Strategic Failures, the US and the Fall of Ramadi

Islamic State fighters celebrate their take over of Ramadi with a victory 'parade.' (Photo: Islamic State social media)

Islamic State fighters celebrate their take over of Ramadi with a victory ‘parade.’ (Photo: Islamic State social media)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, May 21, 2015:

The Islamic State (ISIS) has captured Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, reportedly “terrifying” Iraqi officials who now foresee a “tsunami of international terror.” It is an important achievement for the terrorist group aimed at pre-empting a potential Sunni tribal uprising.

The Sunni tribes in Anbar Province were critical to the success of the 2007 “surge” that ousted the Islamic State’s predecessor, Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The deterioration in the relationship between these tribes and the central Iraqi government was likewise critical to the terrorists’ comeback in Iraq.

The Islamic State remembered these lessons and acted quickly as the Iraqi government began training tribal fighters and the U.S. defense budget allotted $179 million to Kurdish and Sunni tribal forces. The U.S. forgot these lessons and has long rejected Sunni and Kurdish pleas for direct aid to fight the Islamic State.

The Obama Administration is now planning to change course and directly arm and train the Iraqi Sunni tribes after the fall of Ramadi. The White House previously chose to work only through the central Iraqi government that has given the Kurds and Sunnis inadequate support.

A delegation of 11 Sunni tribal leaders, including Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, the President of the Anbar Awakening Council, flew to the U.S. on January 18 to plead for direct assistance. Former President George W. Bush called Abu Risha and listened to his complaints for 20 minutes and offered to help. Administration officials were less willing. One tribal official said, “I wouldn’t call it the ‘cold shoulder,’ but it certainly was a cool one.”

The Obama Administration told them that it would only work through the elected central government. Its viewpoint was that working with forces outside the government’s authority undermines the Iraqi leadership and threatens the country’s unity.

That standpoint ignores what was learned after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Nothing threatens Iraq’s unity and the government’s authority more than instability. Direct U.S. aid to the Sunni tribes helped save Iraq from disintegration into sectarian enclaves ruled by terrorists and militias.

The Islamic State struck Ramadi during a sandstorm that delayed American air support. Former U.S. Central Command advisor Ali Khedery says that a Kurdish member of parliament informed him that 6,000 Iraqi Security Forces fled when faced with a mere 150 Islamic State fighters. About 500 Iraqi security personnel and civilians died in two days. The Iraqi officials spoke straight forwardly and  admitted that the current strategy is failing.

The Pentagon says it has finished training about 7,000 Iraqi Security Forces and another 3-4,000 are in the process of training, but training won’t solve the problem of collapsing Iraqi forces. The U.S. trained the Iraqis from 2003 until the withdrawal in 2011. The strategy of waiting for the Iraqi security forces to become strong enough to stabilize the country is the same strategy that failed before the surge.

Iraqi personnel flee because they don’t want to die for a lost cause or to fight for a replacement worse than the Islamic State.

The Iraqi Security Forces face a fundamental disadvantage when battling the Islamic State: They want to live and their enemies want to die. This disadvantage is further compounded by a lack of confidence. If given the choice to die fighting in a losing battle or to flee and perhaps regroup later with better chances of victory, they will choose the latter.

An Anbar official placed the blame on the Iraqi government, telling CNN, “If 10% of the government’s promises had been implemented, Ramadi would still in our hands and the Islamic State wouldn’t dare to be anywhere near the city.”

Iraqi Sunnis are faced with a terrible choice. The Iranian-backed Shiite militias are often nicknamed “Shiite ISIS” because their crimes are comparable to ISIS but are less known by the West because they aren’t broadcasted. However, the Anbar Provincial Council is officially welcoming them now out of desperation and perhaps an awareness that their opposition will be ignored anyway.

The Shiite militias should be expected to mistreat the local Sunnis the second after the Islamic State is expelled or even during the fighting. Tribal support is far from unanimous. The son of the largest tribe’s leader is in the U.S. asking for support right now and bluntly warned that sending the Shiite militias into Anbar Province “will cause a civil war.”

The New York Times has noticed the change in American attitude towards the Shiite militias. Pentagon spokesperson Col. Steve Warren said, “As long as they’re controlled by the central Iraqi government, there’s a place for them.” Yet, only two months ago, Central Command Commander General Austin said, “I will not—and I hope we will never—coordinate or cooperate with Shiite militias.”

The U.S. must correct its strategy by sidelining Iranian-backed militias and terrorists, leveraging influence with the Iraqi government and significantly increasing assistance to the Anbar tribes, Kurds, Iraqi government and to the persecuted Christian minority that is forming its own self-defense force.

Recent history has shown that the Iraqi government will choose the U.S. over Iran if compelled.

In March, the U.S. withheld support to Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State in Tikrit because of the involvement of Iranian-backed militias and the Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Iranian proxies stalled and could move no further, displaying the value of U.S. air support. The Iraqis chose America and the Iranians were removed from the battle. U.S. aid delivered the victory that the Iranians could not.

The Iraqis had been asking for U.S. for more help including possibly advisors on the ground since October 2013. By March 2014, the Iraqis were asking for airstrikes on the Islamic State. The Islamic State blitz into Iraq began in June.

The Iraqi ambassador complained that the U.S. had denied requests for help including Apache helicopter sales, thereby putting Iraq “in an uncomfortable position in seeking support from whoever is available on the ground.” He emphasized that the “U.S. is our strategic partner of choice.”

Iran opposed the return of U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq as advisors. The Iranian-backed cleric Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to attack the advisors and two other Iranian-backed militias also forcefully opposed U.S. involvement. The Iraqi government went ahead anyway.

Even now, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in Russia and talking to China and Iran about delivering arms that the U.S. refuses to provide.

The U.S. needs to give the Iraqi government a clear choice: Iran or us.

The Iraqi government should be put on notice. If it is willing to restrain the Shiite militias and work with us to disband them, then we will provide all necessary aid. We will help negotiate with the Sunni tribes so their local forces operate within a national framework.

If the Iraqi government chooses Iran, then we will cut our aid and redirect it towards our Sunni, Kurdish and Christian partners while maintaining contact with friendly Shiites. We will not act as the air force for Iranian proxies. If necessary, we will talk about a role for the forthcoming Arab force led by Egypt to replace yours.

It is positive news that the Obama Administration is reversing its stance and will directly help the Sunni tribes, but the anti- Islamic State strategy requires an anti-Iran strategy.

***

Gen. Jack Keane: ‘We Are Not Only Failing, We Are In Fact Losing This War’

‘I can say with certainty [Obama’s] strategy will not defeat ISIS’

Also see:

So, according to Dempsey, the Islamic State didn’t launch a multitude of suicide assaults on the Ramadi government center, Anbar Operations Command, Camp Ar Ramadi, the Justice Palace, and other locations between May 15 and May 17. Instead, we are told, a sandstorm, which inhibited US air power, caused an Iraqi general to order his military and police forces to just drive out of two military bases and a government center, and a multitude of police stations and checkpoints, to a “a more defensible position,” presumably in Habbaniyah, about 15 miles away.

The US military command is in complete denial about what is happening in both Iraq and Syria. Military officials are continuing to tell us that the strategy to defeat the Islamic State is working, even as major cities fall under the control of the jihadist group (see this DoD News article, Centcom Officials ‘Confident’ Iraqi Security Forces Will Recover Ramadi from today).

The Watchman Show: World on Fire

jihad 2Terrorism experts Erick Stakelbeck, Patrick Poole and Ryan Mauro to discuss Iran, ISIS, Yemen and Syria–and why it matters for Americans.

Texas Attack: It’s Not (Just) About the Cartoons

The attackers at the Texas event Elton Simpson (Left) and Nadir Soofi. Background: the Curtis Culwell Community Center where the attack took place.

The attackers at the Texas event Elton Simpson (Left) and Nadir Soofi. Background: the Curtis Culwell Community Center where the attack took place.

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, May 6, 2015:

A misleading and dangerous narrative has formed in the wake of the shooting in Garland, Texas that is music to the ears of Islamists: That there’s a causal relationship between the Mohammed drawing event and the attack on the event. Many figures in the media are conflating the target with the motivation.

The facts speak for themselves. The first perpetrator who was identified, Elton Simpson, was first investigated by the FBI all the way back in the fall of 2006. The court documents show that the FBI was tracking a suspected plot to establish a sleeper cell in Arizona and Simpson was associated with the organizer. The FBI used a presumably Muslim informant who attended Simpson’s mosque.

Simpson was recorded telling the informant about his desire to quickly enter Paradise by dying in violent jihad. He blasted Muslims who didn’t believe they are required to fight overseas and framed the conflict as one between democracy’s “man-made laws” and “Allah‘s laws.” He talked about the need to rebuild a caliphate. All of this happened roughly eight years before ISIS made “caliphate” practically a household word and before the Mohammed drawings contest was ever mentioned.

Simpson was a convert who was born in Illinois and moved to Phoenix. He was convicted in 2011 for lying to the FBI about his plan to go to Somalia and join Al-Qaeda’s affiliate there named Al-Shabaab. He was only fined $500 and sentenced to three years probation because the judge dropped the terrorism charge. Here’s an excerpt from the astounding ruling:

“It is true that the Defendant had expressed sympathy and admiration for individuals who ‘fight’ non-Muslims as well as his belief in the establishment of Shariah law, all over the world including in Somalia. What precisely was meant by ‘fighting’ whenever he discussed it, however, was not clear. Neither was what the Defendant meant when he stated he wanted to get to the ‘battlefield’ in Somalia.”

Simpson’s co-conspirator was his roommate, Nadir Soofi, who was born in Garland, Texas, where the shooting took place. He was raised there until he was three years old. He and his brother then attended a private school in Pakistan and moved back to America when their mother divorced their Pakistani father.

A friend of Soofi’s since sixth grade said he noticed his radicalization process happening over several years. He strangely switched from being a dog-lover to a dog-hater and became an “internet jihadi” while suffering from “loneliness and struggling in the U.S.” after moving back from Pakistan. His Facebook page shows he followed popular radical preachers like Khalid Yasin and Zakir Naik.

Simpson swore allegiance to the Islamic State and the pair attacked the Mohammed cartoons event but that doesn’t mean they were motivated by the event. The event was simply the most attractive target for implementing his long-held jihadist beliefs. If the event was cancelled, another target would have been chosen because the fundamental objective was murder and dying.

Simpson wasn’t even motivated by the Islamic State, per se. He had adopted the jihadist ideology years before ISIS burst onto the scene. The Islamist premises that made the Islamic State attractive is where the problem originates.

The  says Simpson was a consistent attendee and Soofi sometimes also came. Simpson was popular among the other young attendees.

As pointed out by former CIA officer Clare Lopez, the mosque’s Facebook page says it is owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity whose links to Hamas earned it being called an unindicted co-conspirator designation in a terrorism-financing trial.

Lopez also notes that the mosque’s imam, Sheikh Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz Ahmad Sulaiman, is a member of a the North American Imams Federation, a group so radical that it is interconnected with the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, an anti-American Islamist organization that supports Hamas and forbids Muslims from serving food to the U.S. military.

The Federation had (or has) an official linked to the Jamaat-e-Islami group in Bangladesh; Sulaiman was even convicted as a war criminal there. Daniel Greenfeld discovered that the mosque held an event with Lauren Booth from PressTV, a propaganda outlet for the Iranian regime. Lopez also noticed that Simpson converted to Islam around the same time as he began attending the mosque, strongly indicating that his original interpretations of Islam were shaped by what was being preached at the mosque.

The mosque’s leadership has given contradictory answers about how long Simpson attended. Mosque president Usama Shami told one media outlet that he stopped showing up around 2010 when he was indicted. To another, Shami said he attended for a decade and stopped coming two or three months ago.

Shami says Simpson had a lot of friends at the mosque and never expressed radicalism. Yet, the FBI informant wasn’t previously friends with Simpson and seemed to have had no trouble getting him to talk about his radicalism, making it hard to believe that Simpson didn’t express this to his other friends at the mosque.

Shami is already positioning to redirect attention away from Islamism and onto its opponents—especially the U.S. government—as Islamists reflexively do. He seemed to suggest that the FBI provoked Simpson’s radicalization by saying that he saw a personality shift after he was indicted. Shami claims he suddenly saw an “absence of happiness” but no radicalism.

This is typical Islamist deflection. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and designated terrorist entity by the United Arab Emirates, claims that the FBI is purposely radicalizing innocent Muslims. In its condemnation of the Texas shooting, it accused the terrorists and event organizers of having the same agenda.

Islamist radicalism is what breeds Islamist terrorism, even if some non-violent Islamist radicals disagree with terrorism. In order for someone to join the Islamic State, he or she must first have the extreme beliefs of sharia governance and rebuilding the caliphate. In order for someone to join Hamas, he must first be anti-Semitic. And for someone to attack people drawing Mohammed, he must believe that critics of Mohammed deserve death.

The media’s focus on the Mohammed drawings contest misses the mark. Whether or not one agrees with holding the event is irrelevant as to why this attack happened. It happened because of the desire to find a target; not because of the target itself.

Every second the media spends implying a casual relationship between the event and the attack is a second wasted.

Watch Clarion’s Ryan Mauro’s interview about the attack on Fox News:

Also see:

US Muslim Brotherhood Backs Turks on Armenian Genocide

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women's shelter in Urfa's Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

Skulls of Armenians massacred in Urfa, surrounded by Armenian dignitaries and women from the women’s shelter in Urfa’s Monastery of St. Sarkis in June 1919. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/AGBU)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April21, 2015:

The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, a coalition of groups linked to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, defended Turkey ahead of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on Friday (April 24).

The Virginia-based Dar al-Hijrah mosque is going a step further and promoting a rally on that day to thank the Turkish government for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The coalition published a statement on Monday, April 20, opposing any recognition of the genocide of Armenian Christians in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks. The USCMO claims that there hasn’t been a “proper investigation of these events by independent historians” and that the holiday risks alienating the Islamist government of Turkey.

The USCMO says it is “the largest umbrella group of mainstream Muslim American organizations.” It includes the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America, Muslim American Society (MAS), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Muslim Legal Fund of America, the Muslim Ummah of North America, The Mosque Cares and, of course, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Additional Council members include the Mosque Foundation, Baitul Maal, the Islamic Center of Wheaton, United Muslim Relief and the American Muslim Alliance.

CAIR is recognized by the Justice Department as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity with Hamas links. The United Arab Emiratesbanned CAIR and MAS as terrorist groups last year. ICNA teaches subversion and has a war criminal as one of its leaders. The Daily Beast caught AMP condemning the U.S. government’s outlawing of aid to “so-called terrorist organizations” and endorsing violence against Israel.

One of the leaders of USCMO, Mazen Mokhtar, was jailed on charges related to tax fraud, but the indictment laid out his connections to terrorism. He has declared support for Hamas and suicide bombings and ran a website that helped fundraise for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

When an activist group named the United West approached Mokhtaron Capitol Hill during National Muslim Advocacy Day, he was asked about whether the Muslim Brotherhood exists in America. Moktar responded by repeatedly talking about how nice the weather was. Hussam Ayloush of CAIR responded similarly and said he did not know if the Brotherhood exists in America.

The USCMO statement praises Turkey as a member of NATO that “has taken on a unique regional and global leadership role in ensuring peace and prosperity for all.”

ThankTurkey-300x400Dar al-Hijrah, a large mosque with links to the Brotherhood and Hamas, sent a flyer to its membership promoting a rally on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day to thank the Turkish government for its “unwavering support of the oppressed people of the Middle East and around the world in their quest for ‘freedom and democracy.'”

The Islamist government of Turkey hosts a Hamas terror network and is anunabashed supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. A “charity” banned as a terrorist front by Germany, Israel and the Netherlands continues to operate in Istanbul and has close ties to President Erdogan and his political party even though it has recruited human shields for Hamas.

The Turkish government is embroiled in a scandal due to its cover-up of its covert aid to Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria named Jabhat al-Nusra. In December, two dozen congressmen asked the Treasury Department to begin sanctioning Turkey for its sponsorship of terrorism.

Far from promoting moderation, the neo-Ottoman Islamism instilled by the Turkish government has resulted in skyrocketing anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and support for terrorism.  Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing is the most popular Syrian rebel force in Turkey, with 40% favoring its victory. Another Islamist rebel group, the Islamic Front, comes in second with 24%.

The Erdogan government is also rolling back freedoms and clamping down on social media. It surpasses even North Korea as the number one jailer of journalists. A reporter was just convicted of the “crime” of “liking” a Facebook post denigrating President Erdogan.

That is the Islamist government that the USCMO and Dar al-Hijrah is so fond of.

The rally promoted by Dar al-Hijrah echoes the language that the Turkish government uses to characterize its support of the Brotherhood and Hamas. When President Erdogan, defends the Brotherhood in Egypt, even as it declares jihad, he says he is standing up for “freedom” and “democracy.”

Islamists almost always use such appealing terminology while advancing their less appealing agenda. The Brotherhood’s political wing in Egypt, for example, went by the name of the Freedom and Justice Party instead of its own name.

The flyer distributed by Dar al-Hijrah lists a website: LetHistoryDecide.org. The website is dedicated to denying that the Ottoman Turk massacre of Armenian Christians qualifies as genocide. That is the purpose of the walk.

Dar al-Hijrah was apparently uncomfortable with directly stating the purpose of the event. Readers are led to believe that the event is just about thanking Turkey for supporting freedom. Unmentioned is that the event’s purpose is to push back against Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and to express appreciation for Turkey’s support for the Brotherhood and Hamas.

On Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, millions of Christians and non-Christians who care for human rights will reflect upon the innocent lives lost at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. These powerful Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups will spend their day differently. They will be busy downplaying the atrocity and praising Turkey for supporting the Islamist ideology that perpetrated it.

Also see:

Presidential Race 2016 Candidate Profile – Marco Rubio, Rep.

Presidential-ProfileMarco_Rubio (1)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 20, 2015:

The presidential race for 2016 is gearing up and candidates are preparing themselves for the upcoming campaign. On April 13, 2015, Senator Marco Rubio became the third candidate to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He follows Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, earlier profiled by Clarion Project.

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

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

marco-rubio-sm

 

Relevant Experience

First-term Florida Senator (2010-Current)

Serves on Senate Foreign Relations   Committee:

Chairman of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues.

Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism.

View of Islamism

Sees the conflict as ideological in nature and not a response to aggressive U.S. policy.

“There is no greater risk to this country than the risk posed by radical Islamic terrorists. These terrorists aren’t trying to kill us because we offended them. They attacked us because they want to impose their view of the world on as many people as they can and America is standing in their way. We need to make it unmistakably clear that we will take whatever it takes for however long it takes to defeat radical Islamic terrorism.”

“For radical Islam, our entire culture is offensive. They’re not just offended about a YouTube video. They’re offended that women serve in the U.S. Senate. They’re offended that women drive. They’re offended that little girls get to go to school. In some of these countries, converting to Christianity is punishable by death. Our whole culture is offensive to them, not just a YouTube video.”

The “spread and success of political and economic freedom in the Middle East is in our vital interest.”

“Absolutely” supports a permanent presence of U.S. troops in the Middle East.

 

Domestic Islamists

In 2011, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity, appeared to take credit by praising Rubio for declining an invitation to speak at a Tea Party event that included controversial anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller and Dr. Bill Warner, who CAIR branded as “Islamophobes.”

“We thank Senator Rubio and Governor Scott for avoiding the false perception that they would in any way legitimize anti-Muslim hatred by appearing at an event featuring hard-core Islamophobes,” said CAIR-FL Executive Director Hassan Shibly.

Shibly has a history of Islamist extremism.

Criticized the five members of Congress who wrote letters to U.S. government agencies asking for inquiries into their involvement with Muslim Brotherhood affiliates and possible Islamist sympathizers.

Rubio said he “[does not] share the feelings that are in that letter,” but he may only have been referring to the concern voiced about Huma Abedin, Secretary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff and close friend.

Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton since 1996 and Deputy Chief of Staff when she was Secretary of State, was assistant-editor of an Islamist journal from 1996 to 2008 and three of her immediate family members are closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Her husband’s mayoral campaign also received donations from a lobbyist for Al-Jazeera. This has raised questions about the security clearance process.

Her husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner, is Jewish and very pro-Israel. Clinton denies that Abedin is part of the Brotherhood and described those voicing concerns as “irresponsible and demagogic.”

Abedin was also defended by Republican officials. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says “she is about as far away from the Muslim Brotherhood view of women and ideology as you can get.”

Egypt & Muslim Brotherhood

Supported the U.S. call for Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak to resign.

Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is part of the problem of radical Islam and is inciting anti-Americanism.

“We should expect for them to say the same things in Arabic as they are saying in English. Don’t express condolences and outrage in English on the attack against America, but in Arabic completely ignore it and only talk about the YouTube video. We should expect more from them.”

Did not support calls for severing aid to Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood took over, but did want aid to be conditional, based on the Brotherhood’s commitment to human rights and democracy.

Opposed cutting off foreign aid after the Egyptian military’s popularly-supported overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood. He instead proposed the aid be conditioned on the new Egyptian government’s commitment to human rights and democracy, including a transition to a civilian government.

 

Iran

Shiite Islamists including the Iranian regime seek an “apocalyptic showdown” to trigger the appearance of the Hidden Imam, or the “Mahdi.”

Would scrap the current nuclear deal with Iran and implement tougher sanctions.

U.S. “should be open to negotiations with Iran, but always remember that they should not be deemed a success when they only lead to further negotiations.”

A potential deal must require Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

U.S. should have openly and forcefully supported the Green Revolution in 2009.

 

Iraq, Syria & ISIS

The decision to invade Iraq and topple the Saddam Hussein dictatorship made the world a better place.

Arm moderate rebels in Syria to fight ISIS and Al-Qaeda and remove dictator Bashar Assad from power.

“The best-organized, the best-armed and the best-equipped elements in Syria are the most radical ones, the most anti-democratic ones, the most anti-American ones,” he explained.

U.S. should have a policy of working with Islamist-led Turkey and the Arab League to topple Assad and “replace him with a stable secular government.”

Opposed the Obama Administration’s plan for airstrikes on the Syrian dictatorship after it repeatedly used chemical weapons. He said U.S. military force should not be used in the conflict at all.

In September 2013, Rubio said he does not support U.S. military action in the Syrian civil war.

In December 2014, he wrote that the U.S. must enforce a No-Fly Zone in parts of Syria, which would require military enforcement. He argued that the it was necessary in order to assist Syrian rebels who can fight ISIS.

 

Afghanistan

Opposes timeline for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

 Libya

Supported military intervention to overthrow Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
U.S. did not provide enough support to the Libyan government after Gaddafi’s fall, permitting Islamist extremists to flourish.

U.S. should continue foreign aid to Libya’s government because it is working with us. This was in response to Senator Rand Paul, another GOP candidate, arguing that aid should be cut off to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan.

 

Turkey

U.S. should work with the Islamist government of Turkey to help Syrian rebels remove Bashar Assad from power.

In 2014, wrote a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan (the current President) confronting his government’s anti-Israel incitement and reports that groups in Turkey were organizing to violate the blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Endorsed Israeli military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

 

Ohio Arrest Shows Threat to U.S. from Al-Qaeda in Syria

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What now for the U.S.’ relationship with Al-Nusra after an American goes to Syria for jihadist training and returns to commit terrorism?

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 19, 2015:

Al-Nusrah American citizen Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud was indicted after a cleric associated with Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda in Syria) ordered him to carry out an attack here, the Justice Department announced. His plot to attack a military base in Texas was thwarted. The involvement of Al-Nusra will make it difficult for the U.S. to keep looking the other way as it gains territory in Syria.

Originally from Somalia, Mohamud grew up in the U.S. He lives in Columbus, Ohio and Islamist radicalism seems to be a family affair in this case. His brother died fighting for Al-Qaeda in Syria and was apparently a major influence in Mohamud’s radicalization.

Their younger brother, Abdiqani Aden, was arrested earlier this month during a visit to Mohamud because he made a gun symbol with his hands and pointed towards the sheriff’s deputies. He was speaking in a foreign language at the time. This is especially threatening because Mohamud’s second-choice target was a prison.

The government’s monitoring of communication between the two older brothers shows their motivations were not frustration with U.S. foreign policy or personal trials. They were inspired by a glorification of those who die in violent jihad and a belief that such “martyrs” are guaranteed entry into heaven.

His brother left the U.S. in May 2013 and went to Syria to link up with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing. Mohamud’s travel arrangements involved Al-Nusra members and that is presumably the group he joined, but his online postings showed his loyalty was with ISIS. Al-Nusra facilitators appear to have been surprisingly unconcerned by this.

This may indicate the rift between the leadership of ISIS and Al-Qaeda isn’t necessarily trickling down to most of the membership. The attacks in Paris are another example where Al-Qaeda and ISIS supporters worked together despite the quarrels of their leaders.

His brother was killed in June 2014 and he returned home afterwards. Mohamud told a close associate that he completed his training with an unidentified terrorist group in Syria and a cleric told him to return to the U.S. to carry out an attack. The indictment charges Mohamud with providing material support to Al-Nusra, so it appears that he never joined ISIS.

Mohamud began plotting but two unidentified individuals close to him reported their dialogues to the FBI and likely recorded them. One was a friend of his for three years and all indications point to one or both of these informants being Muslim. This is another example of why the demonization of informants by groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is so dangerous.

Mohamud decided his preference was to attack a military site with a prison as a backup option. He chose a base in Texas and hoped to execute three or four U.S. soldiers before achieving “martyrdom.” The FBI arrested him before he could start putting the details together.

The cleric’s involvement is an important detail because it threatens to unravel the Obama Administration’s façade that Al-Nusra isn’t a direct threat to America. It also indicates the group is putting an increased emphasis on hitting us at home.

The U.S. realized in September the air campaign against ISIS needed to include a unit within Al-Nusra named the Khorasan Group that was orchestrating terror plots against the West. The problem is that Al-Nusra is much more popular than ISIS and works closely with other Syrian rebels, including ones the U.S. supported and anticipated relying upon to fight ISIS on the ground.

The desire to avoid alienating Al-Qaeda-allied Syrian rebels and their supporters led the Obama Administration to begin promoting a myththat the Khorasan Group is an independent entity that is somehow illogically linked to Al-Qaeda but not Al-Nusra. The New York Timesrepeated it in its coverage of this case.

The myth is harmful to U.S. interests and anti-Islamist Syrians because it distances Al-Nusra from Al-Qaeda, thereby giving it a higher ceiling of public support. A Zogby poll in November found the population of Turkey favors Al-Nusra above all other participants in the Syrian civil war. A whopping 40% of Turks support Al-Nusra the most.

The indications are that Mohamud’s Syrian cleric is from Al-Nusra but it’s still significant he’s in ISIS because that would mean it is now dispatching operatives from the region to America. That would be a shift from relying on so-called “lone wolves” inside the U.S. who plan terrorism because they’ve determined that traveling to the Caliphateis unlikely to succeed.

It is true that Mohamud’s case is important because it’s the first publicly-acknowledged case of an American going to Syria for jihadist training and returning home to commit terrorism, but there’s a bigger point to be made. The U.S. is at war with Jabhat al-Nusra because it is at war with Al-Qaeda. If a Syrian rebel partner doesn’t approve of the U.S. recognizing that unavoidable fact, then that’s not a partner worth having.

Russian System Should Be Treated As Part of Iran’s Nuke Program

S-300 anti-aircraft missile system at the Victory Parade, Red Square, 9 May 2009. (Wiki Commons / www.kremlin.ru)

S-300 anti-aircraft missile system at the Victory Parade, Red Square, 9 May 2009. (Wiki Commons / http://www.kremlin.ru)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 15, 2015:

The U.S., Germany and Israel condemned Russia’s announcement that it will change course and sell the advanced S-300 air and missile defense system to Iran. Anonymous officials are relaying feelings of near panic to various press outlets, saying the delivery of the system would essentially eliminate the military option to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Russia repeatedly threatened to sell the system to Iran and Syria since 2007 but relented under Western pressure. The Iranian regime even sued Russia for $4 billion for going back on its agreement to deliver the system. Russia’s formal announcement and request that Iran drop the lawsuit indicates Moscow is genuine in its stated intention to deliver the system.

The Russians will reportedly be paid $800 million by Iran for the system. Its advanced abilities include targeting 24 missiles or 30 aircraft simultaneously; a reach of 19 miles into the air and a distance of 155 miles. It can intercept aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. Russia has already trained Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps personnel in how to use it.

Earlier, Israel strongly suggested delivery of the S-300 system to Syria was a red line and it would be attacked before it became operational. It is widely assumed the same standard would apply to Iran because a potential strike on its nuclear program is already a very complicated and hazardous scenario.

The Daily Beast’s headline declares the system “could make U.S. attacks on Iran nearly impossible.” If the system terrifies U.S. officials, then the fear of Israeli officials must be exponentially greater because of their government’s more limited military capabilities.

“[The S-300 is] a complete game changer for all fourth-gen[eration] aircraft. That thing is a beast and you don’t want to get near it,” a senior Marine Corps aviator told the publication.

A senior Air Force commander said it “essentially makes Iran attack-proof by Israel and almost any country” without fifth-generation aircraft like the F-35. The U.S. has sold the F-35 to Israel but those aircraft may not be able to destroy important targets buried deep underground like the Fordow site.

Read more

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Kyle Shideler on Fox News: Could Russia arms deal with Iran impact nuclear talks?

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Also see:

Presidential Race 2016 Candidate Profile – Hillary Clinton, Dem.

Presidential-Profile-Hillary-Clinton-HPClarion Project, by Ryan Mauro,  April 14, 2015

The presidential race for 2016 is gearing up and candidates are preparing themselves for the upcoming campaign. On April 12, 2015, Hillary Clinton became the first candidate to announce her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. She follows senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, who are running for the Republican nomination. Their profiles by Clarion Project are linked to. 

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

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

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_crop

 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton 

Relevant Experience

Arkansas First Lady to Governor Bill Clinton (1979-1992)

First Lady to President Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

New York Senator (2001-2009)

Secretary of State under Obama Administration (2009-2013

 

View of Islamism

  • Acknowledges that the threat is ideological in nature and is a “contest of ideas and values.”
  • U.S. needs an  “overarching strategy” against jihadists and their ideology like the West had to defeat Communism.
  • “Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d’etre is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories. How do we try to contain that? I’m thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat.”
  • Defines Islamists broadly as Muslims who want a “guiding role” for Islam in politics and government. Clinton says there is a “wide spectrum” of Islamists including some who are hostile to democracy, indicating a belief that Islamism and democracy can be compatible.
  • Uses the term “moderate Islamist” to describe the Ennahda party in Tunisia, complimenting it for its inclusive rule after coming to power. Ennahda is actually an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood and its spiritual leader, Rashid Ghannouchi, has radical history. Popular unrest forced it to resign and secular-democrats were subsequently voted into power.
  • U.S. must use “smart power” to promote democracy and human rights and not just elections. She writes that the U.S. needs to focus on building civil society and democratic institutions. Clinton points out that only the military and Muslim Brotherhood were organized for a democratic process when President Mubarak was overthrown.
  • A political offensive is needed to confront anti-American sentiments and extremism overseas like during the Cold War. Clinton says America needs to “tell our story” and defend its policies through public engagement, but it was an “uphill struggle to convince either Congress or the White House to make this a priority.”
  • Promoting women’s rights should be a central pillar of foreign policy and “at the top of America’s diplomatic to-do list.”

 

Domestic Islamists

  • Refused to meet with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan after Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman expressed his willingness.
  • Returned $50,000 in donations from the American Muslim Alliance for her Senate campaign after its president justified Palestinian violence against Israel. She said the statement was “offensive and outrageous.”
  • She also returned a $1,000 donation from Abdurrahman Alamoudi of the American Muslim Council after he publicly announced his support for Hamas and Hezbollah. He later was convicted on terrorism-related charges and admitted to being a secret member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
  • The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity according to the Justice Department, promoted an article accusing Clinton of relying on advisers who want to start a world war and implement a “50-year project of ‘reordering’ the Middle East in order to make the region safe for Israel.”
  • It also criticizes advisers to Clinton and former New York Mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani for “envisioning a grand project of secularizing and ‘democratizing’ the Middle East.”
  • CAIR also posted an article that calls Clinton “Israel’s new lawyer.”
  • Her State Department had Abed Ayoub, CEO of Islamic Relief USA, as an adviser. He was on the Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group, specifically the Sub-Group on Faith-Based Groups and Development and Humanitarian Assistance. Islamic Relief is linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and was later banned by Israel and the United Arab Emirates for its alleged terrorism links.
  • Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton since 1996 and Deputy Chief of Staff when she was Secretary of State, was assistant-editor of an Islamist journal from 1996 to 2008 and three of her immediate family members are closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Her husband’s mayoral campaign also received donations from a lobbyist for Al-Jazeera. This has raised questions about the security clearance process.
  • Her husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner, is Jewish and very pro-Israel. Clinton denies that Abedin is part of the Brotherhood and described those voicing concerns as “irresponsible and demagogic.”
  • Abedin was also defended by Republican officials. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says “she is about as far away from the Muslim Brotherhood view of women and ideology as you can get.”

 

Clinton Foundation

  • Clinton Foundation has received tens of millions of dollars from seven foreign governments, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It also received $50,000 in 2005 from the Alavi Foundation, a New York-based group that was later shut down as an Iranian regime front. Former president Clinton responded that receiving their money did “a lot more good than harm” and all donations are disclosed.
  • The Foundation’s director for Egypt from 2007 to 2012, Gehad al-Haddad, has been arrested by the Egyptian government for being a Muslim Brotherhood member. Al-Haddad worked as an adviser for the Brotherhood’s political party at the same time as he worked for the Clinton Foundation. His father is a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau.

 

Iran

  • Favors a policy of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran and rejects a strategy of containment.
  • Iran does not have a right to enrich uranium. Our objective should be to end or minimize its enrichment. Ending enrichment altogether is “not an unrealistic position.”
  • “I’ve always been in the camp that held that they did not have a right to enrichment. Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no such right.”
  • “The preference would be no enrichment. The potential fallback position would be such little enrichment that they could not break out. So, little or no enrichment has always been my position.”
  • The U.S. should provide a security umbrella for Arab states against Iran but membership should require a “non-aggression pact” with Israel.
  • Regrets that she and the Obama Administration did not speak out forcefully in favor of the Green Revolution in 2009. She reportedly pressured President Obama to openly support the protests at the time.
  • She recognizes that the movement was about more than just the fraudulent re-election and many wanted the regime to fall. Clinton says her State Department used high-tech tools to help Iranian dissidents evade repression.

 

ISIS

  • Urged President Obama to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels to fill the power vacuum before jihadists could.
  • She expressed confidence that the U.S. could work with Jordan and the Islamist government of Turkey in vetting Syrian rebels.
  • She said, “there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle,” indicating that her strategy would include Islamists that do not belong to designated terrorist groups.
  • Opposes sending U.S. troops to Iraq to directly engage in a combat mission against ISIS.

 

Read more in-depth on Hillary Clinton.

Virginia state senator cited by Islamic State’s magazine

Sen. Richard H. Black (Associated Press)

Sen. Richard H. Black (Associated Press)

 The Washington Times, April 8, 2015:

Virginia state Sen. Richard H. Black calls it a badge of honor to have been singled out as an enemy of the Islamic State in the current issue of its English-language magazine Dabiq, but the Loudoun County Republican says he feels for others targeted by the terrorist group.

“I’m more concerned about the Christians in the Middle East and the American soldiers and their families that have been put on the ISIS hit list,” Mr. Black told The Washington Times, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “I am deeply concerned about the fate of Christians in the Middle East.”

Mr. Black, who was made aware of his mention in the magazine’s eighth edition via a courtesy call by the Virginia Capitol Police, is just the latest politician or analyst to find himself singled out in Dabiq as a “crusader” trying to stop the ascent of the radical Muslim movement.

The new issue, distributed late last month, labels former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a potential 2016 presidential hopeful, as “the Catholic crusader,” and it dubs both Mr. Black and former CIA operative Gary Berntsen as “the American crusader.”

Previous issues have gone after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, journalists and military analysts — usually quoting them touting the dangers posed by the Islamic State as a way of stressing the group’s importance in international affairs.

Analysts say Dabiq is designed to be a recruiting tool for jihadists from the West. One issue contained an article justifying burning alive a Jordanian air force pilot who had been held captive by the group; other issues proclaimed military successes and jeered at far-flung nations, warning them not to get involved in the fight.

The objective of the “In the Words of the Enemy” section in which the men are featured is to boost the morale of supporters and recruit Islamists who don’t support the group, said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project, an educational group that studies Islamist extremism and catalogs the magazine.

“The last issue’s section had a tone of defensiveness,” Mr. Mauro said in an e-mail. “ISIS had just lost the battle in Kobani and the group could not claim victory there without losing all credibility, so they used the comments of enemies to point out its successes elsewhere and to minimize the setback without denying it.”

U.S. airstrikes and Kurdish troops in late January broke the Islamic State’s months-long siege of the Syrian town of Kobani near Turkey’s border. The terrorist group still controls large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

In the latest magazine, Mr. Black is quoted as saying he sees the fight in Syria as the “center of gravity for Western civilization.”

“If it falls, then we will begin to see a very rapid advance of Islam on Europe and I think ultimately, potentially, the collapse of all of Europe,” he said in a recent interview with the Russian news outlet RT.

Mr. Black said Tuesday that he sees his inclusion as confirmation that what he has said about the group is accurate.

“If we topple Syria, we create a dangerous vacuum for ISIS and al Qaeda to fill,” Mr. Black said. “And if the [dreaded] black-and-white flag flies over Damascus, then Jordan will fall and Lebanon will fall in fairly short order.”

Mr. Mauro said ISIS used Mr. Black’s statement “to argue that Syria should be the top priority of jihadists around the world because victory there would lead to the collapse of Europe and Western civilization.”

He said the terrorists cited a quote from Mr. Santorum about the group’s strength to argue that ISIS is getting stronger and more popular, and that their quoting Mr. Berntsen as saying the group is the most successful Sunni terrorist group in history was used “to imply Allah’s favor and to encourage supporters of other groups like al Qaeda to unite behind them.”

Mr. Black, as a state senator, does not have the authority to directly influence U.S. foreign policy, but he attracted attention last year when he wrote a thank you letter to Syrian President Bashar Assad for his army’s liberating and defending Christians in the area.

Mr. Santorum, for his part, said he was named by the group because he “told the truth about them.”

“I went and used their own words, very clearly stated what their intention is, laid it right out there for the American public,” Mr. Santorum said this week on Fox News’ “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.” “Most Americans know who they are. It’s just we have an administration that refuses to identify them, and the problem with that is they’re developing policies based on a false premise. And that means that as I said in that article, they’re gonna get stronger, not weaker, because we’re not doing what’s necessary to defeat them.”

The magazine quotes Mr. Santorum from a February appearance on Fox News in which he said the Islamic State is “dead serious” about expanding its “caliphate.”

“As long as they hold ground and continue to expand that ground, more and more will come,” Mr. Santorum said then. “The fact that we are delaying means that the caliphate continues to exist. They’re not losing ground. They’re not being discredited in the eyes of the Muslim world. They will get stronger.”

Khamenei Smashes Terms of Nuclear Agreement

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Kamenei (Photo: © Reuters)

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Kamenei (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 12, 2015:

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei ended his eerie silence since the nuclear framework agreement was announced with a fiery speech accompanied with “Death to America” chants. Khamenei essentially smashed the viability of the nuclear framework to pieces, signalled a major escalations in the war in Yemen and essentially endorsed a violent jihad against the Saudi royal family.

Wishful thinkers can’t dismiss the speech as theater for a domestic audience. Khamenei tweeted highlights in English to make sure the world, especially Americans, saw them. The threats and demands are so unequivocal that failing to follow through would sacrifice his entire credibility and prestige.

The Iranian Supreme Leader is unsatisfied with the nuclear framework agreement even though it generously permits Iran to retain the ability to produce nuclear weapons while getting major sanctions relief.

First, he said that the fact sheet published by the U.S. contains lies and does not reflect what Iran agreed to. The statement obliges the regime to seek significant revisions shortly after it gave President Obama the go ahead to make a high-profile victory lap.

Khamenei’s demands are inescapably incompatible with America’s requirements for a deal.

First, Iran is demanding that all sanctions be lifted on the first day that a final deal is signed. The framework only agrees to lift sanctions in phases and only those related to nuclear activity, not terrorism or human rights. Doing so would unfreeze the assets of individuals and entities involved in terrorism around the world, sparking a massive growth in Iran’s terrorist apparatus and proxy warfare.

The inherently flawed hope by the West that “moderate” President Rouhani and other Iranian figures can reign in Khamenei can be immediately ruled out, since Rouhani said the same exact thing.

Read more

Also see:

Presidential Race 2016 Candidate Profile – Rand Paul, Republican

Presidential-Profile-Rand-Paul-HPClarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 8, 2015:

The Presidential race for 2016 is gearing up and candidates are preparing themselves for the upcoming campaign. On April 7, 2015, Senator Rand Paul became the second candidate to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He follows Ted Cruz, whose profile by Clarion Project can be viewed by clicking here.

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

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

Relevant Experience

Single-term Republican Senator from Kentucky (2011-Current). Serves on Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Homeland Security Committee

 Son of Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012. (Ron Paul was known for characterizing Islamic extremism as a response to U.S. foreign policy and hostility towards Israel. He opposed the raid in Pakistan that killed Osama Bin Laden. He recently suggested that the U.S. government knew Bin Laden’s location and did not take action because it needed an “excuse” for “invading various countries.”)

Record on Islamic Extremism

 There is a “worldwide war on Christianity” by a “fanatical element of Islam.”

 “Radical Islam will only end when Islam begins to police Islam” and an Islamic enlightenment happens.

 Islamic extremism is a product of  both anger over U.S. foreign policy and radical ideology.

 “We must understand that a hatred of our values exists,and acknowledge that interventions in foreign countries may well exacerbate this hatred,” he says.

 “Some anger is blowback, but some anger originates in an aberrant and intolerant distortion of religion that wages war against all infidels. We can’t be sentimental about neutralizing that threat, but we also can’t be blind to the fact that drone strikes that inadvertently kill civilians may create more jihadists than we eliminate.”

Iran

 Stated in a 2007 interview on the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones Show that, “it’s ridiculous to think they [the Iranian regime] are a threat to our national security” or to Israel’s. He urged activism to stop military action against Iran.

 Blocked bipartisan legislation to sanction Iran in 2012 because he wanted an amendment that spelled out that it shall not be interpreted as authority for using military force. He later voted for sanctions on Iran.

 Voted against a Senate resolution ruling out a policy of containment towards a nuclear-armed Iran. However, he said the U.S. should have a plan to contain a nuclear Iran, but it should remain private:

“I think it’s not a good idea to announce that in advance. Should I announce to Iran, well, we don’t want you to, but we’ll live with it? No that’s a dumb idea to say that you’re going to live with it. However, the opposite’s a dumb idea, too.”

He later clarified that he opposes a containment policy, but that the option should not be ruled out.

 Opposes implementing new sanctions on Iran during nuclear negotiations. He said he’d support new sanctions if a deal is not reached.

 It is “imperative” that the U.S. and Iran engage diplomatically to reach a deal for “limiting” its uranium enrichment.

 Favors cultural engagement with Iran as an alternative to military action.

“Iran has a large undercurrent of people who like the West. They like our music, our culture, out literature, and so I think we can influence people in those ways. I’d rather do that than go to war with Iran.”

Iraq and ISIS

 Opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, which he blames for the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS).

 In 2008, accused the U.S. government of dishonestly invading Iraq in order to enrich the multinational corporation Halliburton. He said that “9/11 became an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq.” The depiction of the U.S. government as waging war for money is a common Islamist theme.

 Supports U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He supports a limited role for U.S. ground troops in Iraq for securing diplomatic facilities, advising, intelligence-gathering and operations against high-value targets. However, says direct combat with the Islamic State should be done by Arabs and not American soldiers.

 U.S. should involve Turkey and the Syrian and Iranian regimes in fighting the Islamic State.

 U.S. should create an independent Kurdistan to encourage them to “fight like hell” against the Islamic State. Paul explicitly said, “I would go one step further: I would draw new lines for Kurdistan [in Iraq], and I would promise them a country.”

Muslim Brotherhood & Egypt

 Opposed U.S. military aid to the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and tried to stop the sale of F-16s.

 Advocated the complete severing of U.S. aid to Egypt in response to the popularly-supported overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood. He criticized the Obama Administration for not calling it a “coup,” which would require the stopping of aid. Paul described the new Egyptian government as a “military junta.”

Afghanistan

 In a 2011 op-ed, he criticized President Obama for not withdrawing from Afghanistan quickly enough. He said that combat troops should be removed by 2013, not 2014.

Syria

 Opposed U.S. support for Syrian rebels and favors neutrality in the Syrian civil war because “there is no clear U.S. national interest in Syria.”

 U.S. policy should be to pursue a negotiated settlement that involves the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad but retaining parts of the regime so Islamist rebels cannot threaten the Christian minority.

 Opposed potential U.S. airstrikes on the Syrian regime in retaliation for using chemical weapons.

Libya

 Opposed the U.S.-led military intervention in Libya that led to the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, saying that it created a safe haven for Islamist terrorists.

Saudi Arabia

 Wants Americans to boycott Saudi Arabia, but not the U.S. government. He said the country should be treated like apartheid South Africa.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.

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Also see:

Was George W. Bush Scheduled to Meet With ‘Islamists Linked to the Muslim Brotherhood’ on 9/11?

Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project appears on The Glenn Beck Program April 6, 2015. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project appears on The Glenn Beck Program April 6, 2015. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

The Blaze, by Erica Ritz,April 6, 2015:

Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project claims his organization has uncovered evidence that former President George W. Bush was scheduled to meet with “Islamists linked to the Muslim Brotherhood” on 9/11. Because of the devastating attacks of the day, the meetings didn’t happen.

But Mauro says the new documents show how “the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood gained access to the highest levels of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party, partly due to the help of Grover Norquist.”

Speaking on The Glenn Beck Program Monday, Mauro said Bush had two meetings scheduled with a total of 16 people, 14 of whom had “links to this Brotherhood political influence network.”

Mauro said it is certainly possible that White House officials didn’t know the beliefs of those they were meeting with, but the meetings “tell a shocking story of an Islamist political influence operation that reached the highest levels of the U.S. government.”

“It’s difficult to know who knows the background of these individuals and who doesn’t,” Mauro told Beck. “But for me the bottom line is that when you look at these documents, what you see is Karl Rove was supposed to attend this meeting with President Bush with very radical people. … We’ve got to figure out for the sake of our national security, how does that happen?”

Commencing jihad: ISIS posts photos of military ‘graduation’

The Twitter photos show a "graduating class" of ISIS fighters.

The Twitter photos show a “graduating class” of ISIS fighters.

Fox News, by  Malia Zimmerman, March 30, 2015:

The black-clad graduates listened intently as speakers inspired them to change the world, but instead of caps and gowns, they wore masks and fatigues, and in place of diplomas, they clutched AK-47s.

Photos posted online by the Islamic State in Syria in the last few days showed the terror group’s latest “graduating class,” which included dozens of foreign fighters who came to Syria to join the Islamic caliphate. The graduation pictures capped 18 months of training in ideology and weaponry at a university in Deir Az-Zour, in northern Syria, and grads are now ready to advance to killing in the cause of radical Islam. Experts say ISIS has reasons for attaching the formal trappings of commencement exercises to the training of its fighters.

“There are two messages being sent by ISIS besides the obvious shock factor: First, their caliphate is an actual functioning and legitimate state. Second, this is long-term struggle,” said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst and adjunct professor of Homeland Security for the Clarion Project. “This is a way of saying that ISIS has succeeded (in creating a state) where Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists have failed.”

By promoting their special force in a series of propaganda photos, experts said ISIS is sending a message to potential recruits that it has created a professional, deadly and well-equipped force ready to protect its expanding Caliphate.

“The graduation photos send a message by ISIS that it has a military capacity ready to defend the Islamic Caliphate – a ‘government’ that has not lost control and will be able to defend its ‘territory,’ said Jasmine Opperman, the African-based analyst for the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium.

ISIS brigades have been on the attack for just over a year, advancing and expanding areas of control at an alarming rate, but as ISIS’s fighters prepare to defend their newly acquired territories, they also are changing tactics.

In the past, ISIS training programs were conducted near the Turkish border areas that serve as a main entry point for ISIS western fighters.

However, with ISIS creating pockets of control, training camps are being held in Libya and on the border areas between Tunisia and Algeria, Opperman said.

The skills required to advance their cause are changing. ISIS is creating what it calls “The Intractable Army,” with soldiers who can rappel from buildings, fight in cities and aim its rocket launchers with precision.

“In the battlefield of the immediate future, urban warfare will require more specialized skills such as the use of snipers,” Opperman said.

Foreign fighters are not the only graduates. ISIS is now training assassins as young as 8 years old, putting them through a formal “cubs” program, as well as launching their own three year medical school of sorts.

Analysts say ISIS wants to project an image of nationalistic military training.

Analysts say ISIS wants to project an image of nationalistic military training.

“One of the purposes of these photos is to show that they didn’t just seize territory; they transformed it into an attractive caliphate that is a viable alternative to other civilizations,” Mauro said. “ISIS and other Islamist groups are at odds over the legitimacy of al-Baghdadi’s caliphate, but they are in agreement that this is a ‘civilizational jihad’ against other systems influenced by the West.”

ISIS graduations feature their own celebrities of sorts. In a March 15 ceremony, Abu Waheeb, the leader of ISIS terrorist group in Iraq, who gained notoriety after executing Syrian Shiite truck drivers in Iraq in 2013, made an appearance where he rallied his troops.

Bush was to Meet Muslim Brotherhood Affiliates on 9/11

bush-nihad-awad-muslim-brotherhood

By Ryan Mauro:

The Clarion Project has received White House documents that show that President Bush was scheduled to meet with Islamists linked to the Muslim Brotherhood on September 11, 2001. In a remarkably ironic turn of events, it was Islamist terrorism that stopped the meeting with Islamist radicals at the White House from happening.

The never-before-published documents substantiate the assertions that the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood gained access to the highest levels of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party, partly due to the help of Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. The files help tell a shocking story of an Islamist political influence operation that reached the highest levels of the U.S. government.

The Center for Security Policy has a meticulously documented dossier on the topic, including first-hand testimony from the think-tank’s president. The Clarion Project has also told the story, including the history of Norquist’s Islamic Free Market Institute and its links to Islamists including the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.

The White House documents show that President George W. Bush was scheduled to meet with U.S.-based Islamists on September 11, 2001 after a previous meeting on March 5 was cancelled.

Bush and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham would meet privately with a select group of six Muslim and Arab “supporters” at 3:05 PM in the White House Oval Office, including two officials from Norquist’s Islamic Free Market Institute. Every single one of those six has strong connections to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.

This would be followed by a larger meeting with 16 activists who are described as representatives of the top 12 Muslim and Arab organizations, including four created by the Muslim Brotherhood. Also in attendance would have been 7 additional White House officials; three of which have served as officials with Norquist’s Islamic Free Market Institute.

We will examine the activists with this treasured high-level access in a moment. The purpose of the scheduled meetings with President Bush on 9/11 must first be understood to appreciate their significance.

Islamist Engagement with the GOP and Bush Campaign

The topics to be addressed in this meeting and with the larger group were classified evidence, racial profiling and the Middle East conflict. The agenda also emphasized that Muslims and Arabs are victimized by negative stereotypes, showing that the Islamists’ “Islamophobia” strategy was well underway before the 9/11 attacks.

The reference to “classified evidence” is important to be put into context.

Sami Al-Arian and the Islamist lobby successfully pressured the Bush presidential campaign and the Republican party into opposing the Clinton Administration’s use of classified evidence to detain immigrants on national security grounds. Al-Arian was later convicted of being a secret Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist operative. The practice was responsible for the detainment of Al-Arian’s brother-in-law and fellow Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative, Mazen al-Najjar.

Al-Arian was described as a “master manipulator” by the judge during his trial. The indictment of Al-Arian says he and his co-conspirators “did seek to obtain support from influential individuals, in the United States under the guise of promoting and protecting Arab rights.”

A document in his possession shows he ordered colleagues to “collect information from those relatives and friends who work in sensitive positions in government.”

Al-Arian’s operation, by his own admission, was essentially one with the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity whose offices were raided in 2002 as part of a terrorism investigation. He later refused to testify to a grand jury investigating the group.

[Also see: IIIT: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Think Tank by Kyle Shideler]

The FBI was warned in 1987 by an informant in the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood that IIIT was secretly working through “political action front groups” and planned “to peacefully get inside the United States government and also American universities.” According to former IIIT member Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, the group decided that accusations of “Islamophobia” would be thrown at opponents standing in their way.

IIIT is linked to the Islamic Free Market Institute founded by Grover Norquist. The St. Petersburg Times observed that “more than 50 targets of the raid were people and organizations connected to Norquist and the Islamic Institute.”

Al-Arian honored prominent Republicans including Norquist for joining his political causes including a ban on the classified evidence practice. Al-Arian repeatedly met with Norquist’s group, had a photo-op with then-Governor Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign and visited the White House.

The other key player was Abdurrahman Alamoudi, founder and board member of the American Muslim Council (AMC) that also lobbied heavily for Al-Arian’s cause. Alamoudi was later convicted on terrorism-related charges and was specifically linked to a Libyan regime plot to assassinate the king of Saudi Arabia.

AMC was part of a coalition named the American Muslim Political Coordination Council-Political Action Committee that endorsed Bush’s candidacy. The coalition said Bush “promised to address Muslim concerns on domestic and foreign policy issues.” It said one of the major reasons for the endorsement was the “accessibility” they had and his adoption of their position on the secret evidence issue.

The Bush presidential campaign returned a $1,000 donation from Alamoudi after he was videotaped declaring his support for the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups. He later wrote in a letter from prison that  was featured in the Grand Deception documentary that, “I am, I hopestill a member of the Muslim Brotherhood organization in the U.S.A.”

You can read more about the story of Islamist-GOP engagement and the Islamic Free Market Institute during this period here.

Bush’s First Meeting with Six “Supporters”

The Bush Administration documents do not specify what qualified the six attendees at the 3:05 meeting as “supporters” but presumably it was their work for the presidential campaign. The Islamist Money in Politics project shows that the Islamist lobby financially favored the Bush candidacy in 2000.

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Conclusion

The Bush White House documents obtained by the Clarion Projectare shocking in how they display the historical irony of President Bush’s scheduled meeting with terrorist-allied Islamists on 9/11 of all days, but there are equally-shocking broader conclusions to be made.

The episode is reflective of a successful Islamist political influence operation and a seriously flawed vetting process that continues until present, with the Islamists at President Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism Summit and the choice of Muslim Brotherhood promoter Mohamed Elibiary as a senior Department of Homeland Security advisor serving as two examples.

The conclusion should not be that everyone involved is a secret Islamist conspirator or terrorist. It’s that skillful Islamists use relationships with persons of influence in both parties to promote themselves, advance their causes and impact policy.

On the Glenn Beck Show on March 26, Norquist said he formed the Institute to promote a progressive reformation in Islam that is more pro-American and against Sharia governance. Yet, it worked closely with the Islamists who are the exact opposite of that.

Norquist said he probably didn’t even know what the Muslim Brotherhood was at the time. It’s very hard to believe that anyone involved in Islamic issues would be ignorant of that very basic fact. The Islamism of many of Norquist’s partners was already public knowledge then and was almost definitely expressed in their private dealings.

If Norquist was ignorant then, he certainly he is not now. Unknowing partners of these Islamists should renounce them and detail their dealings so as to prevent them in the future. They should thank those who exposed them and make up for their errors by embracing Muslim activists who stand against Islamism.

To this day, Norquist has not expressed regret about working with the Islamists. He has not even conceded that their histories are unsettling. He acts as if the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t even exist and ridicules those who say it does.

There is a bi-partisan problem when it comes to mistaking Islamists for “moderates.” The fight against Islamic extremism requires that those who made such mistakes wake up and act to correct their errors by challenging Islamism.

The treatment of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists as treasured “moderates” must come to an end.

Much more at Clarion Project

Think tank tallies 64 terror plots targeting American homeland since 9/11

Hasan Edmonds, (inset, I.), planned to join ISIS, while his cousin, Jonas Edmonds, plotted to kill 150 at the Joliet Armory, where Hasan’s National Guard unit was based. (Clarion Project, Reuters)

Hasan Edmonds, (inset, I.), planned to join ISIS, while his cousin, Jonas Edmonds, plotted to kill 150 at the Joliet Armory, where Hasan’s National Guard unit was based. (Clarion Project, Reuters)Fox News, by Malia Zimmerman, April 1, 2015:

The frightening plot to kill 150 National Guard members that unraveled last week when FBI agents nabbed two Chicago-area cousins was the 64th case since 9/11 of Islamist terrorists plotting to strike on American soil, according to a new report that warns the radicalizing influence of ISIS must be dealt with in the U.S. and abroad.

Illinois National Guardsman Hasan Edmonds, 22, was nabbed last Wednesday at Chicago’s Midway Airport, where he was trying to board a plane enroute to the Middle East to join ISIS, according to authorities. Jonas Edmonds, 29, intended to don his cousin’s uniform and mount a one-man attack on the Joliet Armory, where Hasan’s National Guard unit was based, authorities said.

Like most of the post-9/11 terror attacks planned against Americans in their homeland, the plot was thwarted. But analysts, including experts at the Heritage Foundation, which tracks each case, saythe number of attempts will continue to climb, and more plots are likely to succeed without aggressive counter-measures.

“So long as terror groups are able to conduct notable attacks and control territory, they will continue to inspire additional radicals around the world,” David Inserra, research associate in The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy, told Fox News. “While the U.S. and its allies must continue to try to stop terror attacks with all the tools at their disposal, the West must also defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups to prevent the spread of their violent ideology.”

By the count of Inserra and co-author Peter Brookes, senior fellow for National Security Affairs at Heritage, the Edmonds’ plot was the 17th aimed at the military. Some 53 of the 64 plots Heritage considers terrorism on American soil were plotted or perpetrated by homegrown extremists. The Washington think tank includes several instances not officially recognized by the U.S. government as terrorism.

Heritage’s exclusive tracking of planned or consummated attacks in the U.S. includes:

  • December, 2001: Failed “shoebomber” Richard Reid tried to blow up a Miami-bound flight from Paris.
  • May, 2002: Radicalized former gang member Jose Padilla was arrested for allegedly plotting to detonate a “dirty bomb.”
  • May, 2003: Lyman Faris of Columbus, Ohio, arrested for conspiring to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • June 2006: The “Liberty City Seven,” members of a Florida religious cult, were arrested in a plot to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower and other government buildings.
  • April 15, 2013: Ethnic Chechen brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carried out the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and wounded 260. Tamerlan was killed days after the attack; Dzhokhar’s trial, in which he claimed his brother was the driving force in the attack, is concluding.
  • Sept. 25, 2014: Alton Nolen, a “lone wolf” radical who had frightened co-workers at an Oklahoma meat packing company with his Islamic extremist rantings, decapitated a woman he worked with before a company executive could shoot him. He is awaiting trial.
  • Jan. 14, 2015: Christopher Cornell aka Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, who the FBI said was a supporter of the Islamic State, was charged with planning to bomb the U.S. Capitol and shoot those who fled from the area.

The Heritage report said legitimate government surveillance programs and a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy are vital components of U.S. national security both home and abroad.

“Since the inspirational source of domestic radicalization and terrorism often originates from overseas, battling violent Islamist extremism abroad must be addressed in concert with the challenges presented by the terrorism at home,” Inserra and Brookes said.

Inserra and Brookes also emphasize the importance of community outreach to build trust in local communities: “If the United States is to thwart lone-wolf terrorist attacks successfully, it must put effective community outreach operations at the tip of the spear.”

Ryan Mauro, national security analyst and adjunct professor of Homeland Security for the Clarion Project, agrees the number of plots and Americans being caught trying to join Islamist terrorist groups has significantly increased in recent years, particularly with the rise of ISIS.

Additionally, there are dramatic increases in the number of terrorist attacks worldwide, the number of individual Salafist terrorists and the number of individual Salafist terrorist groups, Mauro said.

“What we see is that overall global support for Islamist extremist groups is decreasing but the rate of violence within that Islamist pool is increasing as that contraction happens,” Mauro said.

ISIS alone has drawn some 20,000 foreign fighters from as many as 90 countries to aid in its terrifying war around the globe.

And despite six months of a U.S.-led coalition air campaign, ISIS now controls one-third of Iraq and one-third of Syria, and has received “pledges of allegiance” from other terrorist groups around the world, including Africa’s most feared terrorism group, Boko Haram.

“Until the U.S. is able to effectively combat and destroy ISIS, the U.S. will remain the target of terrorists inspired by ISIS’s extreme ideology,” Inserra and Brookes said. “The U.S. cannot afford complacency, but must instead work to stop terrorists before they strike through the use of intelligence, community outreach, and efforts to defeat ISIS abroad.”

ISIS’s high profile attacks, like the one against Paris’ Charlie Hebdo, its beheadings of 21 Coptic Egyptian Christian fishermen in Syria, its burning alive of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kaseasbeh, its public crucifixions, its murderous campaign against gays and use of child assassins, have shocked the world.

“It might be argued that perceptions of the Islamic State or al Qaeda affiliates as ‘winners,’ despite their acts of brutality and terror, will serve as a powerful motivator for radicalization and violence,” Inserra and Brookes said. “Unless this perception is altered through any number of possible means, these groups will continue to attract followers both at home and abroad, ensuring a continuation of their brand of violent Islamist extremism.”

Hanan Richter, an Israeli who is president and CEO of Houston-based Instinctive Shooting International, trains U.S. military, government agencies, Department of Defense contractors and local law enforcement offers in a variety of special-ops strategies, including anti-terrorism, tactical response, urban-based policing, intelligence, asymmetric warfare, explosives and aviation security.

He believes there were likely many more than 64 attacks planned against American targets since 9-11, physical or through cyber terror, which never became public.

“Terrorism is a reality that we cannot ignore and we are playing with fire if we do,” Richter said.

“American targets, businesses, military and citizens, and are a high priority for terrorists for a simple reason: Radical Islam looks at America as the big Satan,” he said, adding that America’s ally Israel, his homeland, is considered as the “small Satan” by Islamic radicals.