ISIS Has Up To 42 Million Supporters in the Arab World

Islamic State supporters

Islamic State supporters

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, June 28, 2015:

An analysis of four polls surveying Arab public opinion towards the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) reveals that the group has a bare minimum of 8.5 million strong supporters and that’s a conservative estimate. If you include those who feel somewhat positively towards the Islamic State, the number rises to at least 42 million.

The estimate is based on a March 2015 poll by the Iraq-based Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies;  a November 2014 poll by Zogby Research Services; another  November 2014 poll by the Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies and an October 2014 poll by the Fikra Forum commissioned by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The following is a breakdown of the support for the Islamic State in 11 Arab countries:

Iraq

The November 2014 poll by the Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies found that 2% of Iraqis view the Islamic State positively and another 4% view it positively to some extent. The March 2015 poll found that 5% do not consider the Islamic State to be a terrorist group.

With a population of 32,586,000 according to the CIA World Factbook, that means the Islamic State has between 651,720 and 1,955,160 supporters in Iraq.

Syria

Seventeen percent of Syrians said that they completely support the Islamic State’s goals and activities in the March 2015 poll. That statistic grows to 27% when you account for Syrians who do not consider the Islamic State to be a terrorist group.

The November 2014 poll interviewed 900 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and found that 4% are positive towards the Islamic State and another 9% are somewhat positive. This should raise serious concerns for countries that are accepting refugees from the civil war.

With a population of 17,952,000, that means the Islamic State has between 3,051,840 and 4,847,040 supporters in Syria.

Palestinian Territories

About 4% of Palestinians view the Islamic State positively but a shocking 20% feel the Islamic State is positive to some extent. This is the highest level of positivity towards the Islamic State in the November 2014 poll (which does not include Syria).

The CIA World Factbook says there are 1,816,000 Palestinians in Gaza and 2,731,000 in the West Bank, for a total of 4,547,000. This equates to a range of between 181,800 and 1,091,280 Palestinian supporters of the Islamic State.

Tunisia

The November 2014 poll found that Tunisia has the highest percentage of people who are view the Islamic State positively (7%). Another 6% view it somewhat positively. The finding is substantiated by assessments determining that Tunisia is the biggest source of foreign fighters for the Islamic State.

The country’s population of 10,937,000 would include 765,590 people who are unequivocally supportive of the Islamic State; a number that grows to 1,421,810 if you include those who are somewhat positive.

Egypt

The Fikra Forum poll from October 2014 found that 3% of Egyptians view the Islamic State very positively (1%) or fairly positively (2%). The March 2015 poll has 4% of Egyptians viewing the Islamic State positively and another 6% viewing it somewhat positively.

Egypt has an estimated population of 86,895,000. The number of those who view the Islamic State positively ranges from 86,895 to 347,580 depending on which poll has the more accurate number. If you include all of those with some positivity towards ISIS, the range is 260,685 to 8,689,500.

Saudi Arabia

The Fikra Forum concluded that 2% of Saudis are very positive towards the Islamic State and 3% are fairly positive. The March 2015 poll has it at 5% positive and 5% somewhat positive.

Saudi Arabia has an estimated population of 27,346,000. The lowest statistic would mean that there are between 546,920 and 1,367,300 Saudis who are fully positive towards ISIS. If you include those who are somewhat positive, it is between 820,380 and 2,734,600 Saudis who are inclined towards the Islamic State.

United Arab Emirates

The Zogby poll from November 2014 found that 13% of the UAE’s population most favors the Islamic State in the Syrian civil war. The country has a population of 5,629,000, translating to 731,770 Islamic State supporters.

Yemen

Approximately 7% of Yemenis say they do not consider the Islamic State to be a terrorist group. The CIA World Factbook estimates Yemen’s population to be 26,053,000. This equates to 1,823,710 people.

Jordan

Only 3% of Jordanians view the Islamic State positively and another 6% view it somewhat positively. About 5% say they do not consider the Islamic State to be a terrorist group.

With a population of 7,930,000, this translates to 237,900 supporters on the low end and 713,700 on the high end.

Libya

An estimated 7% of Libyans do not consider the Islamic State to be a terrorist group. The estimated population is 6,244,000, placing the number of Islamic State supporters at 437,080.

Lebanon

The Fikra Forum poll found that support for the Islamic State is nearly non-existent in Lebanon with only 1% of the country’s Sunnisseeing the Islamic State as fairly positive. The Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies had a similar conclusion.

The CIA World Factbook says that only 54% of the Lebanese population is Muslim. Of that Muslim population, only 27% is Sunni. The result indicates the presence of 8,578 Sunnis in Lebanon who view the Islamic State fairly positively.

In Sum

If we use the most optimistic of the polls for each of the 11 Arab states, we come to an estimate of 8,523,803 supporters of the Islamic State and an average of 5.8% support in the Arab world. If we extend that average to the other 11 Arab countries with a total population of 370 million, you get a result of 21,460,000 strong supporters of the Islamic State in the Arab world overall.

This is in line with the November 2014 poll by the Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. It concluded that 85% of Arabs view the Islamic State negatively and 4% view it positively. The difference of 1.8% can be attributable to the margin of error in the polls and/or slight changes in opinion.

If we include the most pessimistic polls and include those who view the Islamic State somewhat positively, the result is 24,454,228 Arabs who view the Islamic State at least somewhat positively. If the average of 11.5% is consistent across the entire Arab world, then up to 42,550,000 Arabs view the Islamic State at least somewhat positively.

This second number is also in line with the November 2014 survey’s conclusion that an additional 7% are somewhat supportive of the Islamic State for a total statistic of 11%.

With a minimum of 8.5 million strong supporters and 24.5 million who view the group at least somewhat positively, the Islamic State has plenty of room for growth in the Arab world.

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.

Iran Courting Native Americans in Canada: Leaked Document

Terrance Nelson, former chief of Manitoba's Roseau River

Terrance Nelson, former chief of Manitoba’s Roseau River

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, June 24, 2015:

Saudi Arabia is greatly concerned about how the Iranian regime is establishing relationships with Native American tribes in Canada, according to a newly-leaked Saudi intelligence document.

The Islamist government of Turkey is likewise reaching out to Native American tribes inside the United States.

The secret document from Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Agency, dated May 25, 2012, was sent to the Saudi Prime Minister and approved by the Saudi Crown Prince and Foreign Minister. Saudi intelligence appears to confirm that Iran is becoming friendly with Native Americans in Canada and has even mobilized them for pro-Iran, anti-American political activism.

The memo states that Saudi intelligence is monitoring “the attempts by the Iranian government to take advantage of the situation of the Indians of Canada, in order to build connections with them, to gain from their reservations and lands, to carry out various activities and investments.”

Saudi intelligence reports that Native American leaders recently protested against American and Canadian foreign policy in front of the Iranian embassy in Ottawa. It states that the Indians expressed pro-Iran sentiments at the rally.

It also reports that two tribal leaders from Manitoba Province met with Iranian embassy officials and said they’d take a trip to Tehran. The Indian leaders said they want Iranian investment in their reservations and would like to send 200 children to Iran to study administration and development.

The intelligence memo notes that the Canadian media has reported on the matter and pointed out Iran’s hypocrisy in embracing the Native American minority while oppressing its own minorities.

Read more

Barbarism by the book: New ISIS video aims to show religious purity

In one scene, accused spies are blown up as they sit locked in a car. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)

In one scene, accused spies are blown up as they sit locked in a car. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)

Fox News, By Malia Zimmerman, June 23, 2015:

The latest video from ISIS depicting the killing of accused spies and apostates in grisly and bizarre ways is a twisted message to the world that the terrorist army is carrying out its savagery in accordance with Islamic law, according to analysts.

In the seven-minute, all-Arabic language video released June 23, victims say they have been treated well, but then 15 of 16 men are shown being murdered, some blown up in a car in a drone-style attack, others by being drowned while trapped in a cage and still more lined up on their knees in the desert with explosives detonating around their necks. Experts who analyzed the video shot in Iraq’s Nineveh Province said there is a clear message underlying the carnage: ISIS wants the Muslim world to know it is imprisoning and killing enemies of Islam under its warped interpretation of the Koran.

“While ISIS likes the shock factor, these executions are chosen to show their compliance with sharia law,” said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the New York-based Clarion Project. “ISIS is acting upon doctrines that say spies and apostates, those who leave Islam, are to be executed.

“ISIS will argue that these specific methods are justifiable according to Islam as they see it, and that they are not being barbaric just for the sake of it,” he added. “Even its executions are an attempt to portray ISIS as the most legitimate followers of Islam.”

The video begins with the captives being interviewed about how well they were treated while held by ISIS, also known as Islamic State, remarkable because the terrorist army is attempting to repair its image, Mauro said.

These victims were locked in a cage and submerged under water. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)

These victims were locked in a cage and submerged under water. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)

“The group includes this because it needs to be seen as humane,” Mauro said. “It’s hard to believe, but it implies that ISIS recognizes it has a negative image and wants to change that while still remaining brutal.”

The video also shows ISIS has little popular support, and is worried about spies in their midst, Mauro added.

Veryan Khan, editorial director for U.S.-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, said ISIS has a template for spy executions: There must be the “confession” and the hostage must remain calm before the execution to demonstrate both Islamic State generosity in their treatment of prisoners as well as the victim’s knowledge they deserve this punishment. As with other videos, hostages are well rehearsed – likely through mock executions – and did not appear to know that this time they would be killed, Khan said.

Explosives were strung around the necks of this group of ISIS victims. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)

Explosives were strung around the necks of this group of ISIS victims. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)

Because ISIS has already been so brutal in its executions, its leaders need to find new symbolic ways of assassinating to get international attention, Khan said.

“Islamic State’s propaganda machine is so prolific that it has to keep coming up with new ways to shock the world and impress their fan club. This means that they have to up the ante in order to gain more attention for each new release,” Khan said.

“What is shocking is the style of each execution – it is no longer enough to behead, or to behead 21 men simultaneously, to burn them alive, or shoot them in mass firing squads. They must offer a triptych of executions, each more savage than the last,” Khan said.

One captive was allowed to live, although it was not clear why. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)

One captive was allowed to live, although it was not clear why. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)

At the end of the video, there is one lone prisoner left standing in the desert with the decapitated men lying behind him, but no mention of who he is, or why he was spared in this round of slayings.

Khan called the imagery “haunting and ominous.”

“This was a message to both potential and current spies; a message to their fan club that the Islamic State is still very much in charge and handling business as usual; a message to the rest of the world that they are not to be trifled with,” Khan said.

Also see:

The new savage execution video comes following a report that ISIS terrorists tied two boys to a beam and beat them for the crime of eating during Ramadan, a Muslim holy month. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that they were suspended in the air by their wrists for several hours. A notice was placed next to them that read, “They broke the fast with no religious justification,” according to the human rights group.

To add to its primitive practices, ISIS has reportedly started to offer Christian and Yazidi girls as sex slaves to fellow terrorists who are able to master the Koran. ISIS’s Da’wa and Mosques Department’s reportedly announced on June 19 on Twitter that the group would offer the human beings as prizes for religious mastery, the Middle East Media Research Center and Clarion Project found.

Former CAIR-Canada Official Represents Egyptian Brotherhood

Wael Haddara, a former official with CAIR-Canada and senior adviser to Deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist with the Muslim Brotherhood's party

Wael Haddara, a former official with CAIR-Canada and senior adviser to Deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist with the Muslim Brotherhood’s party

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro. June 23, 2015:

Media coverage of the U.S. State Department’s decision to comply with Egypt’s request not to meet with a Muslim Brotherhood delegation this month missed an important point: That delegation included a former official from the Canadian wing of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and he has connections to several other Canadian Islamist groups.

The Muslim Brotherhood delegation visited the U.S. to advocate against the Egyptian government. The Brotherhood announced a new violent phase in January shortly after its representatives met with State Department officials. Brotherhood media outlets are calling for acts of violence in Egypt and against the interests of countries that are friendly towards President El-Sisi.

Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy writes that the Brotherhood delegation included Wael Haddara, a Canadian who served as a senior campaign adviser to former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official candidate.

Haddara claims he is not a member of the Brotherhood but the group’s followers often play a game of semantics with what it means to be a “member.” He says he was a media advisor to Morsi before he launched his presidential campaign.

Haddara was on the board of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, formerly known as CAIR-Canada. CAIR is a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and was banned as a terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates last year. Two other directors besides Haddara are known Muslim Brotherhood supporters. He left CAIR-Canada/NCCM in 2012 to work for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

CAIR-Canada changed its name in 2013 and tried to make the organization sound like it is unrelated to CAIR in America. However, the group’s own documents prove the association of the two groups. For example, CAIR’s press releases have referred to its “office in Canada,” and a 2003 affidavit by CAIR-CAN’s chairperson said CAIR “has direct control over the character and quality of all activities of [CAIR-CAN] including the use of its trademark and trade name.”

Haddara was also the president of the Muslim Association of Canada. The Point de Bascule blog, a website that closely monitors Muslim Brotherhood activity in Canada, found that the Muslim Association of Canada’s website openly stated it was pursuing the Brotherhood agenda in 2005.

Read more 

Uncovered: Bin Laden Concerned About Reformist Muslims

Osama Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro. June 2, 2015:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a list of declassified letters and open-source reading material found inside Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan compound. Among the items were documents that likely include the name of Clarion Project counter-terrorism analyst Ryan Mauro and other files indicating that the Al-Qaeda chief was concerned about modernist Muslim reformers.

Three of the 10 miscellaneous documents that were retrieved are from the 2007 Intelligence Summit held in St. Petersburg, Florida, specifically the conference advertising, exhibitor prospectus and participants map. As one of the featured speakers, Mauro’s name and biography would be in the material. The event was billed as the most prestigious intelligence conference in the country.

It is unclear why the event caught Bin Laden’s attention but it was likely the section of the event called the Secular Islam Summit, which featured anti-Islamist Muslims and former Muslims calling for a reformation in Islam in accordance with secular-democracy and modern human rights. The Summit unveiled the St. Petersburg Declaration rejecting Sharia governance and Islamism.

Muslim speakers at the event included Iranian activist Manda Zand Ervin who is featured in our film, Honor Diaries; Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a former associate of current Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri;  Tashbih Sayyed, editor-in-chief of Pakistan Today and The Muslim World Today; Hasan Mahmud of the Free Muslims Coalition, Jordanian writer Shaker al-Nabulsi and Iraqi politician Mithal al-Alusi.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and designated terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates, attacked the Secular Islam Summit.

CAIR board chairman Parvez Ahmed claimed it had no legitimacy and inaccurately characterized its speakers as entirely former Muslims and foes of Islam. CAIR criticized the event for drawing a connection between Islamic teachings and terrorism and accused it of promoting Islamophobia.

Genieve Abdo, a keynote speaker at a CAIR fundraiser, took CAIR’s stance in the Washington Post. She applauded CAIR for having “denounced any notion of a Reformation as another attempt by the West to impose its history and philosophy on the Islamic world.”

Abdo argued that CAIR is more representative of Muslims and so the Secular Islam Summit should be dismissed. She also cited another curious figure as a preferable source over the Summit’s: The radical imam of New York-based Masjid at-Taqwa, Siraj Wahhaj.

Abdo portrayed Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood as the future of Islam. She advised the West to accept that its “hopes for full integration by Muslims in the West are unlikely to be realized and that the future of the Islamic world will be much more Islamic than Western.”

“The political future of the Arab world is likely to consist of Islamic parties that are far less tolerant of what has historically been the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the region and that domestically are far more committed to implementing sharia law in varying degrees,” Abdo wrote.

Bin Laden’s bookshelf also included a RAND Corporation study titled Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies by Cheryl Benard. It concluded that U.S. should support Muslim modernists first; support Muslim traditionalists against the fundamentalists; confront and oppose fundamentalists and selectively support secularists.

Bin Laden either requested these materials about Muslim movements against Islamism or his closest aides felt they would peak his interest. At the very least, he was not dismissive of their significance otherwise they would not have invested time to retrieve and presumably review them.

If the highest echelons of Al-Qaeda viewed anti-Islamist Muslim activists as worth paying attention to, then so should we.

****

Here are the videos of the conference: (Playlist)

Secular Islam Summit – Press Conference PT1

Secular Islam Summit – Press Conference PT2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 1 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 1 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt3

Secular Islam Summit Panel 3 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 3 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 3

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT1

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT2

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT3

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Videos Call for Violence

Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt (Photo: © Reuters)

Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, June 2, 2015:

Egypt has released three videos of Muslim Brotherhood television networks in Turkey advocating violence against the Egyptian police, foreigners, embassies and interests in the region connected to countries that support President El-Sisi.

On Thursday, the Brotherhood’s English-language website announced a decision for revolution “with all its means and mechanisms” against the Egyptian government. The announcement references a declaration signed by 150 Islamic scholars that is less ambiguous in calling for jihad, also published in English.

The first video is from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rabaa TV network launched in Turkey in 2013. The Egyptian government says the host in the video is a member of the Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya terrorist group.

The host is seen reading a statement from the “Revolutionary Youth Coalition;” a group that is almost certainly a Brotherhood front established to give itself plausible deniability while inciting and orchestrating terrorism. The vague terminology is an attempt to give its cause greater legitimacy by appearing more inclusive and broad-based.

The Brotherhood station reads the statement that demands the departure of all foreign Arabs, foreign Africans, embassy personnel, foreign companies and tourists by the end of (last) February. All governments must end their support for the Egyptian government “or else all of their interests in countries of the Middle East will be exposed to severe assaults or will be put in situations that nobody wants.”

The threat warns that henceforth there will be “no concessions or mercy.”

The second video is dated February 24 and is from a satellite network named Misr Alaan that the Egyptian government says was founded by the Brotherhood last year. The Arab press says it was launched from Turkey with Brotherhood sponsorship.  The network’s staff said its purpose is to reach a broader audience than the other Islamist channels in Turkey.

The video comes with an English translation that shows the host of a show explicitly urging the murder of Egyptian police and unspecified revolutionaries to rout the Egyptian soldiers who aid the police in the confrontation. His instructions are clear: “Kill them.”

“I say to the wives of all officers and the sons of all officers: Please be aware, your husbands will be dead. Your children will be orphans,” the host says while adding the sons of police officers may be kidnapped and claiming that the revolutionaries have the home addresses of the police.

The third video, also from Misr Alaan, shows a statement being read by a spokesman calling in from the “Revolutionary Punishment Movement,” continuing the pattern of using new, non-descriptive titles.

The speaker is asked about his group and he only says that it is a youth movement involved in the revolutions since the beginning, referring to the ousting of Egyptian President Mubarak. He condemns the arrests of female members of the group and declares there will be “reciprocal treatment.”

The speaker calls for the kidnapping and killing of Egyptian security personnel by the “lions” of this revolution. He then gives out the names of specific police officers to target without any interruption from the host.

On Thursday, May 28, the Brotherhood’s English-language website carried a statement by spokesperson Mohamed Montaser announcing “a final decision, after consulting its popular base, that the revolutionary option with all its means and mechanisms is its strategic choice from which there will be no retreat.”

The announcement appears to be a response to a reported rift within the Brotherhood between the older and more pragmatic leadership and the more militant youth advocating violence and disruption to society. It reiterates the legitimacy of the Brotherhood leadership and claims that it is inclusive of the youth.

Also see:

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

ohiolg_0

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

***

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

***

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.”