US official: Islamic State threatens to outpace al-Qaeda

Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testifies before a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 14, 2013.  (photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testifies before a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 14, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Matthew Olsen, a senior US counterterrorism official, says it will not be possible to defeat the Islamic State without a new government in Syria that excludes President Bashar al-Assad.

by Barbara Slavin,

Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Sept. 3 that the Islamic State (IS) “poses a multifaceted threat” to the United States but there was no “credible information” at present that the group was planning to attack in the United States or had a cell of fighters here capable of doing so.

However, in rare, wide-ranging public comments that followed the beheading of a second American journalist in Syria by IS, Olsen told a packed audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington that the terrorist group was “an extremely dangerous organization” that was “threatening to outpace al-Qaeda as the dominant voice of influence in the global jihadist movement” because of its territorial advances, financial resources and sophisticated propaganda.

Olsen also said, in response to a question from Al-Monitor, that IS could not be defeated while Bashar al-Assad remains at the helm of the government in Syria.

“As long as Assad is in that position — a ruler with no legitimacy in his own country — we have seen that Syria is a magnet for extremism,” Olsen said. “Part of the broader strategy over the long term is a political transition in Syria.”

Olsen’s comments seemed partly intended to counteract an impression left by President Barack Obama at a news conference last week that the United States lacks a strategy for dealing with IS, which grew out of an al-Qaeda offshoot in Iraq formed after the 2003 US invasion and which controls a Britain-sized chunk of territory spanning Iraq and Syria.

Since Obama’s comments, administration officials and the president himself have been at pains to explain that he was referring to the lack of a broad regional coalition as well as reliable ground forces that could justify extending US air strikes from Iraq into Syria.

Obama, speaking earlier Sept. 3 in Estonia, said a coalition including Sunni countries would be required “so that we can reach out to Sunni tribes in some of the areas that ISIS has occupied, and make sure that we have allies on the ground in combination with the airstrikes that we’ve already conducted” and might conduct in the future. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are traveling in the Middle East later this week, in part for organizing such a coalition.

Obama said, “It is very important from my perspective that when we send our pilots in to do a job, that we know that this is a mission that’s going to work, that we’re very clear on what our objectives are, what our targets are; we’ve made the case to Congress and we’ve made the case to the American people; and, we’ve got allies behind us so that it’s not just a one-off, but it’s something that over time is going to be effective.”

Asked by Al-Monitor if Iran could be part of the coalition given its hostility toward IS and contribution of weapons and advisers to Iraq, Olsen punted. “Obviously, Iran has interests in that region as well,” was all he would say.

Olsen said IS, while only one of a number of terrorist groups that have appeared in the last few years as offshoots of al-Qaeda and chaotic Arab uprisings, had benefited from the failure of the Syrian and Iraqi states to govern effectively and from the disaffection of Sunnis in both countries. IS “has proven to be an effective fighting force,” Olsen said, which “employs a battlefield strategy that is both complex and adaptive” and mixes terrorism with paramilitary assaults.

IS has also distinguished itself by surpassing al-Qaeda in the use of social media such as filming and distributing the horrifying videos of a British jihadist beheading American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

IS “disseminates timely and high quality content on multiple platforms,” Olsen said, while protecting its own private communications from Western prying through encryption and by avoiding the Internet.

In terms of the IS threat to the US homeland, however, Olsen said it was more potential than real. “At this point, we have no credible information that ISIL [another acronym for IS] is preparing to attack the US,” Olsen said.

He said his main concern was that an IS sympathizer “could conduct a self-directed, limited attack with little or no warning” but that such an attack would likely be “limited in scale and scope.”

US law enforcement and intelligence authorities are closely monitoring the movements of Americans and Europeans seeking to join the jihadist cause in Syria and foreign fighters trying to return to their countries of origin.

Read more at Al-Monitor

American Reported Killed Fighting for Al-Qaida in Syria

 

Amir Farouk Ibrahim,

Amir Farouk Ibrahim,

IPT: by John Rossomando:

Quintan Wiktorowicz: Architect Of US Counter Extremism Strategy

Quintan Wiktorowicz

Quintan Wiktorowicz

By gmbwatch:

In June 2011, a little known US government official and former college professor was the center of controversy in the UK when the Times of London reported that his efforts were behind an invitation to an official of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a part of the US Muslim Brotherhood, to meet young British Muslims in connection with a strategy to help them to reject terrorism. The newspaper reported that “British anti-extremism experts said they were shocked that the US Government was introducing teenagers to an organisation that promotes Islamic political activism.” The Times identified Dr. Quintan Wiktorowicz, an academic formerly posted to the US embassy in London and later promoted to the US National Security Council, as the architect of the strategy behind the invitation to Basim Elkarra who once had an award to him rescinded by California Senator Barbara Boxer after she learned he was a CAIR official. Although the visit was canceled following the controversy, Mr. Elkarra was known to have previously made two official visits to the U.K to meet other Muslim youth and community groups as a guest of the embassy. Mr. Elkarra was cited has saying “Quintan brought together American and British Muslims to share civic engagement best practices. My visit is strictly about civic engagement, not counter-terrorism.” The U.S. Embassy described Mr. Elkarra as “an experienced community activist who works in the US to uphold the values of tolerance, mutual respect and inter-religious dialogue.”

post from last week discussed the role of individuals tied to the US Muslim Brotherhood serving as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advisers on US counter-extremism policy. Another earlier post revealed that DHS had relied upon Saudi-funded Georgetown University professor John Esposito for advice to  law enforcement on counter-extremism. It appears that Dr. Wiktorowicz is the key White House official who helped the Obama administration fashion its new counter-extremism policies. So who exactly is Dr. Quintan Wiktorowicz and why would be involved in bringing the US Muslim Brotherhood to the UK? A look at Dr. Wiktorowicz’s life and work provides useful insight into the Obama administration’s views on countering extremism.

Several years after graduating from Cornell University,  Dr. Wiktorowicz participated in a 1995 summer Islamic studies program in Cairo, Egypt under a USAID fellowship.  It may have been during this time that according to an online bio, he studied Islam with an unidentified Sheikh from Al-Azhar, the main center of Islamic and Arabic learning in the world. In 1998, Dr. Wiktorowicz  was awarded a PhD in Political Science from American University with a dissertation concerning Islamist networks in Jordan. Following the awarding of his PHD, Dr. Wiktorowicz held several academic positions where he continued his work on Islamist networks including Al-Muhajiroun, the UK based Islamist group in which the two individuals accused of the recent brutal attack on a British solider were members. As a result of the 911 attacks, Dr. Wiktorowicz emerged from academic obscurity and began to be cited by national media as well as testifying before a Senate hearing on international terrorism. He also began speaking at various terrorism conferences.

Dr. Wiktorowicz joined the government in 2005 and until 2009, served as senior analyst at the National Counterterrorism Center having been recruited by  Juan Zarate, the Bush-era counterterrorism official. He also served as chair of the Interagency Intelligence Subcommittee on Radicalization and in May 2008 invited controversial U.S. Islamic cleric Yassir Qadi to a conference on U.S. Counter-Radicalization Strategy conference organized by the National Counterterrorism Center. From 2009-2011, Dr. Wiktorowicz was posted to the US London Embassy where he “piloted a field-based approach to partnering with Muslim communities at the grassroots level to counter violent extremism, a program that has since been expanded to multiple countries and regions.” It was during this time that CAIR official Bassim Elkarra was invited to the UK to meet with young British Muslims. In January 2011, Dr Wiktorowicz  was appointed Senior Director for Global Engagement at the National Security Council.

In August 2011, the White House revealed its strategy for countering radicalization titled “Empowering Local Partners To Prevent Violent Extremism In The United States” which the New York Times reported that Dr. Wiktorowicz helped devise. The Times cited him as saying that “the administration was aware of ‘inaccurate training’ on Islam for law enforcement officers that the Obama administration would compile ‘gold standard’ materials to be posted on the Web for officials to draw upon.” The new US strategy appeared to be modeled somewhat upon the UK Prevent Program but unlike that effort, avoided the issue of non-violent extremism and underestimated the importance of Islamist ideology as a factor in fostering violent extremism. (Knowledgable sources in the UK tell us that Dr. Wiktorowicz’s approach was based on an earlier version of the Prevent Program that was widely acknowledged to be a complete failure. Also see here andhere.) Dr. Wiktorowicz’s statements at the time suggest his strong support for including the US Muslim Brotherhood as part of the new strategy.

Best known for his unproven theory that increased religiosity actually deters terrorism and despite his critical role as the architect of US counterterrorism strategy, Dr. Wiktorowicz displays  an astonishing lack of understanding of the nature of the Global Muslim Brotherhood as well as its relationship with Al Qaeda.

Read more

DHS Law Enforcement Guidelines Rely On Saudi-Funded Georgetown Professor For Views On Muslim Brotherhood

By :

Documents disclosed by US media reveal that the US Department of Homeland Security has relied upon Saudi-funded Georgetown University professor John Esposito for advice on counterterrorism training for law enforcement. The Daily Caller has published a checklist from the DHS that provides a set of “Do’s and Dont’s  for law enforcement counterterrorism trainers. According to the Daily Caller Report:

John Esposito

John Esposito

May 17th 2013 The Department of Homeland Security, which under Secretary Janet Napolitano has shown a keen interest in monitoring and warning about outspoken conservatives, takes a very different approach in monitoring political Islamists, according to a 2011 memo on protecting the free speech rights of pro-Shariah Muslim supremacists.

In a checklist obtained by The Daily Caller entitled ‘Countering Violent Extremism Dos and Don’ts’ the DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties notifies local and national law enforcement officials that it is Obama administration policy to consider specifically Islamic criticism of the American system of government legitimate.

This policy stands in stark contrast to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis’ 2009 memo ‘Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment’ [pdf], which warned of the dangers posed by pro-life advocates, critics of same-sex marriage and groups concerned with abiding by the U.S. Constitution, among others.

The advice of the Dos and Don’ts list is far more conciliatory. ‘Don’t use training that equates radical thought, religious expression, freedom to protest, or other constitutionally-protected activity, including disliking the U.S. government without being violent,’ the manual’s authors write in a section on training being ‘sensitive to constitutional values.’

The manual, which was produced by an inter-agency working group from DHS and the National Counterterrorism Center, advises, ‘Trainers who equate the desire for Sharia law with criminal activity violate basic tenets of the First Amendment.’

Read the rest here.

Most relevant to the mission of the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch is the section of the memo labeled F.  “Training should adhere to government standards and efforts.”:

Don’t use training that relies on fear or conspiracies to motivate law enforcement. Don’t use training premised on theories with little or no evidence to support them. Examples (from the report “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace”) of unsubstantiated theories include:

a. Many mainstream Muslim organizations have terrorist ties.

b. Mainstream Muslim organizations are fronts for Islamic political organizations whose true desire is to establish Sharia law in America. Muslim Americans are using democratic processes, like litigation and free speech, to subvert democracy and install Sharia law.”

“Manufacturing the Muslim Menace” , a report produced by the leftwing group Political Research Associates (PRA), provides their rationale for this guideline:

Islamophobic counterterrorism trainers routinely categorize such civil rights groups as the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR) as a support network for terrorists. For this charge they lean heavily on guilt by association, citing a few instances of members or former members with troublesome associations as evidence of organizational complicity.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are all important part of the US Muslim Brotherhood and the PRA makes it quite clear who they relied upon for their assessment of the Brotherhood by thanking Professor Ziad Munson and Dr. [John] Esposito for “sharing expertise on the Muslim Brotherhood.” The PRA report also makes clear the result of relying upon these academics for their view of the Brotherhood. For example, the report states:

Private counterterror firms routinely label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. “While there are many terrorist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere,” writes John Esposito, “it is misleading to refer to the Muslim Brotherhood today as a terrorist group.” There is no evidence which supports the proposition that the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. has been or is involved in terrorist or violent activity, says Esposito.

On the contrary, there is substantial evidence that the US Muslim Brotherhood been involved in both a robust rhetorical defense of terrorism as well as being actively involved in helping to finance Hamas. Yet, the PRA does not appear to count Hamas nor Hezbollah as terrorist organizations and suggests that DHS agrees:

Islamophobic counterterrorism trainers lean heavily on the use of guilt by association. They routinely categorize civil rights groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as a support net- work for terrorists. None of these organizations has been convicted of terrorism or formally charged with providing material support to terrorists, but they are frequently impugned due to their alleged sympathy for Hamas and Hezbollah. To varying degrees, Muslim civil rights groups are led by individuals who oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and the use of U.S. military operations in predominantly Muslim countries. It has become a norm to simply define Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorists without recognizing that these groups have become conventional political players in recent years, leading some to distinguish between their military and political branches. Even Homeland Security officials recognize that while Hamas and Hezbollah are both listed as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government and have targeted civilians with bombings, they are distinct from al Qaeda in methods and motivations.

The PRA report also takes issue with the idea that organizations such as CAIR and ISNA can be held to account for their role as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case calling CAIR for example “a legitimate lobbying group for the rights and civil liberties of Muslims in America, who need protection from McCarthyistic witch hunts.” However, even before the Holy Land trial, investigative research had determined that both CAIR and ISNA had extensive ties to the US Hamas infrastructure. In 2009, a US federal judge ruled ”The Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.

Dr. Munson makes his contribution to the report by attempting to discredit the existence of a Global Muslim Brotherhood, calling it a “Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy”:

The Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory fails on at least two counts. First, experts on the Muslim Brotherhood stress that it does not function as a central body for a monolithic global movement. Using the Cold War analogy, Egypt is not Moscow. Lehigh University Professor Ziad Munson concludes, “There are simply too many ideological, religious, and historical barriers for this to be a realistic plot.”

The GMBDW has extensively refuted these comic book conceptions of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, never once suggesting that its either a “central body” nor that it is a “monolithic global movement.”

Read more at The Global Muslim Brotherhood  Daily Watch

 

US Gov’t: Radical Muslims Approved, Moderates Shunned

Muslim advisorsBy Ryan Mauro:

A 2011 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document released by The Daily Caller advises government agencies against training about the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and to shun “Muslim reformers.”

Shockingly, the advisory committee that likely influenced these guidelines includes numerous individuals affiliated with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.

The document says it is a list of “tips for federal, state and local government and law enforcement officials organizing CVE [Countering Violent Extremism], cultural awareness, counter-radicalization, or counterterrorism training.” It was produced by the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in cooperation with the National Counterterrorism Center.

The DHS suggestions in the document include:

Don’t use training premised on theories with little or no evidence to support them. Examples (from the report “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace”) of unsubstantiated theories include:

a. Many mainstream Muslim organizations have terrorist ties.

b Mainstream Muslim organizations are fronts for Islamic political organizations whose true desire is to establish Sharia law in America. Muslim Americans are using democratic processes, like litigation and free speech, to subvert democracy and install Sharia law.

The “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace” report cited depicts concerns about the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood as the fabrications of anti-Muslim bigots. Moreover, it defends the Brotherhood, saying it is a moderate group that wouldn’t use front groups in America.

In reality, solid evidence exists to the contrary – evidence ironically from the federal government’s own determinations as well as documents from the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood itself including a 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood explanatory memorandum that explicitly states: “[O]ur work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”

The Brotherhood memorandum lists “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.”  The list includes “mainstream” Muslim-American groups—the very same groups which appear to have influenced these very same Department of Homeland Security guidelines (see below).

Specifically, the federal government designated the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) as unindicted co-conspirators in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation for financing Hamas. Federal prosecutors labeled these three mainstream groups as U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities in 2007. In 2009, the designations were upheld by District Court Judge Solis because of “ample” evidence linking them to Hamas.

The Clarion Project has broken numerous stories about other Islamist groups doing exactly what the DHS dismisses in the current training document as “unsubstantiated theories.”

For example, a Pennsylvania-based group, Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International (SIIASI), tells Muslims to engage in “litigation jihad” to advance Sharia law in America.

A California-based group, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), which issues authoritative fatwas, or religious declarations, said in a 2007 Arabic paper presented at one of its conferences it recommends that Muslims become judges and use deception to implement sharia law to the best of their ability. To call their rulings unsettling would be a gross understatement.

These are important facts but the DHS guidelines would leave law enforcement personnel ignorant of them.

On the topic of “Muslim Reformers,” the DHS document had this to say:

Don’t use trainers who answer primarily to interest groups. For example, trainers who are self-professed “Muslim reformers” may further an interest group agenda instead of delivering generally accepted unbiased information.

This is a chilling reflection of how the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups have succeeded in marginalizing their competitors. (SeeThe Clarion Project.org’s CAIR Lashes Out at Non-Islamist Muslim Group where CAIR labels their competitors as being part of an “Islamophobia” network.)

In fact, the Brotherhood groups have become treasured partners of the Obama Administration, while their opponents have been shut out of the policy process. Radical Islamists with known connections to terrorism have had an open door to the White House, but moderate Muslims are not among the list of invitees.

Read more at The Clarion Project

Wolf Legislation Brings Back 9/11 Commission

Disappearing-CT-language-sm

(Lexicon purge chart by Patrick Poole)

This ought to be interesting. Will we get more hearings with Obama administration officials turning themselves into pretzels trying to avoid the “Forbidden Lexicon”?

IPT, by John Rossomando:

Sunni Muslim ‘Extremists’ Committed 70% of Terrorist Murders in 2011

People inspect the aftermath of a car bomb attack in Baghdad’s Shiite enclave of Sadr City, Iraq, Monday, July 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

By Edwin Mora

(CNSNews.com) – Sunni Muslim terrorists committed “about 70 percent” of the 12,533 terrorist murders in the world last year, according to a report by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

The information comes from the 2011 NCTC Report on Terrorism, which is based on information available as of March 12, 2012.

“Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities for the third consecutive year,” the report says. “More than 5,700 incidents were attributed to Sunni extremists, accounting for nearly 56 percent of all attacks and about 70 percent of all fatalities.”

The report says that in 2011, a total of 10,283 terrorism attacks across the world killed 12,533 people. Terrorism also is blamed for 25,903 injuries and 5,554 kidnappings.

According to NCTC, of the 12,533 terrorism-related deaths worldwide, 8,886 were perpetrated by “Sunni extremists,” 1,926 by “secular/political/anarchist” groups, 1,519 by “unknown” factions, 170 by a category described as “other”, and 77 by “Neo-Nazi/Fascist/White Supremacist” groups.

CNSNews.com asked NCTC if it could break down the fatality and incident statistics by religious groups other than Sunni Muslims.

Carl Kropf, a spokesman at NCTC, told CNSNews.com that the “only portrayal” NCTC has of terrorism perpetrators in 2011 is what is found in the report.

“We don’t break it down any further than that,” he said. “I thought it was a pretty good treatment of how it is not just Sunni extremists, but there are other elements that conduct attacks, and those are captured as best we can.”

The report showed that the number of terrorism-related fatalities “decreased by 5 percent” from 13,193 in 2010 to 12,533 in 2011, while the number of attacks dropped 12 percent from 11,641 in 2010 to 10,283 last year.

“More than half [6,418] of the people killed in 2011 were civilians and 755 were children,” the report noted.

Coming second after civilians were police: NCTC found that terrorism was responsible for the deaths of 2,423 law enforcement officers, followed by military security forces (1,389), and government representatives (768).

“Muslims continued to bear the brunt of terrorism, while attacks targeting Christians dropped nearly 45 percent from a five-year high in 2010,” stated NCTC.

“In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years,” added the report.

Countries with Muslim majorities such as Afghanistan “suffered the largest number of fatalities overall (in 2011) with 3,245 deaths, followed by Iraqis (2,958), Pakistanis (2,038), Somalis (1,013), and Nigerians (590).”

Al-Qaida (AQ) and its affiliates, considered to be Sunni extremists, were “responsible for at least 688 attacks that resulted in almost 2,000 deaths,” the report showed.

The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, also comprised of Sunni extremists, “conducted over 800 attacks that resulted in nearly 1,900 deaths,” NCTC said.

According to the report, the second largest category of terrorism perpetrators in 2011 after Sunni extremists was “secular, political, and anarchist groups,” which were primarily identified as Marxist, communist sympathizers.

“Secular, political, and anarchist groups were the next largest category of perpetrators, conducting 2,283 attacks with 1,926 fatalities, a drop of 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively, from 2010,” stated NCTC.

The most active of the secular, political, and anarchist groups in 2011 included the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia FARC (377 attacks); the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) (351 attacks); the New People’s Army/Communist Party of the Philippines (NPA-CPP) (102 attacks); and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in Turkey (48 attacks). added the agency.

The U.S. State Department’s 2011 Country Report on Terrorism describes FARC as a fighting “in support of Marxist goals” and being “heavily involved in narcotics production and trafficking.”

The NCTC did not provide the exact number of deaths from FARC-related attacks. Most of the attacks and deaths related to terrorism that occurred across the world in 2011 involved armed conflict and bombings, according to the report.

There were 5,895 terrorism-related armed attacks resulting in 4,290 deaths that year and 6,724 bombings causing 4,150 fatalities.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) “were the most frequently used and the deadliest weapon employed,” the report said.

The National Counterterrorism Center was created in 2004 to ensure, in part, that U.S. government agencies have appropriate access to and receive the intelligence necessary to accomplish their assigned missions.

There were 6,354 deaths from 3,747 IEDs in 2011.

Al-Qaeda In Iraq Threatens To Attack Targets In U.S.

 

By Brian Bennett

WASHINGTON – The militant organization that was once the scourge of the U.S. military campaign in Iraq and probably is responsible for more than 100 deaths in the country over the last few days has set its sights on launching attacks in the United States, intelligence officials said.

Al Qaeda in Iraq released a message this week that threatened to strike at the “heart” of the United States, and several associates of the group have been arrested in the U.S. and Canada in the last two years, said American officials, a sign that the organization has tried to establish a network in North America.

The arrests highlight “the potential threat posed to the United States” from Al Qaeda in Iraq, said Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, during a hearing Wednesday before the House Homeland Security Committee examining the current threat from terrorism to the United States.

Al Qaeda in Iraq had been known primarily for launching attacks against the American forces in Iraq and the Shiite Muslim-led government there, as well as helping to plot attacks in neighboring Jordan.

But “there are networks and recruiting efforts in the U.S. and Canada,” said Seth Jones, an expert on Al Qaeda at the Rand Corp. and author of “Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of Al Qaeda since9/11.”

“You can say pretty categorically that Al Qaeda in Iraq appears to be strengthening from where it was two years ago,” even as Al Qaeda’s senior leaders in Pakistan have been killed, Jones said.

Al Qaeda in Iraq was pummeled more than five years ago by a coalition of Sunni Arab tribal leaders in western Iraq and U.S. forces, but experts who study Al Qaeda say that the organization in Iraq has begun to rebuild, energized in the last year by the violent uprising next door in Syria and an influx of cash from wealthy benefactors in the Persian Gulf. U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in December.

On Sunday, the day before the latest wave of attacks in Iraq killed at least 110 people, the militant group released an audio recording to mark the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The message announced a new campaign of violence against the Iraqi government, praised Syria’s uprising and made a call for new recruits to join the group. It also spoke directly to Americans.

Read more: Family Security Matters

Muslim Brotherhood Gaining Foothold in U.S. Gov’t?

 By Erick Stakelbeck CBN News Terrorism analyst

WASHINGTON — They were the first modern terrorists and the forerunner of al Qaeda. But these days, the Muslim Brotherhood is becoming mainstream not only in Egypt, but in Washington, D.C.

While the final chapter of the so-called Arab Spring has yet to be written, it appears that radical Islamic forces could emerge as the big winners. None more so than the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Jordan, the Brotherhood has used unrest to increase its influence.

The group is also making inroads closer to home, according to one expert.

“Their goal is primarily deception, manipulation and intelligence gathering,” former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo said.

Guandolo said Brotherhood operatives have infiltrated the halls of power in Washington, D.C.

“What we’re seeing not just inside the White House, but inside the government entities, the national security entities, the State Department — is a strong push by the Muslim Brotherhood to get their people not just into operational positions, but policy positions — deeper, long term, bureaucratic positions,” he told CBN News.

Chief among their operatives is the Islamic Society of North America or ISNA, according to Guandolo.

In 2007, ISNA was named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history.

Likewise, the FBI has uncovered internal Muslim Brotherhood documents naming ISNA as “one of our organizations and the organizations of our friends.”

Nevertheless, when President Obama wanted a Muslim to pray at his inauguration, his administration turned to ISNA’s then-president Ingrid Mattson.

And at a recent White House Iftar dinner, current ISNA head Mohammed Majid sat just a few feet from the president.

“Moahmmed Majid was sitting at the front table right in front of Barack Obama. But when the official list of White House attendees was published, his name was curiously missing,” said terrorism expert Patrick Poole, a columnist with Pajamasmedia.com.

Another American-Muslim group linked to both the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

The FBI refuses to meet with CAIR over its ties to terrorism.

But top White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett recently praised the group for taking part in an MTV “anti-bullying” campaign.

“The U.S. government knows that these are Muslim Brotherhood operatives because federal government prosecutors have gone into federal court and said that they’re Muslim Brotherhood operatives,” Poole explained.

One such operative is Kifah Mustpaha. In 2010, he was given a tour of both FBI headquarters and the National Counterterrorism Center, despite longstanding ties to the terror group Hamas.

Hamas identifies itself as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We know that the Muslim Brotherhood, from their own documents, has said that they want to infiltrate all levels of government and civil society here in America to destroy from within,” Poole said.

The Obama administration seems to see the Brotherhood as an ideal partner for its Muslim outreach policies.

Earlier this year, National Intelligence Director James Clapper drew criticism when he called the group “largely secular.”

“The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence,” he said.

Obama administration officials say they are now engaged in dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

That policy apparently extends to the Brotherhood in America as well.