If Baghdadi is dead, next IS leader likely to be Saddam-era officer

FILE PHOTO: A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would have been his first public appearance, at a mosque in the centre of Iraq’s second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on… REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV/File Photo

Reuters, by Maher Chmaytelli , June 24, 2017:

If Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is confirmed dead, he is likely to be succeeded by one of his top two lieutenants, both of whom were Iraqi army officers under late dictator Saddam Hussein.

Experts on Islamist groups see no clear successor but regard Iyad al-Obaidi and Ayad al-Jumaili as the leading contenders, though neither would be likely to assume Baghdadi’s title of “caliph”, or overall commander of Muslims.

Russia’s defense ministry said last week Baghdadi may have been killed in an air strike in Syria and Interfax news agency quoted a senior Russian parliamentarian on Friday as saying the likelihood that he had been killed was close to 100 percent.

But armed groups fighting in the region and many regional officials are skeptical about the reports.

“We don’t have any concrete evidence on whether or not he’s dead either,” U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the international coalition battling Islamic State, told a Pentagon briefing.

Obaidi, who is in his 50s, has been serving as war minister. Jumaili, in his late 40s, is head of the group’s Amniya security agency. In April Iraqi state TV said Jumaili had been killed, but that was not confirmed.

Both joined the Sunni Salafist insurgency in Iraq in 2003, following the U.S.-led invasion which Saddam and empowered Iraq’s Shi’ite majority.

They have been Baghdadi’s top aides since air strikes in 2016 killed his then deputy Abu Ali al-Anbari, his Chechen war minister Abu Omar al-Shishani and his Syrian chief propagandist, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.

“Jumaili recognizes Obaidi as his senior but there is no clear successor and, depending on conditions, it can be either of the two (who succeeds Baghdadi),” said Hisham al-Hashimi, who advises several Middle East governments on IS affairs.

Baghdadi awarded himself the title of caliph – the chief Muslim civil and religious ruler, regarded as the successor of the Prophet Mohammad – in 2014. Obaidi or Jumaili would be unlikely to become caliph because they lack religious standing and Islamic State has lost much of its territory.

NO “LAND TO RULE”

“They don’t belong to the Prophet Mohammad’s lineage. The group has no longer ‘a land to rule’ or ‘Ardh al-Tamkeen’. And none is well versed in Islamic theology,” said Fadhel Abu Ragheef, another Iraqi expert on the extremist group.

“A caliph has to have an Ardh al-Tamkeen, which he rules in accordance with Islamic law. Failing that, the successor will just be recognized as the emir,” said Hashimi.

Emir is Arabic for prince, and is a title that jihadists often use to describe their leaders.

By contrast, Baghdadi, born as Ibrahim Awad al-Samarrai’ in 1971, comes from a family of preachers and studied Islamic law in Baghdad.

The appointment of the new leader would require the approval of an eight-member shoura council, an advisory body to the caliph. But its members would be unlikely to meet for security reasons so would make their opinion known through couriers.

Six members of the council are Iraqis, one Jordanian and one Saudi, and all are veterans of the Sunni salafist insurgency.

A ninth member, the group’s Bahraini chief cleric, Turki al-Bin’ali, was killed in an air strike in Syria on May 31.

In Washington, two U.S. intelligence officials said they believed Islamic State had moved most of its leaders to al-Mayadin in Syria’a Euphrates Valley, southeast of the group’s besieged capital there, Raqqa.

Among the operations moved to al-Mayadin, about 80 km (50 miles) west of the Iraqi border, were its online propaganda operation and its limited command and control of attacks in Europe and elsewhere, they said.

Europe Surrenders to Radical Islam

Gatestone Institute, by Guy Millière, June 24, 2017

  • In spite of three attacks in three months, Britain does not seem to be choosing the path of vigilance and determination. June is not even over but the media barely talk about terrorism any more.
  • Then, in the early hours of June 19, a man who acted alone drove a van into a crowd of Muslims leaving Finsbury Park Mosque in London: the main “threat” to the British right now was soon presented in several newspapers as “Islamophobia”.
  • Decolonization added the idea that the Europeans had oppressed other peoples and were guilty of crimes they now had to redeem. There was no mention of how, throughout history, recruits to Islam had colonized the great Christian Byzantine Empire, Greece, Sicily, Corsica, North Africa and the Middle East, most of the Balkans and eastern Europe, Hungary, northern Cyprus and Spain.
  • While most jihadist movements were banned by the British government, more discreet organizations have emerged and demurely sent the same message. The Islamic Forum for Europe, for example, depicts itself as “peaceful”, but many of those it invites to speak are anything but that. The Islamic Human Rights Commission uses the language of defending human rights to disseminate violent statements against the Jews and the West.

London, June 5, 2017. A minute of silence is held at Potters Field Park, next to the City Hall, to pay tribute to the victims of the London Bridge jihadist attack three days before. Those who came have brought flowers, candles and signs bearing the usual words: “unity”, “peace” and “love”. Faces are sad but no trace of anger is visible. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, gives a speech emphasizing against all evidence that the killers’ ideas have nothing to do with Islam.

A few hours after the attack, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May also refuses to incriminate Islam, but dares to speak of “Islamic extremism”. She was immediately accused of “dividing” the country. On election day, June 8, her Conservative party lost the majority in the House of Commons. Jeremy Corbyn, a pro-terrorist, “democratic socialist”, who demands the end of British participation in the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS), led the Labour party to thirty more seats than it had earlier. In spite of three attacks in three months, Britain does not seem to choose the path of vigilance and determination. June is not even over but the media barely talk about terrorism any more. A devastating fire destroyed a building in North Kensington, killing scores of residents. Mourning the victims seems to have completely erased all memory of those killed in the terrorist attacks.

Then, in the early hours of June 19, a man who acted alone drove a van into a crowd of Muslims leaving Finsbury Park Mosque in London: the main “threat” to the British right now was soon presented in several newspapers as “Islamophobia”.

The United Kingdom is not the main Muslim country in Europe, but it is the country where, for decades, Islamists could comfortably call for jihad and murder. Although most jihadist movements were banned by the British government, more discreet organizations have emerged and demurely spread the same message. The Islamic Forum for Europe, for example, depicts itself as “peaceful”, but many of those it invites to speak are anything but that. One was Anwar al-Awlaki, who for years planned al-Qaeda operations until he was killed in Yemen in 2011 in an American drone strike. The Islamic Human Rights Commission uses the language of defending human rights to disseminate violent statements against Jews and the West.

The most flamboyant radical preachers have all but disappeared. The most famous among them, Anjem Choudary, was recently sentenced to five years and six months in prison for his open support of the Islamic State, but hundreds of imams throughout the country continue similar work. No-go zones, forbidden to the “infidels”, continue to grow in big cities, and sharia courts continue to dispense a form of justice parallel to, but different from, the national one. Khuram Shazad Butt, one of the three London Bridge terrorists, could raise the Islamic State flag in front of cameras, be the main character of a documentary on jihad in Britain and still be considered “low priority” by the police. Salman Abedi, the Manchester killer, travelled to Libya and Syria for training before he decided to act; he could easily cross borders without being stopped.

The most famous of Britain’s radical Islamic preachers, Anjem Choudary (pictured holding the microphone), was recently sentenced to five years and six months in prison for his open support of the Islamic State, but hundreds of imams throughout the country continue similar work. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Attempts to sound an alarm are rare, and quickly dismissed. Left-wing British politicians long ago chose to look the other way and indulge in complicity. Conservatives did not do much to help, either: after the uproar sparked by Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968, British conservatives avoided the subject and became almost as complacent as their political opponents. In 2002, while portraying Islamism as the “new Bolshevism”, Margaret Thatcher noted that “most Muslims deplore” terrorism. She described the “jihadist danger” without saying a single word on radical Muslims spreading Islamism in her own country.

In 2015, David Cameron said, “We need far more Muslim men and women at the head of British companies, more Muslim soldiers at the highest command posts, more Muslims in parliament, Muslims in a position of leadership and authority”. He did not mention those who were joining jihad in London even as he was speaking.

When he was at the head of Britain’s UKIP party, Nigel Farage said that there is a Muslim “fifth column” in the country. He was ferociously criticized for these words. Paul Weston, chairman of the GB Liberty party, was arrested by the police in 2014 for reading in public a text on Islam written by Winston Churchill. One wonders how Churchill would be regarded today.

Britain — in spite of the Brexit referendum and even though it is more undermined by Islamization than most other European countries — is fully imbued with a European, defeatist state of mind that corrodes its existence and is present throughout Europe.

At the end of World War II, Europe was exhausted and largely destroyed. The idea that prevailed among politicians was that it was necessary to make a clean sweep of the past. Nazism was described as the rotten fruit of nationalism and military power, and the only war that seemed to have to be waged was a war against war itself. Decolonization added the idea that the Europeans had oppressed other peoples and were guilty of crimes they now had to redeem. There was no mention of how, throughout history, recruits to Islam had colonized the great Christian Byzantine Empire, Greece, Sicily, Corsica, North Africa and the Middle East, most of the Balkans and eastern Europe, Hungary, northern Cyprus and Spain. Cultural relativism gained ground. The anti-Western revision of history gradually gained ground in media, culture, politics and education.

Immigrants from the Muslim world arrived in increasing numbers. They were not encouraged to integrate or respect the countries to which they came. In school, their children were told that European powers had misbehaved towards the Muslim world and that Muslim culture was at least as respectable as the Western one, maybe even more

Muslim districts emerged. Radical Islam spread. Whole neighborhoods came under the control of gangs and imams.

When violence erupted and riots took place, European politicians chose to placate them. European populations sometimes tried to resist, but they were constantly told that criticism of immigration and Islam is “racist”. They were intimidated, pushed to shut up.

What is happening now in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe is merely a continuation.

European political leaders all know that radical Islam has swept throughout the continent, that hundreds of Muslim areas are under Islamic control, that thousands of potential jihadists are there, hidden among the immigrants and ready to murder, and that the police are overwhelmed.

They know that radical Islam has declared war on the Western world and that it is a real war. They see that they are prisoners of a situation they no longer control and that reversing the course of events would involve drastic actions they are not ready to take, such as closing thousands of mosques, taking back lost territories by force, arresting thousands of suspects, and deporting foreign jihadists.

They are aware that an apparently unstoppable replacement of population is underway in Europe and that there will be more attacks. They speak as if to limit the damage, not prevent it.

European populations also see what is happening. They watch as entire areas of European cities become foreign zones on European soil; they view the attacks, the wounded, the corpses. It seems as if they have simply lost the will to fight. They seem to have chosen preemptive surrender.

British political commentator Douglas Murray writes in his important new book, The Strange Death of Europe: “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide”. He then wonders if the Europeans will agree to go along with what is happening. For the moment, it seems, the answer is yes.

Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.

***

A Continent in Existential Crisis

DHS John Kelly: Islamic Terrorists Are Sincere, So Regulate the Internet

Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Breitbart, by Neil Munro, June 23, 2017:

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly acknowledged Thursday that sincere Islamic beliefs are fuelling deadly jihad attacks during Ramadan — but he quickly hid that key recognition behind vague calls for Internet regulation and suggestions that Christian and Jewish beliefs are also causing terrorism.

“As far as Ramadan goes, you know, first of all, the uptick in violence and activities [during Ramadan is] done by a very, very small percentage of people who have just corrupted the whole concept of Islam as a religion, but it is what it is,” Kelly told the chairman of the House homeland defense committee on June 22. He continued:

We are in the middle of it, so they are out there doing what they think is their religion and think [it is] what they are supposed to be doing. In Flint, Michigan, as an example, a completely off-the-screen individual who attacked this police officer — who will be okay, as I understand it… We’ve seen these terrible things happen in Europe.

Instead of focusing on the jihad doctrine that is part-and-parcel of orthodox Islam, Kelly quickly tried to spread the blame for terror attacks, saying “Whether they are church, synagogues or mosques [we need] an open line of communication so they know if they see this [belligerence] happening in the home or they see it happening — that is to say, the move towards radicalism — or they see it happening in the churches or mosques, they know to call someone before that person typically crosses the line,” he told the chairman, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul.

Kelly added racist and even anti-Semitic groups to the blame gallery, even though Islamic radicals are anti-Semitic, saying: “Whether they are white supremacists, anti-Jewish or neo-Nazi or Islamic radicalism, until they do something [criminal], generally speaking, the best law enforcement can do is watch,” adding “I don’t know how to predict it.”

Kelly also blamed the Internet and urged businesses to block access to “some” websites. “The one constant that I have seen, Mr. Chairman, since I have been in this job, the one constant in all of this has been the Internet … The one constant is the Internet. I’m not blaming the Internet but I’m just saying that we probably need to step back, and say, maybe [have] stricter rules on what is hung on the Internet,” he said.

The secreary also cited existing laws against child pornography, which require companies to disconnect websites offering images of sexualized children, saying “just like in terms of child pornography sites that are taken down like that, we need to have probably a stricter set of rules to look at some of these [jihad] sites and bring them down maybe faster.”

He suggested the United States should follow the example set by Europe’s new policies against free speech, which this week prompted teams of black-clad German secretive police to raid 60 homes of people accused of illegal speech. Kelly said about the Europeans:

I think kind of the [Internet] rules and thinking they are operating under — that frankly that our country has been operating under — is probably five or ten years old … I know the Europeans are, particularly in the last five months, what they have dealt with — whether it is Paris, Manchester, I mean all of it, running people down on London bridge or Westminster bridge, they have really stepped back from their thinking [on free speech], as I think we should.

Kelly’s refusal to focus on jihad as the problem can lead his agency down a blind alley, said Robert Spencer, the best-selling author of books on Islam, and the director of the Jihadwatch website. “Instead of dealing with the threat, he’s threatening the freedom of speech of all Americans to maintain his politically correct veneer,” Spencer said.

“He needs to look at [Koran verses] 47.4 or 9:5, where there is an abundant incitement to violence in a place where he dares not acknowledge where it comes from,” said Spencer. According to those Islamic scriptures:

So when you meet those who disbelieve {Islam} [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds …

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the {non-Muslim} polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Pointing the blame at the Internet also ignores the danger of Islamic teachings in U.S.-based mosques, said Spencer. “We’ve seen again and again that there are jihadis who are very active in their mosques and yet nobody will monitor them, so he has to find some scapegoat … [and] he finds it with the Internet, which is practically a cliche,” Spencer added. “I just hope that his politically correct euphemism don’t lead him to waste time and resources charging down what he knows are blind alleys.”

Chairman McCaul did not push Kelly to justify spreading blame for the Islamic attacks, but Kelly also admitted that the courts are pressuring his agency as it tries to prevent planned attacks:

My guidance to the department is to be very very cautious about getting near where the court tells us we can’t go … I have a real good sense of right and wrong but that doesn’t always work when it comes to courts and lawyers. So I’ve just said [to agency officials] ‘Be very very conservative about where we go on this.’”

The recent court decisions have repeatedly claimed President Donald Trump’s effort to curb Islamic attacks are motivated by unreasoning hatred, threaten the religious freedom of Islamic immigrants, and have not been endorsed by government experts.

But amid Kelly’s court-pressured, blame-everyone rhetoric, he only cited Islamic attacks, saying:

In Paris the other day they dodged a huge bullet because the individual ended up that rammed the police car ended up dying before he could do all of what he had planned to do…

[Parents say] ’My son was on the internet and he did this,’ whatever this was, or San Bernardino, or ‘My daughter was on the Internet and she ran away to Syria to become someone’s bride.’…

I know the Europeans are, particularly in the last five months, what they have dealt with — whether it is Paris, Manchester, I mean all of it, running people down on London bridge or Westminster bridge..

Kelly also recognized that one of the long-term fixes to terrorism is better vetting of immigrants to prevent “hostile attitudes,” including Islamic immigrants, saying:

I think we have a long way to go before we can be comfortable as to identifying who the [immigrant] person is, why they are coming to the United States and whether they can support themselves when they come here. So as [what] defines extreme vetting, that’s what we’re looking at. Those three questions need to be answered [for each would-be immigrant], I think, properly.

That comment echoes Trump’s January Executive Order on immigration, which sought to exclude refugees and immigrants with “hostile attitudes.”

But Kelly’s refusal to focus on the jihad ideology means “more Americans will suffer,” said Spencer. Kelly “is not facing the real root-cause of the threat, and it will continue to proliferate.”

Watch Kelly’s statements here.

DHS Denies Grant to Islamic Radicalization Enabler MPAC

by John Rossomando
IPT News
June 23, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security has ruled that the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) will not receive the $393,800 Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) grant approved by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on Jan. 13, days before Johnson left office.

The DHS released its list of grant recipients on Friday. MPAC is not on it. The change came after “DHS utilized its discretion to consider other factors and information when reviewing applicants,” a spokeswoman said in an email to the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “The Department considered whether applicants for CVE awards would partner with law enforcement, had a strong basis of prior experience in countering violent extremism, had a history of prior efforts to implement prevention programs targeting violent extremism, and were viable to continue after the end of the award period. These additional priorities were applied to the existing pool of applicants. Top scoring applications that were consistent with these priorities remained as awardees, while others did not.”

In a statement, MPAC acknowledged that working with law enforcement isn’t a priority: “Our position on this issue has consistently centered on community-led initiatives that improve mental health resources, access to counseling, and a host of other social services without the involvement or spectre of law enforcement.”

Still, it disputed the loss of the grant, saying it would consider “all legal options…”

“The exclusion of groups like MPAC point to a DHS that is ineffective in coordinating with communities and unconstitutional in its treatment of a religious minority,” the statement said. “MPAC will continue challenging the trajectory of the Trump administration’s efforts in this space by advocating for a holistic approach that empowers rather than sidelines communities, focuses on all forms of violent threats, and fosters a climate of trust over fear.”

MPAC pledged to use the money for targeted interventions under its Safe Spaces program for people at risk for radicalization. Created in 2014, Safe Spaces aims to improve relations between Muslim institutions and law enforcement.

MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati introduced the program as an alternative to law enforcement agencies using informants to infiltrate mosques. The roll out meeting included Johnson, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., and other Muslim community groups including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Al-Marayati vehemently objects to anything that involves mosques or informants in terror investigations.

“Counter-terrorism and counter-violence should be defined by us,” he said at 2005 Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) conference in Dallas. “We should define how an effective counter-terrorism policy should be pursued in this country. So, No. 1, we reject any effort, notion, and suggestion that Muslims should start spying on one another. Everywhere I go either somebody tells me that officials have met with them publicly or they tell me that they know who those folks are that are representing law enforcement. So we know they have communicated one way or the other with the Muslim community.

“The question is how do you deal with it in a healthy, open, transparent manner? That is why we are saying have them come in community forums, in open-dialogues, so they come through the front door and you prevent them having to come from the back door,” Al-Marayati said.

Government agencies preferred CVE programs, especially during the Obama administration. But there’s no way to measure whether they work, a Government Accountability Office report issued in April said. The GAO “was not able to determine if the United States is better off today than it was in 2011 as a result” of CVE programs.”

The House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management offered similar criticism during a hearing last September. The committee has “no way of gauging whether CVE efforts have been successful – or harmful – or if money is being spent wisely,” said U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.

MPAC may have won the grant simply because it is “the most organized group,” said Heritage Foundation counterterrorism scholar Robin Simcox. But that “is going down the wrong path. Often this means giving it to some very, very divisive voices who will play into the Islamist narrative; they will play off grievances. They will encourage a feeling of segregation and otherness, and we are promoting other problems for the future.”

MPAC promotes a narrative that Muslims are victimized by a hostile non-Muslim society, Simcox said. That message helps breed terrorists.

“I think it creates an environment where these radical ideas are in the ether, and it’s no surprise to me that somebody then [would] take that final step into violence,” Simcox said.

Research backs up Simcox’s assertion.

Grievances “framed around victimhood against Western foreign policy and military intervention” are among “a kaleidoscope of factors” in fueling extremism, Swedish jihad researcher Magnus Ranstorp has found.

MPAC’s recent messaging has emphasized threats to Muslim Americans’ freedom and security, including promoting a conspiracy theory that internment camps could be revived for them. In February, MPAC posted an image of Star Trek actor George Takei, on its homepage, with the heading “Stand Up for Muslims in the U.S.” The image linked to a petition in which Takei described his experience during World War II: “When I was just 5, my family was rounded up at gunpoint from our home in Los Angeles into an internment camp. We were prisoners in our own country, held within barbed wire compounds, armed guards pointing guns down on us.”

“A Trump spokesperson recently stated the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II “sets a precedent” for Trump to do the same today,” Takei wrote. [Emphasis original]

But that spokesman, former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie, had no role in the Trump transition and only spoke for himself. No one in the administration has endorsed such a scheme.

But Takei’s statement, which MPAC embraced, claimed that “Trump continues to stand by his plans to establish a Muslim registry and ban immigrants from ‘certain’ Muslim countries from the U.S. It starts with a registry, with restrictions, with irrationally ascribed guilt, and with fear. But we never know where it might lead.”

Takei didn’t start the internment analogy. “Challenging patriotis (sic) of AmMuslims is un-American – what happened to Japanese Americans-loyalty test, confiscating their wealth #CruzHearing,” Al-Marayati wrote a year ago, in a Twitter post he later deleted.

Promoting the internment conspiracy theory destroys the credibility of “soft Islamist” organizations like MPAC that don’t engage in terrorist acts themselves, yet validate the jihadist narratives, Simcox said.

Al-Marayati has long promoted the narrative that the U.S. is waging “war on Islam,” one of the most potent terrorist recruitment tropes.

He called U.S. counterterrorism policies a “war on Islam” in a 2009 interview with Al-Watan Al-Arabi. Al-Marayati also engaged in “war on Islam” rhetoric when he chided U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz a year ago for using the term “radical Islam” during a hearing about the Obama administration’s avoidance of using the phrase “So @SenCruz, do you want to have a war with Islam rather than a war on terrorists?” he wrote in a tweet he later deleted.

MPAC Whitewashes Jihad

Al-Marayati appeared on C-Span in 2014, and balked when asked why Muslims weren’t speaking up against jihadism: “Well I think we’ll call this violent extremism. And one thing we have to be clear about, we should not be countering jihad,” Al-Marayati said. “Jihad to the violent extremists means holy war. But jihad in classical Islam means ‘struggle.’ So let us at least not use religious terminology in fighting groups like ISIS. It just plays into their hands. They want this to be a war on Islam, a war on religion.

“We should be at war on criminal behavior, war against terrorism.”

Al-Marayati again rejected the connection between jihad and violence during a Jan. 25 debate with American Islamic Forum for Democracy founder and President Zuhdi Jasser. Jihad is not holy war, he said, but a struggle against oneself.

“We must allow the Muslims to reclaim their faith and not let Islam be defined by the extremist distortions of Islam,” Al-Marayati said.

Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna disagreed, writing that jihad only had to do with fighting and argued that purely spiritual jihad was spurious. MPAC co-founder Maher Hathout described himself as an al-Banna disciple.

“Many Muslims today mistakenly believe that fighting the enemy is jihad asghar (a lesser jihad) and that fighting one’s ego is jihad akbar (a greater jihad),” al-Banna wrote in his tract On Jihad. “This narration is used by some to lessen the importance of fighting, to discourage any preparation for combat, and to deter any offering of jihad in Allah’s way. This narration is not a saheeh (sound) tradition.”

Jasser sees a dichotomy between Al-Marayati’s public rejection of violent jihad and his group’s embrace of Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood-linked cleric Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi. MPAC hosted Ghannouchi at a 2011 dinner, and Al-Marayati flew to Paris in 2013 to attend a conference with Ghannouchi. The sheikh is a member of the International Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau.

Back in 1990, Ghannouchi spoke at a conference in Tehran, Iran where he called for the “destruction of the Jews” and invoked Ayatollah Khamenei’s “call to jihad” against America, “the Great Satan.” Ghannouchi aspired to wage “worldwide jihad,” a 1991 State Department cable said. Ghannouchi still favors violent jihad, 5 endorsing the Palestinian knife jihad against Israelis in 2015.

“The central problem with MPAC … is the schizophrenia with which they deal with American issues versus how they deal with global issues,” Jasser said. “The Islamists assume Americans are not very smart, so they are going to listen to their apologetics about jihad and then not connect it to what happens when the Ghannouchis of the world get into power.”

MPAC leaders have made their own pro-terrorist and anti-Israeli statements.

Al-Marayati didn’t seem to have a problem with Hizballah calling its terror campaign against Israel “jihad” in a November 1999 interview with PBS’s Jim Lehrer.

“If the Lebanese people are resisting Israeli intransigence on Lebanese soil, then that is the right of resistance and they have the right to target Israeli soldiers in this conflict. That is not terrorism. That is a legitimate resistance. That could be called liberation movement, that could be called anything, but it’s not terrorism,” Al-Marayati said.

Similarly, MPAC Public Affairs Consultant Edina Lekovic served as managing editor of Al-Talib, the defunct newspaper of UCLA’s Muslim Student Association, when it published an editorial saying Osama bin Laden was not a terrorist in its July 1999 issue.

“When we hear someone refer to the great Mujahid (someone who struggles in Allah’s cause) Osama bin Laden a ‘terrorist,’ we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter; someone who has forsaken wealth and power to fight in Allah’s cause and speak out against oppressors,” the unsigned editorial said.

MPAC Defends Al-Qaida and Hamas Financiers

Another hit against MPAC’s credibility is its history of apologism for terrorist financiers.

Just after 9/11, Al-Marayati painted Muslims as victims after the federal government shut down the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) on suspicion it provided material support to al-Qaida. Its leader, Enaam Arnaout, had close ties with Osama Bin Laden, court documents show.

He had similar reactions after Treasury Department asset freezes in December 2001 targeted the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), which illegally routed charity money to Hamas, and the Global Relief Foundation, which provided assistance to Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaida.

“Selective justice is injustice – it does not help us in the war on terror and continues to project the image that the U.S. is anti-Islam,” Al-Marayati wrote in July 2002 press release posted on MPAC’s website defending all three charities.

Closing these terror-linked charities could send the message to Muslims abroad that America is intolerant of religious minorities, Al-Marayati said that October in a New York Times op-ed.

When the Treasury Department shut down the Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA) in 2004, saying it “provided direct financial support for” Osama bin Laden, Al-Marayati described it as “a bit disturbing that the announcement of shutting down another charity… [took] place just before the month of Ramadan in the peak of the election season.”

Arnaout pleaded guilty to violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and acknowledged that his group hid the fact it used a portion of its donations to fund terrorists overseas.

HLF’s leaders were convicted of providing material support to Hamas in 2008.

MPAC’s magazine, The Minaret, cast these charity closures in an anti-Semitic light in a political cartoon it published in its March 2002 issue. It shows President George W. Bush doing the bidding of Israel and the Anti-Defamation League knocking down a building with a foundation labeled “Islamic Foundations (Holy Land, Global Relief, etc.” The top of the building being knocked down says, “Relief for Muslim Orphans” and “Support for U.S. Muslim Free Speech.”

This was not an isolated incident. A January 2000 Minaret cartoon showed “The West” apologizing for the Holocaust and handing over money to an old woman holding a cane with the label “Jewish holocaust.” At the same time, an Arab wearing a keffiyeh labeled “Palestine” says, “Ahem ‘scuse me” followed by a person with a crutch and bandaged foot labeled “Indian genocide” and a black person emblazoned with “African slavery.”

During the 2006 Israeli war with Hizballah in Lebanon Al-Marayati similarly diminished the Holocaust.

“And as far as the Holocaust is concerned, we’ve come out very clearly saying that the Holocaust is the worst genocide, war crime, in the 20th century. We’re against Holocaust denial, but we’re also against people who exploit that as a way of shoving this kind of war propaganda and dehumanization of the Arab peoples and the Muslim peoples as if they have to pay the price for what Nazi Germany did to the Jews back in the 20th century,” Al-Marayati said in an interview.

“MPAC’s default position is that the government is on a witch hunt against Muslims, and that any identification of organizations or non-profits doing quote end quote humanitarian work must be anti-Muslim if they are identified as a terror group,” Jasser said. “And if they are found to support terror, they say they are not the rule; they are the exception.”

MPAC’s statements and actions suggest that DHS’s decision to rescind Johnson’s decision to award the CVE grant was the right thing to do.

As America’s Arab Muslim Allies Move Against the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘Smart Set’ Doubles Down Support

FILE – DECEMBER 25, 2013: The Egyptian interim goverment has declared the Mohammed Morsi led ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ a terrorist organisation. The action was taken in response to the bombing of the police station in Mansoura earlier this week, which the government has stated was the responsibility of the Brotherhood, despite denials from the group itself. CAIRO, EGYPT – DECEMBER 14: Supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood chant slogans during a rally on December 14, 2012 in Cairo, Egypt. Opponents and supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi staged final rallies in Cairo ahead of tomorrow’s referendum vote on the country’s draft constitution that was rushed through parliament in an overnight session on November 29. The country’s new draft constitution, passed by a constitutional assembly dominated by Islamists, will go to a referendum vote on December 15. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, June 23, 2017:

Today Kuwait handed Qatar a list of demands from other Arab countries — many of them American allies — demanding the end of support for terrorist organizations:

One of the cardinal demands is that Qatar stop funding the Muslim Brotherhood, a demand that was made clear when this crisis erupted earlier this month:

Interestingly, in addition to Qatar’s funding of the Muslim Brotherhood efforts to destabilize Arab countries throughout the Middle East, they insured they would not be threatened by dismantling Brotherhood operations in their own country decades ago:

Yet as much of the Arab world moves against the Muslim Brotherhood, including the largest Arab Muslim country in the world (Egypt), the Washington, D.C. think tanks, establishment media, and pro-Brotherhood elements inside the U.S. government are doubling down on their support of the group.

This effort of moving against our Arab allies in support of the Muslim Brotherhood was seen when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a Senate hearing last week that designating the Muslim Brotherhood would be “problematic”:

Immediately, Qatar-funded Al-Jazeera and Middle East Eye — both specifically named in the Arab allies’ demand to Qatar — jumped on Tillerson’s comments:

This is a major reversal from comments he made just a few months ago, including during his Senate confirmation hearing:

This reversal comes just weeks after one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist wings threatened the U.S. Embassy in Cairo:

This is not the first time that the State Department has undermined Trump’s stated support for the Arab allies’ coalition against Qatar:

Of course, entrenched elements within the U.S. government have been working to undermine any efforts by the Trump administration to take action against the Muslim Brotherhood, such as the CIA leaking to media allies a report making the risible claim that designating the group would lead to more extremism:

But as I reported here at PJ Media at the time, going back to the end of the Bush administration the CIA directly funded the “moderate Muslim Brotherhood” narrative:

The U.S. government support for the Muslim Brotherhood took root immediately during the Obama administration with Obama signing Presidential Security Directive (PSD) 11 in 2011 which ordered U.S. government departments and agencies to back the group in the Middle East and North Africa:

Read more

The Former Anchor Who Says Al-Jazeera Aids Terrorists

Mohamed Fahmy in the defendants’ cage during his trial in Egypt. Photographer: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Bloomberg, by Eli Lake, June 23, 2017:

Mohamed Fahmy is the last person one would expect to make the case against al-Jazeera.

In 2014, the former Cairo bureau chief for the Qatar-funded television network began a 438-day sentence in an Egyptian prison on terrorism charges and practicing unlicensed journalism. His incarceration made al-Jazeera a powerful symbol of resistance to Egypt’s military dictatorship.

Today Fahmy is preparing a lawsuit against his former employers. And while he is still highly critical of the regime that imprisoned him, he also says the Egyptian government is correct when it says al-Jazeera is really a propaganda channel for Islamists and an arm of Qatari foreign policy.

“The more the network coordinates and takes directions from the government, the more it becomes a mouthpiece for Qatari intelligence,” he told me in an interview Thursday. “There are many channels who are biased, but this is past bias. Now al-Jazeera is a voice for terrorists.”

Fahmy’s testimony is particularly important now. Al-Jazeera is at the center of a crisis ripping apart the Arab Gulf states. Earlier this month Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a political and diplomatic blockade on Qatar. As part of that blockade, al-Jazeera has been kicked out of those countries.

The treatment of al-Jazeera as an arm of the Qatari state as opposed to a news organization does not sit well with many in the West. This week a New York Times editorial accused Qatar’s foes of “muzzling” a news outlet “that could lead citizens to question their rulers” in the Arab world.

In some ways it’s understandable for English-speaking audiences to take this view. Al-Jazeera’s English-language broadcasts certainly veer politically to the left. At times the channel has sucked up to police states. The channel embarrassed itself with such fluff as a recent sycophantic feature on female traffic cops in North Korea. But al-Jazeera English has also broken some important stories. It worked with Human Rights Watch to uncover documents mapping out the links between Libyan intelligence under Muammar Qaddafi and the British and U.S. governments.

Al-Jazeera’s Arabic broadcasts however have not met these same standards in recent years. To start, the network still airs a weekly talk show from Muslim Brotherhood theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He has used his platform to argue that Islamic law justifies terrorist attacks against Israelis and U.S. soldiers. U.S. military leaders, such as retired Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded forces in the initial campaign to stabilize Iraq, have said publicly that al-Jazeera reporters appeared to have advance knowledge of terrorist attacks. Fahmy told me that in his research he has learned that instructions were given to journalists not to refer to al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra, as a terrorist organization.

He said Qatar’s neighbors were justified in banning al-Jazeera. “Al-Jazeera has breached the true meaning of press freedom that I advocate and respect by sponsoring these voices of terror like Yusuf al Qaradawi,” he said. “If al-Jazeera continues to do that, they are directly responsible for many of these lone wolves, many of these youth that are brain washed.”

Fahmy didn’t always have this opinion of his former employer. He began to change his views while serving time. It started in the “scorpion block” of Egypt’s notorious Tora prison. During his stay, he came to know some of Egypt’s most notorious Islamists.

“When I started meeting and interviewing members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their sympathizers, they specifically told me they had been filming protests and selling it to al-Jazeera and dealing fluidly with the network and production companies in Egypt associated with the network,” he said.

One example of al-Jazeera’s coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood revolves around Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in the summer of 2013, following the military coup that unseated Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president. As part of Fahmy’s case against al-Jazeera, he took testimony from a former security guard for the network and the head of the board of trustees for Egyptian state television. Both testified that members of the Muslim Brotherhood seized the broadcast truck al-Jazeera used to air the sit-ins that summer. In other words, al-Jazeera allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast its own protests.

That incident happened in the weeks before Fahmy was hired to be the network’s Cairo bureau chief. He says he was unaware of these ties to the Muslim Brotherhood until he began doing his own research and reporting from an Egyptian prison.

When Fahmy learned of these arrangements, he became angry. It undermined his case before the Egyptian courts that he was unaffiliated with any political party or terrorist groups inside Egypt. “To me this is a big deal, this is not acceptable,” he said. “It put me in danger because it’s up to me to convince the judge that I was just doing journalism.”

Ultimately Fahmy was released from prison in 2015. But this was not because al-Jazeera’s lawyers made a good case for him. Rather it was the work of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who eventually got him safely out of the country to Canada.

Now Fahmy is turning his attention to al-Jazeera. He is pressing a court in British Columbia to hear his case in January against the network, from whom he is seeking $100 million in damages for breach of contract, misrepresentation and negligence.

Fahmy’s case is one more piece of evidence that the al-Jazeera seen by English-speaking audiences is not the al-Jazeera seen throughout the Muslim world. It’s one more piece of evidence that Qatar’s foreign policy is a double game: It hosts a military base the U.S. uses to fight terror, while funding a media platform for extremists.