The Center for Security Policy’s Middle East and North Africa Briefing


Center for Security Policy, Nov.13, 2015:

The Middle East and North Africa: National Security and a Secure Freedom Strategy to respond to the threats posed by the Islamic State and the Global Jihad Movement.

  • Pete Hoekstra, Shillman Senior Fellow, Investigative Project on Terrorism; Former Chairman, U.S. House Intelligence Committee; Author, Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya (2015)
  • Elliot Chodoff, Major in the IDF Reserves; Counter terrorism expertPartner, Lecturer, and Political and Military Analyst at Hamartzim Educational Services
  • Jim Hanson, Executive Vice President, Center for Security Policy, Author, Cut Down The Black Flag: A Plan To Defeat The Islamic State (2015)

Moderator: Frank Gaffney, President & CEO, Center for Security Policy.

Hillary’s Libya Post-War Plan Was ‘Play It by Ear,’ Gates Says

Daily Beast, by Nancy A. Youssef, Oct. 20, 2015:
She still defends the invasion as ‘smart power at its best.’ But war backers like Clinton had no plan for securing the country, says ex-Pentagon chief Bob Gates.
When Hillary Clinton appears before Congress’s special committee on Benghazi Thursday, she’ll likely be asked all the wrong questions.Clinton will be peppered with queries about why she kept a private email server, what caused the 2012 attacks on the U.S. special consulate in Benghazi, and how come U.S. forces didn’t respond more quickly to the strikes. But the really important issues—the questions longstanding followers of the U.S. and NATO intervention want answered—are: Why did Hillary Clinton push for strikes that contributed to the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi? And why didn’t the Obama administration bother to plan for the all-too-predictable chaos that came next?In 2011, as the United States considered intervention, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among those who pushed for intervention—without resolving just how Libya would be governed after Gaddafi, according to a senior defense official who was part of the decision-making process. Obama advisers like Samantha Power and Susan Rice also made the case alongside Clinton. They argued the U.S. had a moral obligation to save lives in Benghazi facing a threatened genocide by Libyan dictator Gaddafi. The only strategy spelled out publicly was that the Europeans’ newly formed “Libyan Transitional Council” would be at the forefront of the effort. Washington was “leading from behind,” to use a famous phrase from the era.

As then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who opposed the U.S. intervention, frustratingly explained to The Daily Beast: “We were playing it by ear.”

And the consequences of that improvisation are still being felt today. The country is an epicenter of the refugee crisis sweeping the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Part of Libya is under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. And the Russians use the U.S.-NATO intervention in Libya to justify their own military incursions in places like Syria.

But to Clinton, Libya was—and still remains—a major achievement. “We came, we saw, he died,” she crowed in October 2011. “Smart power at its best” is how Clinton described it during the most recent Democratic debate.

Clinton campaign aides note that she spent months working with the Libyan parliament to craft a successful state in both the run-up to American intervention and afterward, all while honoring a Libyan request for limited Western intervention. Above all else, the aides stress, the United States had a moral obligation to act in Libya.

“The alternative was so bleak, we simply had to take action,” one aide to the Clinton campaign told The Daily Beast.

President Obama, however, didn’t see things quite that way. He was reportedly reluctant about the operation—until Clinton, Rice, and Power swayed him, over Gates’s objections. “Clinton won the bureaucratic battle to use DOD [Department of Defense] resources to achieve what’s essentially the State Department’s objective,” Steve Clemons, then an analyst with the administration-friendly New America Foundation, told Foreign Policy at the time.

According to Gates, Obama told his advisers that he was 51/49 in favor of intervening. The ratio is telling. According to the New York Times Magazine, Obama was 55/45 about conducting the May 2011 raid that eventually killed Osama bin Laden.

And when Obama finally agreed to the operation, he stressed “Operation Odyssey Dawn” would be a limited effort to protect civilians from a possible genocide by the Libyan government. Removing Gaddafi was the last thing he wanted to do.

“If we tried to overthrow Gaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air,” Obama said in March of 2011. “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq… [R]egime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

But repetition is exactly what happened. Attacks spread from the eastern city of Benghazi, where civilians were endangered, to the Libyan capital of Tripoli, 635 miles away. No one ever explained why the change in goal or who might succeed Gaddafi afterward.

During revolutionary-era Libya, no one in the upper ranks of the U.S. government seriously considered whether the newly created Transitional National Council, a rival government in rebel-held areas like Benghazi, could govern the oil-rich state. Nor did Clinton or top leaders ask about unintended consequences of an air campaign, especially if it successfully ended Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, according to the senior defense official who was part of the conversation at the time. And as the country was falling apart, it seems no one in the higher reaches of Clinton’s department took note. If they did, they did not take action.

As secretary of state, it was Clinton’s job to ask questions about the state of Libya, both before the intervention and after. She was secretary when the intervention began—and when the U.S. presence in Benghazi ended with a deadly attack. And while she held talks in the early months after Gaddafi’s death, Libya became largely a public afterthought. In the email caches released so far from her personal account, former adviser Sidney Blumenthal repeatedly kept Libya before Clinton, sharing his views of the situation, at the time contradicting the diplomats working for Clinton. Blumenthal, a longtime adviser to both Clinton and President Clinton, was not an expert on the region.

Read more

Also see:

During the so-called Arab Spring, new governments rose to power in Libya and Egypt with support from the U.S. But, instead of a new era of democracy, the result has been a disastrous expansion of Islamic extremist terrorism. Former head of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Pete Hoekstra spoke about his new book focusing on the topic with Full Measure.

A New Day In U.S. Foreign Policy: Obama Embraces ‘Moderate’ Islamists

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement about the shootings in Oregon from the White House in Washington October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement about the shootings in Oregon from the White House in Washington October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Daily Caller, by Pete Hoekstra, Oct. 13, 2015:

Soon after assuming office, President Obama began reaching out to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and — as noted by former UK ambassador Charles Crawford — his Cairo speech capped this new approach: “On June 4, 2009, Obama delivered a speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in which he declared that ‘America and Islam are not exclusive.’” What this really meant, Crawford paraphrased was: “Under my restrained leadership the United States will respect and accept conservative forms of Islam. Even if Islamism gets too aggressive we don’t plan to do much about it. And we may not be too active in supporting Muslim liberal trends either. Steady as she goes. And by the way I do hope you have noticed that I am not G. W. Bush.”

This was the backdrop to American support of the “rebels” against [Libyan dictator Muammar] Gaddafi. Though Obama waited until hundreds of U.S. diplomats and civilians had been evacuated on February 25, 2011, to impose unilateral sanctions and explicitly call for Gaddafi to step down, it is now clear that Obama’s goal from the start was that the Libyan rebellion fully succeed.

What is striking is that this required direct cooperation with a force counting among its number countless Salafi-jihadist veterans of the global Al Qaeda network, with American policymakers seemingly content to buy jihadists’ assurances that they would pursue jihad solely in their homeland, afterward laying down their arms.

In brief, for the first time, American policymakers willingly made the distinction between “good” jihadists — those entitled to the support indispensable to their fight — and “bad” jihadists, who even now were regular targets of American drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of course, ideologically, and in their ultimate goals (notwithstanding professions to the contrary), the “good” and “bad” jihadists were close to identical. And both the “good” and bad” were well aware, even if the Americans were not, that according to their interpretation of the Qur’an, lying to infidels in the service of the cause was not merely permissible, but in fact encouraged.

Yet in Obama’s worldview, America was engaged not in “a boundless ‘global war on terror,’ but rather [in] … a series of persistent targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” as the president himself put it. Thus, it was essential to make a “distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”

It was such thinking that led the Obama administration to seek direct talks with Mullah Omar and the Afghani Taliban in 2011 and, even more astonishing in retrospect, to reach out to the Islamic Front in Syria, the coalition of Salafi-jihadist militias that in December 2013 would metastasize into ISIS.

Although early in his presidency Obama signaled his greater acceptance of radical jihadism by siding with the Iranian regime over pro-democracy protestors during the Green Revolution, as well as with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — both in 2009 — the full extent of the transformation of American engagement with the Islamists only became fully apparent in Libya. Indeed, Libya ought to have put this policy of wishful thinking to the test — and then to an end. For in Libya, where many supposed U.S. allies made only the thinnest pretense at political moderation or at readiness to embrace democratic norms, the consequences were all too quickly apparent.

Still, even with the evidence before them, Obama’s team characteristically remained obdurate, maintaining that their approach was isolating the real foe. “Al Qaeda seeks to portray America as an enemy of the world’s Muslims,” John O. Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, explained in June 2011, midway through the Libyan civil war. But, he said, America’s action on behalf of the “rebels” had made it “clear that the United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam,” thereby eroding “the ability of Al Qaeda and its network to inspire people.” Without any precondition, jihadists were welcomed into America’s coalition for the first time.

Pete Hoekstra is the former Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and currently the Shillman Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism. This piece has been excerpted from his new book, Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya, published by Calamo Press. (c) Pete Hoekstra 2015. All rights reserved.

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.

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Will a Rogue General Undo Obama’s Regime Change in Libya?

Khalifa Hifterby :

It didn’t take Egypt very long to revert back to a military oligarchy. The Arab Spring was trumpeted as a new era in the history of the Middle East. But the Middle East is better at undoing history than the media is at writing it.

In Egypt, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi brushed away the Arab Spring. Now in Libya, General Khalifa Hifter is set to undo Obama’s military intervention which put the Muslim Brotherhood on the road to taking over Libya.

Forty-five years ago a group of officers led by Colonel Gaddafi seized control of Libya. Gaddafi enjoyed support from the military and Federalist opponents of a central government.

Now General Khalifa Hifter is leading another military coup while vowing to free Libya of chaos, instability and corruption. His forces pounded Islamic militias in Benghazi, including those responsible for the murder of four Americans, and seized the parliament in Tripoli.

Hifter, who has spent a long time living in the United States, claims to have American support, but his real support probably comes from the east.

Like Gaddafi, Hifter is supported by the military and the Federalists. However he isn’t fighting a weak monarchy, but the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and other Islamist militias. But like Gaddafi, his takeover was probably inspired by Egypt and possibly even planned out by Egypt.

Egypt’s new government, which overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood, can’t risk allowing the group to control a bordering country and one of the largest oil reserves in Africa. Gaddafi used Libya’s oil wealth to fuel his insanity and fund terrorism. The Muslim Brotherhood would funnel it into pursuing its program of regional and global takeovers and the Islamic militias that control much of Libya would become a problem for Egypt.

Egypt’s immediate security agenda is to control border instability fed by the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza and Sinai. It would only be natural for Egypt’s new rulers to turn their attention to their country’s large western border with Libya.

Read more at Front Page

Rogue Libyan General Bombing Benghazi Militias that Attacked US Mission

libyan-revolutionary-khalifa-hiftar-450x253Front Page, By Daniel Greenfield:

The US could have used a rogue commanders while Americans were being murdered in Benghazi. That doesn’t necessarily mean this is a good thing. But it may not be a bad thing.

General Hiftar has lived in the US for decades and has ties to the CIA and the State Department that go back for some time. I don’t believe that the current administration would back this type of action, but Hiftar may be demonstrating to the US why we should back him.

After Obama’s illegal regime change attack on Libya, the country is a mess. There are two prime ministers, one is a Muslim Brotherhood man, the other is in exile. Much of the country is run by various militias with ties to Al Qaeda and the Brotherhood.

This looks like a strongman’s bid for power by showing that he can control the country. Muslim countries in the Middle East invariably revert to strongmen. Now Libya may have found its strongman.

The heaviest fighting in Libya since the Arab spring revolution broke out in the eastern capital of Benghazi on Friday as forces led by a retired general attacked militias on the ground and with jets.

Air strikes pounded militia bases at dawn and 6,000 troops converged on the city, storming a series of bases and checkpoints.

Eyewitnesses described a city in chaos, with jets streaking low over rooftops, tanks on the streets, heavy detonations and aggressive fighting.

“The fighting is close to my house,” said one resident in the Hawari district. “Planes are going very low, there are explosions, there is fighting around the February 17 [militia] base.”

The Feb 17 militia was hired by Hillary’s State Department to protect the US mission. And then State stopped paying them. The militia is loosely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and even to Al Qaeda. It may have also played a role in the attack.

The attack is led by Khalifa Hiftar, a former commander of the 2011 uprising that deposed Muammar Gaddafi. Hitfar announced the operation was launched to clear Benghazi of Islamist militias and restore Libya’s dignity.

Hiftar, who called on the army earlier this year to mount a coup against the government, appears to have the support of a significant proportion of Libya’s armed forces. He insisted the operation was sanctioned by army commanders, saying: “All reserve forces are mobilised. If we fail today, the terrorists win.”

But Libya’s government insisted the operation had no official sanction, with the chief of the general staff, Abdul Salam Jadallah, branding Hiftar a criminal and ordering Benghazi’s militias to fight back.

Air force planes struck the bases of the Rafalla al-Sahati and Ansar al-Sharia militias, the latter blamed by Washington for the attack two years ago on the US consulate that led to the death of ambassador Chris Stevens.

Abdul Salam Jadallah (Major-General Abdulsalam Jadallah al-Salihine al-Obeidi) is from Benghazi and was appointed last year.  He defected from Gaddafi’s forces, but then went rogue refusing to follow the orders of the former Prime Minister. He’s calling for Benghazi militias to fight back which is rather revealing of his ties to them.

Khalifa Hiftar obviously commands a sizable portion of the military which means that he can do what the government can’t.

In the Muslim Middle East that’s often all the qualification for running an otherwise anarchic collection of tribes that you need.

CAIR’s Irony Deficit

download (47)by IPT News:

CAIR Leaders Curry Favor With Dictators

IPT, by John Rossomando:

Former CIA Deputy Lists Syria as Top Security Threat

syria-al-qaida-340x161IPT, by Abha Shankar:  

More Benghazi Whistleblowers Ready to Step Forward

ben-450x261By :

According to two former diplomats who spoke with PJ Media’s Roger Simon, more Benghazi whistleblowers will emerge and blow a giant hole in the Obama administration’s already shaky narrative regarding the deaths of four Americans. Their revelations will focus on two subjects: the real purpose of Ambassador Christopher Steven’s mission in Libya, and the pressure put on former AFRICOM commander Gen. Carter Ham to stand down from any attempt to rescue those under attack. What emerges could be devastating for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The whistleblowers are reportedly colleagues of the former diplomats. They have yet to come forward because they are in the process of obtaining lawyers, necessitated by their work in areas that are not completely covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act. Furthermore, Simon notes that, as of now, what the diplomats are saying is considered hearsay, “but the two diplomats sounded quite credible. One of them was in a position of responsibility in a dangerous area of Iraq in 2004,” he writes.

What the diplomats say the whistleblowers will reveal is that Christopher Stevens was in Benghazi to buy back Stinger missiles from al Qaeda, issued to them by the U.S. State Department. Selling such missiles to anyone is usually a function of the CIA, but they reportedly were against the idea of selling such advanced technology to elements of the “rebel movement” attempting to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. Stinger missiles can endanger civilian aircraft. According to the diplomats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chose to move forward because she wanted “to overthrow Gaddafi on the cheap.”

When the “rebels” who were sold the missiles turned out to be al Qaeda, Stevens was tasked with the job of cleaning up the fiasco. One of the diplomats noted that it was likely the same elements of the terrorist group to whom the missiles were sold ended up attacking the consulate in Bengahzi, killing Stevens, State Department employee Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods.

The unnamed diplomat was even more contemptuous of the Clinton-led effort, likening it to the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” the story of a Congressman who thought it was a good idea to supply Stinger missiles to the mujahideen in Afghanistan during their fight to overthrow the Russians. “It’s as if Hillary and the others just watched that movie and said ‘Hey, let’s do that!’” the diplomat said.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty, who reviewed several public reports regarding the movement of Stinger missiles in Libya, insists the diplomats’ account can be corroborated and contradicted. His report highlights several critical elements, noting that rebel leaders did request the missiles, including Abdul Hakim Al-Hasadi, who was detained in Pakistan as a hostile combatant by U.S. forces in 2002 “while returning from Afghanistan where I fought against foreign invasion,” according to Al-Hasadi himself.

As for the U.S. directly supplying missiles to the rebels, Geraghty cites two different New York Times reports revealing other possibilities. The first report notes that the rebels were securing such missiles from the Gaddafi regime’s captured storage bunkers. The second report was far more devastating to the Obama administration, noting that it gave its blessing to Qatar to ship arms to the insurgency, before becoming “alarmed” that the weapons were ending up in the hands of “Islamic militants.” The Times insisted there was no evidence that such missiles were linked to the Benghazi attacks. But considering there’s been no specific identification of the Qatari weapons or the specific ordnance used to attack the consulate, such claims are dubious at best. Geraghty further notes that such shipments violate UN Resolution 270 prohibiting the direct or indirect sale or transfer of weapons to any party in Libya.

Read more at Front Page


Death for Preaching Christ in ‘Liberated’ Libya

blood-cross-434x350by Raymond Ibrahim
February 22, 2013

Four foreign Christians—including one who holds American-Swedish citizenship—were arrested days ago in Libya. According to the Guardian, their crime is arousing “suspicion of being missionaries and distributing Christian literature, a charge that could carry the death penalty.”

Apparently the four Christians had “contracted a local printer to produce pamphlets explaining Christianity.” Proselytizing to Muslims—that is, preaching to them another religion—was banned even under the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

Libyans—strongly supported by U.S. President Obama in the name of “freedom”—got rid of Gaddafi but kept the distinctly anti-freedom law.

Discussing this case, Libyan security official Hussein Bin Hmeid, trying to justify the Islamic ban on free speech, observes: “Proselytizing is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100% Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security.” Indeed, Muslim governments—most notably Iran’s—constantly suppress any talk of Christianity, claiming it threatens “our national security.”

Such is the tribal mentality of Islam which everywhere seems to declare: If you’re not one of us, you must be an enemy trying to subvert our way of life.

Is the flip side of this prevalent mentality also true—that if Muslims are not one of us, they must be trying to subvert our way of life?

Nor should the arrested Christians expect much sympathy from more “moderate” Libyans. According to Benghazi lawyer and “human rights activist” Bilal Bettamer, Christians should not offend Muslims by trying to share their faith: “It is disrespectful. If we had Christianity we could have dialogue, but you can’t just spread Christianity. The maximum penalty is the death penalty. It’s a dangerous thing to do.”

Indeed, like “blasphemy”—whether in the guise of Muhammad cartoons or movies—proselytizing to Muslims is one of the many forms of free speech to be specifically banned by Islamic Sharia. According to Muslim tradition, this ban goes back to the second “righteous” caliph, the 7th century Omar. After conquering a group of Christians, he stipulated any number of humiliating conditions for them to live by, including: “Not to produce a cross or [Christian] book in the markets of the Muslims…. Not to display any signs of polytheism, nor make our religion appealing, nor call or proselytize anyone to it.”

As Muslims continue turning to Islam—all to Western praise and encouragement—expect the things of Islam to continue returning in big ways.

The Guardian report adds: “Libya, a conservative Muslim country, has no known Christian minority, and churches, the preserve of foreign residents, have seen few of the attacks seen in Egypt and Tunisia, where there have been church burnings.”

The Guardian reporter may have wanted to point out that, less than two months ago, on Sunday, December 30, an explosion rocked a Coptic Christian church near the western city of Misrata, in the very place where U.S. backed rebels hold a major checkpoint. The explosion killed two people and wounded two others.

And even though it is true that there are few church attacks in Libya, that is simply because there are few churches to attack in the first place—not because of some Libyan “tolerance” to churches. After all, one never hears of church attacks in Saudi Arabia. Yet that is not because Saudis are “tolerant,” but rather because they have nipped the church problem in the bud by not allowing a single church to exist on Saudi soil. Hence, no churches for Muslim mobs to attack, bomb or burn. Conversely, where there is a large Christian population, such as in Nigeria, which is roughly half Christian, Muslims are bombing churches on practically a weekly basis.

Finally, there is the rewriting of history that is foisted by Muslims everywhere, not to mention ignorant Westerners, as exemplified in this report. All of those quoted—including the writer—seem to think that Libya was born a Muslim country. Hence, in the words of Libyan “human rights” activist Bilal Bettamer, “you can’t just spread Christianity.”

What, then, do we do with real history? The fact is, although Libya is today practically entirely Muslim, it certainly wasn’t always so. In fact, before the 7th century Islamic invasions, Libya was predominantly Christian. The fact that Libya’s immediate neighbors to the west and east, Algeria and Egypt, were backbones of early Christianity—giving the world giants of theology like St. Augustine and St. Athanasius, to name but a few—certainly suggests that Libya was primarily a Christian nation, excluding some Berber tribes.

Yet Islam came and killed and converted them all to itself. And now, to keep them in line, it will kill any who try to proclaim a different message, especially the message of their conquered forefathers.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


Algerian Attack Was Carried Out Using Weapons and Gear Provided to Libyan Rebels


Obama’s illegal regime change operation, carried out without Congressional approval, is continuing to reap its bloody benefits.

Many of the Islamist terrorists shot their way into the In Amenas compound on Thursday using the AK104 model of Kalashnikov, which was typically used by Libyan rebels in the war against Muammar Gaddafi.

They brought F5 rockets that also surfaced in the Libyan war, said the security source.

The Islamists wore the same type of outfits that Qatar provided to Libyan National Transitional Council rebels by Qatar – yellow flak jackets with brown patches, known as “chocolate chip” camouflage. The garments are copies of ones worn by Americans in the Gulf war.

The terrorists also employed 60mm gun-mortars used by France and Libyan rebels.

Can we have a conversation about missile and assault rifle control in Libya? If the Obama Administrations can control its obsessive need to arm terrorists and overthrow governments while leaving chaos in their wake, that might help save a lot of lives.

Was Benghazi Attack on U.S. Consulate an Inside Job?

By Jamie Dettmer:

One man gives his harrowing account of the attack on the U.S. Ambassador.

The sun had risen over a hazy Benghazi about an hour earlier, and as he grabbed the wheel of his militia’s beaten-up white Toyota pickup, 42-year-old Ibn Febrayir (not his real name) groused to himself that this was no way to treat an ambassador, especially U.S. envoy Christopher Stevens. He had heard war tales about the lanky, good-natured Californian. How he had ventured to the shifting front lines during the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi and during lulls shared the rebels’ impromptu meals, ready to swap jokes and flash a winning smile, even when regime forces were mounting a counter-offensive.

Gianluigi/ Guercia AFP-Getty Images

Febrayir was dog-tired. His wife had been calling him incessantly all night and he hadn’t answered. Earlier he’d led an unsuccessful relief effort on the U.S. consulate after Salafist militants had launched an assault on the mission on the night of Sept. 11—but with his detachment being fired on, and the roads around the consulate blocked, he hadn’t been able to reach it in time. Later he had met eight U.S. Marines at Benghazi’s airport and accompanied them with a ragtag force of about 30 fighters to the so-called annex, the CIA compound, where an assortment of Americans—diplomats, guards, and intelligence officers—were waiting impatiently to be evacuated. He had been shot at and, he suspected, betrayed. He was in no mood for any more surprises. He tugged at his closely cropped beard.

As he drove through the gates of the Benghazi Medical Center, he looked in his mirror to check on the two men in the back. He’d ordered them to sit on either side of the ambassador to keep the body on a plastic stretcher from sliding off the short flatbed. “This is no way to treat an ambassador,” he muttered again. And then he drove at high speed toward the airport through a Benghazi that was slowly waking from the nighttime mayhem.

The story of the night America lost its first ambassador since 1979 to violence is like a jigsaw puzzle—the pieces are fitting together slowly and the picture is emerging but is still not complete and might not be for months. In trying to figure out the puzzle, U.S. investigators are not being helped by the lack of reliable information coming from Tripoli. The inquiry that Libyan leaders promised the day after the attack has stalled. Who’s in charge? No one really knows. “That’s a million-dollar question,” admits an adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushugar. Accompanied by aides, he turns and asks them who’s now formally heading the probe. Debate ensues and it is hazarded that the attorney general might be in charge.

An adviser to Mohamed al-Magarief, the president of the General National Congress, the country’s parliament, concedes nothing much is happening with the inquiry and acknowledges that American officials in Washington, D.C., are frustrated by the lack of progress. “In some ways and at some level, they are understanding, but it isn’t a good answer to give them. They can see our difficulties—we don’t have the organization or the authority to push the inquiry,” he says. “But they are under pressure themselves—especially with the election days away.”

The election tick-tock unnerves Libyan leaders. They worry that President Barack Obama may do something precipitous, especially if his poll numbers drop. They worry about a drone strike on targets in eastern Libya—that would be a gift to jihadists, they say. Do the Americans have targets? Magarief’s adviser thinks they may—though he doesn’t know whether they would include the masterminds behind the attack on Stevens. “They had surveillance drones monitoring that night. They will have identified some people and traced where they are now.” And, of course, the information on jihadists and militants in Libya being gathered by more than a dozen intelligence agents and contractors in the CIA compound before Sept. 11 is likely also to be useful in the hunt.

When one tries to piece together the story of what happened in Benghazi, discrepancies stand out. For one thing, the timing of events given by officials in Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi don’t quite match. The State Department timeline is at variance with the recollection of Libyans manning the Benghazi combined operations room, a coordinating center between the various revolutionary militias “approved” by the government, located a 10-minute drive from the U.S. consulate. The Libyans have the attack starting between 8:30 and 9 p.m. The Americans place it at about 9:40 p.m. The Libyans have the American security guards fleeing the consulate with the body of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, one of the four Americans killed that night, in an armored SUV 45 minutes to an hour earlier than the Americans do, at around 10 p.m.

There are other inconsistencies, one especially bewildering. The State Department says a six-man Rapid Reaction Force was dispatched from the CIA compound, 1.2 miles away from the consulate, as the assault on the mission unfolded. Militia commanders in the Benghazi operations room that night—housed in the barracks of the Feb. 17 militia on the Tripoli Road, a former army installation that had a grim Gaddafi-era reputation—say they have no knowledge of such a force being present at the consulate.

Read more at the Daily Beast

Jamie Dettmer is an independent foreign correspondent who has been a staff journalist for The Times of London, The Sunday Telegraph, Scotland on Sunday, and the Irish Sunday Tribune.

The Islamist Threat Isn’t Going Away

Michael J. Totten:

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney wrapped up their trilogy of presidential debates on Monday this week and spent most of the evening arguing foreign policy. Each demonstrated a reasonable grasp of how the world works and only sharply disagreed with his opponent on the margins and in the details. But they both seem to think, 11 years after 9/11, that calibrating just the right policy recipe will reduce Islamist extremism and anti-Americanism in the Middle East. They’re wrong.

Mr. Romney said it first, early in the debate: “We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam . . . reject this violent extremism.” Later Mr. Obama spoke as though this objective is already on its way to being accomplished: “When Tunisians began to protest,” he said, “this nation, me, my administration, stood with them earlier than just about any other country. In Egypt, we stood on the side of democracy. In Libya, we stood on the side of the people. And as a consequence, there is no doubt that attitudes about Americans have changed.”

The Middle East desperately needs economic development, better education, the rule of law and gender equality, as Mr. Romney says. And Mr. Obama was right to take the side of citizens against dictators—especially in Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi ran one of the most thoroughly repressive police states in the world, and in Syria, where Bashar Assad has turned the country he inherited into a prison spattered with blood. But both presidential candidates are kidding themselves if they think anti-Americanism and the appeal of radical Islam will vanish any time soon.

First, it’s simply not true that attitudes toward Americans have changed in the region. I’ve spent a lot of time in Tunisia and Egypt, both before and after the revolutions, and have yet to meet or interview a single person whose opinion of Americans has changed an iota.

Second, pace Mr. Romney, promoting better education, the rule of law and gender equality won’t reduce the appeal of radical Islam. Egyptians voted for Islamist parties by a two-to-one margin. Two-thirds of those votes went to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the other third went to the totalitarian Salafists, the ideological brethren of Osama bin Laden. These people are not even remotely interested in the rule of law, better education or gender equality. They want Islamic law, Islamic education and gender apartheid. They will resist Mr. Romney’s pressure for a more liberal alternative and denounce him as a meddling imperialist just for bringing it up.

Anti-Americanism has been a default political position in the Arab world for decades. Radical Islam is the principal vehicle through which it’s expressed at the moment, but anti-Americanism specifically, and anti-Western “imperialism” generally, likewise lie at the molten core of secular Arab nationalism of every variety. The Islamists hate the U.S. because it’s liberal and decadent. (The riots in September over a ludicrous Internet video ought to make that abundantly clear.) And both Islamists and secularists hate the U.S. because it’s a superpower.

Everything the United States does is viewed with suspicion across the political spectrum. Gamal Abdel Gawad Soltan, the director of Egypt’s Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, admitted as much to me in Cairo last summer when I asked him about NATO’s war against Gadhafi in Libya. “There is a general sympathy with the Libyan people,” he said, “but also concern about the NATO intervention. The fact that the rebels in Libya are supported by NATO is why many people here are somewhat restrained from voicing support for the rebels.” When I asked him what Egyptians would think if the U.S. sat the war out, he said, “They would criticize NATO for not helping. It’s a lose-lose situation for you.”

So we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t. And not just on Libya. An enormous swath of the Arab world supported the Iraqi insurgency after an American-led coalition overthrew Saddam Hussein. Thousands of non-Iraqi Arabs even showed up to fight. Yet today the U.S. is roundly criticized all over the region for not taking Assad out in Syria.

Read more at World Affairs Journal

Mr. Totten is a contributing editor at World Affairs and City Journal, and is the prize-winning author of Where the West Ends (Belmont Estate, 2012) and The Road to Fatima Gate (Encounter, 2011).

The Stakes in Tonight’s Foreign Policy Debate

By Bruce Thornton

Foreign policy, the topic of tonight’s debate, was suddenly thrust into the voters’ consciousness by the murder of 4 Americans, including our ambassador, in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11. Intensifying the fallout of this event has been the Obama administration’s incoherent, clumsy, duplicitous, and rapidly unraveling attempt to blame the terrorist murders on a YouTube movie trailer lampooning Mohammed, in order to downplay the strength of the heavily armed jihadist outfits, some connected to al Qaeda, now swarming in Libya as a result of our overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

If Governor Romney wants to succeed, he must focus on the Benghazi attack and subsequent misdirection not just to highlight the administration’s increasingly obvious attempt to spin a carefully planned terrorist attack into a spontaneous reaction to an offensive video. More importantly, Romney must use the attack to emphasize its real significance: the political expediencies, character flaws, and dubious ideological assumptions behind Obama’s foreign policy failures.

The evidence of this failure is obvious throughout the Middle East. Start with Libya, the country most in the news. Eighteen months after U.S. air power facilitated the overthrow of Gaddafi In Libya, a weak central government is dominated by hundreds of heavily armed militant Islamist bands, some with links to al Qaeda, of the sort that killed our ambassador. Before his death, ambassador Chris Stevens reported that black al Qaeda battle-flags were flying over government buildings in Benghazi. This is consistent with an August 2012 report from the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, which documented al Qaeda’s influence in Libya and concluded, “The Libyan Revolution may have created an environment conducive to jihad and empowered the large and active community of Libyan jihadists, which is known to be well connected to international jihad.”

Elsewhere in Africa, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is active across a broad swath of North Africa, and is suspected of complicity in the Benghazi attack. Al Qaeda-linked militants control territory in northern Mali the size of France, and are applying shari’a law, including punishments like stoning, amputation, and public beatings.  In Nigeria the jihadist group Boko Haram, whose real name is “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad,” is also linked to AQIM, with whom it shares training, funds, and explosives. Boko Haram has been murdering Christians and others, 650 in this year alone, in order to fulfill the mandate of its name. And in Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to battle the government and to plot terrorist attacks. Contrary to Obama’s claims, Al Qaeda’s leadership may have been degraded, but the franchise continues to be strong and active.

Likewise in the Middle East, where the jihadist Muslim Brothers have come to power in Egypt, the region’s most populous country, thanks to Obama’s abandonment of the brutal but reliable Hosni Mubarak, who had kept them in check. Even as al Qaeda terrorists have stepped up attacks in Iraq in the wake of our withdrawal, that country is strengthening its ties to Iran, allowing the Iranians to cross Iraqi air space in order to deliver arms to Syria’s Bashar al Assad. In Syria, numerous jihadist groups fighting Assad are gaining valuable battlefield experience in tactics and weapons, including surface-to-air missiles probably acquired from Gaddafi’s looted arsenals. The Taliban in Afghanistan are surging in anticipation of Obama’s announced 2014 withdrawal, with U.S.-trained Afghan security forces turning their weapons on coalition troops, killing 51 this year. Given the weakness of the corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai, there is a very good chance that the Taliban will reestablish itself as a major power in Afghanistan after U.S. forces withdraw in 2014.

Most dangerously, Iran continues its march to the acquisition of nuclear weapons with which it can “wipe Israel off the map,” as President Ahmadinejad has threatened. According to a recent DEBKA report, Iran’s “nuclear program’s high-speed uranium enrichment plant has now been entirely sequestered in the fortified underground Fordo site near Qom,” which means the Israelis will not be able to destroy the site completely without America’s help. DEBKA continues, “The Iranians are preparing to change the ‘active formation’ of the Fordo centrifuges and adapt them for refining uranium up to the 60 percent level, a short step before the weapons grade of 90 percent. The conversion is expected to be ready to go in the second half of December or early January 2013.” Yet despite this fast approaching point of no return, the Obama administration has refused to back up non-lethal sanctions with a credible threat of force, leaving the Iranians to calculate correctly that they have enough time to reach nuclear capability.

Finally, Obama has chilled relations with our one reliable ally in the Middle East, Israel. He has accepted the specious pretext that “settlements” are the roadblock to peace, claimed that negotiations must start with the indefensible 1967 armistice line, snubbed and insulted Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, and worst of all, refused to back vigorously and unequivocally Israel’s attempts to eliminate the existential threat represented by a nuclear-armed Iran. Indeed, his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said of an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran, “I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it.” Such hostile talk has emboldened the Iranians and disheartened not just Israel, but other allies like Saudi Arabia who know what sort of disruptions and dangers will follow the mullahs’ getting the bomb.

Obama, in short, has reversed the famous aphorism of the Roman general Sulla: under his foreign policy, America has become no better enemy, no worse friend. Our retreat and weakness have diminished America’s stabilizing role in the region, creating a vacuum other countries are eager to fill. As Amir Taheri recently wrote, “For six decades American power acted as the pole that kept the tent [regional stability] up. Over the past four years, however, Barack Obama has pulled that pole away, allowing the tent to sag and, in parts, collapse. As opportunist powers, Russia, Iran and Turkey are trying to fill the vacuum created by America’s retreat. Thus, Russia has just returned as a top supplier of weapons to Iraq, clinching a $4.2 billion contract, partly thanks to lobbying by Iran.” Under Obama, the United States now has little influence over events, even as our own national interests, values, and security are put in jeopardy by these developments.

If Romney wants to gain the upper hand tonight, he needs to highlight this litany of failure. More important, he has to identity the flaws of character and ideology that have led to foreign policy disaster. The political needs of reelection, of course, have shaped Obama’s reactions to events. He staked his foreign policy success on the narrative that our major problem was al Qaeda, so all we needed to do was kill bin Laden and use drone strikes to degrade al Qaeda’s leadership. Hence Obama’s recent assertions that “Al Qaeda’s on its heels” and  “Al Qaeda is on the run.” Couple the war on al Qaeda to “democracy promotion” in the region, and all our terrorist problems would disappear. As Obama said on “60 Minutes,” follow this policy and “over the long term we are more likely to get a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with…our interests.”

That narrative explains Obama’s clumsy attempt to attribute the Benghazi attack to the “disgusting” YouTube video and the “spontaneous reaction,” as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said five days after the attack, that the video provoked, thus supporting the “al Qaeda on its heels” claim. But as we’ve seen above, al Qaeda is not just active, but growing. It is the mother ship of numerous other jihadist outfits with whom it cooperates and coordinates. But Obama’s admission that the attack was a carefully planned lethal celebration of the 9/11 attacks would perforce have repudiated the linchpin of his alleged foreign policy success, and it would have shown that contrary to his “60 Minutes” assertions, during his administration the region has become less peaceful and less aligned with our interests.

But equally important are the failures of Obama’s character, particularly his grandiose estimation of his world-historical significance. Believing that Muslims would react positively to his Muslim name and Muslim roots, Obama thought that all he had to do was show up, and all these countries would forget their national interests and religious beliefs. Of course that arrogant assumption has failed miserably, as surveys of the region show. According to the Pew Research Center, confidence in Obama exceeds 25% only in one country, Lebanon. And those numbers are significantly lower than they were when he took office in 2009. These data should not surprise anyone who knows that nations base their policies on their own culturally specific beliefs and national interests, not on other leaders’ charm or efforts at ingratiation. All Obama’s solicitous “outreach” has achieved is to create the impression that America is a weak enemy and an unreliable ally.

Read more at Front Page