place just six months after President Barack Obama described the US strategy of partnering with local Yemeni forces as “one that we have successfully pursued … for years.”

The US yanked its military forces Al Anad Air Base after AQAP forces and allied tribes briefly took control of the nearby city of Houta, the capital of Lahj province, on March 20. Al Anad is located just 20 miles north of Houta. Yemeni military forces loyal to ousted President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is based in the nearby city of Aden, regained control of Houta after AQAP fighters withdrew without a fight.

The US military has not commented on the withdrawal of its forces from Al Anad, which was a key node in the US and Yemeni governments’ fight against AQAP. But the US State Department confirmed in a press release that the US government “has temporarily relocated its remaining personnel out of Yemen.”

“We also continue to actively monitor terrorist threats emanating from Yemen and have capabilities postured in the area to address them,” State claimed. “As we have in the past, we will take action to disrupt continuing, imminent threats to the United States and our citizens.”

The US Embassy in Sana’a was evacuated at the end of February. US Marines stationed at the embassy had to disable and abandon their weapons prior to boarding a civilian flight out of the country.

AQAP’s foray into Houta was preceded by attacks from the rival Islamic State, Shia Houthi rebels, and infighting between forces loyal to President Hadi. Additionally, today Houthi forces have taken control of the city of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest and are now just 120 miles from Aden, The New York Times reported.

On March 20, the Islamic State deployed four suicide bombers at two Houthi mosques in the capital of Sana’a’, killing more than 100 worshiper. The Islamic State threatened to carry out more such attacks.

On the previous day, forces loyal to Hadi battled a rival military commander at Aden’s international airport. Thirteen people were killed before Hadi’s troops took control of the airport, Reuters reported. During the fighting, an aircraft thought to have been flown by the Houthi-led government based in Sana’a struck the presidential palace in Aden.

Hadi fled to Aden in late February after escaping house arrest in Sana’a. He was forced to resign his presidency in January after intense pressure from the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels, who took control of much of northern and western Yemen late last summer. Hadi has been the US’ biggest supporter in the fight against al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. He was a vocal supporter of the unpopular drone strikes, which have targeted al Qaeda’s leaders and operatives in Yemen.

Yemen is one of several key bases for al Qaeda’s global network. Some of al Qaeda’s top leaders operate from Yemen, including Nasir al Wuhayshi, who serves as general manager in addition to AQAP’s emir. While the US has killed several key AQAP leaders since ramping up drone and air strikes in Yemen at the end of 2009, Wuhayshi and much of AQAP’s leadership cadre continue to operate. In addition to seeking to take control of Yemen, AQAP has been has been at the forefront of plotting attacks against the US and the West.

The withdrawal of US forces is a major blow to President Obama’s hands-off approach in the Middle East. On Sept. 11, 2014, Obama touted the counterterrorism strategy of US airpower working with “partner forces on the ground” in both Yemen and Somalia as “one that we have successfully pursued … for years.” [See LWJreports, US strategy against Islamic State to mirror counterterrorism efforts in Yemen, Somalia, and President Obama’s ‘successful’ counterterrorism strategy in Yemen in limbo.]

Today, the US has few Yemeni forces left to partner with and a limited ability to do so. Whatever friendly forces that do remain are confined to limited geographical area and over the next several weeks and months will be focusing on survival.

***

Also see:

America is Losing the War Against Sunni Jihadists and Empowering The Shia Caliphate

isis-640x480Breitbartby DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, March 13, 2015:

With its support of the Baghdad government and the wrong rebels in Syria, the US Administration is doing the unthinkable: strengthening the spread of Tehran’s control in the Middle East and at the same time also helping the Sunni extremists to grow in power.

The American strategy against Global Jihad is having the opposite effect of that intended. And even key government officials are beginning to openly admit the failure of our policies.

The Director of National Intelligence, retired General James Clapper, recently testified that the terrorist threat is worse than at any other time in history and Major General Michael Nagata, responsible for planning our response to the civil war in Syria, has stated that the Islamic State is now more dangerous than Al Qaeda.

Seemingly just to prove the broader point about the global appeal of Jihad against the “infidel,” ISIS has just accepted the African terrorist group Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance, meaning that the Sunni Caliphate established last year in Mosul by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi now officially covers any territory that Boko Haram controls in Nigeria.

The spread of ISIS influence is not just about territorial control, it is about the staggering success of its international call to holy war, with an estimated 19,000 westerners having left their homes to wage jihad. The visual below, based upon a British think-tank’s unclassified research, shows just how international a recruitment wave this is, with almost every country on the map sending recruits to fight in just Syria alone.

image

Given all the evidence, even the most influential liberal commentators and pundits have admitted the failure of the Obama strategy against “Violent Extremism.” Writing recently in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman stated: “When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam” and added that as a nation “We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.” The left wing Atlantic magazine even dedicated 11,000 words to an article proving the Islamic roots of ISIS and the religious justification for its violence.

Fourteen years after the September 11th attacks and half way through President Obama’s second term, how can we explain a failure so egregious that even the pillars of the liberal left are finally prepared to call it out? The key mistakes upon which the current strategy is built are:

  • The White House’s belief in the ability to “degrade and destroy” ISIS through air power alone
  • The belief that Iran can be leveraged as an ally against ISIS
  • Gambling on Islamic rebels such as the Free Syrian Army as a way to remove President Assad of Syria, and mostly important:
  • The belief that ideology is irrelevant to the enemy we face and that this war can be won solely through military means or local proxies.

Each one of these premises is flawed and is undermining US national interests as well as the safety and stability of our regional allies.

Firstly, in the history of modern military air power, since the first hand grenade was thrown out of a biplane over a century ago, the number of insurgencies like ISIS that have been defeated by airstrikes alone is zero. Insurgents are defined by their capability to hold ground. This is what separates a rag-tag terrorist group from a real threat like the Islamic State. As a result, their control of territory by ground forces can only be countered by other ground forces contesting the same space and eventually destroying or pushing them out. This is not a call for the deployment of US troops, but for the recognition of the fact that only a ground response– for example, made up of Iraqi, Kurdish, Jordanian and Egyptian units– can defeat ISIS. (According to my sources even Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Adviser, has admitted that US airstrikes are not working because we do not have the intelligence on the ground to know what to hit.) Any such response on the ground will not happen without US leadership and support, and in this President Sisi of Egypt will play the pivotal role even if the Obama Administration doesn’t like the former General. Without Egypt’s military might, the Islamic State will continue to grow and threaten the US even more than it already does.

By bringing Iran into our plans against ISIS, we are in fact strengthening a rival brand of Jihad. The war today in Syria and Iraq is not about the corruption of the former Maliki government in Baghdad or the human rights record of President Assad of Syria. It is about whose version of Islam will dominate the region. One only has to read or listen to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s sermon from the Grand Mosque Mosul in which he declared the Islamic State. The speech is about reestablishing the theocratic empire of Islam – the Caliphate – under Sunni control. ISIS even posted their real intent on social media:

Iran, on the other hand, also believes in the need to re-establish the Caliphate, but under its control as a Shia empire, and the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, must be understood as the re-ignition of a 1,400 year old argument about who should control Islam. In fact, that is how the Sunni and Shia division of Islam occurred after the death of Mohammad, and those are the stakes for Tehran. The fact that the mullahs now control five regional capitals– Tehran, Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and now Sanaa– means that despite ISIS’s growth, the Shia extremists are winning. The White House’s belief that Tehran is an altruistic foe of Sunni jihadists like ISIS is driven by shortsightedness and a lack of understanding of the historic battle that is in play, and will simply strengthen the Shia proto-Caliphate, eventually even to include Tehran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons should the nascent deal the President is pushing come to fruition.

By contrast, in Syria, since 2011, the administration has been driven by its pathological hatred of Assad and the belief that, despite his enjoying the support of both Beijing and Moscow, Assad can be removed through the support of indigenous rebels such as the Free Syria Army. Speaking to the few true moderates that have organizational capability in theater, the sad truth is that we have chosen the wrong rebels. The more organized and loudest rebel groups are not the moderates but the true jihadists, some of whom have in fact formally allied themselves with ISIS. (This is not just a failure of the White House, but also the Republicans in Congress, especially Senator John McCain, who has the uncanny knack of supporting those who would kill us after they have killed all the Shia in the region).

Most disturbing of all is the Administrations willful dismissal of the real center of gravity in this war: the ideology of Global Jihadism. With its constant refrain that “upstream causes” such as poverty and lack of education are the real reason for terrorist violence, the White House displays a total ignorance of the groups we face today, from Al Qaeda to ISIS, from the Fort Hood shooter to the Tsarnaev brothers who killed and maimed hundreds at the Boston bombing.

As political correctness has been forced onto the practice of national security in general and counterterrorism specifically, we see absurd conclusions being drawn and fantastical policies being implemented. The recent international summit on “Combating Violent Extremism” hosted by the President and the White House assiduously preached repeatedly that religion has nothing to do with ISIS or Al Qaeda and concluded with this visual that all we need is more community outreach:

White House Summit

Of course, if poverty and lack of education were the drivers of terrorist violence, then half of the population of India would be terrorists. But they aren’t. Why? Because terrorist violence does not happen in a vacuum. It requires a spark, a narrative that acts as the justification to violence and the catalyst to mobilize people to do horrific acts against their fellow man. That ideology can be secular – for example, the communist terrorism of the Weather Underground led by Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers – or religious, such as ISIS. How else, for example, can one understand why the Islamic state would behead the 21 Coptic Christians whose murder they filmed on the shores of Libya, but instead burn alive the Jordanian pilot Lieutenant Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh? These decisions were not random.

For the jihadists of ISIS, the Copts are kuffar, infidels, and as the Koran teaches, the infidel must be “smitten on the neck” (e.g. Koran Ch. 47 V. 4). However, Lt. Kaseasbeh was a Muslim, a Jordanian Sunni, who in taking arms up against the Caliphate made himself an “apostate” and as a result he had to be killed not as an infidel but as one who committed the sin of leaving Islam and therefore, he was to be treated as if he were in hell, i.e. burnt alive. Religion is therefore so important to this war that it even defines the way in which the terrorists will kill you should you be captured.

Today, the Global Jihad has two brands. It is a war of the “Sunni Coke” versus the “Shia Pepsi” which also targets the local minorities caught in the middle, most especially the ancient Christians of the region.(Incredibly, the Parliament of the European Union seems to understand the threat better than the White House based upon the resolution it just issued against ISIS.) The powers that be have allowed politics and ideology to distort and pervert the practice of national security to such an extent that, incredibly, we are not only helping the Sunni Jihadists, but also the Shia extremists of Iran. Whichever side wins the war for the crown of the Caliph is irrelevant, since once their immediate foe is vanquished we, the infidel West, will be their next target.

Sebastian Gorka Ph.D. is the Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. You can see his briefing from the Global Counterterrorism Summit on Why ISIS is Much More Dangerous than Al Qaeda here and follow him on Twitter at: @SebGorka.