ISIS Chemical Warfare Attack on Kurds in Iraq Raises Questions

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Kurdish dead from Saddam Hussein Gas attack, Halabja, Iraq March 1988

New English Review, by Jerry Gordon, August 14, 2015:

The reports about prohibited mustard gas attacks by ISIS against Kurdish peshmerga near Erbil in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq indicate that ISIS has acquired the capabilities either from caches of the Assad regime in Syria or in Iraq. They are similar to reports of similar chemical attacks on Syrian YPG  forces  during the Kobani siege in  2014 and eerily familiar to Iraqi Kurds given the thousands killed in Saddam Hussein gas attacks in March 1988 at Halabja.  The Wall Street Journal reported in today’s edition on the significance of what American  military believe that the efforts by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons  (OPCW)  had not secured these unconventional weapons during operations in 2013, “US Believes ISIS Used Chemical Weapons on Kurds:”

Islamic State fighters likely used mustard agent against Kurdish forces in Iraq this week, senior U.S. officials said Thursday, in the first indication the militant group has obtained banned chemicals.

The officials said Islamic State could have obtained the mustard agent in Syria, whose government admitted to having large quantities in 2013 when it agreed to give up its chemical-weapons arsenal.

The use of mustard agent would mark an upgrade in Islamic State’s battlefield capabilities, and a worrisome one given U.S. intelligence fears about hidden caches of chemical weapons in Syria, where Islamic State controls wide swaths of territory.

It raises new questions about the evolving threat posed by Islamic State and the ability of U.S. allies on the ground to combat it. Frontline Kurdish, Iraqi and moderate Syrian forces say they aren’t getting enough U.S. support now to counter Islamic State’s conventional capabilities.

Officials say these forces may need specialized equipment and training to help protect them against unconventional weapons if they become a fixture on the battlefield.

[…]

The attack in question took place late Wednesday, about 40 miles southwest of Erbil in northern Iraq. A German Defense Ministry spokesman said about 60 Peshmerga fighters, who help protect Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, were reported to have suffered injuries to their throats consistent with a chemical attack while fighting Islamic State.

map 3Not all suspected sites in Assad’s Syria were cleared by the OPCW and chemical weapons may have been transferred to Iraq:

“These were apparently chemical weapons. What it was exactly we don’t know,” the German ministry spokesman said, adding that experts were on their way to the scene to conduct a fuller analysis. He said German personnel weren’t present at the scene of the attack.

The possibility that Islamic State obtained the agent in Syria “makes the most sense,” said one senior U.S. official. It is also possible that Islamic State obtained the mustard agent in Iraq, officials said, possibly from old stockpiles that belonged to Saddam Hussein and weren’t destroyed.

U.S. intelligence agencies are still investigating the source and how it could have been delivered this week on the battlefield, officials said.

Islamic State has taken control of territory in Syria close to where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces stored chemical weapons, including mustard agent. The regime said in 2013 that all of its mustard stockpiles had been destroyed, either by Syrian forces themselves or by international inspectors.

Inspectors, however, have subsequently said they weren’t able to verify claims by the Syrian government that it had burned hundreds of tons of mustard agent in earthen pits. U.S. intelligence agencies now say they believe Damascus hid some caches of deadly chemicals from the West, possibly including mustard.

Intelligence officials and chemical-weapons experts have expressed concerns in recent months that some of those banned chemicals could fall into the hands of Islamic State or other extremist groups.

U.S. intelligence agencies have also warned the White House that the Assad regime could use chemical agents it still has to defend its remaining strongholds if they come under siege.

In addition to mustard, the Assad regime admitted to having deadlier nerve agents, such as sarin and VX. But officials said U.S. intelligence agencies don’t have any evidence to suggest Islamic State has either sarin or VX, which would be far more lethal on the battlefield.

ypg kurdish

 

Dead YPG Kurdish woman fighter in Avdiko, Syria July 2014

Source: MERIA

For Kurds, whether in Iraq or Syria, chemical warfare by ISIS has bitter memories of lethal gas attacks by Saddam Hussein’s regime at Halabja, Iraq in 1988 and in July 2014 at Kobani, Syria.  We wrote about these in an October 2014 NER/Iconoclast post on a MERIA investigation by Jonathan Spyer.

The MERIA special report contradicts the observations of Ms. Psaki and other military experts. Clearly, ISIS has former Hussein Ba’athist commanders who knew about Al Muthanna and what it contained. These same commanders may have even been involved in the infamous genocidal CW attack that killed 5,000 Kurds in Halabja, Iraq in March 16, 1988 in the final year of the Iran-Iraq War.  In a September 2013 Iconoclast post about a previous Spyer essay advocating establishment of an independent Kurdistan, we wrote:

Fast forward to the mid-1970’s when the Iraqi Kurds were a pawn in an unsuccessful covert war for autonomy against Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein which ended in 1975 when the late Shah of Iran inked a treaty with Hussein in Algiers. Effectively the Kurds were abandoned and covert Israeli military and technical assistance to Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani was shut down at the request of Dr. Kissinger as national security advisor to President Ford. That set the stage for retaliation by Saddam Hussein, when he undertook punitive action against the Kurds who had joined up with the Islamic Republic in Tehran. In 1985, Saddam Hussein launched chemical warfare attacks against Kurdish villages in northwestern Iraq, the ancient Kurdish homeland. An estimated 5,000 Kurds were killed in the village of Halabja. This was part of the genocidal 1988 Al-Anfal Campaign that slaughtered in excess of 50,000 Iraqi Kurds.

Spyer notes the circumstances behind this latest CW attack on Kurdish fighters in the vicinity of Kobani in July2014:

Prior to the current campaign, the most serious (but unsuccessful) attempt to conquer Kobani came in July 2014; shortly following the dramatic IS advance into Iraq.

It was during this assault on Kobani that evidence emerged which appeared to point to the use by the Islamic State on at least one occasion of some kind of chemical agent against the Kurdish fighters of the YPG (Peoples’ Protection Units).

The July offensive commenced on July 2nd.  According to Kurdish activists, the use of the chemical agent took place on July 12th, in the village of Avdiko, in the eastern part of the Kobani enclave (now in IS hands.)

Nisan Ahmed, health minister of the Kurdish authority in Kobani, established a medical team to examine the incident.  According to Ahmed, the bodies of three Kurdish fighters showed no signs of damage from bullets.  Rather “burns and white spots on the bodies of the dead indicated the use of chemicals, which led to death without any visible wounds or external bleeding.”

According to expert Israeli sources who have seen the pictures, they appear to indicate the use of some form of chemical agent, probably mustard (blister agent), but it is not possible to conclusively confirm this without further investigation.

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Saddam’s Former Loyalists Are Leading ISIS — as True Believers

isis-run-by-true-believers-rNational Review, by Kyle Orton, July 20, 2015:

After long neglect, the media has finally recognized the role of the FREs — former (Saddam) regime elements — within the Islamic State (ISIS). But the pendulum has now swung too far: Some reports are now claiming that the FREs have transformed the leader of the terror army, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, into nothing more than a front man for the Baathists.

These suppositions are mistaken. Most FREs within ISIS have not been ideologically Baathists for a long time.

Let’s consider some specifics.

First, the ISIS-as-front-for-Baathists storyline relies on a misreading of ISIS’s revival after the 2007 Surge. It is true that after ISIS’s former leader was killed in April 2010, ISIS intensified its “Iraqization” process. (This began with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s effort in 2006 to reverse ISIS’s negative image as a foreign imposition on Iraqi Sunnis.) Within three months between April and June 2010, Iraqi and American forces picked off 34 of 42 senior ISIS operatives in the region. But the rise to predominance of the FREs was an internal shift in ISIS — not an external coup. It came about because ISIS — at its nadir and with a decreased flow of foreign-fighters — turned to its most militarily skilled members.

Second, the ISIS-as-front-for-Baathists storyline has a very serious timeline problem. One of the infamous FREs within ISIS was Haji Bakr (real name: Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi), a former colonel in Saddam’s army, who masterminded ISIS’s expansion into Syria; he was killed by Syrian rebels when they rose against ISIS in January 2014. What is noteworthy is that al-Khlifawi had joined ISIS in 2003 when it was a foreign-led organization with Zarqawi — the patron saint of the takfiriyeen (those who regard only Salafi-purists as Muslims) — as its emir. A “socialist infidel” — as ISIS refers to Baathists — was not going to pass muster in ISIS at that time.

Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi (real name: Adnan Ismail Najem al-Bilawi), a former captain in Saddam’s army and until his death in June 2014 the head of ISIS’s military council (believed to be the most important ISIS military institution), also joined ISIS in 2003. Abu Ali al-Anbari, the overseer of ISIS-held territory in Syria, joined ISIS in 2003 as well.

It’s no surprise that al-Khlifawi, al-Bilawi, and al-Anbari were already Islamic militants in 2003. From the mid 1980s, and with added intensity after the formal onset of Saddam’s “Faith Campaign” in June 1993, Saddam’s regime Islamized. This was “most likely a cynical step” on the part of Saddam, wrote Amatzia Baram, an expert on Iraqi Islam with the University of Haifa, but it gave Iraq “an extra push in the direction of an authentic Islamization process.” In other words, it took on a life of its own.

Saddam feared the Muslim Brotherhood, so he chose Salafism as a counterweight. With significant resources devoted to producing this regime-loyal Saddamist-Salafism, the Faith Campaign produced a more sectarian, Salafized population, with its focal points on clerics and mosques. Without this campaign, Zarqawi’s project could never have gotten off the ground in Iraq.

“[Zarqawi] thought that the Sunni in Iraq . . . had been ruined by Saddam and that a long period of dawa (proselytization) would be needed,” Craig Whiteside, a professor at the Naval War College who has worked extensively with internal ISIS documents, told me. “He was pleasantly surprised instead by the underground Salafist movement that existed in Iraq and produced so many early local Iraqi supporters.” Whiteside added: “[Saddam’s] regime was really tottering at the end, and people were looking for more successful ideologies.”

Many of ​Saddam’​s officers who encountered Salafi teachings became more loyal to Salafism than to Saddam.

Indeed, the Faith Campaign worked almost too well. Saddam sent military and intelligence members of the Baath Party to mosques with the dual task of religious instruction and keeping tabs. “Most of the officers who were sent to the mosques were not deeply committed to Baathism by that point,” writes Joel Rayburn, a former U.S. military intelligence analyst in Iraq, inIraq After America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance. “And as they encountered Salafi teachings, many became more loyal to Salafism than to Saddam.” The empowerment of long-standing anti-regime “pure” Salafists, alongside the Baathist-Salafists the regime wanted, led to some acts of terrorism, for which some Salafists were executed by Saddam. But the Faith Campaign went on, not least because the dictator himself had a kind of “born-again” experience.

Additionally, Saddam had instrumentalized the Islamists in his foreign policy from as early as 1983 — and, as with the Faith Campaign, stuck with it despite significant internal opposition from the party. A most significant connection was with a Salafi-jihadist group, formed by Zarqawi loyalists with al-Qaeda seed money, in northern Iraq between 1998 and early 2000 that became Ansar al-Islam in late 2001. Ansar al-Islam received money and weapons from Saddam, and it seems that the actual decision-maker in the group was an agent of Saddam’s intelligence. Ansar, by then led directly by Zarqawi, fled to Iran during the invasion and then returned to Iraq with the help of the senior members of Saddam’s regime. Ansar is now formally part of ISIS.

The Faith Campaign was implemented by Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri, Saddam’s deputy. Douri was tasked with setting up what was effectively an organized-crime network whose goal was to evade the sanctions by smuggling across Iraq’s borders, and to provide for an internal patronage network that would give the regime some pillars of support. Patronage went especially to the Sunni tribes of western Iraq, and the removal of this income after the U.S.-led invasion was chief among the many reasons the tribes tactically sided with the Zarqawi’ists in an attempt to restore Sunni hegemony. Not just among the tribes, these networks largely passed to ISIS. This began early: In 2003, for instance, the stolen cars Douri imported through Jordan were put at the service of ISIS’s suicide bombers.

It is also notable that ISIS’s Syria strategy was not made up on the fly after the uprising began in March 2011. Haji Bakr was appointed to oversee operations in Aleppo in late 2010, and ISIS’s presence in Syria dates from 2002 and 2003 when Assad invited them in to wage war against the Americans and the constitutional government in Iraq. ISIS already had deeply embedded logistics networks in Syria that were easily “flipped” when ISIS wanted to move from Iraq into Syria, and ISIS already saw the potential of Syria, having run a low-level insurgency against Assad between 2007 and 2010. ISIS did send further agents into Syria in the summer of 2011 to form Jabhat an-Nusra, which would split from ISIS in April 2013 when ISIS tried to bring its covert subordinates under its command. By that time, however, ISIS had established itself well enough to weather the Nusra defection.

The FREs matter because they highlight the hybrid nature of ISIS — its fusion of elements of Baathism with Salafism — and also how difficult ISIS will be defeat. The REs are the products of a military-intelligence service trained by the KGB. They have brought to ISIS unique military and counterintelligence skills, directly in battle and in propaganda. Their skills are aiding ISIS’s military effort, bringing in fanatical foreigners to use as shock troops, and helping ISIS restructure the identities of local populations who have joined ISIS only out of necessity or convenience (as a means to restore order or against Iran’s proxies, for example).

The Iraqi nativism some detect within ISIS is probably a confusion borne of the fact that ISIS is also a hybrid of a locally and internationally focused organization. ISIS has more depth in Iraq because it has been there for decades in one way or another, and it has more popularity there because it is the vanguard of an attempt to restore Sunni dominion.

Even if ISIS was led by cynics, it has taken on a life of its own now, just like the Faith Campaign; there are too many true believers for the cynics to sideline. But, precisely because of the Faith Campaign, there is every reason to think that ISIS’s leaders mean what they say.

Kyle Orton is a Middle East analyst. Follow him on Twitter @KyleWOrton. 

ISLAMIC STATE: Big Explosions, Sex Slaves And Female Operatives

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U.S. considers whether ISIS wives playing key role in operations  (cnn.com)

Washington (CNN)The U.S. is now looking at the possibility that wives of ISIS figures may play a greater role in operations and communications than previously thought because the terror group believes U.S. intelligence pays less attention to them.

Last month, an Army Delta Force raid in eastern Syria killed Abu Sayyaf, a senior ISIS leader involved in finance and other operations, and also led to the capture of his wife. The raid yielded significant intelligence that U.S. officials said adds to their understanding of ISIS’s structure and communications.

Several officials cautioned, however, that all of the intelligence gathered and information gained from the interrogation of the captured wife must be vetted and confirmed.

READ: Carter: ISIS raid a ‘significant blow’ to terror group

As CNN has previously reported, a U.S. official said the raid netted terabytes worth of data in external hard drives and hard copy, a higher volume than had originally been anticipated. The U.S. is reviewing it all to determine if it leads to anything that can be acted upon.

A second official said one U.S. airstrike in eastern Syria just a few days ago that killed a local ISIS emir was conducted on the basis of information gained from the raid.

Read more

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REUTERS/KHALIL ASHAWI

REUTERS/KHALIL ASHAWI

Pentagon: ISIS Using Tunnels to Bomb Targets in Iraq, Syria (breitbart.com)

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and rebels in Syria are using tunnel bombs as a potent new weapon, an upgrade to an ancient tactic, according to a Pentagon organization.

“Updating an ancient tactic, Islamic State militants — as well as rebels in Syria — are digging virtually undetectable tunnels, then planting bombs to blow up buildings and other targets,” reports Defense One, quoting JIEDDO (Joint IED Defeat Organization), the Pentagon arm focused on defeating the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as a weapon.

Defense One learned from Pentagon officials and documents that several dozen tunnel bombs have been used by rebels in Syria while ISIS detonated them last week to capture Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province.

The concept behind detonating a tunnel bomb is reportedly quite simple: dig long enough to reach your intended target, plant explosives, and hit the detonator.

“This below the surface attack is particularly destructive to buildings and is appearing increasingly in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria,” said JIEDDO at a recent briefing, according to Defense One.

“The use of tunnels for IEDs and other purposes will continue to provide a low risk strategic advantage to extremist organizations and therefore requires continued development efforts and fielding of effective mitigation techniques,” it added.

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has designated all groups attempting to topple him, which include ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, as rebels.

ISIS in Iraq and rebels in Syria have detonated at least 45 tunnel bombs in the past two years, JIEDDO said.

Although most have been in Syria, U.S. officials told Defense One that ISIS is building a network of tunnels, as well as bunkers and trenches, in Iraq.

“In Syria, rebels have used tunnels bombs to attack government forces under the control of Bashar al-Assad,” reports Defense One. “Many of these tunnels were dug with hand tools to avoid detection.”

“In Iraq, ISIS used tunnel attacks to devastating effect in their assault on Ramadi. On March 11, ISIS forces detonated a tunnel bomb under an Iraqi army headquarters, killing an estimated 22 people,” it adds. “The blast consumed seven tons of explosives in an 800-foot long tunnel that took two months to dig, according to the JIEDDO briefing. On March 15, a second tunnel bomb was used to attack Iraqi Security Forces. The city fell two months later.”

During the briefing, JIEDDO noted that ISIS frequently disseminates videos on social media showing the use of tunnel bombs on its targets.

“As part of an information operations campaign, these attacks are documented and widely proliferated via social media which increases the likelihood of migration to other conflict areas or adoption by other extremist organizations on a worldwide basis,” reportedly said JIEDDO.

The Pentagon organization revealed that tunnel bombs are being used to target military checkpoints, buildings, and other protected establishments.

It can take less than 30 days to dig a short tunnel, while longer ones (no more than 1 mile in length) can take up to nine months to complete, said JIEDDO.

Defense One notes that tunnels have been weaponized by Iran proxy Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza as a means to smuggle weapons and attack Israel.

“Now their use is spreading, and extending to direct attacks,” explains the article.

“Beyond bombs, ISIS is believed to be using tunnels to move weapons and avoid detection by American and ally fighter jets and drones. (ISIS may even be exploiting Saddam Hussein’s own tunnel network, which is thought to stretch for 60 miles between palaces, military strongholds, and houses,” it adds. “During the U.S. invasion in 2003, Saddam’s forces used these tunnels to move weapons and as hideouts.)”

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Zainab Bangura, UN secretary general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, speaks at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London on April 11, 2013. (PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Zainab Bangura, UN secretary general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, speaks at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London on April 11, 2013.
(PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

ISIS Sells Sex Slave Girls for ‘as Little as a Pack of Cigarettes’ to Attract Foreign Jihadis With ‘New Girls,’ UN Envoy Warns (christianpost.com)

In continuing to display how little the Islamic State values life and women, ISIS militants are buying and selling sexually enslaved girls and women for as cheap as a pack of cigarettes in hopes of attracting more men to the group, a United Nations envoy declared on Monday.

Zainab Bangura, the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict, told AFP that in order for ISIS to recruit more foreign fighters to join its military ranks, the caliphate continues to capture more girls and women in each new territory it conquers and then sells them at low prices.

“This is how they attract young men — ‘we have women waiting [for] you, virgins that you can marry,'” Bangura said. “The foreign fighters are the backbone of the fighting.”

Bangura, who recently toured through five Middle East countries and interviewed numerous women who were victimized by ISIS but managed to escape, explained that ISIS’ jihad is fueled by the enslavement of women.

“They [ISIS militants] kidnap and abduct women when they take areas so they have — I don’t want to call it a fresh supply, but they have new girls,” Bangura, a native of Sierra Leone, asserted. “This is a war that is being fought on the bodies of women.”

According to April’s estimates, ISIS has approximately 25,000 foreign fighters. But not only does ISIS have “new girls” for foreign fighters to acquire once they reach the caliphate, ISIS’ sex slaves are affordable and priced to meet even the poorest militant’s budget.

Bangura said that captured women and girls are often forced to strip naked and are judged by ISIS militants who gauge how much they are to be sold for. The fighters price some girls as high as a few thousand dollars, while selling others for “as little as a pack of cigarettes,” she stated.

“Some [females] were taken, locked up in a room — over 100 of them in a small house — stripped naked and washed,” Bangura said. “They were then made to stand in front of a group of men who decided ‘what you are worth.'”

After a girl is sold to an ISIS fighter, she is usually beaten, raped against her will and often sold or given away to another militant when the fighter is done abusing her. Should a sex slave refuse to give into her militant’s brutal and abnormal sexual fantasies, she is beaten or sometimes tortured.

In May, Bangura explained that a 20-year-old sex slave was burned alive after she refused to perform an “extreme sex act.”

“We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act,” Bangura said. “We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.”

Bangura also said that ISIS forces some captured women and girls into prostitution.

In a press briefing in early May, Bangura explained that one sex slave, who was sold to 20 different ISIS fighters before she escaped, was forced to undergo virginity repair surgery each time she was sold and raped by the next ISIS fighter.

“ISIL have institutionalized sexual violence and the brutalization of women as a central aspect of their ideology and operations, using it as a tactic of terrorism to advance their strategic objectives,” Bangura said.

Bangura told AFP that ISIS wants to “build a society that reflects the 13th century,” through its systemic sexual abuse of women, which she labeled as a “medieval” practice.

“Sexual violence by ISIL and other extremist groups arises from discrimination and dehumanization based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, political or religious identity, in particular the subordination of women and girls,” Bangura wrote in an email to Women eNews. “Indeed, the same ideology and objectives that motivate Boko Haram to abduct women and girls in Nigeria, also spur ISIL to enslave women and girls in Syria and Iraq.”

“Such violence has led to a number of harmful or negative coping mechanisms, such as the early marriage of girls by families that have no other means of protecting them, an increase in polygamy and “survival sex” by those with no economic alternatives, as well as the withdrawal and isolation of women and girls from education and public life,” she added.

The hidden hand behind the Islamic State militants? Saddam Hussein’s.

SaddamWashington Post, by Liz Sly, April 4, 2015:

— When Abu Hamza, a former Syrian rebel, agreed to join the Islamic State, he did so assuming he would become a part of the group’s promised Islamist utopia, which has lured foreign jihadists from around the globe.

Instead, he found himself being supervised by an Iraqi emir and receiving orders from shadowy Iraqis who moved in and out of the battlefield in Syria. When Abu Hamza disagreed with fellow commanders at an Islamic State meeting last year, he said, he was placed under arrest on the orders of a masked Iraqi man who had sat silently through the proceedings, listening and taking notes.

Abu Hamza, who became the group’s ruler in a small community in Syria, never discovered the Iraqis’ real identities, which were cloaked by code names or simply not revealed. All of the men, however, were former Iraqi officers who had served under Saddam Hussein, including the masked man, who had once worked for an Iraqi intelligence agency and now belonged to the Islamic State’s own shadowy security service, he said.

His account, and those of others who have lived with or fought against the Islamic State over the past two years, underscore the pervasive role played by members of Iraq’s former Baathist army in an organization more typically associated with flamboyant foreign jihadists and the gruesome videos in which they star.

Even with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.

They have brought to the organization the military expertise and some of the agendas of the former Baathists, as well as the smuggling networks developed to avoid sanctions in the 1990s and which now facilitate the Islamic State’s illicit oil trading.

In Syria, local “emirs” are typically shadowed by a deputy who is Iraqi and makes the real decisions, said Abu Hamza, who fled to Turkey last summer after growing disillusioned with the group. He uses a pseudonym because he fears for his safety.

“All the decision makers are Iraqi, and most of them are former Iraqi officers. The Iraqi officers are in command, and they make the tactics and the battle plans,” he said. “But the Iraqis themselves don’t fight. They put the foreign fighters on the front lines.”

The public profile of the foreign jihadists frequently obscures the Islamic State’s roots in the bloody recent history of Iraq, its brutal excesses as much a symptom as a cause of the country’s woes.

The raw cruelty of Hussein’s Baathist regime, the disbandment of the Iraqi army after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the subsequent insurgency and the marginalization of Sunni Iraqis by the Shiite-dominated government all are intertwined with the Islamic State’s ascent, said Hassan Hassan, a Dubai-based analyst and co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror.”

“A lot of people think of the Islamic State as a terrorist group, and it’s not useful,” Hassan said. “It is a terrorist group, but it is more than that. It is a homegrown Iraqi insurgency, and it is organic to Iraq.”

The de-Baathification law promulgated by L.­ Paul Bremer, Iraq’s American ruler in 2003, has long been identified as one of the contributors to the original insurgency. At a stroke, 400,000 members of the defeated Iraqi army were barred from government employment, denied pensions — and also allowed to keep their guns.

The U.S. military failed in the early years to recognize the role the disbanded Baathist officers would eventually come to play in the extremist group, eclipsing the foreign fighters whom American officials preferred to blame, said Col. Joel Rayburn, a senior fellow at the National Defense University who served as an adviser to top generals in Iraq and describes the links between Baathists and the Islamic State in his book, “Iraq After America.”

The U.S. military always knew that the former Baathist officers had joined other insurgent groups and were giving tactical support to the Al Qaeda in Iraq affiliate, the precursor to the Islamic State, he said. But American officials didn’t anticipate that they would become not only adjuncts to al-Qaeda, but core members of the jihadist group.

“We might have been able to come up with ways to head off the fusion, the completion of the Iraqization process,” he said. The former officers were probably not reconcilable, “but it was the labeling of them as irrelevant that was the mistake.”

Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph, the former officers became more than relevant. They were instrumental in the group’s rebirth from the defeats inflicted on insurgents by the U.S. military, which is now back in Iraq bombing many of the same men it had already fought twice before.

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Shared traits

At first glance, the secularist dogma of Hussein’s tyrannical Baath Party seems at odds with the Islamic State’s harsh interpretation of the Islamic laws it purports to uphold.

But the two creeds broadly overlap in several regards, especially their reliance on fear to secure the submission of the people under the group’s rule. Two decades ago, the elaborate and cruel forms of torture perpetrated by Hussein dominated the discourse about Iraq, much as the Islamic State’s harsh punishments do today.

Like the Islamic State, Hussein’s Baath Party also regarded itself as a transnational movement, forming branches in countries across the Middle East and running training camps for foreign volunteers from across the Arab world.

By the time U.S. troops invaded in 2003, Hussein had begun to tilt toward a more religious approach to governance, making the transition from Baathist to Islamist ideology less improbable for some of the disenfranchised Iraqi officers, said Ahmed S. Hashim, a professor who is researching the ties at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

With the launch of the Iraqi dictator’s Faith Campaign in 1994, strict Islamic precepts were introduced. The words “God is Great” were inscribed on the Iraqi flag. Amputations were decreed for theft. Former Baathist officers recall friends who suddenly stopped drinking, started praying and embraced the deeply conservative form of Islam known as Salafism in the years preceding the U.S. invasion.

In the last two years of Hussein’s rule, a campaign of beheadings, mainly targeting women suspected of prostitution and carried out by his elite Fedayeen unit, killed more than 200 people, human rights groups reported at the time.

Read more

Also see:

Esman: Women are “Biggest Losers” in Arab Spring

The Failure of U.S. Policy toward Damascus

by Eyal Zisser
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2013, pp. 59-65 (view PDF)

The failure of the Bush and the Obama administrations to topple Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad goes a long way to explaining Washington’s declining Middle Eastern position. United by a distinct lack of vision, as opposed to hopes and wishful thinking, as well as determination and a coherent plan of action, these otherwise very different administrations helped erode America’s stature in the region. Widely seen as a declining superpower that has lost belief in itself and its leading role in the world, Washington earns neither fear nor respect in the Middle East.

Bush vs. Assad

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003 was a decisive moment in the history of the Middle East. True, George W. Bush acquired a demonic image in the eyes of many, both in the region and beyond, but there is no doubt that history will prove that the stand he took against the region’s dictators, including some long-standing U.S. allies, was an important factor in creating significant cracks in the Middle East’s dictatorial walls and in encouraging the calls for justice and freedom that began to be heard there. In this sense, the Bush administration’s Middle East policy, which set as its aim the promotion of democracy, was an important preparatory factor, even an accelerator, for the developments that led to the outbreak of the 2011 Arab uprisings. The Iraq invasion made a strong impression on the region’s inhabitants, strengthening Washington’s standing in their eyes as a leading world power, politically, economically, and especially, militarily and technologically. At the same time, this image of the United States was accompanied by fear and awe—and unconcealed resentment, jealousy, and even hatred. Nevertheless, the routing of Saddam Hussein’s army convinced even Iran’s ayatollahs to pause in their mad dash to achieve nuclear power.[1]Only later, after Iraq became a treacherous swamp for Washington because of its failed policies there, did the halo of the initial victory lose its shine. Over time, the historical significance of the Saddam regime collapse lost much of its impact.

President Obama (left) meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II (right) at the White House, April 26, 2013, where they discussed the Syrian crisis. Obama’s initial tough talk about Syrian use of chemical weapons being a “red line” that would evoke a strong U.S. response has become something of a joke even among the war-weary Syrian citizens. In April, the president walked back his pledge demanding instead a “chain of custody” to prove who used which weapons where.

At the same time, the war in Iraq placed the Bush administration on a collision course with Assad, who perceived the U.S. attack as being directed not only against Iraq but also against Syria. In the eyes of Damascus, the war was part of a joint U.S.-Israeli campaign directed at breaking up the Arab world and debilitating its might in order to strengthen Israel—or so the Syrians convinced themselves. It also seems that the Assad regime really believed that Washington would find it difficult to overthrow Saddam and assumed that the Vietnam war quagmire would be repeated in Iraq.[2]

In their memoirs, both George W. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair testify that Washington had entertained the idea of carrying the military campaign from Baghdad to Damascus and overthrowing the Assad regime.[3] However, the initial shock experienced in the region, including by Syria, eventually wore off, especially as the U.S. administration found itself entangled in a morass of Shiite-Sunni violence in Iraq. Damascus thus concluded that it was in its interest for the United States to suffer total defeat in Iraq. As a result, the Assad regime began to turn a blind eye and even to assist the Muslim jihadis who crossed Syria on their way to fight the Americans in Iraq. Ironically, these same fighters were destined to return to Syria a decade later when the March 2011 revolution broke out there, leading a jihadist war against Assad’s “heretical” regime.

In light of this hostile course, the Bush administration came to the conclusion that the Syrian president was a clear and present danger to U.S. interests in the Middle East. However, Washington decided not to adopt a straightforward military option. Instead, U.S. leaders tried to exploit a series of opportunities that emerged in order to push Assad into a corner or even overthrow him. The steps taken were essentially political in character, but there is no evidence that they were part of an orderly or planned-out policy.

Read more at Middle East Forum

See also:

Ending the War on Terror

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Calling an end to the “war on terror” is not a solution, because terror is not the enemy – Islamic supremacism is

By :

In a piece last week in The Atlantic entitled “Terrorism Could Never Threaten American Values—the ‘War on Terror’ Does,” James Fallows says it’s high time that President Obama shows he understands the truth of that article’s title, and calls to put a stop to the “open-ended ‘Global War on Terror.’”

Fallows, a longtime national correspondent for The Atlantic, has argued at least as far back as 2006 that we had al Qaeda on the run, and that even though its “successor groups in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere will continue to pose dangers… its hopes for fundamentally harming the United States now rest less on what it can do itself than on what it can trick, tempt, or goad us into doing.”

There is some undeniable truth to this. All one has to do is look at how Shoe Bomber Richard Reid, who wasn’t even successful in his attempt to bring down Flight 63 from Paris to Miami twelve years ago, transformed our air travel experience into a tedious, massively bureaucratic and intrusive TSA nightmare, detrimentally impacting our economy in the process (in a succinct summation of Fallows’ argument, famed atheist Richard Dawkins recently tweeted his irritation over what he deemed the pointless idiocy of airport security extremes: “Bin Laden has won.”). And of course, one could look at how terrorist acts have resulted, even more intrusively, in the surveillance state that emerged under George W. Bush and which has metastasized exponentially under Barack Obama.

“But if it saves a few lives…” goes the seemingly reasonable rationale for all this “security.” Of course we should protect American lives; the question is, are there more effective and reasonable ways to accomplish that and to combat terrorism which also don’t require severely diminishing our freedoms and individual rights?

Fallows acknowledges the seriousness of terrorist acts themselves. “Attacks can be terribly destructive, as we saw in hideous form 12 years ago,” he continued in last week’s article. “But the long-term threat to national interests and values comes from the response they invoke. In the case of 9/11: the attack was disastrous, but in every measurable way the rash, foolish, and unjustified decision to retaliate by invading Iraq hurt America in more lasting ways.”

Perhaps Fallows misspoke here, because surely he knows we didn’t invade Iraq in retaliation for the 9/11 attack. We went into Iraq because during a “decade of defiance,” as Bush put it, Saddam Hussein had become an increasingly clear and present danger: harboring terrorists, financing terrorism, developing weapons of mass destruction, and ignoring years of UN demands about those weapons. Maybe Fallows means that going after Saddam was an unnecessary extension of the ill-named war on terror, but the “lasting ways” in which America has been hurt in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted more from our ongoing, blood-and-treasure-sucking, nation-building efforts there than from our invasions of those countries.

Read more at Front Page

 

Homeland Security Chairman on Benghazi Report: ‘Al-Qaeda Is Spreading Like a Wildfire’

download (61)By Bridget Johnson:

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said this morning that the new evidence unveiled showing al-Qaeda plotted the Benghazi diplomatic mission attack proves the “cries for help” from Ambassador Chris Stevens “were not responded to.”

CBS featured on 60 Minutes last night the first Western eyewitness to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack: a former British soldier involved in diplomatic security.

“About 30 minutes into the attack, a Quick Reaction Force from the CIA annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound, at times running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there,” the guard said. “Inside the compound, they repelled a force of as many as 60 armed terrorists and managed to save five American lives and recover the body of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith. They were forced to fight their way out before they could find the ambassador.”

He noted al-Qaeda had promised to attack the Red Cross, the British and Americans in Benghazi, and had already carried out the first two before the Sept. 11 attack.

“They knew what they were doing,” the guard said. “That was a well-executed attack.”

Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said the interview shows disturbing, crystal-clear warning signs ignored by the administration. “The fact that the people on the ground, for the first time, have come forward to tell their story about what happened and what they saw when they got to Benghazi before this — before 9/11 where the black flags of Al Qaida flying, they saw the Red Cross embassy attack — or Red Cross attacked, the British ambassador, an assassination attempt on him. And then the third thing, that they actually put all this on the Internet, sort of prophesying what they’re getting ready to do, was to take out our consulate in Benghazi,” he said this morning on Fox.

“This was all foreseeable, and warnings were made to State Department in Washington. And a cry for help was made by the ambassador. Those cries for help were not responded to,” McCaul added.

The chairman also noted that even though Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, and Saddam Hussein’s brothers were on the U.S. Rewards for Justice list, the Benghazi suspects, “these terrorists, have not been put on this list.”

“I just think it’s a sign for the administration, they’re not taking it seriously, it’s not a priority. This could bring these — these terrorists to justice. It’s been over a year. I think we had them in our sights, we let them go. And now this is the best chance we can get to apprehend them,” McCaul said.

He also predicted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in blaming the attack on an anti-Muhammed video will stick with the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.

“She was behind all of this. And I think it’s gonna haunt her in any potential presidential election,” McCaul said. “I was one of the last ones to question her in Congress on Foreign Affairs Committee about these cables, about these warnings. ‘And what was your response, Madam Secretary?’ ‘I never saw them,’ she said.”

“I think this one is the most disturbing and offensive event of all the tragedy of Benghazi. And that is, you know, the military teaches that no left — no man left behind. No man left behind. And we left behind our ambassador and three other, Navy SEAL and two Foreign Service officers — we left behind to die. And what — you heard it last night. They called for additional help,” he continued.

“Al Qaida is spreading like a wildfire across Northern Africa, and is growing out of control.”

Read more at PJ Media

 

Pat Caddell: John Boehner “purposely” helping Obama cover-up Benghazi:

FGM: ‘It’s like neutering animals’ – the film that is changing Kurdistan

film on FGM

 

By  and :

A young girl is given a plastic bag of sweets and a bottle of lemonade after being genitally mutilated … the story of the 10-year fight against female genital mutilation by two film-makers has been made into a hour long documentary by the Guardian and BBC Arabic and will go out across the Arab world from Friday, reaching a combined global audience of 30 million viewers. This is the Guardian’s shorter web version of that film

It started out as a film about a practice that has afflicted tens of millions of women worldwide. It culminated in a change in the law.

Ten years after they embarked on a documentary to investigate the extent of female genital mutilation in Kurdistan, two film-makers have found their work changing more than just opinions in a fiercely conservative part of the world. Partly as a result of the film, the numbers of girls being genitally mutilated in the villages and towns of Iraqi Kurdistan has fallen by more than half in the last five years.

Shara Amin and Nabaz Ahmed spent 10 years on the roads of Kurdistan speaking to women and men about the impact of female genital mutilation (FGM) on their lives, their children and their marriages. “It took a lot of time to convince them to speak to us. This was a very taboo subject. Speaking about it on camera was a very brave thing to do.

“It took us weeks, sometimes months to get them to talk and in the end it was the women that spoke out – despite the men,” said Ahmed.

The result was a 50-minute film, A Handful of Ash. When it was shown in the Kurdish parliament, it had a profound effect on the lawmakers.

The film-makers’ work began in 2003, shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The stories they were told had a numbing consistency. In one scene in the documentary a young mother with her children sitting beside her tells Shara that in their village: “They would just grab the little girls, take them and cut them, and the girls came back home. I can still remember I was sick, infected for three months. I could barely walk after I was cut.”

A mullah tells the film-makers that “Khatana [the Kurdish term for FGM] is a duty; it is spiritually pure.” That is the position of the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam that is practised by Iraqi Kurds. It is the same branch of Islamic law that predominates in Egypt, where studies show that up to 80% of women have been mutilated. But FGM is not just confined to some Muslim countries in the Middle East – it is also widespread in parts of Africa and
Indonesian. It pre-dates Islam or Christianity and is on record since
the time of the Pharaoh.

“It is about controlling women’s sexuality and keeping them under control,” said Nadya Khalife, from Human Rights Watch.

Read more at The Guardian

For more on FGM go to http://counterjihadreport.com/category/female-genital-mutilation/

Wanted it bad, got it bad

2234785817By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, announced a deal last weekend that is supposed to make the Syrian problem go away.  Er, that is, make Bashir Assad’s chemical weapons go away.  Or at least disappear President Obama’s immediate political problem with breached red-lines and an America with no appetite for war with Syria in response.

The bottom line: Ain’t gonna happen.  The only question is:  Will this deal actually make things worse in any, or all, of those respects?

The old axiom, “you want it bad, you’ll get it bad,” applied to the three-days of fevered bilateral negotiations in Geneva that produced the so-called “plan” for international control and dismantling of the entire Syrian chemical arsenal.  President Obama and his top diplomat understood this Russian-supplied lifeline to be the only hope for extricating them from the disastrous debacle their feckless Syria policy had become.The best that can be hoped for from this deal is that it will reduce somewhat, Assad’s stockpile of chemical arms.  But it is national security fraud – something Team Obama has perpetrated serially since it came to office – to tell the American people the Kerry-Lavrov plan will actually eliminate it.  And the costs for even trying are likely to be far higher than we are being told.

Consider the following facts of life:

  • Dealing with toxic nerve agents, mustard gas and other lethal chemical weapons and the munitions they go in – even storing them, let alone moving and disposing of them – is a very hazardous business under the best of circumstances.  Needless to say, a civil war in which both sides are interested in having access to such weapons of mass destruction is not such an environment.  Already, there is talk about having to put somebody’s “boots on the ground” to secure whatever stocks are declared.  That is a formula for getting such foreign troops (ours?) killed when hostiles target the weapons they are protecting and/or embroiled as combatants in Syria’s civil war.
  • Not surprisingly, there are host of practical issues that likely will further undermine, if not absolutely doom, this deal.   They will help determine how expensive, complex and perhaps ultimately futile the Kerry-Lavrov disarmament scheme will be.  For example, are all the weapons supposed to be destroyedin place by next June – an undertaking involving the construction of specialized incinerators whose operation in this country has proven to be exceedingly time-consuming, costly and hazardous?  Who is going to pay for constructing such facilities and keep them from being targeted in the ongoing civil war?
  • Alternatively, are Assad’s weapons to be shipped out of Syria by then and if so, to where?  Russia?  Great idea.  Ditto places like Saudi Arabia or Turkey.  How about here? Any takers?
  • At its core, even the face value of any such ambitious disarmament plan rests on the accuracy of the inventory of Assad’s chemical arsenal.  What are the chances that we will get full disclosure – let alone by the end of the week?  As recent revelations about how the supposedly cooperative Muammar Qaddafi lied about his chemical stockpile remind us, totalitarian thugs are not trustworthy.  That is especially true of one in the Kremlin.

How this almost certainly will work is that Assad’s inventory will basically track with whatever intelligence assessment we shared with the Russians during last week’s version of “Let’s Make a Deal.”  That’s right:  Kerry’s delegation told Lavrov’s what we thought was there – approximately 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons and agent.  The Russians, we’re told, affirmed that estimate.  And surely they shared our data with their Syrian client, on whose behalf, lest we forget, they are explicitly working.So if our data understates Assad’s actual stockpile, which is almost surely the case, you have what is known in the intelligence business as the “garbage in, garbage out” phenomenon: inputting erroneous assumptions leads inevitably to faulty conclusions.  In this case, that will likely mean that – even if all the other logistic, security and disposal problems are somehow overcome – at the end of the day, the Syrian regime will still have chemical weapons, and probably biological ones, too.

How could it be otherwise?  The U.S. government has never formally confirmed that Syria received chemical and/or biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from Saddam Hussein in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.  While there are reports that Assad is sending some of them back to Iraq now (among other shell-game style movements of his chemical arsenal among roughly 50 sites in Syria itself), our estimates are sure to be off.  Then, there’s the undeclared help Assad has received from North Korea and Iran in producing and concealing his WMD.

  • The larger problem is that all this sharing of information and other revelations about how we detect and monitor chemical weapons movements and dispositions is a field day for our adversaries’ counter-intelligence operations.  Count on them to learn from us and to make it vastly harder for us to know what they are up to in the future.

In short, the present crisis in Syria is not going away.  And the problems arising from previous, fraudulent deals to “rid the world of chemical weapons” are likely to be compounded by this one, not eliminated by Messrs. Kerry and Lavrov – any more than will be the case with all of Bashir Assad’s chemical arms.

How Do They Do IT? My Reflection on Veterans, Suicide, and the Syrian Quagmire

1236534_10151650065899150_1247205358_n-300x300by Kerry Patton:

Over the past several days, not even realizing it, something has changed within me. It’s my attitude and it sucks. I have said some hurtful things to many persons I cherish and for that I am deeply sorry. But why this sudden attitude change? Let me take a moment to ask a different question.

How do they do it?

How do veterans still living, those who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, etc. do it? How do they sit every day and watch the news around them? How do they go on knowing their brothers of today are fighting aimless wars, and for what? How do they live knowing the current wars fought are plagued with disinformation and propaganda?

How do they do it?

These are questions I have been asking myself on an hourly basis for well over a week now. With every new report coming out of the United States, the United Nations, Syria, or wherever, I find myself getting sick to my stomach…literally.

How do they do it?

How do we veterans continue living knowing not only has our country furnished rogue nations and terrorist groups with weapons we would later be forced to fight but also weapons of mass destruction like those provided to Saddam Hussein during the 80’s? It’s a morality issue I find myself struggling with daily.

How do they do it?

For many, they don’t do it. And that is reality.

A serious epidemic is growing in America. That epidemic is suicide among veterans. According multiple reports, one veteran takes his/her life every 65 minutes. That’s an average of twenty-two per day.

Why is this statistic important?

As the United States contemplates some form of military action in Syria, veterans will be sitting in their chairs watching the news and growing with depression knowing our own brothers and sisters are being forced into harm’s way for no true national security reason which jeopardizes our own nation. We will seriously question the integrity of a nation we vowed to defend against all enemies—foreign and domestic.

Many veterans will obtain attitude changes like I have over such a decision and integrity loss. Many will be angered, saddened, outraged, depressed, etc. Many will be on edge. Many will even contemplate taking their own lives.

I am not suicidal. Angered, outraged, possibly even a bit depressed…but not suicidal.

If I have these feelings, surely I am not alone. With the possibilities of military action against Syria, veterans are going to be impacted unlike many American’s who never served a day in combat. We need to really look out for these warriors.

Starting on Sunday, September 8th through Saturday, September 14th we as a nation will endure National Suicide Prevention Week. This also may be the time we see the start of US military involvement in Syria.

During this week of suicide prevention, my brothers at Ranger UP will be posting articles on their Rhino Den blog to help support Suicide Prevention Week. This is just a heads up for what is to come and I ask all readers to constantly check in to their blog site to read what we veterans have to say about this growing epidemic.

This post is also about me and expressing my feelings of a shitty attitude. Thankfully, I would never allow myself to stoop to the point of no return. But others have, and will.

I have my own outlet to release my feelings through writing. I pray other veterans find outlets that work for them. Its critical they find ways to release their frustrations through healthy means. But I also understand some will just not find those means and lean towards the alternative.

Veterans need our support now more than ever. Be on the lookout folks. Let’s take care of our nation’s best and brightest because we face the potential of some seriously depressing times ahead of us especially if we find ourselves intervening in Syria.

Kerry Patton is the author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors

Is Islam Compatible With Democracy?

download (13)By Alon Ben-Meir:

The question raised by the ouster of Egypt’s President Morsi is whether Islam is compatible with democracy or any form of government that empowers the people and limits the power of leaders to hold merely representative offices with limited terms of public service.

Islam is the most recent of the Abrahamic religions to emerge on the world stage. Monotheism in general, and specifically as it developed in the Dark and Middle Ages, in principle reflects extremely authoritarian regimes.

Theologically, it posits a cosmic or heavenly hierarchy with absolute authority in God, angels in go-between positions, and a fallen humanity in need of salvation at the base of the pyramidal power structure.

It is no surprise then that in the centuries wherein the Catholic Church was at its zenith of influence in the West, political power was held by kings, popes, emperors, and powerful nepotistic and despotic elite with huge economic chasms between the people and their rulers.

Obviously, these structures were not compatible with democracy.

Christianity and Judaism, being monotheistic, are no less inheritors of this stratified and centralized power paradigm, but unlike Islam these religions were effectively secularized and toned down during the century of the European Enlightenment.

Thinkers like Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Kant, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, and Hegel paved the way for Marx, Schopenhauer, Buber, and Sartre to challenge conventional approaches to religious ideologies and political formations.

Traditional monotheism, with its highly categorized view of man and God, may not in itself be wholly compatible with democracy, but modern Western monotheism gradually molded itself to new ways of thinking during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and was certainly forced to do so amid rapid scientific and technological advances.

The Islamic world enjoyed its own renaissance during the Islamic Golden Age (mid-8th to mid-13th century) with advances in the sciences, mathematics, and literature, yet the period declined and has never been restored to its former glory.

Where are Islam’s corresponding great modern philosophers and scientists who can pave the way for a similar transformation of both radical and even secular Islam in the Arab world?

In the Arab world today, the majority of its intellectuals are clerics, imams, and thinkers emerging from the core of Islamic values. Radical Islam simply does not routinely nurture free thinkers willing to brave the fires of what might otherwise become an Islamic Inquisition.

Is it even possible to transition from hierarchical religious authoritarianism to a modernized and even secularized form of Islamic democracy — one that accepts the separation of church and state?

While the possibility and harsh eventuality remains, this is a tall order since Islam, perhaps more than other monotheistic religions, invites itself into every aspect of social life. More specifically, Islam is inherently and by definition inconsistent with the separation of church and state.

It is instructive that the seeming separation between the two occurred under ruthless secular dictators such Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Hafez Assad’s family in Syria, and Qaddafi’s Libya. In all these instances, the authoritarianism seen in the rule of the Islamist Morsi was still there.

The Middle East is not the only place where religious ideology might compel people to vote against their own social, economic, and political interests. But history teaches that if there is any prospect in wedding Islam to democratic ideals, efforts to do so must concurrently work on religious, economic, and political levels.

Religiously, the concept of the separation of church and state has practically no hold in Islamic thinking. The idea is entirely foreign to most Islamic orthodoxy, and even if a political party were secular in name, they dare not forsake the basic tenets of Islam.

Read more at American Thinker

Elisabeth Sabaditsch Wolff – Wake Up People, We Need To Fight For Free Speech!

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By Elisabeth Sabaditsch Wolff:

Fascist totalitarianism has returned to my country. This time it does not come with the ring of jackboots on the cobblestones. No one’s door is battered down in the middle of the night. No cattle cars haul innocent victims away to an unknown destination.
This is a soft totalitarianism. It wears a business suit, smiles, and speaks in reasonable tones in the name of tolerance and diversity.

This time its victims are the natives of Austria, who are being deliberately replaced with a violent, barbaric, alien culture.

I am one of those victims.

For a number of years I have been giving educational seminars on Islam, sponsored by the Austrian Freedom Party. They are designed to educate people about the realities of Islam.

I learned those realities first-hand: I have lived in Iran, Kuwait, and Libya. As a little girl in Tehran, I watched the beginnings of Khomeini’s revolution. I was held hostage in Kuwait when Saddam Hussein invaded in 1990. And I watched people dance for joy in the streets of Tripoli on 9-11.

My experiences made me want to understand what lay behind all the ghastliness I had experienced, so I spent a lot of time researching Islam, and then began teaching others what I had learned. I told them that Islam did not respect free speech or other human rights, and was particularly brutal in its treatment of women. I explained that these characteristics derive directly from the totalitarian Islamic doctrines. In Islam, brutal repression is not a bug — it’s a feature.

My seminars became more popular, drawing a larger audience. As a result they drew the attention of the Multicultural Left, which is very influential in Viennese politics.
On two separate occasions in the fall of 2009 a leftist magazine, NEWS, sent an undercover reporter to secretly tape my lecture. They then turned the tapes over to the authorities and filed a complaint against me for my “hate speech”. In October 2009 I learned that I was under judicial investigation only through NEWS magazine — before I received any notice from the court.

For almost a year the investigation proceeded. Then, in October 2010, I was informed of my indictment and impending trial — once again, by reading it in NEWS, not through any official notification.

The trial began in November of that year and continued until the following February. The case eventually focused on my description of a phone conversation with my sister, in which I referred to Mohammed’s sexual relationship with Aisha. My sister was appalled at the thought that I might call Mohammed a “pedophile”. I said, “What else would you call a man who has a thing for little girls?”

This statement was what the court chose to highlight, along with various “hostile” remarks about Islam. However, it became obvious partway through the trial that it would not be possible to use these things to convict me under the charge that had been laid, which was “incitement to hatred”.

As a result, on the second day of the trial, the judge at her own discretion added a second charge, “denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion.”
When the verdict was handed down in February 2011, I was acquitted on the first charge, but convicted on the second, and fined.

It was clear that the judge was determined to find a charge under which I could be convicted. The convoluted logic for her decision was this: it was not factually correct to say that Mohammed was a pedophile, because although he had sex with a nine-year-old girl, he remained married to her until she was of age. That is, he proved that he only liked little girls part of the time, so he couldn’t have been a pedophile.

I know that sounds like a passage from a dystopian fantasy by Phillip K. Dick, but it’s not — it really happened, in a court of law, in the city of Vienna, the country of Austria, in the Year of Our Lord 2011.

The reality of Modern Multicultural Europe has merged with dystopian fantasy. As Humpty-Dumpty said to Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have stepped through the looking glass into a strange new world.

Shielding the Enemy

20110228_IslamStarsStripesby JANET LEVY:

One year ago, in June 2012, the “National Security Five” — five members of Congress led by Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) — called attention to U.S. government infiltration by Muslim Brotherhood (MB) operatives. Based on disturbing information from court evidence and documents, correspondence, media reports, congressional briefings, and public statements, they found that individuals with questionable loyalty to the United States held high-level security clearances and worked in key national security positions. Tragically for the security of the United States and the safety of its citizens, these five earnest members of Congress, armed with ample evidence, were roundly criticized by both Republicans and Democrats, and their request for investigations was ignored.

Unfortunately for our country, this response is not atypical, but simply another in a series of thwarted or abandoned investigations over decades whose outcomes have critical national security implications for America.

A mere 20 years ago, responding to pressure from then-President Clinton to de-emphasize Arab international terrorism, FBI head Louis Freeh shifted the agency’s focus from foreign terrorists to domestic terrorists or “rightwing extremists.” As a direct consequence, 40 boxes of evidence from the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 that would have revealed valuable information about Al Qaeda operations were never reviewed and key evidence, including the presence of Arab nationals at U.S. flight schools, was ignored.

In the same way, serious evidence of Middle Eastern involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing that claimed 168 lives, injured more than 680 people and damaged 324 buildings within a 16 block radius was ignored. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) alluded to this in his 2006 Chairman’s Report for the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on the attack. Rohrabacher cited suspicions of meetings and phone calls between bombing accomplice Terry Nichols and convicted 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) mastermind Ramzi Yousef. Similarly, the attack strategy and mechanics resembled the first WTC bombing. Finally, multiple witnesses reported seeing Hussain Hashem al-Hussaini, an Iraqi connected to Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard, in the company of McVeigh prior to the bombing, leaving the truck used in the attack, and driving away prior to the blast. These significant similarities didn’t even warrant an investigation by the Clinton administration.

The Clinton administration also ignored the findings of Able Danger, an 80-person military intelligence program (1999-2001) created to gather intelligence on Al Qaeda networks. The program’s findings were presented to the Pentagon more than a year prior to 9/11. The intelligence unit identified 60 terrorists inside the United States, including a Brooklyn cell headed by Mohammed Atta and three other terrorists later involved in 9/11. This crucial information was ignored by the Clinton Department of Defense (DoD), which chose not to act on it and not to pass it on to the FBI. Two members of the Able Danger team, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Navy Commander Scott Philpott, attempted to arrange meetings on three occasions to transfer the open-source information about Al Qaeda to the FBI and to warn the government about upcoming attacks. But Clinton administration lawyers under the direction of Assistant Attorney General Jamie Gorelick thwarted their efforts and Able Danger was shut down before 9/11 occurred. Although Able Danger intelligence officer Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer provided intelligence from its investigation to the director of the 9/11 Commission, that information was not included in the final report and Lt. Col. Shaffer was not permitted to testify. Ultimately the DoD denied the accuracy of the information and retaliated against him. When Shaffer first published his book, Operation Dark Heart, the DoD bought and destroyed all 9,500 copies.

Remarkably, Able Danger had identified the threat to the USS Cole two weeks before the attack and the role played by the Al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn, a major funding, recruiting, and fundraising source for Al Qaeda in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Read more: Family Security Matters

 

The “Grievances” Defense

images (66)by Peter Huessy:

If grievances explain terrorism, the implication is that removing the grievances would remove the terrorism. The U.S. was warned, however, before 9/11, that it faced a “poisonous coalition” of terror groups, wealthy sheiks, military establishments and intelligence, all fueled with an apparently endless supply of indoctrinated recruits from madrassas and mosques. This coalition now has nuclear weapons. A credible case can be argued that the West has the right of self-defense.

The April terrorist attacks during the Boston Marathon killed and wounded scores of people. Machete-wielding thugs last week butchered a British soldier in full view of citizens on a London street. Simultaneously, in Sweden, a full five days of riots have seen burned cars, banks and schools, and assaulted citizens.

These attacks raise the uncomfortable question: “Why are we being attacked?”

A newly announced American policy to deal with such threats involves “addressing grievances and conflicts” that feed what is described as “extremism.”

But will this work?

After 9/11, despite the impression of a nation coming together, almost immediately many pundits, media outlets and academics blamed America. We were, for example, attacked because “our chickens [were] coming home to roost.” Three reasons were most often cited: our sanctions against Iraq; our deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia and our support for Israel.

Over a quarter of a century ago, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, our UN ambassador during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan’s, first explained this tendency to “always blame America first.” It flowed from a view that saw American military power as a harmful force in world politics. Steven Kinzer in All the Shah’s Men argued in 2003, just two years later, that, “It is not far-fetched to draw a line through the Shah’s repressive regime and the Islamic revolution [1979] to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York.” A decade later, former Congressman Ron Paul similarly argued the attacks of 9/11 were in retaliation for American troops being deployed in Saudi Arabia in 1990-1991, there to drive Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. And on May 23, the administration sought to explain what it terms “violent extremism” as a reaction to the “thousands of civilians that have been killed” in Iraq and Afghanistan,” implicitly by American intervention.

Even now, many weeks after the Boston Marathon bombing, the “Blame America” syndrome is on full display.

Read more at Gatestone Institute