New York Times Discovers Yemen’s ‘Death to America’ Houthi Rebels are Moderates and Possible U.S. Partners

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole On January 26, 2015

The New York Times launched some weapons-grade stupidity on Sunday with an article by Rod Nordland and Eric Schmitt citing “experts” claiming that the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen that have swept though critical parts of the country, including the capital Sanaa, are not just moderates, but possible U.S. counter-terrorism partners.

Because of the ongoing Houthi offensive, Yemen’s information minister admitted last week that the government had lost effective control of the country.

Amanpour tweet

Thankfully, the Times is here to assure us that when the Houthis shout “Death to America” they really don’t mean it:

At first glance the official slogan and emblem of the Houthis, who are now the dominant force in Yemen, does not offer much hope to American policy makers.

It includes the words “Death to America, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews.” Houthis shout it when they march, wear it on arm patches, paint it on buildings and stick it onto their car windows. When pictured, those words are rendered in red, framed by “God is great” and “Victory to Islam” in green, on a white background.

Sometimes the red words are shown dripping blood.

But for all their harsh sloganeering, the Houthis may be a lot more moderate than it suggests, according to many diplomats and analysts who have followed them closely. They say it would be premature to dismiss them as Yemen’s Hezbollah, despite their alliance with Iran.

For reference purposes, here’s the slogan in question:

Houthi logo

Houthis tweet

Ah, but we have nothing to fear, because they fight Al-Qaeda says the Pentagon:

On Wednesday, Michael G. Vickers, the Pentagon’s top intelligence policy official, noted that the Houthis’ dominance had been growing over the past several months as they expanded their control since last September, but he said that has not interfered with American missions. “The Houthis are anti-Al Qaeda, and we’ve been able to continue some of our counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in the past couple months,” Mr. Vickers said.

And they’re nothing like yet another Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, say the “experts”:

“The Houthis are not Hezbollah,” said Charles Schmitz, an expert on the group and a professor at Towson University, referring to the Iranian-supported group that dominates Lebanon and is actively fighting on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. “They are domestic, homegrown, and have very deep roots in Yemen, going back thousands of years.”

In fact, they could be U.S. counter-terrorism partners if they only dropped their “Death to America” sloganeering (!!) the “experts” continue:

April Alley, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group in Sana, said: “Theoretically there is quite a bit of common ground in Yemen between the Houthis and the U.S., particularly when it comes to security issues and Al Qaeda. But so far it’s not been enough to overcome the obstacles. The Houthis have their own limits in which they can engage the Americans given the political narrative they have propagated.”

It should be noted that last week a U.S. Embassy vehicle carrying U.S. personnel was shot up at a Houthi checkpoint.

And a Houthi checkpoint featuring the “Death to America” signs has been operating right outside the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa since September:

Yemen photo

 

Houthi checkpoint tweets

 

One curious omission in the Times article, however, is that Obama hailed Yemen as one of his administration’s counter-terrorism successes back in September:

t4

 

So with Iran or Iranian proxies in charge of another Arab capital (Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, Sanaa) we have nothing to fear, the New York Times is here to tell us.

And the Houthis take their place as acclaimed moderates in the U.S. foreign policy narrative bubble, along with the “largely secular” Muslim Brotherhood, the“vetted moderate” Syrian rebels, the “moderate elements” of Hezbollah (as cited by CIA Director John Brennan), and even “moderate” Al-Qaeda.

Gohmert Reads Obama Admin’s Top 10 Mistakes of 2014

 

PJ Media, The National Security ‘Not Top 10′ of 2014

By Patrick Poole, December 31, 2014

With the world descending into chaos driven in no small measure by the incoherent, contradictory and frequently non-existent foreign policy of the Obama administration, it was difficult this year to narrow the field for this year’s biggest national security blunders. The task seemed so formidable, I nearly abandoned the endeavor.

But undaunted, I present to you the National Security “Not Top 10” of 2014, in no particular order.

(For past editions of my “Not Top 10”, see: 2012, 2011, 2010)

1) Befriending “moderate Al-Qaeda” in Syria:

There are some ideas so at war with reason and reality they can only exist in the fetid Potomac fever swamps of DC think tanks and foreign policy community. Such was the case in January when three of the best and brightest from those ranks published an article in Foreign Affairs (the same publication that in 2007 brought us the “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood”) contending that the US needed to “befriend” the Syrian jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham as some kind of counter to more extreme jihadist groups, like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. The precedent they cited was the US failure to designate the Taliban (!!!) after 9/11.

Mind you, at the time they wrote this, one of Ahrar al-Sham’s top leaders was a lieutenant for Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri who openly declared himself a member of Al-Qaeda. After most of their leadership was wiped out in a bombing in September, they have gravitated closer to the jihadist groups they were supposed to counter and their positions have been bombed by the US – much to the consternation of other “vetted moderate” rebel groups. So ridiculous was their proposition that the original subtitle of their article “An Al-Qaeda Affiliate Worth Befriending” was changed online to “An Al-Qaeda-Linked Group Worth Befriending” in the hopes of minimizing the absurdity of their case.

2) Obama Administration deploys three hashtag divisions in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As Ukrainians made their bid to free themselves from Russia’s interference, Putin responded by deploying tanks and troops into Ukraine in violation of the1994 Budapest Memorandum. Obama’s rejoinder was to give a speech and to deploy three divisions of State Department employees all armed with a #UnitedForUkraine hashtag. Hilarity ensued as the Russian Foreign Ministry counterattacked by hijacking the hashtag, prompting State Department spox Jen Psakito decry, “Let’s hope the Kremlin will live by the promise of hashtag,” leaving many asking: Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

3) Obama: ISIS is the “JV team”.

In January President Obama sat down for an interview with the New Yorker, and when asked about ISIS gains in Iraq, he likened them to the JV team, saying ““The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Those words came back to haunt him as ISIS surged in both Syria and Iraq, particular when Obama authorized missile strikes against ISIS in August. Even then Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken defended the president’s “JV team” remark, saying they didn’t pose the threat to America as much as Al-Qaeda. A few week later, the Washington Post noted the attempts to spin the president’s statement. By September, Obama laughably claimed in an interview on Meet the Press that he wasn’t talking about ISIS in his New Yorker interview. But even the notoriously biased Politifact rated his walk-back as “false” and two weeks ago the Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler branded Obama’s “JV team” spin as “the lie of the year”.

4) State Dept Official denies Boko Haram targeting Christians.

Just weeks after the Nigerian terrorist group abducted nearly 300 Christian school girls in Chibok and committed them to sexual slavery, State Department undersecretary Sarah Sewalldenied in a congressional hearing that Christians were being targeted. As I noted in an article here at PJ Media earlier this month on disturbing trends in Nigeria, the burning of churches and the abduction and murder of Christians continues to intensify, with more than 1,000 churches burned in just a few weeks earlier this year.

Readers might recall that this is the same State Department that in April 2012 was telling Congress that Boko Haram was not driven by religious ideology the day after the group bombed a church during an Easter service that killed 39 worshippers. Not only did the State Departmentvehemently defend not designating Boko Haram a terrorist organization, this year we discovered that they intentionally lied to Congress about the threat posed by the group. Having only designated them barely a year ago, 2014 has been Boko Haram’s deadliest year yet, with 9,000 killed, 1.5 million people displaced, and 800 schools destroyed. Nigerian authorities still complain that the Obama administration is reluctant to provide the country what it needs to fight the Boko Haram terror insurgency.

5) Homeland Security adviser’s pro-caliphate tweet used by ISIS recruiters.

Twitter proved to be the downfall of Homeland Security Advisor Council Senior Fellow Mohamed Elibiary, when he was unceremoniously let go by DHS in September following a long string of extremist social media statements. Critics, including myself, had noted Elibiary long history of promoting radical Islamic groups and publicly defending terrorist supporters. Things began to unravel when earlier this year he tweeted that America was “an Islamic country with an Islamically compliant constitution,” but the wheels definitely came off when he tweeted about the inevitability of the return of an Islamic caliphate – a statement that was later used by ISIS in their recruiting efforts. After his dismissal, which even international media took note of, I talked with Michelle Fields here at PJTV about Elibiary’s highly controversial tenure at DHS.

6) Obama, State Dept give shout-outs to Islamic cleric who OK’d fatwa authorizing killing of Americans in Iraq.

The Obama administration repeatedly promoted their BFF Mauritanian Islamic scholar Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, whose organization issued a fatwa in 2004 calling for the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and has spoken out in support of the terrorist group Hamas. But as I reported here at PJ Media in 2013, that didn’t prevent Bin Bayyah from receiving a warm welcome in the White House by members of Obama’s national security staff and being feted on Capitol Hill by two of Obama’s top Muslim advisers. When critics noted the cleric’s extremist views, the White House doubled down their support.

That continued when in May of this year, the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau tweeted out their support of Bin Bayyah, including a link to his website. Facing a backlash from critics and inquiries from the media, the State Department apologized and deleted the tweet. That didn’t stop President Obama from giving Bin Bayyah a shout-out in his address to the United Nations in September, remarkably praising the extremist cleric as a moderate scholar.

7) Obama administration gives heavy weapons to “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups that promptly turn up in hands of ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

Earlier this year, the DC foreign policy establishment was hailing two US-backed “vetted moderate” Syrian groups as the saviors to the Obama administration’s disastrous Syrian policy. The Syrian Revolutionaries Front was billed by Foreign Policy as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies,” and the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Harakat al-Hazm was deemed by DC think tankers as “rebels worth supporting.” In fact, both groups were among the first to receive shipments of US TOW missiles. But as I’ve reported here at PJ Media, both groups were openly allying with jihadist groups, and in response to US airstrikes targeting ISIS, Harakat al-Hazm began denouncing the strikes as an “attack on the revolution.” Within the past two months,both groups have collapsed and many of their fighters have defected to ISIS and Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra.

Even more importantly, they surrendered their weapons to these jihadist groups. Earlier this month I reported that Jabhat al-Nusra was using US TOW missiles – a report confirmed over the weekend by the New York Times. This week brings news that ISIS is now using US TOW missiles in attacks near Damascus. The Iraqi Army has gotten into the act as well, having surrendered to ISIS 1,500 US-provided armored Humvees, 52 M198 howitzers with 20 mile range, and 4,000 PKC belt-fed machine guns.

8) White House defends Muslim Brotherhood’s “commitment to non-violence”.

Earlier this month the White House curtly responded to a “We the People” petition on its website calling for the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, saying that “we have not seen credible evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood has renounced its decades-long commitment to non-violence.” Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group earlier this year.  As I noted as far back as 2007, the popular DC myth that the Muslim Brotherhood had renounced terrorism has no basis in reality. This was summarized ably by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in an oped earlier this year that not only had the US government itself rejected the notion of a non-violent Muslim Brotherhood, but it has also designated as terrorists branches, leaders and charities of the international Muslim Brotherhood.

Those official US government statements testifying to the Muslim Brotherhood’s long history of violence and terrorism, as well as its violent doctrines, were included as findings in H.R. 5194, sponsored by Bachmann and 19 other House members calling for the Brotherhood’s designation. Events of this year have testified to Brotherhood’s ongoing support for terrorism, such as the raid last January by Egyptian authorities of a Molotov cocktail factory inside a Brotherhood office in Alexandria, the brutal murder in April of a Christian woman who was dragged from her car during a Muslim Brotherhood protest, and thearrest of Brotherhood officials earlier this month in Jordan who were smuggling weapons into the West Bank for terror attacks on Israelis. If to highlight the point, when UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his government would be investigating the Muslim Brotherhood, the group’s London office threatened attacks in response.

9) Obama administration defends US Islamic groups branded as terrorist organizations by UAE.

The White House reportedly spent its Christmas appealing to the UAE to remove two US Islamic groups – the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society – from the UAE’s terrorist blacklist. What makes this defense, particularly of CAIR, so remarkable is that the US government itself has noted the terror connections in federal court. In 2007, federal prosecutors named CAIR as unindicted co-conspirators in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history, and during the trial one FBI agent testified that CAIR was a front for Hamas and prosecutors contended in court filings (p. 13) that it was part of an international Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to provide “media, money and men” to the terror group. The federal judge in the case agreed, stating in a ruling that there was “ample evidence” CAIR and other Islamic groups identified as conspirators acted in support of Hamas. The Justice Department has also said in federal court that MAS was “founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.” Notwithstanding a FBI ban on official contact with CAIR, White House officials have admitted to hundreds of meetings with the terror front.

10) Having banned discussions of ideology driving Islamic terrorism, Pentagon says it can’t understand ideology of ISIS.

The New York Times reported over the weekend about the unsuccessful efforts of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to counter the ideology of ISIS. “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea,” said SOCOM’s Major Gen. Michael Nagata, while “other officials acknowledge they have barely made a dent in the larger, longer-term campaign to kill the ideology that animates the terrorist movement,” the article noted. This is no surprise as the Joint Chiefs of Staff formally banned any discussion of the Islamic ideology driving terrorist groups in its counter-terrorism training and in its war colleges in an October 2011 Joint Action Staff Directive that was sourced solely on the questionable and highly partisan reporting of far Left blogger Spencer Ackerman.

As I have detailed elsewhere, the Joint Chiefs’ actions were part of a larger Obama administration effort to purge counter-terrorism training across all national security and law enforcement agencies. The architect of the Obama administration’s failing counter-terrorism strategy, Quintan Wiktorowicz, defended these polices earlier this year, telling Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon that the US government is prohibited by the First Amendment from discussing the religious ideology of terror groups threatening the US, and that such efforts would have to be outsourced to “partners in the Muslim world.” That didn’t stop Wiktorowicz from saying that more money was needed for efforts to counter the very ideology that he said no one in the US government can talk about.

Needless to say, this list is hardly exhaustive. And the coming year looks to have plenty of candidates for 2015’s “Not Top 10.”

Also see this key report written by Patrick Poole on JUNE 4, 2013:

Obama Admin Has Made Questioning Terrorists Harder Than Ever

124dd076c9184f638bec51cffbe07073-e1369777220155Daily Caller, by Kerry Picket, Jan. 12, 2015:

It’s never been harder to question a terrorist.

In the midst of tracking where the next terror attack could strike in the West, counterterrorism experts and lawmakers say the Obama administration has made it harder to get fresh intelligence from terrorist sources.

The decision to no longer keep detainees at Guantanamo Bay; the administration’s preference for killing terrorists with drone strikes; and the practice of reading terrorists the American Miranda warning has made obtaining new intelligence very difficult, experts say.

“It’s really unbelievable that these guys say that their position is driven by humanitarian concerns,” former Assistant United States Attorney Andrew McCarthy told The Daily Caller. “The reason [the administration] drone[s] people, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t drone anybody — rather than capture — is because they’ve so screwed up detention and interrogation. And it’s cleaner for them to kill people — because when you kill them, that’s the end of the story.”

McCarthy, known for leading the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Omar “the Blind Sheik” Abdel Rahman and eleven others, said the Obama administration is confused about where to send detainees.

Additionally, McCarthy said, “There is political baggage as to why we are bringing terrorists into the United States and giving them grade A due process trials. A large way they handled that was to kill a lot of people who we should have been capturing and getting intelligence from, because in this global war,  you’re not fighting a traditional military.”

“I’m not saying intelligence wasn’t important in every war,” McCarthy noted. “But it’s particularly important in a war against a secretive network that attacks in stealth, where intelligence is the only way you can protect yourself. They’ve sold short the intelligence product.”

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee, is frustrated with the current system of Mirandizing detainees who are captured overseas, pointing out that some detainees are being presented with Miranda rights while aboard ships coming back to the U.S., or as they are about to touch U.S. soil.

“Under criminal law, you provide somebody a right to counsel and the right to remain silent so they don’t jeopardize their criminal case,” Graham said. ”The purpose of military law is to win the war. The purpose of criminal law is to prosecute a case. I don’t look as these guys as common criminals. I look at them as warriors—enemy combatants subject to being detained under the law of war.”

Counterterrorism and Middle Eastern expert Patrick Poole says the intelligence community is “absolutely” getting less information from terrorist networks.

“The first thing the Justice Department does is Mirandize them,” Poole said. “If we drone somebody or we throw them into the legal system, we’re losing valuable opportunities to gather intel.  We just don’t know how much we’re losing because of the drone program, and they never have a chance to find out.”

Poole points to the Somali pirate involved in taking the captain of an American ship — the Maersk Alabama — hostage in 2009.

“The Somali pirate who was captured ended up being transported back to New York where he was charged and had his Miranda rights read to him,” Poole lamented. “His intelligence about the pirate network was lost.”

One year later, five Somali pirates attacked the American warship U.S.S. Nicholas in the Indian Ocean. Part of the controversy of the case was whether or not these foreign nationals were properly Mirandized at sea.

National Security Law Brief states the problem of military personnel reciting Miranda rights to detainees:

“Almost universally, the suspects are detained by military personnel, a fact which leads to questions concerning their training in the use of Miranda procedures. American service members are not typically trained to inform prisoners of their Miranda rights like law enforcement officers are. This lack of training, further complicated by language barriers immediately following arrest, led to Miranda rights being a key issue of the case at hand.”

Republican Rep. Peter King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told TheDC that terrorists are given “too many rights” by the United States.

“I know, for instance, they can’t claim Miranda right away, but they can claim it earlier than they should be able to claim it,” King said. “That was the whole issue of the Boston Bomber and with the Times Square Bomber and also the guy they captured—bin Laden’s son in law. He was kept on a ship for a while, but then they ended up Mirandizing him.”

President Obama promised to close the U.S. compound in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba at the beginning of his administration in 2009. A number of detainees have already been released and many have returned to the battlefield. Right now, 127 detainees remain at Gitmo and are awaiting release or transfer.

House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul said that recent intelligence has been “sort of stale.”

“We got a lot of fresh information after 9/11,” McCaul told TheDC. “What’s left down there is the worst of the worst in terms of terrorists — and releasing them like we did the Taliban five is a very dangerous exercise.”

During the Bush administration, the U.S. took prisoners to top secret “black sites,” in Romania or other countries, Poole said. “So they were never officially in the U.S. system–guys like Abdel Hakim Belhadj who the CIA renditioned back in Libya in 2004. They caught him in Thailand and the CIA renditioned him. And he ended up being the guy we backed who overthrew Gaddafi.”

In fact, the Washington Times reports the Pentagon has ordered judges who oversee military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay to stop handling cases in other countries and deal exclusively on closing the cases of detainees charged with terrorism.

“Because of the legal maneuvers to try and free these guys in Gitmo, there are other various problems,” Poole said. “The Obama administration has openly embraced droning these guys. And now there are some reports that nearly 2000 people have been killed in these drone strikes. The number of people they were actually targeting is in the dozens.”

“So that’s the flip side into all this law-fare that’s been waged to get these guys released,” Poole went on. ”It’s now been the position of the Obama administration, ‘We’re just gonna kill ‘em.’”

“From a public safety stand point, where are we going to put them?” Rep. McCaul wondered. “We know they return to the battlefield to kill Americans. They’re going to return to conduct terrorist plots in America and Western Europe. Frankly, I don’t think we should be shutting [Gitmo] down.”

Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told TheDC that the government does what it can to pull information from detainees.

“As a general rule,” Price said. “The government will always seek to elicit all the actionable intelligence and information we can from terrorist suspects taken into our custody.”

Largest Islamic Body in the World Calls For More Anti-Free Speech Laws In Wake of Charlie Hebdo Attack

oic-erasing-freedom-of-speech-edited (1)PJ Media, By Patrick Poole, On January 12, 2015:

Last week’s terror attack targeting French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris has sparked a global conversation about the nature of free speech, with the “Je Suis Charlie” hashtag in support of the murdered Charlie Hebdo staff going viral and becoming the most used hashtag in the history of Twitter.

But this afternoon, the UN representative for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ufuk Gokcen was expressing another view with respect to free speech.

The OIC is comprised of the 57 Muslim-majority nations and the Palestinian Authority. They are the largest bloc at the UN, and when they meet on the head-of-state level, they literally speak for the Muslim world.

So it is noteworthy that after the Charlie Hebdo attack, Gokcen was tweeting out calling for more speech codes and ‘defamation’ laws that would limit the very type of speech that Charlie Hebdo engaged in:

oic3

The timing of Gokcen’s call could be more perfect.

Today, University of Tennessee law professor Robert Blitt (a colleague of our own Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds) had an oped published in USA Today calling out the OIC for its retrograde views on free speech and how they fuel Islamic extremism:

The OIC, whose member states range from moderate U.S. allies such as Jordan to adversaries such as Iran, describes itself as the world’s largest international body after the United Nations. For more than a decade, “the collective voice of the Muslim world” has spread the belief that any insult directed against the Muslim faith or its prophet demands absolute suppression. Quashing “defamation of Islam” is enshrined asa chief objective in the organization’s charter.

With countless internal resolutions, relentless lobbying of the international community and block voting on resolutions advocating a prohibition on defamation of religion at the U.N., the OIC continuously pushes to silence criticism of Islam.

Translated into practice inside Islamic nations and increasingly elsewhere, this toxic vision breeds contempt for freedom of religion and expression, justifies the killing of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and casts a pall of self-censorship over academia and the arts.

By building the expectation that dissent or insult merits suppression, groups such as the OIC and the Arab League have emboldened extremists to take protection of Islam to the next level. With the most authoritative Muslim voices prepared to denounce violence but not to combat the idea that Islam should be immune from criticism, a meaningful response to counteract the resulting violence continues to be glaringly absent.

An OIC statement released after a 2011 Charlie Hebdo issue “guest-edited” by the prophet Mohammed typifies this troubling position: “Publication of the insulting cartoon … was an outrageous act of incitement and hatred and abuse of freedom of expression. … The publishers and editors of the Charlie Hebdo magazine must assume full responsibility for their … incitement of religious intolerance.”

As Professor Blitt notes in his oped, the OIC has been the international driving force behind the passage of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, which was co-sponsored by Pakistan and the United States and passed in December 2011.

When passed, Resolution 16/18 was billed by the Obama administration as an improvement over previous “defamation of religion” resolutions. But the effort immediately came under fire by religious liberties and free speech experts:

In the view of veteran international religious liberty analyst and advocate Elizabeth Kendal resolution 16/18, “far from being a breakthrough for free speech … is actually more dangerous than” the religious defamation resolutions.

“Indeed, the strategic shift from defamation to incitement actually advances the OIC’s primary goal: the criminalization of criticism of Islam,” she wrote.

The OIC’s push to criminalize ‘defamation of Islam’ goes back to the OIC’s 10 Year Plan of Action adopted in 2005. Under the section “Countering Islamophobia” (VII), the plan says:

3. Endeavor to have the United Nations adopt an international resolution to counter Islamophobia, and call upon all States to enact laws to counter it, including deterrent punishments.

In their published implementation plan for their 10 Year Plan of Action, they are more clear that combating ‘defamation of religion’ is not what they were after, but criminalizing ‘Islamophobia’:

OIC-implemenation-Islamophobia2

Which is effectively what they’ve accomplished with the generous assistance of the Obama administration. Just two months before the passage of Resolution 16/18, senior Justice Department officials were meeting with US Islamic groups discussing that very thing.

In fact, in my annual “National Security ‘Not Top 10′ of 2011″ (no. 7) here at PJ Media I noted the active cooperation of Hillary Clinton and the State Department in working with the OIC as part of their “Istanbul Process” to that end.

And in November 2012 when I reported here that US Embassy in Saudi Arabia Consul Anne Casper was going to be addressing the OIC’s symposium on “defamation of Islam”, the OIC quickly scrubbed any reference to her appearance.

My colleague Stephen Coughlin has posted a video lecture outlining how the OIC’s efforts with respect to Resolution 16/18 are really rooted in Islamic law’s codes prohibiting blasphemy:

It’s hardly surprising that even after the Charlie Hebdo attack the OIC is not content to abandon their decade-long effort to criminalize “Islamophobia.” But what the OIC might find is how, much as Professor Britt has warned in his oped today, by doing so they are pushing the global Islamic community further away from the rest of the world.

*UPDATED* Nigeria’s 9/11: Boko Haram Massacres 2000 in Attack on Baga, City Burnt to the Ground

Boko-Haran-Leader-APPJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Jan. 8, 2015:

Horrific reports are coming out of Nigeria about a Boko Haram attack on the town of Baga in Borno State following their seizure of a neighboring military base on Saturday.

BBC is reporting:

Nigeria’s militant Islamists have carried out a second attack on the key north-eastern town of Baga, an official has told the BBC.

Boko Haram fighters burnt down almost the entire town on Wednesday, after over-running a military base on Saturday, Musa Alhaji Bukar said.

Bodies lay strewn on Baga’s streets, amid fears that some 2,000 people had been killed in the raids, he added.

Boko Haram launched a military campaign in 2009 to create an Islamic state.

It has taken control of many towns and villages in north-eastern Nigeria in the last year.

The conflict has displaced at least 1.5 million people, while more than 2,000 were killed last year.

Earlier today Bridget Johnson reported here at PJ Media about a message posted by Boko Haram on Monday threatening Cameroon.

Last month I also reported on Boko Haram’s escalating attacks, which now threaten the entire country on the verge of presidential elections.

The loss of life in Baga and Boko Haram’s control over 70 percent of Borno State will undoubtedly require greater action by the Nigerian government and possibly greater intervention from neighboring Chad and Cameroon.

I will update this post as new information becomes available.

UPDATE:

More news reports are coming out of Nigeria regarding the Boko Haram attack on the city of Baga and surrounding areas in Borno State.

AFP is reporting that 16 villages have been razed to the ground and tens of thousands displaced:

Boko Haram razed at least 16 towns and villages in a renewed assault after capturing a key military base in restive northeast Nigeria at the weekend, local officials said on Thursday.

Heavy casualties were feared in the attacks on Wednesday in the remote north of Borno state, according to local sources, but there was no independent corroboration of the figures cited.

Musa Bukar, head of the Kukawa local government area, said: “They (Boko Haram) burnt to the ground all the 16 towns and villages, including Baga, Doron-Baga, Mile 4, Mile 3, Kauyen Kuros and Bunduram.”

Abubakar Gamandi, head of Borno’s fish traders union and a Baga native, also confirmed the attacks, adding that hundreds of people who fled were trapped on islands on Lake Chad.

NBC News reports:

More than 2,000 people are unaccounted for after radical Islamist sect Boko Haram torched more than 10 towns and villages in Nigeria, a local lawmaker told NBC News. Ahmed Zanna, a senator for Borno state where the attack happened, said the militants razed the town of Baga as well as “10-to-20″ other communities in the country’s rural northeast over the past five days. “These towns are just gone, burned down,” he told NBC News via telephone. “The whole area is covered in bodies.”

Zanna said he had spoken to residents who fled the towns. They reported that the spree had been ongoing since Boko Haram overran a nearby military base Saturday. During the days-long assault, the militants chased people out of Baga before returning to kill those left and torch the buildings to the ground, according to survivors who contacted Zanna. Some of those who survived fled on foot the 100 miles south to Maidurguri.

The government’s response to this massacre will be worth watching. Presidential elections are scheduled for Feb. 14th, and criticism of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan is mounting. Thus, Jonathan’s government will be eager to suppress information about this attack.

Boko Haram’s response will need to be followed as well. After routing Nigerian government forces at the military base outside of Baga, they are now in effective control of Borno State, which borders Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The National Security “Not Top 10″ of 2014

obamalibya (1)By Patrick Poole:

With the world descending into chaos driven in no small measure by the incoherent, contradictory and frequently non-existent foreign policy of the Obama administration, it was difficult this year to narrow the field for this year’s biggest national security blunders. The task seemed so formidable, I nearly abandoned the endeavor.

But undaunted, I present to you the National Security “Not Top 10” of 2014, in no particular order.

(For past editions of my “Not Top 10”, see: 2012, 2011, 2010)

1) Befriending “moderate Al-Qaeda” in Syria:

There are some ideas so at war with reason and reality they can only exist in the fetid Potomac fever swamps of DC think tanks and foreign policy community. Such was the case in January when three of the best and brightest from those ranks published an article in Foreign Affairs (the same publication that in 2007 brought us the “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood”) contending that the US needed to “befriend” the Syrian jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham as some kind of counter to more extreme jihadist groups, like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. The precedent they cited was the US failure to designate the Taliban (!!!) after 9/11.

Mind you, at the time they wrote this, one of Ahrar al-Sham’s top leaders was a lieutenant for Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri who openly declared himself a member of Al-Qaeda. After most of their leadership was wiped out in a bombing in September, they have gravitated closer to the jihadist groups they were supposed to counter and their positions have been bombed by the US – much to the consternation of other “vetted moderate” rebel groups. So ridiculous was their proposition that the original subtitle of their article “An Al-Qaeda Affiliate Worth Befriending” was changed online to “An Al-Qaeda-Linked Group Worth Befriending” in the hopes of minimizing the absurdity of their case.

2) Obama Administration deploys three hashtag divisions in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As Ukrainians made their bid to free themselves from Russia’s interference, Putin responded by deploying tanks and troops into Ukraine in violation of the1994 Budapest Memorandum. Obama’s rejoinder was to give a speech and to deploy three divisions of State Department employees all armed with a #UnitedForUkraine hashtag. Hilarity ensued as the Russian Foreign Ministry counterattacked by hijacking the hashtag, prompting State Department spox Jen Psaki to decry, “Let’s hope the Kremlin will live by the promise of hashtag,” leaving many asking: Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

3) Obama: ISIS is the “JV team”.

In January President Obama sat down for an interview with the New Yorker, and when asked about ISIS gains in Iraq, he likened them to the JV team, saying ““The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Those words came back to haunt him as ISIS surged in both Syria and Iraq, particular when Obama authorized missile strikes against ISIS in August. Even then Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken defended the president’s “JV team” remark, saying they didn’t pose the threat to America as much as Al-Qaeda. A few week later, the Washington Post noted the attempts to spin the president’s statement. By September, Obama laughably claimed in an interview on Meet the Press that he wasn’t talking about ISIS in his New Yorker interview. But even the notoriously biased Politifact rated his walk-back as “false” and two weeks ago the Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler branded Obama’s “JV team” spin as “the lie of the year”.

4) State Dept Official denies Boko Haram targeting Christians.

Just weeks after the Nigerian terrorist group abducted nearly 300 Christian school girls in Chibok and committed them to sexual slavery, State Department undersecretary Sarah Sewall denied in a congressional hearing that Christians were being targeted. As I noted in an article here at PJ Media earlier this month on disturbing trends in Nigeria, the burning of churches and the abduction and murder of Christians continues to intensify, with more than 1,000 churches burned in just a few weeks earlier this year.

Readers might recall that this is the same State Department that in April 2012 was telling Congress that Boko Haram was not driven by religious ideology the day after the group bombed a church during an Easter service that killed 39 worshippers. Not only did the State Department vehemently defend not designating Boko Haram a terrorist organization, this year we discovered that they intentionally lied to Congress about the threat posed by the group. Having only designated them barely a year ago, 2014 has been Boko Haram’s deadliest year yet, with 9,000 killed, 1.5 million people displaced, and 800 schools destroyed. Nigerian authorities still complain that the Obama administration is reluctant to provide the country what it needs to fight the Boko Haram terror insurgency.

5) Homeland Security adviser’s pro-caliphate tweet used by ISIS recruiters.

Twitter proved to be the downfall of Homeland Security Advisor Council Senior Fellow Mohamed Elibiary, when he was unceremoniously let go by DHS in September following a long string of extremist social media statements. Critics, including myself, had noted Elibiary long history of promoting radical Islamic groups and publicly defending terrorist supporters. Things began to unravel when earlier this year he tweeted that America was “an Islamic country with an Islamically compliant constitution,” but the wheels definitely came off when he tweeted about the inevitability of the return of an Islamic caliphate – a statement that was later used by ISIS in their recruiting efforts. After his dismissal, which even international media took note of, I talked with Michelle Fields here at PJTV about Elibiary’s highly controversial tenure at DHS.

Read more at PJ Media

Muslim Congressman’s Ferguson Panel at Chicago Islamic Convention Features Al-Qaeda Webmaster, Taliban Fundraiser

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole On December 27, 2014:

Congressman Andre Carson found himself in strange company Saturday evening when he was scheduled to be featured on a panel with a known Al-Qaeda webmaster and Taliban fundraiser, Mazen Mokhtar, during the just-concluded 2014 Muslim American Society/Islamic Circle of North America (MAS/ICNA) 2014 convention held in Chicago.

The panel was titled “Ferguson is our issue: We Can’t Breath.”

Here’s a promotional video of the three-day event:

 

One attendee tweeted that the joint Carson/Mokhtar panel was the “most important session” of the convention:

Azhzr tweet

Mokhtar is presumably well-known to Carson, one of two sitting Muslim members of Congress, since Mokhtar is well-known to the FBI.

In 2004, Mokhtar was named in a federal affidavit in the case of a UK-based Al-Qaeda website that raised money for the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

According to the Washington Post:

Meanwhile, a New Jersey man is under investigation for having helped a British computer specialist, also arrested in London this week, allegedly solicit funds for a terrorist group by creating and operating an exact replica of the British man’s Web site.

Mazen Mokhtar, an Egyptian-born imam and political activist, operated a Web site identified in an affidavit unsealed Friday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut. The Web site solicited funds for the Taliban and Chechen mujaheddin, according to the affidavit. It is an exact replica of Web sites operated by Babar Ahmad, who was arrested in England on a U.S. extradition warrant this week.

The affidavit said the New Jersey home of the mirror Web site operator, identified on a Web site as Mokhtar, was searched in the recent past and that copies of Azzam Publications sites, operated by Ahmad, were found on Mokhtar’s computer’s hard drive and files.

Officials at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, which is leading the investigation, declined yesterday to comment on Mokhtar or the New Jersey investigation.

A CNN report (now removed from their website) added:

Federal officials are investigating a man accused of running Web sites that are exact replicas of those used to solicit funds for the Taliban and Chechen mujahedeen, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday by the U.S. attorney’s office in New Haven, Connecticut.

Law enforcement sources identified the man as Mazen Mokhtar, 36, of New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Those sources said Mokhtar is the “specific individual who resides in the United States” referred to in the affidavit as working with Babar Ahmad to solicit funds for the “blocked organizations … in an effort to support their goals.”

Predictably, when Mokhtar’s name surfaced in the investigation, the Muslim community rallied around him and the media began pushing the “moderate Islamic cleric” narrative.

In fact, the accusations by federal law enforcement authorities have barely made a dent in Mokhtar’s rise to prominence in the Islamic community.

Mokhtar currently serves as the executive director of the national MAS. A 2004 Chicago Tribune investigative report, published just a month after Mokhtar was named in the federal affidavit, noted that MAS was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members to conceal their ties to the Egyptian Islamic group.

In 2007, federal prosecutors described the group in a federal court filing saying that MAS was “founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States”:

DOJ-on-MAS (1)

Congressman Carson is not without his own controversy. While speaking to a 2012 ICNA convention, Carson told attendees that American schools will never be innovative until they become modeled after the Islamic education system.

Carson’s fellow Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, is not without his own controversy. In 2012, I noted here at PJ Media Ellison’s long entanglement with Muslim Brotherhood front groups and Islamic organizations identified in federal court as fronts for foreign terrorist organizations, with even his hajj trip to Mecca being paid for by MAS to the tune of $13,500.

Patrick Poole is a national security and terrorism correspondent for PJMedia

‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome: Sydney Hostage-Taker Is Yet Another Case

5969244-3x2-340x227PJ Media, By Patrick Poole On December 15, 2014:

With the hostage situation resolved — hopefully with no innocent lives lost (reports just coming in – UPDATE: Reports say that one hostage as well as the gunman are dead) — and the release of the name of the hostage taker, Iranian-born Islamic cleric Man Monis aka Shiekh Haron, this seems to be yet another case of what I termed here at PJ Media several weeks ago as “Known Wolf Syndrome.”

In that article, following two separate terror attacks in Canada in which the suspects were already well-known to authorities, I noted that in the U.S., too, in many of the domestic terrorism cases the culprits had already been identified to law enforcement as problems. In the present case, not only was the suspect well-known, but he was out on bail on murder charges related to the stabbing and setting on fire of his ex-wife, with whom he was in a heated custody dispute.

Monis came to Australia in 1996 from Iran and his immigration status was that of political refugee. He has since had other well-known run-ins with law enforcement. In 2009, he sent a series of hate messages, which he deemed as “flowers of advice,” to the families of Australian military members who had been killed in action. He likened their deaths to the deaths of Hitler’s soldiers, as well as to families of Australian victims of international terrorism attacks. He was given 300 hours of community service.

In another case, Monis was charged with 50 counts of sexual assault, where it was claimed that he lured victims in and assaulted them claiming it was a “spiritual healing technique.”

We’ll undoubtedly learn more in the days to come about the intentions and motives of the suspect in the case. The evidence at hand clearly indicates that Monis was another example of the two-faced Islamic cleric. In this case, Monis claimed that he was “an Australian who wanted a safe future for our country” (HT: Stewart Bell) while simultaneously — and openly — hating the very country that gave him refuge.

Yet again, we have a case in the West in which a domestic terrorist was well-known to law enforcement authorities and yet action sufficient to prevent the tragedy at hand was never taken despite the opportunity to do so (in this instance, he was out on bail).

Nonetheless, this will be yet another case where so-called terrorism “experts” will be trotted out by the media and political officials to claim that Monis was a case of “lone wolf syndrome.” Or that his actions were entirely unpredictable, and the government will need more money for terrorism programs that won’t work, and for outreach to the very extremists who continue to murder, rape, and maim innocents. And the “voxsplaining” has begun, distancing the suspect from any known extremist group.

We’ve already seen the Islamic grievance machine rolled out and signs of “backlashphobia” are already beginning to appear. Leaders of the Australian Muslim community, including the “Grand Mufti” of Australia, are denouncing “acts of violence.” Yet these same leaders, including the Grand Mufti, were openly attacking the government just a few months ago when stronger anti-terrorism laws were being considered. The previous Grand Mufti came under firefor his comments saying that women not dressed Islamically were “uncovered meat,” hinting their complicity in any sexual assault.

As I pointed out in my previous article, this situation was entirely preventable. Any deaths are on the hands of authorities who, like their counterparts throughout the West, are unable or unwilling to take the necessary action to protect the public for fear of political correctness.

US-Backed Syrian Rebels Ally with Al-Qaeda in South, Surrender CIA-Supplied Weapons in the North

Syrian rebels pause for prayers in Dara province, in the country's south, in the spring, in an opposition-provided photo. Rebels in the province are fighting to hold onto a strategic crossroads. (Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad) http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-syria-south-violence-20141130-story.html

Syrian rebels pause for prayers in Dara province, in the country’s south, in the spring, in an opposition-provided photo. Rebels in the province are fighting to hold onto a strategic crossroads. (Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad)
http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-syria-south-violence-20141130-story.html

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, December 2, 2014:

For months I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media about the ongoing cooperation between US-backed “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel units and designated terrorist groups ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. This includes U.S.-backed rebel units who have defected wholesale to ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

Despite multiple reports of this cooperation, in September the congressional GOP leadership jumped on board with Obama’s proposal to spend an additional $500 million to arm and train the “vetted moderates” just weeks before the Obama administration abandoned the Free Syrian Army that had been the primary beneficiary of U.S. support for the past three years.

Now reports this weekend indicate growing cooperation between U.S.-backed rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra operating in southern Syria.

According to the LA Times:

Opposition activists reported intensified government bombardment in and around Sheik Maskin and the arrival of battle-tested loyalist reinforcements.

Fighting along with U.S.-backed rebels were elements of Al Nusra Front, the official Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

In a Facebook posting, Al Nusra supporters reported “vicious battles” in the Sheik Maskin area. Earlier posts also eulogized a prominent Al Nusra commander, Abu Humam Jazrawi, who was killed in the fighting.

Al Nusra’s participation illustrates how Western-supported rebel groups often cooperate with the Al Qaeda franchise, though both sides try to play down the extent of coordination. Recent clashes between Al Nusra Front and U.S.-backed rebels in northwestern Syria do not appear to have broken the de facto alliance between the Al Qaeda affiliate and West-backed fighters in the south. (emphasis added)

Meanwhile, in northern Syria as “vetted moderate” groups were forming an umbrella with hardcore jihadist groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham, other U.S.-backed units were surrendering to Jabhat al-Nusra (a trend I noted last month) and turning over their CIA-provided arms to Ahrar al-Sham, McClatchy reports:

On Friday, as the groups were meeting here, the Nusra Front stormed the bases of two moderate rebel groups in Syria’s north: the Ansar Brigades in Idlib and the Haqq Front in Hama. The two groups, both of which were receiving U.S. support through a covert CIA program, surrendered to Nusra, delivered their weapons to Ahrar al Sham and returned to their homes. (emphasis added)

And today Syria analyst Aron Lund noted that the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army signed an agreement last week with Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham for the Qalamoun area near the Lebanese border guaranteeing the imposition of sharia and creating a mutual defense pact.

The “vetted moderate” follies continue.

Clinton State Department’s “Lady Taliban” Under Active FBI Investigation

Robin L. Raphel testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2004. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Robin L. Raphel testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2004. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole On November 6, 2014

Stunning news related to a top Clinton State Department diplomat, former Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel, that the Washington Post is reporting tonight is subject to an active FBI counter-intelligence investigation:

A veteran State Department diplomat and longtime Pakistan expert is under federal investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe and has had her security clearances withdrawn, according to U.S. officials.

The FBI searched the Northwest Washington home of Robin L. Raphel last month, and her State Department office was also examined and sealed, officials said. Raphel, a fixture in Washington’s diplomatic and think-tank circles, was placed on administrative leave last month, and her contract with the State Department was allowed to expire this week.

Two U.S. officials described the investigation as a counterintelligence matter, which typically involves allegations of spying on behalf of foreign governments. The exact nature of the investigation involving Raphel remains unclear. She has not been charged.

She was the first official to hold the position of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, appointed to that position by President Bill Clinton, and later served as US Ambassador to Tunisia and Senior Vice President of the National Defense University.

In August 2009, she was appointed as deputy for US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, where she was responsible for disbursing non-military aid to Pakistan.

This appointment was controversial because Raphel had been a registered agent for the Government of Pakistan just days before her new position was announced, and because of her close association with the Taliban during the Clinton Administration, earning Raphel the moniker, “Lady Taliban.”

According to one 2009 report:

Robin Raphel, 67, who has the dubious distinction of being a lobbyist for the former military regime of General Pervez Musharraf and who also has close ties with the Taliban as part of her lobbying for UNOCAL, will be the main person overlooking the $1.5 billion aid package to Pakistan, giving rise to concerns the U.S. taxpayers monies would go down the Pakistan drain.

Raphel is widow of former US Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel who had perished in the mysterious aircrash that killed Pakistan military dictator General Ziaul Haq and top brass of his military on August 17, 1988.

Raphel was appointed last month as deputy to Mr. Richard Holbrooke, the US. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan…

He said another reason to doubt Secretary Clinton’s assertion of accountability is in the naming of Robin Raphel as a deputy to U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakstan, Richard Holbrooke.

“She had been a Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs beginning in 1993 and on her watch, the madrassas bloomed. Robin Raphel is the person who, during the Clinton presidency, squired Taliban officials around Washington as the next best hope for Afghan leadership,” Dienstag recalled.

Raphel was lobbying for the ill-fated UNOCAL pipe line project at the time.

Raphel eventually became a lobbyist at Cassidy & Associates for the military administration of General Pervez Musharraf. “She was responsible for the lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department as a registered foreign agent of Pakistan and the firm had a $1.2 million contract with the Govt of Pakistan. At this time Jezail sees this as a highly dubious appointment of a well known revolving door retread to a sensitive position,” Dienstag said.

Details of the current FBI investigation haven’t been released, but it is expected that her ties to Pakistan are likely to be focus of the matter.

How Obama Walked Boehner and GOP Leadership Off the Syrian Rebel Cliff

 r-GOP-LEADERSHIP-large570PJ Media, By Patrick Poole, Nov. 3, 2014:

One of the last acts Congress undertook before leaving Washington, D.C., in September for the midterm election break was to add $500 million in new funding to arm and train the so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels. The $500 million in funding had been an agenda item for Obama since June, when ISIS began making quick gains in an offensive push back into Iraq.

But the political net effect of this vote was to get the GOP leadership in Congress to publicly buy into Obama’s rapidly crumbling Syria policy. Led by Boehner in the House and McConnell in the Senate, the congressional GOP leadership allowed Obama to walk them off the Syrian rebel cliff.

As I reported here at PJ Media yesterday, the most important “vetted moderate” rebel groups are in retreat, having surrendered or defected to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.

This development should come as no surprise to any member of the congressional GOP. In the week before the rebel amendment funding vote, I was asked to brief a number of GOP members and prepared a presentation on the collapse of the U.S.-backed Syria rebels that was widely circulated amongst both the House and Senate GOP conferences.

Among the chief trends I noted in these briefings — and that I was concurrently reporting on here — was that large groups of Free Syrian Army (FSA) units were defecting to al-Qaeda and ISIS, surrendering their U.S.-provided weapons along the way, and that other FSA units were forging peace deals and fighting alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS in some areas.

Even before the votes on the rebel funding, there was growing evidence that these “vetted moderate” forces were not moderate at all, and certainly would provide little assistance in fighting against ISIS.

Obama was hinting at where his policy was headed, too. Just a month before those congressional votes, in an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Obama said that the belief that arming the Syrian rebels would have changed the situation had “always been a fantasy”:

With “respect to Syria,” said the president, the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy. This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”

Even now, the president said, the administration has difficulty finding, training and arming a sufficient cadre of secular Syrian rebels: “There’s not as much capacity as you would hope.”

Again, this was more than a month before congressional GOP leadership took up the cause of sending $500 million more to the Syrian rebels, even though there were reports that the FSA had already lost at least $500 million in arms to ISIS and other jihadist groups.

GOP leaders also bought in on another highly controversial element to Obama’s Syrian rebel policy. In September 2013, it was reported that Obama had signed a waiver circumventing a federal law intended to prohibit aid from going to terrorist groups. But when GOP leadership rolled out their amendment to fund the “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels, it contained hardly any substantial limits to Obama’s waiver policy.

In order to pass the amendment in the House, Boehner and GOP leadership had to buck considerable resistance from their own party and join with House Democrats to pass the amendment. The September 17 vote was 273-156, with 71 Republicans voting against the amendment.

And yet even more House Democrats — 85 in all — voted against the funding amendment, giving them cover for the upcoming midterm elections.

The 78-22 vote in the Senate also received support from Senate GOP leadership, with notable Senate Republicans voting against the measure, including Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Congress had barely left Washington, D.C., for the break before events would demonstrate the GOP leaders buying into Obama’s policy was a fool’s errand. As U.S. airstrikes began hitting ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra positions, the attacks were widely condemned by the same “vetted moderate” groups that Congress had just approved another $500 million for.

At the same time, the Obama administration began to quickly back away from the rebels that congressional GOP leadership had now jumped into bed with. A week after the House amendment vote, administration officials began complaining that there were no reliable partners on the ground in Syria. A few weeks later, the administration leaked a CIA assessment of past funding of rebel groups that found such aid as Congress had just approved rarely works.

The coup de grâce came less than a month after the House vote. Obama’s envoy trying to build the anti-ISIS coalition, retired Marine General John Allen, told reporters that the administration was ditching the FSA. Now, two weeks later, the FSA is near collapse.

The only successful move of Obama’s disastrous Syria policy was to get the GOP leadership in Congress to buy into it at the last minute.

So how could GOP leaders be so easily duped?

1) The absence of a coherent GOP foreign policy. Republicans in Congress are torn by two opposing foreign policy poles: on one side is John McCain’s “war at any price” caucus, and on the other is Rand Paul’s neo-isolationist “pull up the drawbridge” approach. The McCain position has blindly given a blank check to the administration’s military misadventures (e.g. Libya, et al.), and the Paulian approach flies in the face of reality — there is no drawbridge to pull up anymore in our global society, and the growing threats to America’s interests overseas are growing rapidly.

2) “We’ve got to do something!” When I talked to members and staff, this was a recurring theme. GOP leaders during the debate over the amendment used this as a bludgeon against the amendment’s detractors. But without American boots on the ground, which no one in Congress was going to support weeks before midterm elections, there’s little the U.S. can do to directly change events on the ground. Even the airstrikes targeting ISIS are having a very limited effect. And less than a month after GOP leaders were publicly castigating their own members for not falling into line, the administration was abandoning the very position they had just embraced.

3) Congress is reliant on the administration for all their information. This is a recurring problem on the Hill. Congress has few means to vet the information the administration gives them, or to know if information is being withheld.

When I briefed members during that week prior to the rebel amendment vote, particularly those sitting on committees that had national security responsibilities, very few were aware of the ongoing difficulties of the defections, peace deals, and alliances with jihadist groups that the U.S.-armed and trained “vetted moderate” groups were engaged in. I’ve previously said that Congress needs to revive something along the lines of the House Task Force on Unconventional Warfare and Terrorism that gave them a back door to the SPECOPS world and intelligence community to be better informed regardless of what party controls the White House.

The midterm elections tomorrow might rearrange the chairs on the Hill come January, but the GOP leadership problems demonstrated by the rebel funding this past September are likely to remain.

Even worse, rushing the Syrian rebel funding through at the last minute meant there was no serious discussion of the growing national security threats metastasizing in Syria and Iraq and on what Congress intended to do. By buying into Obama’s rebel funding proposal, they allowed Obama to walked them over the cliff just as he was stepping back from it. Pure amateur hour.

By the time the new Congress convenes in January, events could transpire in the Middle East that will require Congress and leaders of both parties to make choices more difficult than throwing $500 million at the problem. By then, the situation could be more stark than anyone now realizes.

U.S.-Armed ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Groups Surrender, Defect to Al-Qaeda

Jamaal Maarouf, the head of the Syrian Revolutionaries' Front, blasted Al Nusrah Front emir Abu Muhammad al Julani in a video posted online. Al Nusrah has pushed the SRF out of its strongholds in Idlib.

Jamaal Maarouf, the head of the Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front, blasted Al Nusrah Front emir Abu Muhammad al Julani in a video posted online. Al Nusrah has pushed the SRF out of its strongholds in Idlib.

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Nov. 2, 2014:

Reports the past two days indicate that two “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups, Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), have surrendered, with some even defecting, to Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.

Ruth Sherlock reports today at The Telegraph:

Two of the main rebel groups receiving weapons from the United States to fight both the regime and jihadist groups in Syria have surrendered to al-Qaeda.

The US and its allies were relying on Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front to become part of a ground force that would attack the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

For the last six months the Hazm movement, and the SRF through them, had been receiving heavy weapons from the US-led coalition, including GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles.

But on Saturday night Harakat Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed villages they controlled in northern Idlib province.

The development came a day after Jabhat al-Nusra dealt a final blow to the SRF, storming and capturing Deir Sinbal, home town of the group’s leader Jamal Marouf.

The attack caused the group, which had already lost its territory in Hama to al-Qaeda, to surrender.

A couple important points to note based on other reporting.

First is that al-Nusra was reportedly aided in the attack on the SRF by ISIS. According to a McClatchy report:

Even more ominous was that that the Islamic State, now far stronger and claiming to run a Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, reportedly had joined Jabhat al Nusra in the attack on the village of Deir Sinbul…

If Islamic State fighters in fact joined Nusra in the attack, it will have major repercussions for the war in Syria, for the two groups have been divided since April 2013, when Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the Iraq-based leader, announced the creation of the Islamic State. Nusra had supported the rebel war against Assad until very recently and also was at war with the Islamic State.

This is evidence of growing rapprochement between al-Nusra and ISIS, a movement I predicted just two weeks ago.

The second point is that reports indicate that one contributing factor to SRF’s collapse was the defection of some of their “vetted moderate” fighters:

In the past few days, the Nusra Front captured several villages in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of Idlib province and on Saturday it entered the village of Deir Sonbol, the stronghold of the Revolutionaries’ Front, forcing Maarouf to pull out.

“Dozens of his fighters defected and joined Nusra, that is why the group won,” Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters.

A Nusra fighter confirmed the report, saying: “They left him because they knew he was wrong and delusional.”

“He left his fighters in the battle and pulled out. Last night, we heard them on the radio shouting ‘Abu Khaled (Maarouf) escaped, Abu Khaled escaped’,” he added.

Whomever is doing the vetting of the “vetted moderates” for the State Department is clearly not doing a good job.

But perhaps more important is that both SRF and Hazm were both armed and trained by the U.S., with those weapons now falling into the hands of Al-Qaeda.

As the Telegraph report cited above indicates, SRF had been armed with GRAD rockets and TOW missiles. Another report indicates that SRF tanks and other arms were captured following SRF’s retreat.

I reported here at PJ Media that Hazm had publicly condemned U.S. airstrikes on ISIS and al-Nusra as “an attack on the revolution.”

Both groups also received the hearty support of the Washington, D.C., foreign policy establishment, with Harakat al-Hazm being praised as “rebels worth supporting” and “a model candidate for greater U.S. and allied support, including lethal military assistance,” and SRF being hailed as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.”

Those chances are looking pretty bleak at the moment.

Also see:

‘Lone Wolf,’ or ‘Known Wolf’? The Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Failure

F5FA38EDDCFE45EABC4F263FECE614E5By Patrick Poole:

Katie Gorka of the Council on Global Security has released an important report [1], “The Flawed Science Behind America’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy,” and events of this week show that it couldn’t be more timely. The separate terror attacks in Canada and a long string of terror attacks here in the U.S. show that the counter-terrorism policies of Western governments are fundamentally broken, and are directly responsible for getting their citizens killed. Even as I write this there are breaking reports of yet another attack [2].

The primary targets of Gorka’s new report are the various fictitious narratives and bogus social science models that drive Western counter-terrorism efforts. Chief among these is the “countering violent extremism (CVE)” narrative that has been the centerpiece for U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.

CVE has been a colossal disaster because it has no roots in reality. It was always intended as a convenient fiction for politicians, bureaucrats, media and academics to avoid talking about [3] the problem of the ideology that supports Islamic terrorism.

There has never once been a recorded case of anyone on the planet swearing their allegiance to the ideology of “violent extremism” and their willingness to kill others and die in the cause of “violent extremism.” It is a null set. There is nothing to counter, which is the whole point. And yet there are academics and institutions who are the beneficiaries of mountains of taxpayer cash to pursue the elusive CVE unicorn.

CVE has been used to smuggle all kinds of crackpot theories into not just our counter-terrorism policy, but also our foreign policy.

One crackpot theory has been that there are good Islamists that we can use against the bad Islamists. This was the keystone of the Obama administration’s Arab Spring policies. And this theory put into practice in Egypt, Libya, Syria and other places has left the Middle East in even worse shape than Obama found it.

As Gorka observes, the administration’s head cheerleader [4] for this “good Islamist/bad Islamist” approach has been Quintan Wiktorowicz, who served as senior director of the National Security Council under Obama. But the disaster of the Arab Spring has prompted Wiktorowicz and his CVE pals to double-down on this approach. Now we have entirely new categories of actors, such as “vetted moderates,” and even “good bad Islamists,” who presumably are any jihadists not currently wearing a suicide belt.

This rampant idiocy has become so bad that we have the supposed best and brightest in the Washington, D.C. foreign policy elite now calling for engagement with “moderate al-Qaeda” (no, I’m not kidding [5]).

Another theory championed by the CVE crowd is the “lone wolf” syndrome, reportedly where unknown individuals unconnected to any other actor strike without warning. But numerous examples show that terrorist actors are almost always part of a network who were involved in recruiting and tasking terrorist activity. As Max Abrahms at Northeastern University has observed [6]:

Since the advent of international terrorism in 1970, none of the 40 most lethal terrorist attacks has been committed by a person unaffiliated with some terrorist group, according to publicly available data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, which is funded by the Department of Homeland Security and stored at the University of Maryland. In fact, lone wolves have carried out just two of the 1,900 most deadly terrorist incidents over the last four decades.

So why “lone wolf”? Simply, it was a mechanism promulgated by the CVE industry, with willing cooperation from law enforcement and intelligence officials, to exonerate themselves when a terrorist attack happened. At its core is terror agnosticism: “There is possibly no way to predict who will turn to terrorism, so therefore we can’t be held responsible when it happens. Oh, and give us more money so we can better improve how we won’t be able to predict terror attacks.”

The two terror attacks in Canada this week, which are already being described by CVE industry practitioners as “lone wolf” attacks, were by individuals already known to Canadian counter-terrorism officials. Reportedly both Martin “Ahmad” Rouleau [7] and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau [8] had their passports taken away by Canadian authorities because they were considered “high risk” to travel overseas to join the Islamic State. We also have reports that Zehaf-Bibeau had contacts with known jihadist sympathizers [9] and at least one individual who had fought in Syria.

Looking at the long string of domestic terror incidents here in the U.S. shows that the so-called “lone wolves,” in virtually every case, were in fact “known wolves.”

In fairness, this “known wolf” phenomenon goes back more than 20 years.

The cell responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was well known to law enforcement. An FBI informant, Emad Salem, was operating inside their cell and had been repeatedly warning the FBI about the group’s intentions. As far back as 1989, the FBI had been watching [10] these cell members conduct weapons training.

When one of the cell members, El Sayyid Nosair, killed Rabbi Meir Kahane in a New York City hotel in November 1990, law enforcement recovered hordes of information about the cell’s activities and intentions — but, as has been pointed out, it was never translated. My friend and colleague Andy McCarthy, who prosecuted some of the cell members after the 1993 WTC bombing, wrote a whole book about the affair, Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad [11].

Read more at PJ Media

Obama Throws the Free Syrian Army Under the Bus

Smoke rises following an airstrike by US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Oct. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — AP

Smoke rises following an airstrike by US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Oct. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — AP

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole, October 16, 2014

For the past three years, the Obama administration has hailed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as the saviors of Syria — the “vetted moderate” force that was going to topple the butcher Assad. Because of that, the administration provided training, money and weapons to prop up the FSA (the word is they sent lawyers too).

But according to a report last night by Hannah Allam at McClatchy, Obama is now throwing the FSA under bus:

John Allen, the retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the U.S.-led coalition’s response to the Islamic State, confirmed Wednesday what Syrian rebel commanders have complained about for months – that the United States is ditching the old Free Syrian Army and building its own local ground force to use primarily in the fight against the Islamist extremists.

“At this point, there is not formal coordination with the FSA,” Allen told reporters at the State Department.

That was perhaps the bluntest answer yet to the question of how existing Syrian rebel forces might fit into the U.S. strategy to fight the Islamic State. Allen said the United States’ intent is to start from scratch in creating a home-grown, moderate counterweight to the Islamic State.

For most of the three years of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. ground game hinged on rebel militias that are loosely affiliated under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, or FSA. Their problems were no secret: a lack of cohesion, uneven fighting skills and frequent battlefield coordination with the al Qaida loyalists of the Nusra Front.

Last month I reported here at PJ Media about the coordination of the “vetted moderate” FSA with Jabhat al-Nusra and even ISIS. That coordination was later confirmed by a senior FSA commander.

Those reports came just as Congress was considering a vote to spend another $500 million to train their administration’s “vetted moderate” partners. That funding wasapproved by both the House and the Senate before Congress left town for the election break. With Obama cutting the FSA loose less than a month later, those who voted against the funding are going to look like geniuses.

Now that the FSA is safely under the bus it remains to be seen exactly who Obama is going to enlist to train and fight. Most of those who can fight are already in the fight. What are they going to do now, put out an ad on Craig’s List?

As one observer noted last night, Syria watchers should keep an eye out for the following ad showing up in the help wanted section of Middle East newspapers:

Wanted, Multicultural, non-sectarian, Jeffersonian democrats interested in military careers. English a plus. Drug test required.

Under Obama’s bus must be getting crowded…

The Strong Horse

The statue of Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Maude, KCB, CMG, DSO that stood in Baghdad until the Iraqi revolution in 1958

The statue of Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Maude, KCB, CMG, DSO that stood in Baghdad until the Iraqi revolution in 1958

By Mark Steyn:

On March 11th 1917, General Maude’s British Indian army marched into Baghdad and took as prisoners almost 10,000 Ottoman troops. If you had to locate the birth of the modern, post-caliphate Arab world in a single event, that would be it. Over the next few years, London and Paris drew lines in the sand and invented the western Middle East, and the states we treat with today – Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia. The British certainly understand the significance of March 1917: When they returned to Baghdad to topple Saddam a decade ago, they named their new military headquarters in the Green Zone “Maude House”.

Likewise, if one were to pick a single, decisive event that would mark the end of the modern, western Middle East and the dawn of the post-western pre-modern Middle East, it would be the fall of Baghdad to ISIS or ISIL or, as they prefer to be known, “the Islamic State”.

Is that likely? According to General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking on ABC News at the weekend, the head hackers were within 15 miles with “a straight shot to the airport“. As I write, they’re apparently within eight miles. The Iraqi Army do not seem minded to put up much of a fight – unlike, say, the Kurds in Kobani. And naturally, heady on its usual cocktail of treachery and delusion, Washington has chosen to stiff the Kurds but prop up the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Desertion.

Can American air support delay the inevitable? Or will the jihad boys soon be poking around not only the abandoned Maude House but also the largest and most expensive US embassy on the planet, laughing it up for the cameras in front of askew portraits of Joe Biden? One assumes the Administration is at least rehearsing some spin for this eventuality, although with the Obama crowd nothing can be taken for granted. Still, no doubt Susan Rice will be sent out on the Sunday talk-shows to declare that Baghdad is of no strategic significance, and the court eunuchs of the American media will helpfully explain how this shows Obama’s commitment to fulfilling his election promise of decisively ending Bush’s Iraq war – or, alternatively, that Obama is too sophisticated to be trapped by outmoded paradigms such as victory and defeat.

Read more at SteynOnline