SHOCKING RULING: Judge Releases NM Extremists

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, August 14, 2018:

In a shocking ruling, a judge released four of the five adults arrested from the Islamic extremist compound in New Mexico that was raided last week.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, the father of the disabled boy who died from being denied his medication, is the only one still being held because he faces an additional charge since he was a fugitive.

Judge Sarah Backus ruled the prosecutors failed to prove the four individuals would pose a direct threat to the community and thus they did not need to be held until trial.

She released them to house arrest and on a $20,000 “signature bond,” which means they just have to sign a document promising to return to court when it is time for trial. If they do not show up to court, they will face arrest and be required to pay $20,000 as a penalty.

All five suspects – Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj, Lucas “Luqman” Morton and Jany Leveille—have been charged with 11 counts of child abuse. Siraj Ibn Wahhaj has an additional charge of being a fugitive due to an arrest warrant in Georgia. Morton was also charged with one count of harboring a fugitive for refusing to tell police where Siraj was.

Backus ruled they must reside in acceptable living conditions, wear ankle monitors at all times, cannot have firearms, cannot leave the country and can only see their children if they are supervised.

Law enforcement sources in New Mexico who spoke to Clarion Intelligence Network were shocked and dismayed, wondering out loud what it would have taken for the judge to see the threat that they pose.

There have been many times where criminals have been on house arrest with the same exact charges as the compound residents and have cut off their ankle monitors and escaped for years, one source explained. They emphasized that house arrest does not eliminate the threat.

A Muslim source, who has closely followed the situation with the Wahhaj family for months, was similarly shocked, especially the release of Jany Leveille, the second wife of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj.

“Jany Leveille, who they called ‘Maryam,’ was the ringleader of this cult. You could argue she’s the most dangerous one,” he said.

Even More Details from the Prosecutors

What makes the release of the cult members even more baffling is that the prosecutors’ case for holding the suspects, based on the facts of the case alone, was solid.

“The evidence as a whole says this family was on a mission, and a violent one,” said prosecutor Tim Hassan.

Prosecutors released even more evidence into the proceeding to illustrate the threat posed by letting these individuals out of jail.

  • One of the suspects wrote a letter to his brother telling him to move to the compound and die as a “martyr” (meaning in violent combat)
  • One of the children was found holding a gun. He saidSiraj Ibn Wahhaj had told him to hold it and prepare to fire it during the raid. Others were holding boxes of ammunition. The boys did not open fire because Siraj Ibn Wahhaj told them to stand down
  • As reported earlier, at least one of the children was trained to carry out a school shooting
  • Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, the deceased 3-year-old disabled boy, died from being denied his medication and lost his life during an Islamic prayer session to expel the demons they believed were inside him. The children said the boy choked and foamed at the mouth during these sessions and died in February
  • An FBI agent testified that one of the children said they believed the deceased boy would resurrect as Jesus in about four months and then inform the compound residents of their specific targets. He mentioned law enforcement personnel, educational institutions, financial institutions and banks as potential targets
  • One of the women believed Abdul-Ghani was meant to be her child but was stolen from her by his mother using black magic. She claimed to be receiving messages from the Angel Gabriel
  • The children were being trained to kill teachers, members of law enforcement and other people associated with “corrupt” institutions they were told should be overthrown. They learned how to fire and speed-load guns, clear rooms and were schooled in various forms of tactical training. They were originally told it was for defending the compound. The kids were also taught to preach their ideology to others and to kidnap or murder those who rejected it
  • A book at the compound taught how to make an AR-style gun untraceable
  • Siraj Ibn Wahhaj took multiple firearms classes at the Atlanta Firearms Training Center in Georgia in 2015. He also took a mysterious trip to Saudi Arabia in 2017. He told his wife that he was ending their marriage upon his return
  • The guns at the compound included an AR-15, a pistol, a .308 sniper rifle, a 30/30 and a glock
  • Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said all five adults are refusing to cooperate with police
  • Although Lucas Morton did not open fire at law enforcement officials during the raid, he was “struggling” and “resisting” while being apprehended

How the Defense Defeated Common Sense

As is to be expected, the defense attorney for the five arrested extremists claimed they were the victims of discrimination against Muslims and blacks, arguing they may not have been arrested if they were white Christians.

The defense’s main argument was that there was no strong evidence of a specific terrorist plot, only aspirations. And somehow, that worked. The judge agreed that because the prosecutors could not lay out an actual plan, the threat wasn’t as high as they claimed. She also mentioned the defendants did not have a criminal history.

The lawyer also argued the fact that their guns were obtained legally, were found easily and not used to resist arrest shows they are not a threat to the community.

The defense also pointed out that Subhannah Wahhaj is seven months pregnant and there was no specific evidence linking her to violent activity. It was also argued that at least some of the women moved to New Mexico because of an unspecified threat to their safety. 

Conclusion

Four radical Islamic extremists—ones so radical that a typical radical describes them as an extremist cult—were released and now will be living among the residents of New Mexico.

As law enforcement personnel told us, the restrictions placed on them during house arrest are surmountable barriers, especially for jihadis willing to die for the cause and/or for someone who wants to avoid inevitable prison time.

Yes, the defendants will be monitored and intelligence will be gathered on them. But the defendants know this and have, in all probability, studied how to get around it.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj may very well have learned these techniques through his security company in Georgia or through his father’s Islamist network.

While on house arrest, the defendants can communicate with one another and with others. They can have visitors. That means they can plan future action or even potentially escape. It is unlikely the authorities will have eyes inside their homes watching their movements, listening to their every word.

If this episode teaches us anything, it’s that the authorities are probably able to do much less than whatever you’re assuming.

In this, as in many cases, action obviously needed does not take place. Law enforcement authorities are either handcuffed by legal restrictions, bogged down by bureaucratic procedures, hampered by flaws in the system, deterred by political correctness, simply incompetent or lack resources. These factors don’t even account for the inevitable human error that happens in all complex operations.

Islamist extremists in America are watching this development, likely cheering the bewildering decision of this judge and encouraged by the weaknesses on display by the “Great Satan.”

Also see:

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U.S. Socialists Back Islamist-Linked Muslim Candidates In Michigan Primaries

Despite these candidates’ less than stellar polling results, there’s reason for concern that efforts to legitimize Islamist politicians will continue.

The Federalist, by Kyle Shideler, August 13, 2018:

The Michigan Democratic primaries on Wednesday proved a mixed bag for Muslim candidates who were endorsed by a mixture of Islamist organizations and members of left-most elements of progressive politics. Yet despite the less than stellar polling results, there’s reason for concern that efforts to legitimize Islamist politicians will continue.

Abdul El-Sayed, a dark-horse gubernatorial candidate who has been compared favorably to former President Barack Obama, surged in the last few days of the campaign, following endorsements from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Socialist and Democrat Party nominee for New York’s 14th Congressional District, and from former Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders. But El-Sayed couldn’t pull out a win against more traditional Democratic candidate Gretchen Whitmer.

Also supported by Ocasio-Cortez, Fayrouz Saad placed fourth out of the five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Michigan’s 11th District. The one outlier was a Democratic primary victory for Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th district. Tlaib faces no Republican challenger in the general election, virtually guaranteeing she will serve as the first Muslim American woman in Congress.

The three candidates were the beneficiaries of campaign stops by Ocasio-Cortez, who attended a “Muslim Vote Matters” rally organized by Muslim political organizations Emgage and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan chapter on July 31. Comparisons between Ocasio-Cortez and El-Sayed, Saad, and Tlaib were a repeated theme in media coverage.

Ocasio-Cortez was accompanied by Linda Sarsour, a New York-based Islamist activist and Democratic Socialists of America Party member, who painted the potential election of three Muslim candidates as a blow to the Trump administration, which she said has fascist policies.

“There are people that are saying no way, there is no way that a state like Michigan will elect the first Muslim governor in these United States of America. There are people saying there is no way that they are going to send two Muslim women to Congress,” Sarsour told the audience at the rally. “I believe that Michigan is going to sweep the nation. You are going to inspire people who are hurting, whose hearts are broken based on the fascist policies of this administration.”

In the past Sarsour has drawn ire from both sides of the political spectrum after she called for a “jihad” against President Trump. She also faced criticism in The New York Times for her role leading the “Women’s March,” because she has a documented history of anti-Israel statements.

The ties between the organizations named as supporting the rally, and their ties to the Muslim candidates lauded there, are substantial. Emgage was originally co-founded by CAIR alum and Florida lawyer Khurrim Wahid, under the name EmergeUSA. EmergeUSA got its political start raising campaign funds for former Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, a long time CAIR favorite. Even before then, Wahid has a history of associating with Islamists.

Wahid served as a consultant in the case of convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad organizer Sami Al-Arian, according to an interview with Wahhid published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Wahid was once reportedly placed on a terrorism watchlist.

Emgage’s Michigan chapter is led by Nada Al-Hanooti, who was field coordinator for Tlaib’s 2012 Michigan state House campaign. Al-Hanooti comes from a family of active Islamists. She is the daughter of former CAIR-Michigan executive director Muthanna Al-Hanooti, who was sentenced to a year in prison after being convicted of sanctions violations amid accusations of serving as an agent of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Muthanna’s father, the late Mohammad Al-Hanooti, was an early co-founder of multiple Islamist organizations, and was suspected by the FBI of providing more than $6 millionto the terrorist group Hamas.

Candidate Saad served as board chair of Emgage-Michigan. Tlaib received an award from CAIR Michigan, appeared at a CAIR-MI protestand headlined a CAIR Los Angeles fundraiser. El-Sayed’s father-in-law’s relationship with CAIR-Michigan became a source of tension during the campaign, when a Republican challenger highlighted it, together with CAIR’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorist organization Hamas—documented by the U.S. government in the Holy Land Foundation Trial.

It’s not particularly surprising Ocasio-Cortez found common electoral cause with candidates who share common views on issues like U.S. relations with Israel. Ocasio-Cortez struggled in a recent interview after saying Israel “occupied” Palestine, and drew attention for condemning the death of 60 Palestinian protesters in recent border riots, the majority of whom were Hamas activists, according to the terror group, not innocent civilians.

Last year at their annual convention, Democratic Socialists of America chanted the Israel-eliminationist slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is commonly heard at pro-Hamas rallies. They also passed a motion endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

In addition to shared views on Israel, Islamists and the Democratic Socialists share a common challenge in seeking to mainstream their issues and rhetoric. The less-than-impressive outcome of the recent primaries—Politico Magazine titled its article discussing El-Sayed’s loss “Down Goes Socialism”—may warm the hearts both of establishment Democrats and Republicans alike.

But irrespective of their immediate electoral fortunes, outreach by the democratic socialist wing of the Democratic Party risks legitimizing Islamist candidates, not just in this election cycle but in the future. American Muslims deserve every opportunity to participate in the American political landscape, without being treated as a singular voting bloc that can be delivered by Islamist organizations all too willing to insinuate they alone speak for the Muslim American voter.

Judging the electoral future of Islamists in the United States from a handful of national-level candidates is bound to prove misleading. Ultimately, understanding the prospects of Islamists achieving political influence in America requires understanding how they mobilize at the local level. While Islamists may seek political power through the democratic process, and in alliance with other constituencies, the core of their ideology remains profoundly anti-democratic.

Kyle Shideler is the director of the Counter-Islamist Grid (CIG), which identifies, documents, and exposes Islamist networks operating in local communities.

Islamic Operatives Use Soviet Tactics to Target Conservatives

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, August 9, 2018:

The Islamic Movement in the United States manifests primarily as an espionage and counterintelligence threat, not merely as a “terrorist” threat.

When operatives in the Islamic Movement meet with police chiefs, elected officials, FBI Directors, business leaders, Pastors, Rabbis and others, they portray themselves as friendly, but they are working to recruit and use them, much as U.S. government counterintelligence operatives recruit foreign assets.

These jihadi operations may take months or years to develop, but the benefits of having an influential American official working for jihadis is a major victory for the Islamic Movement.

Examples of successful penetration operations include:

President Clinton’s Islamic Advisor Abdurahman Alamoudi, who created the Muslim Chaplain Program for the Department of Defense and met with Mr. Clinton more than any other muslim in America, was an Al Qaeda financier who is now in federal prison.

Senator Richard Durbin’s go-to guy for all things Islamic prior to his hearing on the civil rights of muslims in America was Mohamed Magid and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).  Magid was the leader of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) which was identified by the Department of Justice as a Muslim Brotherhood organization and a financial support arm for Hamas leaders and Hamas groups overseas.

The Islamic Movement also identifies conservative threats to their Movement and targets them for destruction, ensuring they lose their influence.

When Irving, Texas Mayor Beth Van Duyne publicly decried the Sharia Courts in Irving, she was targeted by muslim leaders.  Several months later the Clock Boy Operation was launched against her.  Democrats attacked her for her “civil rights” failures in the incident, and Republicans called for a review of the zero tolerance policy in incidents of this nature.  Mayor Van Duyne was left standing alone as Islamic leaders planned.

Most Patriots aware of Milwaukee’s Sheriff David Clarke were drawn to him for his outspoken call for law and order, strong stance on national defense, and for boldly stating America needs to police muslim communities.

Sheriff Clarke was also considered for positions inside the Trump Administration.

In walks Hedieh Mirahmadi.  A classic honey trap.

Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi grew up a shia muslim of Iranian decent who later converted to sunni Islam.  Mirahmadi is an attorney with a degree in Islamic doctrine from the As-Sunna Foundation.  She is the founder of the World Organization for Resource and Development and Education (WORDE), and the former Secretary General of the Islamic Supreme Council of America.

Red flags about Ms. Mirahmadi include her close working relationships with Muslim Brotherhood organizations and leaders like Salam al Marayati, participation in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative, and the fact she publishes articles about Islamic doctrine (sharia) that are patently false despite the fact she has a degree in the subject.

Most notably, Ms. Mirahmadi works with federal agencies and police organizations around the United States to discuss “extremism” and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Yet, none of the groups with whom she works have demonstrated any level of understanding of the jihadi’s doctrine – sharia – nor the Muslim Brotherhood network and their modus operandi.

In fact, the agencies with which Mirahmadi work, have a completely counter-factual understanding of sharia and the Muslim Brotherhood.

So, the Islamic Movement targeted Sheriff David Clarke and sent Mirahmadi in.  To demonstrate the effectiveness of this operation, UTT offers the following:

Sheriff Clarke went from calling for police to patrol muslim neighborhoods 18 months ago to recently calling people on social media speaking truth about Islam “racists.”

When articles written by investigative journalist Laura Loomer were published a year ago about Hedieh Mirahmadi’s questionable background, Sheriff Clarke publicly attacked and mocked Loomer.

This week Sheriff David Clarke admitted he was duped, and openly stated Hedieh Mirahmadi is a Muslim Brotherhood operative.

The lesson for everyone reading this article is that David Clarke is one of many Patriots who have been duped by Muslim Brotherhood operatives acting on behalf of our Islamic foes, even if they are not intentionally doing so.

Twenty years Abdurahman Alamoudi was the “pillar of the Islamic community in Washington, D.C.” and turned out to be an Al Qaeda operative.

After 9/11, Anwar al Awlaki was considered the “new face of Islam in America” and gave presentations at the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, but turned out to be an Al Qaeda operative killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

In 2005, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office Mike Rolince gave Mohamed Magid an award, and in 2016 FBI Director James Comey presented Magid with the FBI Director’s Award.

Mohamed Magid was the President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), identified by the Department of Justice as a Muslim Brotherhood organization which seeks to overthrow the U.S. government and establish an Islamic State.  Evidence entered into the largest terrorism financing trial ever successfully prosecuted in American history (US v HLF, Northern District of Texas, 2008) reveals ISNA provides financial support to Hamas organizations and Hamas leaders overseas.

Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The threat from the Islamic Movement in the United States manifests itself primarily as an espionage and counterintelligence threat, not merely as a “terrorist” threat.

It is high time the U.S. government treats Islamic spies working to destroy America the same way it treated the Rosenbergs.

NM Tragedy: Could the FBI Have Saved the Boy?

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, August 8, 2018:

The New Mexico authorities have announced heart-breaking news: The remains of a boy have been found at the Islamist compound that was raided on Friday.

It is almost certainly the body of disabled toddler Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who has been missing for nine months after being abducted by his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, and brought to the compound with 11 other malnourished children.

The day the remains were found would have been his fourth birthday.

The pain one experiences from reading the story is increased exponentially by a reality that is difficult to accept: The boy might have been saved if the FBI had acted, instead of stalling until the New Mexico police finally went in on their own.

The Beginning

Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj went missing on December 1, 2017, abducted by his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj. The boy’s mother, Hakeemah Ramzi, went to the police. The boy’s parents had been married for 15 years, according to press reports. It is unclear what sparked the sudden rift within the Wahhaj family.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj attributed his son’s disabilities to demonic beings and believed that only an Islamic exorcism would expel the demons, a fact reported by the Clarion Intelligence Network’s sources before it was confirmed publicly in a search warrant.

The boy’s medication was left behind, putting him in peril. Sources say the rejection of medical treatment points to the fact that the ideology held by Wahhaj and his co-conspirators stems not from traditional Islamism but to a cultish fringe.

The kidnapper is the son of radical Imam Siraj Wahhaj in Brooklyn, one of the most powerful Islamic leaders in the country. He heads the Masjid at-Tawa mosque and the Muslim Alliance in North America, both of which have a long history of extremism and ties to terrorism, including weapons training and acquirement.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and his co-conspirators likely learned their skills in this regard through this Islamist network even if they later had a falling out with Imam Wahhaj and joined a more fringe cult-like movement. Clarion Intelligence Network has been providing information to the necessary authorities in this regard.

He had also set up a security-related company as a front.

The boy was seen with his father and other adults and children in Alabama on December 13 at the scene of a car accident. They told the police officer on the scene they were going to New Mexico to go camping.

The Compound is Discovered

Press reports indicate the compound was first set up in late December. It is still unknown exactly why and when the spot was chosen. Our law enforcement sources are certain there is a bigger story behind it.

Neighbors saw Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj at the compound in January and February.

A couple, Jason and Tanya Badger, went to the police in late April or early May once they did an internet search of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and discovered he was a wanted a fugitive and the boy was missing.

Furthermore, the Badgers were involved in a property dispute with Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and his co-conspirators. According to the search warrant, Lucas “Luqman” Morton had purchased land nearby but accidentally built the compound on the Badgers’ land. The Badgers were trying to negotiate a land deal to settle the issue.

The Badgers gave permission to the FBI to search the compound, as it was on their own private property.

How the FBI Dropped the Ball

By early May, the FBI had strong evidence the fugitive believed to have the missing boy in custody was at the New Mexico compound. The legal owners of at least part of the land that the property was on had given permission for a search, making a “probable cause” standard for a search warrant unnecessary.

The FBI also knew this compound was inhabited by Islamist extremists and they were probably acquiring weapons. Our sources say there are indications they engaged in identity fraud and, most likely, other forms of fraud.

The FBI did not act decisively, even as the compound prepared for war and the children were in peril, especially the missing boy who was almost certainly there and whom the FBI knew was in desperate need of medication.

Yet instead of searching the property themselves, what did the FBI do?

They asked the neighbor, Jason Badger, to wear a hidden camera and risk his life by approaching an armed, Islamic extremist compound.

The FBI placed the compound under surveillance for at least two months before the raid, hoping to get a positive identification of the boy’s presence there—even though the extremists at the compound knew identification had to be prevented and had taken visible measures to make sure it didn’t happen.

The Badgers didn’t like the idea of having Islamist extremist neighbors who illegally squatted on their property. They filed a petition to have them evicted.

Their request for eviction—a very brazen move on the part of the Badgers—was rejected by a judge in June.

During an August 7 news conference, a reporter asked why that wasn’t enough for the authorities to go in. The police spokesperson said it was a civil matter and not grounds for a search warrant. The extremists and starving children got to stay.

The trigger for the raid was when the New Mexico police were provided a message by the authorities in Georgia.

A message had come out of the compound. It said the children were starving and they needed food and water.

The New Mexico authorities decided to go in on their own search warrant.

The Raid

The bravery shown by the New Mexico police — who were moved to save the children – can only be imaged.

The compound is on 10 acres of land in the middle of nowhere, making impossible any element of surprise. The police involved in the raid knew there was an enormous chance of a deadly shootout which could have incurred multiple casualties on the part of the police officers.

Sources aware of the investigation described the property as essentially a “training camp” with a shooting range. Neighbors had reported hearing gunfire consistently over the months. The camp looked like it was a compilation of trash, but close observation showed that it was not the handiwork of amateurs.

Tires formed a defensive perimeter. A trailer was half-buried and covered in plastic to stop outsiders from seeing what was going on inside. Various measures had been taken to detect “visitors” and impede an expected raid — wood with nails sticking out it and shattered glass were scattered on the property to alert residents of any intruders.

“It had to be a search warrant and a tactical approach to our own security, because we had learned that the inmates were most likely heavily armed and regarded as extremist of the Muslim faith,” an official from the Taos County Sheriff’s Office explained.

The two men, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Lucas Morten, initially did not comply with police orders.

Somehow, they were compelled—or forced—to surrender.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj had a loaded firearm on him when he was “taken down.”

Between the two of them, they had an AR-15 rifle, four loaded pistols and five loaded 30-round magazines, at the very least. They were obviously preparing to violently resist.

Footage of a walk through the compound shows the Islamist extremists were gearing up for a protracted battle.

Authorities found a 150-foot tunnel with cutouts where sleeping bags were stored so they could hide underground. There was a ladder and a hidden exit outside of Morton’s property for escape.

All told, it was a miracle that a Waco-like shootout did not commence during the raid which occurred on Friday, August 3, 2018.

In sum, five people were arrested and 11 children were rescued. Their condition was likened to that of refugees from a Third World country. Their ribs could be seen because they hadn’t eaten. The police gave them whatever water and snacks they had on them at the time.

The children reportedly appeared “brainwashed” and in great fear.

One boy remained still missing. On Monday, during a follow-up search, a corpse, likely that of the boy, was found.

Shocking Discovery of the Neighbors Post-Raid

The New Mexico police said they searched the compound as best they could with their limited resources.

On Sunday, about two days after the raid on Friday, the Badgers went into the compound to look around. They were shocked by what they found left behind.

The police had failed to seize guns, video cameras, a laptop computer and a tactical vest.

These are key items for prosecution and intelligence; ones that an unidentified co-conspirator would love to have retrieved after the ending of a search. Yet, they were left behind.

Conclusion

While the ultimate responsibility for the death and any injuries lies with the adults responsible, with a look at the information that is currently being reported, it is hard not to wonder what the FBI was waiting for.

We do not know when the boy died, assuming the body that was found was his. Yet, whether quicker, more decisive action could have saved his life is a question that must be answered.

And if the FBI felt it couldn’t act in this situation, then what other dangerous situations with even less evidence aren’t being handled decisively?

What would have stopped the compound leaders from carrying out an attack, abusing the children even more seriously, or deciding to end their lives in a manner reminiscent of Jim Jones or the Branch Davidians at Waco?

If the FBI’s standard for action requires evidence and danger even greater than what was known about the New Mexico compound, then its standard must change.

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Clarion’s Shillman Fellow and Clarion Intelligence Network Director Ryan Mauro explains how we worked hand in hand with authorities investigating a New Mexico Islamist compound.

Reports suggest children kept in the compound were being trained to stage school shootings.

Here’s more from Ryan:

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Also see:

America’s Turkey Problem Finally Comes to a Head

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (left) and Russian president Vladimir Putin at a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, April 4, 2018. (Tolga Bozoglu/Pool/Reuters)

This week brought signs that the deeply flawed status quo of U.S.-Turkish relations has begun to crack.

National Review, by Matthew RJ Brodsky, August 3, 2018:

For successive administrations, inertia may have kept the flawed status quo of U.S.–Turkey relations in place, but the train appears finally to be running out of track. It was bound to happen eventually, regardless of the Trump administration’s just-announced decision to impose sanctions on two Turkish cabinet officials in response to Turkey’s continued detention of an American pastor. And now it has: The final version of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House last week and is set to come to a vote in the Senate in August, contains a handful of provisions that take aim at Turkey, which is officially a NATO ally but has come to resemble a “frenemy” at best over the past decade.

At issue is Turkey’s plan to simultaneously purchase two weapons systems that would have long-term strategic implications for the United States and its most loyal allies. The Senate version of the NDAA contains a provision calling for Turkey to be sanctioned if it completes the purchase of Russia’s S-400 long-range air- and missile-defense system. Another provision directs the Pentagon to submit a plan to Congress to remove Turkey from participation in the F-35 Lightning II program, effectively barring Ankara from receiving the top-of-line U.S-manufactured joint-strike fighter. The House version, for its part, would halt all weapons sales to Turkey until the Pentagon analyzes the worsening tensions between the two nations.

Turkey’s desire to acquire both the F-35 and the S-400 has rightfully set off alarm bells in Washington and beyond, because the two systems were designed by fierce adversaries to counteract each other. Despite having its share of critics, the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet with stealth capabilities is considered by many to be the best multi-role combat aircraft in the world. In the other corner, the Russia-made S-400 is the most advanced air-defense system in use. It would pose a significant challenge to the air capabilities of the U.S. and its allies — including those that fly the F-35.

The problem isn’t merely the fact that Turkey is purchasing a surface-to-air-missile (SAM) system from Russia. Unlike the Patriot SAM system that Ankara rejected, the S-400 doesn’t integrate within NATO’s military architecture. Meanwhile, Israel continues to highlight the Patriot’s ability to tackle a diverse array of targets. This leads observers to question why Turkey would pursue a deal with Russia (or even China) at the expense of its supposed allies, especially if doing so wouldn’t boost NATO’s collective air defenses.

Indeed, while the S-400 wouldn’t play nice with the rest of NATO’s missile-defense systems, it would undoubtedly have more than a sympathetic ear for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. For instance, Russia’s S-400 radar can act as a platform to collect electronic and signal intelligence from the F-35, which is a problem that could threaten the entire F-35 fleet. By operating both systems together, Turkey could test and share information about the limitations or advantages of each. That is valuable intelligence it might choose to share with its newfound partners in Moscow and Tehran rather than with NATO. The result would be an optimized S-400 system able to detect aircraft from an even greater range, with a deeper understanding of how the top-shelf U.S. fighter plane operates.

The problem is not just theoretical, either. It is an immediate operational concern in Syria, where the U.S. is engaged with the Islamic State in the east, Israel is enforcing its red lines regarding Iran in the center and to the west, and the relentless air campaign mounted by Russia and Assad has combined with frequent Iranian air shipments of fighters and military equipment to further crowd the country’s airspace. Given such conditions, the type of air assets and aerial-defense systems at issue here can often be a determining factor in the success of any mission.

Take the F-35. Israel already purchased the aircraft as an upgrade to its aging fleet of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. In May, Israel Air Force (IAF) commander Major General Amikam Norkin disclosedthat the aircraft had already participated in two airstrikes over the Middle East, making Israel the first country to operate an F-35 in combat, just as it was the first to use the F-15 in 1979. But while Israel is now relying on the F-35 for air superiority in Syria, Russia has brought in the S-400 system to protect its expanded Khmeimim airbase along the coast. Why, you ask, did Russia feel compelled to bring in its world-class air-defense system if it was operating against terrorist groups that didn’t even have aircraft? The answer lies in Turkey.

A few months after Russia decisively entered the Syrian war in 2015, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian Su-24 that allegedly crossed into its airspace. Russia’s solution was to deploy the S-400 in addition to the already-formidable S-300. Both are weapons systems that Israel considers “game-changing,” but since they are operated by Russia — not Assad’s or Iran’s forces — Israel has been forced to work with Moscow in reaching an understanding on its red lines, in addition to maintaining its active de-confliction lines.

Preventing the transfer of such systems to Iran or Israel’s enemies in Syria and Lebanon is a priority for the IAF, which has mounted, by some estimates, over 100 one-off airstrikes in Syria for just that purpose. Notably, in one of three aerial attacks this year on the T-4 airbase deep inside Syria, Israel destroyed a soon-to-be-unpacked “Third Khordad” aerial-defense system, an Iranian version of Russia’s S-300. Iran received this technology when it purchased and tested the S-300 from Russia following the implementation of the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement. It is believed to be currently deployed around the hardened Fordow nuclear facility in Qom. Clearly, both the U.S. and Israel have an interest in minimizing the number of advanced Russian SAM sites guarding Iranian and Syrian assets in case a military showdown over Iran’s nuclear program becomes a necessity.

This congested military dance over Syria is taking place alongside a flurry of recent diplomatic activity in which all concerned parties are plowing a path to Putin. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with the Russian leader in late July, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in South Africa, to further their cooperation as they prepare to violate the last of four de-escalation zones they created last year. And days before the Helsinki summit in which President Trump and President Putin discussed Syria, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu again met with Putin to impress upon him the need to push Iran out of the country. Short of that, which remains unlikely, Israel hopes to at least keep Russia and the S-400 on the sidelines as it continues to target Iranian assets.

While far from ideal from Israel’s perspective, on an operational level this delicate balance in Syria has worked out for the Jewish state. For instance, on July 22, Israel targeted a military complex north of Masyaf, which is located less than five miles from Russia’s S-400. Hardly a peep was heard from Moscow.

Instead, the most bellicose voice these days comes from Ankara, which is seeking its own advantage over its neighbors and beyond. Erdogan recently slammed the U.S. for asking Turkey to comply with sanctions against Iran, because he considers the regime in Tehran to be Turkey’s “strategic partner.”

Indeed, Erdogan has even picked up some negotiating pointers from Tehran, such as how to use Western hostages as bargaining chips. Andrew Brunson, an Evangelical Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina, was arrested in Turkey in 2016, during the regime’s crackdown on journalists, academics, and Christian minorities. He was released on house arrest last Wednesday, but Erdogan won’t let him go free. Another wrinkle in the story developed over the weekend when it came to light that as part of a trade for the pastor’s release, President Trump asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to release a Turkish national arrested earlier in July on terrorism-related charges. Netanyahu complied the following day, but Erdogan failed to hold up his end of the deal. As a result, the Trump administration decided to sanction Turkey’s justice and interior ministers.

It was not exactly the message one would expect to hear from the Turkish president if he were trying to gain favor in the halls of the U.S. Congress. Then again, this is a man who dispatched his security detail to brutally assault peaceful demonstrators in Washington, D.C., last year, while he watched from his limo. The problem runs far deeper than that case or the matter of Brunson, but if such behavior is any indication of what the future holds, there’s little reason for the U.S. to afford Turkey any kind of preferential treatment.

Under Erdogan’s leadership, the state has become a revisionist power with imperial ambitions that include re-creating a version of the Ottoman Empire based on the Muslim Brotherhood model. In this sense, he has far more in common with Vladimir Putin, who seeks to redraw the map of Europe in the service of his vision of “Eurasia from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” as Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, called it.

Erdogan isn’t subtle about his preferences. Whenever he has seen an opportunity to exploit the weakness of a U.S. ally, he has taken advantage, whether it was supporting the Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian people or siding with Qatar when the Gulf States had isolated the kingdom. He is downright hostile to Greece and Cyprus, even as he cozies up to Russia, Iran, and China. And, of course, he remains a vocal and major financial supporter of Hamas and never misses an opportunity to liken Israelis to Nazis as he vies for leadership of the Middle East’s anti-Israel powers.

In that sense it isn’t just the thought of the F-35 and the S-400 parked together in a Turkish hangar that should have Washington worried; it’s everything about the U.S.-Turkish relationship. Erdogan’s drift away from NATO’s core values has become an unobstructed stampede toward brutish authoritarianism. He now behaves as an amateur Mafia boss demanding protection money for the damages he causes. The recent episode with Pastor Brunson is just par for the course, not an aberration or passing episode. Moreover, it is rather illustrative: A true ally such as Israel accedes to a U.S. request even when it receives little in return. Reneging on a hostage negotiation while openly courting America’s enemies is adversarial behavior.

So a reevaluation of the relationship is long overdue, and Washington should take the time now to get it right. As long as Turkey continues to prioritize its temporary alliances with Russia and Iran over its relationship with NATO, the U.S. should downgrade its ties and take its own punitive measures. That means the F-35 should be off the table for the foreseeable future and a cost, perhaps in additional sanctions, should be associated with Turkey’s decision to purchase the S-400. We cannot afford to reward Ankara’s bad behavior, nor to risk the security of America’s allies and the delicate balance of power that exists over Syria.

MATTHEW RJ BRODSKY — — Matthew RJ Brodsky is a senior fellow at the Security Studies Group in Washington, D.C. and the co-author of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies study, “Controlled Chaos: The Escalation of Conflict between Israel and Iran in War-Torn Syria.”

Former CIA Station Chief In Moscow: ‘Brennan And Clapper Are Doing Putin’s Bidding’

A former CIA station chief is worried that Brennan and Clapper are doing Putin’s bidding when they sound off about their Russia collusion theories.

The Federalist, by Bre Payton, Aug. 2, 2018:

A former CIA station chief in Moscow is worried that top former intelligence agency officials John Brennan and James Clapper are doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding, when they sound off about their Russia collusion theories without verifying the facts.

The former CIA director and former director of National Intelligence have both been fanning the flames on the notion that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials in order to steal the election away from Hillary Clinton on cable TV and in various media interviews. As a result, the White House threatened to revoke security clearances from these men and a few others for misusing their access to top secret documents to promote their own agenda.

Former CIA case officer Daniel Hoffman, who was stationed in Moscow, told Real Clear Investigates that Brennan and Clapper are doing Putin’s bidding when they speculate without facts.

“In Brennan’s case that Putin could blackmail Trump, and in Clapper’s that the Kremlin’s interference swung the election to Trump,” Hoffman said. “Senior intelligence officers should know we speculate at our own peril.”

“While they get a favorable response from the ‘Amen’ chorus of Trump opponents, we should also consider the risk they are taking of feeding Trump’s speculation they were partisan officials who sought to do him harm,” he said.

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Former CIA chief of station Daniel Hoffman on how Russia has undermined Americans’ faith in the U.S. political system.

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Protests in Iran Hit Boiling Point, Amplifying Calls for Regime Change

Getty Images

New sanctions to further choke an already ailing regime

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, August 6, 2018:

Protests against Iran’s hardline ruling regime hit a boiling point over the weekend, as demonstrators took to the streets for the sixth consecutive day in the face of efforts by the regime to beat and arrest those seeking regime change in the Islamic Republic, according to multiple reports from the region.

Curfews have been imposed in parts of the country amid nightly demonstrations by Iranian dissidents who have been heard chanting, “death to the dictator” and “Mullahs should go away.”

At least one protester was shot and killed by Iranian security forces over the weekend, but that does not appear to have quelled opposition to the Iranian ruling regime, which was smacked Monday with the first portion of harsh new sanctions by the Trump administration following the president’s decision to abandon the landmark nuclear deal that provided Iran’s leaders with millions in cash windfalls.

The ongoing protests have been percolating for weeks as dissidents take to the streets across Iran to protest the hardline ruling regime and its massive military spending, which has crippled an already weak Iranian economy.

Western pressure on the Iranian financial sector heightened on Monday, as the Trump administration imposed the first wave of new sanctions on Iran’s gold, coal, steel, and aluminum trade. The sanctions are being supported by new efforts by the Trump administration to warn European countries that any new business with Iran will subject them and their international banking systems to harsh new sanctions, as the Washington Free Beacon first reported on Thursday after conversations with multiple senior U.S. officials.

Video that emerged on social media on Sunday shows a reported 6,000 bus drivers in Tehran, Iran’s capital city, sitting in long lines for nearly 24 hours to get fuel, which has been cut off due to Iran’s inability to pay its debts, according to translations of the Farsi language videos posted to Twitter.

“Eighteen hours of work and this is the status of our city,” a videographer can be heard narrating, according to an independent translation. “We have to wait in line 24 hours to pump fuel. If [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] doesn’t have enough money, how dare he support Palestine and [the Lebanese] Hezbollah? If he doesn’t have money, how dare he provide for those people going to Arbaeen [ Shiite religious ceremony in Iraq marking the death of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Imam Hossein]?”

“How much more hardship and disgrace are we to endure?” the narrator continues. “Our revolution wasn’t for these people to take advantage of us and be cruel to us. Who should I say it to? I’m not saying it to myself. We should gather and go say it. Our revolution wasn’t to support Lebanon, Palestine, and that filthy [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah.”

Dissident protesters appear to have been encouraged by recent remarks by the Trump administration, including the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, supporting the right of those to demonstrate against the regime. However, it remains unclear just how far the White House will go to back these protesters as they seek to topple the hardline ruling regime.

On Sunday, Iranian officials imposed a curfew around Tehran amid the ongoing, nightly demonstrations, according to those familiar with events on the ground. Much of the frustration has centered around the Iranian regime’s continued spending on military interventionism, particularly in Syria on behalf of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

One protester, identified as Reza Otady, is said to have been shot dead during clashes with Iranian security forces and pro-regime militias.

Other protests have raged in major Iranian cities, including Shiraz, Qom, and Mashhad, sources said.

Social media sites such as Twitter have emerged as a prominent platform during the protests, which demonstrators coordinating their moves via these platforms.

The main frustration continues to be Iran’s economy, including the plunging value of the rial and the inability of citizens to purchase life staples.

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REIMPOSING TOUGH SANCTIONS: President Donald J. Trump’s Administration is taking action to reimpose sanctions lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

  • President Trump made clear when he ended United States participation in the JCPOA that his Administration would be reimposing tough sanctions on the Iranian regime.
    • In connection with the withdrawal from the JCPOA, the Administration laid out two wind-down periods of 90 days and 180 days for business activities in or involving Iran.
  • Consistent with President Trump’s decision, the Administration will be reimposing specified sanctions after August 6, the final day of the 90-day wind-down period.
  • On August 7, sanctions will be reimposed on:
    • The purchase or acquisition of United States bank notes by the Government of Iran.
    • Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals.
    • Graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes.
    • Transactions related to the Iranian rial.
    • Activities relating to Iran’s issuance of sovereign debt
    • Iran’s automotive sector.
  • The remaining sanctions will be reimposed on November 5, including sanctions on:
    • Iran’s port operators and energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors.
    • Iran’s petroleum-related transactions.
    • Transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.
  • The Administration will also relist hundreds of individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft that were previously included on sanctions lists.

ENSURING FULL ENFORCEMENT: President Trump will continue to stand up to the Iranian regime’s aggression, and the United States will fully enforce the reimposed sanctions.

  • The Iranian regime has exploited the global financial system to fund its malign activities.
    • The regime has used this funding to support terrorism, promote ruthless regimes, destabilize the region, and abuse the human rights of its own people.
  • The Trump Administration intends to fully enforce the sanctions reimposed against Iran, and those who fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences.
  • Since the President announced his decision on May 8 to withdraw from the JCPOA, the Administration has sanctioned 38 Iran-related targets in six separate actions.

PROTECTING OUR NATIONAL SECURITY: The JCPOA was defective at its core and failed to guarantee the safety of the American people.

  • President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal upheld his highest obligation: to protect the safety and security of the American people.
  • The Iranian regime only grew more aggressive under the cover of the JCPOA and was given access to more resources to pursue its malign activities.
    • The regime continues to threaten the United States and our allies, exploit the international financial system, and support terrorism and foreign proxies.
  • The Administration is working with allies to bring pressure on the Iranian regime to achieve an agreement that denies all paths to a nuclear weapon and addresses other malign activities.

Read the full text of the Executive Order.

Read the full statement from President Trump.