Cruz: Nuclear Iran is a Bigger Threat than ISIL

Ted CruzWashington Free Beacon, By Alana Goodman:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) could lead to a “massive loss of life” in the United States if it is not stopped, but added that he still believes Iran’s nuclear ambitions pose a greater threat to the U.S. than the Islamic State, in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon last week.

The senator also tied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Obama administration’s Iran policy, and warned the White House against using a military campaign against ISIL as an excuse to appease Tehran.

“As grave as the threat from ISIS is, in my view the most significant threat to U.S. national security remains the threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability,” said Cruz. “The incoherence of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy will come to full flower if the peril of ISIS is used as an excuse to further appease Iran and facilitate their acquiring nuclear weapon capability.”

He added that “everything President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have done have increased the chances of Iran acquiring nuclear weapon capability, and have perversely increased the chances of future military conflict.”

While Cruz has not said whether he will run for president in 2016, his response to one question suggested that the possibility is on his mind.

“What should a strong president do [to prevent a nuclear Iran]? Well number one, I’ve introduced legislation in the Senate, comprehensive Iran sanctions legislation that demonstrates the direction I believe we should be taking,” said Cruz.

Although he noted that he remains supportive of a new sanctions legislation introduced by Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, he called the proposals “weak sauce.”

“Kirk-Menendez on its face is pretty weak sauce. It lays out future contingencies in which ultimately sanctions will be re-imposed. That’s not a rational way to negotiate with religious extremists like [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei,” said Cruz.

“The legislation I’ve introduced would immediately re-impose sanctions on Iran, would strengthen those sanctions to make them as crippling as humanly possible, and then it lays out a clear path to how Iran can lift those sanctions.”

Cruz said both ISIL and the Iranian regime are “radical Islamic terrorists who want to kill us. The one thing on which they agree is killing Americans.”

His comments echoed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said earlier this month that Tehran posed a more significant geo-strategic threat than ISIL.

Still, the senator warned that failing to confront ISIL could lead to massive U.S. casualties.

“If we don’t act now and if they are able to consolidate power and control of a nation state with massive oil revenues, the inevitable consequence of that will be a significant and perhaps even massive loss of life here in the United States,” said Cruz.

He criticized the idea of arming Syria’s anti-Assad rebels, saying that many of them were allied with ISIL, and the Obama administration had not provided a clear plan on how to keep the weapons from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

Cruz also defended his opposition to U.S. military action against the Syrian regime last summer.

“Had the administration gotten what it wanted last summer, there’s a very real chance ISIS would be stronger today than it is right now,” said Cruz.

The potential 2016 presidential hopeful sought to strike a middle ground between the non-interventionist wing of the Republican Party and those who supported President Bush’s “freedom agenda.”

“We have a job to do, and it’s not transform distant countries into democratic utopias,” said Cruz. “It’s not turn Iraq into Switzerland. It’s to prevent people who want to kill Americans from killing Americans.”

“I think it is unquestionably right that we are tired of sending our sons and daughters to distant lands to engage with nation-building,” he added. “But I think it is a profound misreading of the American spirit to confuse that with Americans being unwilling to defend themselves, being unwilling to stand up to serious and real national security threats, and to stand up with overwhelming force.”

U.S. Fears ISIL Smuggling Nuclear and Radioactive Materials

Fighters are shown from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State during a parade with a missile in Raqqa, Syria / AP

Fighters are shown from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State during a parade with a missile in Raqqa, Syria / AP

By Adam Kredo:

U.S. and Iraqi authorities have jointly ramped up their efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radioactive materials as concerns mount that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) is seeking to recover these sensitive materials and use them in a terror attack.

ISIL now controls about half of Iraq, potentially giving it access to some low-level radioactive and radiological materials, according to a State Department official.

The threat has been deemed “critical” by the U.S. State Department, which announced on Wednesday that it had inked a new deal with Baghdad to ramp up joint efforts to detect and recover sensitive nuclear materials before ISIL and other terrorist entities can get to them.

While the United States currently has no evidence that ISIL has yet to locate these types of materials, there are concerns that lawless areas under the group’s control could be used as a new smuggling route by rogue actors.

“The signing and donation of radiation detection equipment reflect the common conviction of the U.S. and Iraqi governments that nuclear smuggling and nuclear and radiological terrorism are critical and ongoing global threats that require a coordinated, global response,” the State Department said in a statement. “Iraq’s central location and the challenging security environment it faces reinforce the urgency with which these problems must be addressed.”

The United States, which started working on the agreement in 2012, is now providing the Iraqi government with radiation detection and identification equipment, according to the State Department. These tools are expected to help Iraqi authorities “locate, identify, characterize, and recover orphaned or disused radioactive sources in Iraq thereby reducing the risk of terrorists acquiring these dangerous materials.”

The concern is that sensitive materials could be smuggled outside of Iraq and potentially used by extremists.

“There’s always a concern about radiological or radioactive sources,” said a State Department official who would only discuss the issue on background.

While the United States is “not aware of any cases of these types of material being smuggled out of the country thus far,” ISIL could potentially use radioactive materials found in hospitals and some medical devices to create a crude bomb, the official said.

“This is the kind of thing where if ISIL got its hands on enough radioactive sources or radioactive sources of a sufficient radioactivity level and they decided to turn it into a bomb and blow it up in a market, that would be a very unpleasant thing,” the official said, noting that “there’s no indication that ISIL is planning to do that.”

Yet there is evidence that terrorists stole some nuclear materials in Iraq earlier this year.

Iraqi officials revealed to the United Nations in July that insurgents had seized uranium that was being used for research purposes at an academic institution in the northern part of the country.

Nearly 90 pounds of low-level uranium was stolen from Iraq’s Mosul University by “terrorist groups,” Iraq’s U.N. ambassador was quoted as saying at the time by Reuters.

“Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim wrote in a letter claiming that these material could be “used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction,” according to Reuters.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

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Day Two Highlights from the World Summit on Counter Terrorism

48756-ConferencePJMedia, By Patrick Poole:

Some interesting and provocative discussions during Day 2 of the in Herzliya, Israel (my Day 1 overview is here). Some of the highlights from the second day of proceedings:

A report released at the conference announced an estimate that the Assad regime in Syria has 1,000 tons of chemical weapons.

Syracuse professor William Banks offered his assessment, in line with one offered the previous day, that while the Syrian regime may have violated international law with the use of chemical weapons (even though they are not a signatory to the chemical weapons convention), the remedies do not include the use of force, much as President Obama is proposing.

Qanta Ahmed warned against the virulence of Islamist ideology, claiming it was more dangerous than nuclear weapons, and stressed the importance of moderate Muslims unmasking the “wolves in sheeps’ clothing,” i.e., so-called “moderate” Islamists.

Undoubtedly the most lively discussion of the day involved Canadian columnist and author Tarek Fatah. During his speech, which you can see in the clip below, he notes that missing from much of the debate over the use of chemical weapons by Syria, and even Iran’s budding nuclear program, is that Pakistan already possesses 100+ nuclear weapons.

Fatah also added that two of the top Islamic partners in the “war on terror,” Turkey and Pakistan, are among the biggest purveyors of the jihadist ideology we are confronting globally (Saudi Arabia could also be added to that list).

Brian Jenkins of RAND Corp noted the diminishing effectiveness of strikes aimed at decapitating terrorist organizations. According to his research, a terrorist group that suffers decapitation in the first year of its existence is 8.5 times more likely to disintegrate than if the leadership continues; after 10 years existence, that rate is cut in half; by 20 years (al-Qaeda would fall in this category) the effect of a leadership decapitation strike is negligible.

Jenkins also added that it appears the West is headed towards a permanent state of war with Islamic terrorism.

King’s College professor Peter Neumann said that the number of foreign jihadist fighters traveling to Syria is higher than any other conflict previously seen, which will pose a considerable threat to Western countries down the road.

Former FBI and Treasury official Matt Levitt talked about his new book on the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. He noted that many Hezbollah plots have a U.S. nexus.

Levitt also predicted that regardless of who comes out on top in Syria (Hezbollah is actively fighting on behalf of the Iranian-backed Assad regime), Hezbollah will come out the loser. Gone is their status as “freedom fighters” now that they are waging widespread warfare outside of their own country, severely damaging their credibility.

Thomas Hegghammer from the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment reported that there are 4,000-5,000 foreign fighters now operating in Syria. He also added that despite much of the jihadist activity around the world, the threats to Western countries — including the U.S. — are still primarily coming out of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy offered the most provocative thesis of the day, saying that “there has to be a revolution in law and jurisprudence” when it comes to terrorism. In the clip below, he says that rather than having government continuing to run to the courts to see what judges will allow, the process needs to be reversed, with governments telling judges and courts what results are needed and leaving it to the courts to find a way to get there:

I will be traveling to the Syrian border by the Golan Heights tomorrow, missing the last day of the conference. But I’ll be providing a report following that trip.

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Poll Reveals Chilling View of Post-Revolution Egypt

A new poll taken to gauge the views of the Egyptian people shows a telling — and chilling view – of the Egyptian population post-revolution. For those who envisioned the Arab Spring bringing with it a favorable view democracy in the Arab world, with its values of peace and tolerance, the results of this recent survey prove that view dead wrong.

Three years ago, 41 % of Egyptians said they wanted their country to acquire a nuclear bomb. Now, 87% of Egyptians said they “would be happy” if Egypt acquired the bomb.

Even though Shi’ite Muslims are viewed unfavorably by Egypt’s Sunni Muslims (68% according this poll), 62% of Egyptians said that “Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are friends of Egypt,” despite Iran’s hard-line Shi’ite affiliation.  In addition, 65% expressed a desire to restore diplomatic relations with Iran, and 61% supported the Iranian nuclear program.

Egypt’s recently elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi broke three decades of a freeze in Egyptian-Iranian relations (the result of the Islamic revolution in Iran and Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel) when he visited Iran last month. At the time, Iran’s deputy defense minister proclaimed, “We are ready to help Egypt to build nuclear reactors and satellites.”

A dramatic change in the Egyptian population’s view of Israel was also prominent in the results of the poll. Just three years ago, less than 25 percent of Egyptians favored breaking Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Now, 77 percent agreed that “The peace treaty with Israel is no longer useful and should be dissolved.”

Read more at Radical Islam

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Most Dangerous Terrorist Eludes Massive Manhunt: A Federal Folly (Part III)

by Paul L. Williams:

Part  I : Eleven Years after 9/11, the Threat Remains: The Leading Al Qaeda Operative  Remains at Large

Part  II: 9/11 A Prequel? Next Attack on America in Works

As the Arab Spring transforms into a chilling autumn of anti-American riots,  the “most dangerous” al Qaeda agent on planet earth remains on the loose with  the intent of launching terrorist attacks with radiological bombs in major  cities throughout the USA.

Seven years ago, the FBI issued a BOLO (“be-on-the-look out”) with a $5  million reward for any information resulting in the arrest of Adnan el  Shukrijumah.

Despite the expenditure of nearly $50 million, the search for this elusive  terrorist has produced no results. Elaborate plots were designed to snag him in  Guyana; his photo has appeared on the front page of every leading American  newspaper; and a special office, manned by a small army of FBI agents, was set  up in Miami to uncover his whereabouts.

But Adnan el-Shukrijumah, the Brooklyn-bred jihadi, remains alive and well  and more dangerous to America’s national security than ever before.

US officials first became aware of him in the wake of  Operation  Enduring Freedom (the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan), when the names of  Jaffar al Tayyar (“Jafer the Pilot”) and Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan were  discovered among the “pocket litter” of al Qaeda soldiers. [i]

In May 2002, U.S. intelligence and military officials starting asking a  pressing question to al Qaeda detainees who were being interrogated at foreign  prisons and secret CIA and military facilities abroad. “Whom,” the officials  asked, “would al Qaeda pick to lead the next big attack against U.S. targets?”  Intelligence sources told U. S. News and World Reports that several of  the detainees coughed up the same answer: “Jaffar al Tayyar.[ii]

The detainees said they had encountered “the Pilot” during al Qaeda training  exercises in Afghanistan. Intelligence officers presented photos of hundreds of  suspected al Qaeda operatives to the detainees. Several identified an individual  who bore a resemblance to Adnan el Shukrijumah.

But the resemblance was not reality, and it would take months before the FBI  and CIA teams, with their sophisticated equipment and state-of-the-art search  engines, would realize it. “We were pursuing a lead,” says one official, “that  in the end turned out to be a dead end. We found out we were after the wrong  person.[iii]

Indeed, the teams might still be searching for the wrong suspects and hitting  dead-ends, if not for the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured, quite  by accident, in Karachi, Pakistan March 1, 2003.

THE PLOT REVEALED

After days of interrogation, coupled with severe sleep deprivation, Mohammed  told U.S. officials that bin Laden was planning to create a “nuclear hell storm”  in America.[iv] Unlike other attacks, the terrorist chief said, the chain of  command for the nuclear attack answered directly to bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and  a mysterious scientist called “Dr. X.” Mohammed later admitted that “Dr. X” was  Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani father of the Islamic bomb and the  godfather of modern nuclear proliferation. He further confessed that the field  commander for this operation was a naturalized American citizen whom he also  referred to as Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan and “Jafer al Tayyar” (“Jafer the  Pilot”).[v] Both names are aliases of Adnan el Shukrijumah.

Khalid Mohammed went on to say that Adnan represents a “single-cell” – - a  lone agent capable of launching a solo nuclear or radiological attack on a major  American city. The news of such a cell reportedly startled U.   S. officials who  assumed that al Qaeda cells contained several members who were supported by  broad logistical back-up crews.[vi]

In March 21, 2003, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert  Mueller issued an urgent alert for Shukrijumah, and several of his al-Qaeda  associates, including Amer el-Maati, Abderraouf Jdey, and Aafia Siddiqui, who  received a biology degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and penned  a doctoral thesis on neurological science at Brandeis  University.[vi]

Siddiqui, a native of Pakistan, looms of importance in the search. She worked  closely with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as a “fixer,” the central al-Qaeda operative  who supplied money and logistical support to Adnan and his associates in  southern Florida. The money, as it turns out, came from the Saudi embassy.[viii]

‘DEMANDING, RUDE, AND OBNOXIOUS’

Several days after the BOLO was issued, Adnan and Jdey were spotted at a  Denny’s restaurant in Avon,  Colo., where one ordered a chicken sandwich and a  salad.  Samuel Mac, the restaurant manager, described them as “demanding,  rude and obnoxious.[ix] They told Mac they were from Iran and were driving from  New York to the West Coast. Upon calling the FBI headquarters in Washington,  D.C., Mac said the agent who answered the telephone said he had to call the  bureau’s Denver office and declined to take down any information. When Mac  called the Denver office of the FBI, he said he was shuttled to voice mail  because “all the agents were busy.”[x] It was five hours before a seemingly  uninterested agent called the restaurant manager. This agent, according to Mac,  took a few notes and said she would pass the information along to the field  agents who were handling the case.[xi]

This promise represented the full extent of the government’s interest in the  sighting, even though Shukrijumah had been labeled “the next Muhammad Atta by  FBI Director Robert Mueller. The federal and state law enforcement officials  failed to interview the restaurant workers and the patrons, purportedly even  those who were willing to verify the presence of the terrorists in the  restaurant. No forensic evidence was obtained from the scene by any law  enforcement officials – - not even the utensils that had been used by the  suspects.

When contacted by The Denver Post, Monique Kelso, spokeswoman for  the Denver bureau, said the office had received at least a dozen calls as a  result of the BOLO. The calls, Kelo said, were all taken seriously. She added,  “We follow up on every lead.”[xii]

THE WAZIRISTAN SUMMIT

Following the federal botch-up in Colorado, the diminutive Shukrijumah  resurfaced at a terrorist summit in the lawless Waziristan Province of Pakistan  in April 2004. The summit has been described by the FBI as a “pivotal planning  session” in much the same manner as a 2000 meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur for  the 9-11 attacks. Attending the summit were Abu Issa al Hindi, a Pakistani  technician whose company contained plans for staging attacks at financial  institutions in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., and Mohammed Babar,  who has been charged with buying materials to build bombs for attacks in Great  Britain. [xiii] Babar is an American citizen and resident of Queens, New York,  where he was a leading member of the Islamic Thinkers Society, a group that  burned the American flag during a demonstration before the Israeli consulate in  2006 and held up placards stating: “The mushroom cloud is on its way.”[xiv]

Read more: Family Security Matters