A horrifying look into the mind of 9/11’s mastermind, in his own words

Khalid Sheik Mohammed in 2003. (Associated Press)

Khalid Sheik Mohammed in 2003. (Associated Press)

November 28, 2016:

What is it like to stare into the face of evil? James E. Mitchell knows.

In his gripping new memoir, “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” Mitchell describes the day he was questioning Khalid Sheik Mohammed, when the 9/11 mastermind announced he had something important to say. “KSM then launched into a gory and detailed description of how he beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl,” Mitchell writes. Up to that moment, the CIA did not know KSM had personally carried out the murder. When asked whether it was “hard to do” (meaning emotionally difficult), KSM misunderstood the question. “Oh, no, no problem,” KSM said, “I had very sharp knives. Just like slaughtering sheep.”

To confirm his story, the CIA had KSM reenact the beheading so that it could compare the features of his hands and forearms to those in the video of Pearl’s murder. “Throughout the reenactment, KSM smiled and mugged for the cameras. Sometimes he preened,” Mitchell writes. When informed that the CIA had confirmed that he was telling the truth, KSM smiled.

“See, I told you,” KSM said. “I cut Daniel’s throat with these blessed hands.”

This is the pure evil Mitchell and his colleagues confronted each day at CIA “black sites.” “I have looked into the eyes of the worst people on the planet,” Mitchell writes. “I have sat with them and felt their passion as they described what they see as their holy duty to destroy our way of life.”

The world has heard almost nothing from KSM in the 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, but Mitchell has spent thousands of hours with him and other captured al-Qaeda leaders. Now, for the first time, Mitchell is sharing what he says KSM told him.

Mitchell is an American patriot who has been unjustly persecuted for his role in crafting an interrogation program that helped stop terrorist attacks and saved countless lives. He does not shy from the controversies and pulls no punches in describing the interrogations. If anything, readers may be surprised by the compassion he showed these mass murderers. But the real news in his book is what happened after enhanced interrogations ended and the terrorists began cooperating.

Once their resistance had been broken, enhanced interrogation techniques stopped and KSM and other detainees became what Mitchell calls a “Terrorist Think Tank,” identifying voices in phone calls, deciphering encrypted messages and providing valuable information that led the CIA to other terrorists. Mitchell devotes an entire chapter to the critical role KSM and other detainees played in finding Osama bin Laden. KSM held classes where he lectured CIA officials on jihadist ideology, terrorist recruiting and attack planning. He was so cooperative, Mitchell writes, KSM “told me I should be on the FBI’s Most Wanted List because I am now a ‘known associate’ of KSM and a ‘graduate’ of his training camp.”

KSM also described for Mitchell many of his as yet unconsummated ideas for future attacks, the terrifying details of which Mitchell does not reveal for fear they might be implemented. “If we ever allow him to communicate unmonitored with the outside world,” Mitchell writes, “he could easily spread his deviously simple but potentially deadly ideas.”

But perhaps the most riveting part of the book is what KSM told Mitchell about what inspired al-Qaeda to attack the United States — and the U.S. response he expected. Today, some on both the left and the right argue that al-Qaeda wanted to draw us into a quagmire in Afghanistan — and now the Islamic State wants to do the same in Iraq and Syria. KSM said this is dead wrong. Far from trying to draw us in, KSM said that al-Qaeda expected the United States to respond to 9/11 as we had the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut — when, KSM told Mitchell, the United States “turned tail and ran.” He also said he thought we would treat 9/11 as a law enforcement matter, just as we had the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the USS Cole in Yemen — arresting some operatives and firing a few missiles into empty tents, but otherwise leaving him free to plan the next attack.

“Then he looked at me and said, ‘How was I supposed to know that cowboy George Bush would announce he wanted us ‘dead or alive’ and then invade Afghanistan to hunt us down?’” Mitchell writes. “KSM explained that if the United States had treated 9/11 like a law enforcement matter, he would have had time to launch a second wave of attacks.” He was not able to do so because al-Qaeda was stunned “by the ferocity and swiftness of George W. Bush’s response.”

But KSM said something else that was prophetic. In the end, he told Mitchell, “We will win because Americans don’t realize . . . we do not need to defeat you militarily; we only need to fight long enough for you to defeat yourself by quitting.”

KSM explained that large-scale attacks such as 9/11 were “nice, but not necessary” and that a series of “low-tech attacks could bring down America the same way ‘enough disease-infected fleas can fell an elephant.’ ” KSM “said jihadi-minded brothers would immigrate into the United States” and “wrap themselves in America’s rights and laws” until they were strong enough to rise up and attack us. “He said the brothers would relentlessly continue their attacks and the American people would eventually become so tired, so frightened, and so weary of war that they would just want it to end.”

“Eventually,” KSM said, “America will expose her neck for us to slaughter.”

KSM was right. For the past eight years, our leaders have told us that we are weary of war and need to focus on “nation building at home.” We have been defeating ourselves by quitting — just as KSM predicted.

But quitting will not bring us peace, KSM told Mitchell. He explained that “it does not matter that we do not want to fight them,” Mitchell writes, adding that KSM explained “America may not be in a religious war with him, but he and other True Muslims are in a religious war with America” and “he and his brothers will not stop until the entire world lives under Sharia law.”

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Congress rejects Obama veto of 9/11 bill, in first override of presidency

694940094001_5145353620001_senate-votes-to-override-president-obama-s-veto-of-911-billFox News, Sept. 28, 2016:

Congress on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected President Obama’s veto of a bipartisan bill letting families of Sept. 11 victims sue the Saudi Arabian government, in the first successful veto override of Obama’s presidency.

Marking a significant defeat for the White House, the House ensured the bill will become law after voting 348-77 to override Wednesday afternoon. This followed a 97-1 vote hours earlier in the Senate.

Despite last-ditch warnings from the Obama administration that the legislation could hurt national security and was “badly misguided,” lawmakers dismissed the concerns.

“This bill is about respecting the voices and rights of American victims,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking on the Senate floor moments before Wednesday’s vote in that chamber, pushed back hard on Saudi government objections to the legislation.

“It’s very simple. If the Saudis were culpable, they should be held accountable. If they had nothing to do with 9/11, they have nothing to fear,” Schumer said.

Lawmakers in both chambers needed to muster a two-thirds majority to override, and did so easily. The lone “no” vote in the Senate was Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

With elections just over a month away, many lawmakers were reluctant to oppose a measure backed by 9/11 families who say they are still seeking justice 15 years after the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. A group of senators pledged to find ways to improve the measure during a post-election, lame-duck session of Congress.

Despite an expectation that Congress would override, the White House made a last-ditch attempt to fight it. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Reid, Obama warned the bill could cause chaos in U.S. foreign affairs, as other countries would use the measure to justify the creation of ways to target “U.S. policies and activities that they oppose.”

“As a result, our nation and its armed forces, State Department, intelligence officials and others may find themselves subject to lawsuits in foreign courts.” Obama wrote in a letter delivered Tuesday.

But Cornyn, one of the bill’s leading proponents, dismissed Obama’s concerns as “unpersuasive.” Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, and other supporters said the bill is narrowly tailored and applies only to acts of terrorism that occur on U.S. soil.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, moved to the floor of the Senate in May and passed by voice vote. The bill cleared the House earlier this month, also by voice vote.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a letter Monday to a senior member of Congress, said he’s sympathetic to the intent of the measure. But the legislation could lead to the public disclosure of American secrets and even undercut counterterrorism efforts by sowing mistrust among U.S. partners and allies, according to Carter.

With the override, the bill will now become law. During his nearly two full terms in office, Obama had never had a veto overridden by Congress.

The legislation gives victims’ families the right to sue in U.S. court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Courts would be permitted to waive a claim of foreign sovereign immunity when an act of terrorism occurs inside U.S. borders, according to the terms of the bill. Saudi Arabia has objected vehemently to the legislation.

Obama vetoed the measure last week, telling lawmakers the bill would make the U.S. vulnerable to retaliatory litigation in foreign courts that could put U.S. troops in legal jeopardy.

But the bill’s proponents have disputed Obama’s rationale as “unconvincing and unsupportable,” saying the measure is narrowly tailored and applies only to acts of terrorism that occur on U.S. soil.

Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow and co-chair of September 11th Advocates, criticized Carter’s assessment, saying that the defense secretary had testified before Congress last week that he wasn’t an expert on the bill.

***

Also see:

Why the War On Terror Has Taken 15 Years, and Will Take Much Longer

war-on-terror-sized-770x415xtPJ MEDIA, BY ROBERT SPENCER, SEPTEMBER 14, 2016:

This war has gone on for a very long time, and last Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 jihad attacks, among all the reminiscences, and eulogies, and encomia, virtually no one attempted to explain why.

There’s a simple reason this topic wasn’t discussed: among our political and media “elites,” no one knows the answer.

Even the most dire estimates of exactly how long this is going to take have fallen wide of the mark. General Petraeus said in 2010 that it could take another ten years to defeat the Afghan “insurgency.” Do you think the Taliban is likely to be disbanded and Afghanistan to be a stable, functioning republic in 2020?

In 2007, Britain’s security chief, Admiral Lord Alan West, said it could take 30 years to defeat terrorism in the United Kingdom. Do you think that in 2037, Britain will be peaceful and free of jihad terrorists?

The very idea is preposterous, and it is preposterous for the same reason that 15 years after 9/11, no one knows why this strange war has lasted so long.

West said more in that 2007 interview:

I now realize that we are talking about a generation — and by that I would say 30 years. That doesn’t mean necessarily that we are going to stay at a severe level of threat for all those years. But to be able to say one has absolutely changed the mind-set and thought of people IS going to take a generation.

West nailed the answer there — but no one seemed to notice.

Because nothing, nothing whatsoever, is being done in Britain or anywhere else to change “the mind-set and thought of people.”

That is precisely why, fifteen years after 9/11, the West is weaker and more vulnerable than ever.

The entirety of Western intelligentsia, the totality of our political and media elites, steadfastly refuses to acknowledge exactly what the “mindset and thought” of the terrorists really is, and where it comes from. Because of that refusal, policies that don’t deal with the actual problem keep being applied and re-applied — at the cost of thousands of American lives, billions of American dollars — and we have nothing to show for this expenditure besides a sharp and continuing loss of American power and prestige.

The jihadis who struck the U.S. on September 11, 2001 have made such immense advances since then not because they are strong, or clever, or capable, but because we are weak, short-sighted, and resolute. Resolute not in fighting them, but in maintaining our denial about who they are and what they want.

The denial is so complete that we have taken numerous steps to actually enable them to achieve their goals: the billions gifted to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the welcoming of the massive Muslim migrant influx are just two of the most recent examples.

On the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, instead of stories about the jihad threat and how it can be defeated or at least contained, the media posted articles that would give an uninformed observer the impression that 3,000 Muslims were killed on 9/11. The media preoccupation today is almost entirely with Muslims as victims:

“Muslim Americans still struggle with hate crimes, 15 years after 9/11,” claimed AOL.

“For many Muslims, especially those born after Sept. 11, Islamophobia seems to be a fact of life,” lamented the Huffington Post.

The Washington Post ran a piece by Rep. Keith Ellison:

I’m the first Muslim in Congress. I believe America can beat Islamophobia. Fifteen years after 9/11, American Muslims have seen both progress and peril.

After Fort Hood, and Boston, and Garland, and Chattanooga, and San Bernardino, and Orlando, and Paris, and Brussels, and Nice, and so very many others, this myopia is ludicrous to the point of being grotesque.

And it is the key reason why this war drags on, fifteen years after 9/11: millions unthinkingly accept the dogma that to speak honestly and accurately about the jihadis’ motives and goals is to descend into “racism” and “bigotry,” and to endanger innocent Muslims.

Fifteen years after jihadis murdered nearly 3,000 Americans, it is still almost unheard-of for there to be an honest discussion of jihadi motives and goals in the mainstream.

The free West is dug in: wholeheartedly committed to denial, willful ignorance, and policies that are self-defeating to the point of suicidal. In light of that, the wonder is not that this war has lasted so long, but that we have held out so long.

Unless the political landscape changes considerably and this denial is decisively rejected and discarded, much darker days are coming.

Raids, Arrests Show 9/11’s Lessons Are Global

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by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
September 12, 2016

They are known as “the 102 minutes that changed America.”  Fifteen years later, it is increasingly clear that the 102 minutes of the Sept. 11 attacks also reshaped and changed the world.

Indeed perhaps even more than Americans, Europeans now feel the strongest aftershocks, having been shaken by more than 10 Islamist terror strikes in the past 20 months alone.

Hence as America commemorates the 15th anniversary of 9/11, several European countries are intensifying their intelligence activity. In the process, they are discovering more and more terror cells, resulting in multiple arrests Europe-wide just this past week. More are likely to come, particularly in France and Belgium, judging from a recent CNN report which found that the plotters of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks had intended them “to be far worse, to occur in other European countries as well, and, investigators believe, had planned to follow them up with strikes in several locations.”

CNN also uncovered signs that ISIS was planning to increase its activity in the UK – which may explain the Sept. 8 arrests  of two West London men suspected of preparing an act of terrorism and funding terrorist activity. A third man arrested in East London the same day was also taken into custody on another terror-related charge. The arrests follow other raids in Birmingham and Stoke in late August, in which four men were taken into custody on charges of planning a terrorist attack.

But ISIS is doing more than planning attacks. It appears also to be exploring new strategies and weapons, according to the 17-year-old son of Belgian imam Shayh Alami. The boy has called for the death of Christians in the past.  After his arrest late last month, according to the Mirror, the youth (who has not been named) told police that the terrorist group has begun inciting a kind of Islamist chainsaw massacre, encouraging its European followers to take chainsaws to Christians in shopping centers.

And in France, four days after a car loaded with gas cylinders was spotted parked near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, police arrested three women, ages 19, 23, and 39, also on charges of planning a terrorist attack. The arrests, which coincidentally also took place on Sept. 8, soon led to the arrests of four other suspected “radical Islamists,” according to the prosecutor’s office. At least one of the three women, Ines Madani, reportedly wrote a letter pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and spoke on the phone about plots to bomb Paris train stations. Hence, while the parked car appeared rigged to explode, the New York Times reports, officials clearly found its presence suspicious. In short time, they traced its ties to that phone conversation: the car belongs to Madani’s father.

Further investigation also showed that the group planned attacks on police in what French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve described as “new and, moreover, imminent violent actions.”

Apparently, they weren’t the only ones: On Sept. 11, French authorities also arrested a 15-year-old boy on suspicion of preparing “imminent and violent action.” Like the women arrested previously, the boy is believed to have had contact with suspected ISIS militant Rashid Kasheem, who is French. Kasheem is now in Syria, but has regularly called for attacks in France, LeMonde reports.

Not all the activity in Europe of late has been directly related to attacks, however. Among the lessons learned from 9/11 is the importance of terror finance and the insidious methods through which money is transferred to support terrorist groups worldwide.

Tracing those connections remains crucial to counterterrorist intelligence, which explains why Dutch officials last week raided two mosques and several private homes: the mosques and their imams are suspected of laundering money through at least 10 charities.  Those charities, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) believes, help fund other organizations that, in turn, provide financial support to terrorist groups in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Ukraine. According to a FIOD statement, financial transfers to the mosques and the charitable organizations come not only from the Netherlands, but from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

In addition, FIOD asserts, “One of the suspect foundations has received a transfer of hundreds of thousands of euros from a charitable organization from the Middle East which is connected to a charity that the US has placed on a list of sanctioned groups.”

The suspects, believed to be Ahmad Salam, his son Suhayb Salam, another (unnamed) son and a fourth party, are also said to have connections to Kuwait’s Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), which the U.S. Treasury Department designated in 2008 “for providing financial and material support to Al Qaida and Al Qaida affiliates and supporting terrorism.”

Both mosques, the Al-Fitra mosque in Utrecht and As-Sunnah mosque in Tilburg, have come under fire in the past for preaching Salafism, the extremist form of Islam that some European countries – including the Netherlands – have discussed banning. Last December, Utrecht’s mayor also expressed concern about the influence the Al Fitra mosque and Suhayb Salam, its imam, were having on members, and the mosque’s alleged efforts to turn Dutch Muslim children against Dutch society. And in 2013, both As-Sunnah and Ahmad Salam were investigated on charges of abusing and beating children during Quran lessons – accusations Salam strongly denied.

But there is this that can be said about what has changed because of 9/11: we know more about radical Islam. We know more about what is needed to defend ourselves against it, and to fight it where it rises. The raids and plots of these past few weeks confirm that point. The threat may be greater now, but we are far better prepared than we were on that bright September day to fight it.  And we will.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Sharyl Attkisson Investigates the Cost of Terror

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Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, Sept. 8, 2016

COST OF TERROR:
Full Measure investigates how much U.S. tax money has been spent fighting the war against terrorists and its impact on the American way of life. The head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Ron Johnson, discusses the vulnerability that worries him most today.


MOST HATED MAN:
Scott Thuman reports from London on the so-called ‘Most Hated Man’ in Britain. Anjem Choudary was jailed for five-and-a-half years for urging support of ISIS. Scott reports on the sentencing as the U.K. tries to stop a generation from being recruited as terrorists.


WAR ON TERROR:
Lt. General Micheal Flynn details his plan for winning the war against terrorists. Hear why he believes speaking out about this plan ultimately cost him his job as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.


REFLECTING & REMEMBERING 9/11
Some of the costs of terror can’t be quantified. Like the cost to our collective psyche. Full Measure host Sharyl Attkisson remembers the events of that day and the impact of reporting the story from Washington, D.C.

Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda fights on

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn Sept. 11, 2016:

All appeared lost for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in December 2001. In the years leading up to the 9/11 hijackings, bin Laden believed that the US was a “paper tiger” and would retreat from the Muslim majority world if al Qaeda struck hard enough. The al Qaeda founder had good reasons to think this. American forces withdrew from Lebanon after a series of attacks in the early 1980s and from Somalia after the “Black Hawk Down” episode in 1993. The US also did not respond forcefully to al Qaeda’s August 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, or the USS Cole bombing in October 2000.

But bin Laden’s strategy looked like a gross miscalculation in late 2001. An American-led invasion quickly overthrew the Taliban’s regime just weeks after 19 of bin Laden’s men hijacked four airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Some of al Qaeda’s most senior figures were killed in American airstrikes. With al Qaeda’s foes closing in, bin Laden ordered his men to retreat to the remote Tora Bora Mountains. Here, bin Laden must have thought, al Qaeda would make its last stand. The end was nigh.

Except it wasn’t.

Bin Laden slithered away, eventually making his way to Abbottabad, Pakistan. When Navy SEALs came calling more than nine years later, in early May 2011, the world looked very different.

Documents recovered in bin Laden’s compound reveal that he and his lieutenants were managing a cohesive global network, with subordinates everywhere from West Africa to South Asia. Some US intelligence officials assumed that bin Laden was no longer really active. But Bin Laden’s files demonstrated that this view was wrong.

Writing in The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism – From al Qa’ida to ISIS, former CIA official Mike Morell explains how the Abbottabad cache upended the US intelligence community’s assumptions regarding al Qaeda. “The one thing that surprised me was that the analysts made clear that our pre-raid understanding of Bin Laden’s role in the organization had been wrong,” Morell writes. “Before the raid we’d thought that Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, was running the organization on a day-to-day basis, essentially the CEO of al Qaeda, while Bin Laden was the group’s ideological leader, its chairman of the board. But the DOCEX showed something quite different. It showed that Bin Laden himself had not only been managing the organization from Abbottabad, he had been micromanaging it.”*

Consider some examples from the small set of documents released already.

During the last year and a half of his life, Osama bin Laden: oversaw al Qaeda’s “external work,” that is, its operations targeting the West; directed negotiations with the Pakistani state over a proposed ceasefire between the jihadists and parts of the government; ordered his men to evacuate northern Pakistan for safe havens in Afghanistan; instructed Shabaab to keep its role as an al Qaeda branch secret and offered advice concerning how its nascent emirate in East Africa should be run; received status reports on his fighters’ operations in at least eight different Afghan provinces; discussed al Qaeda’s war strategy in Yemen with the head of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and other subordinates; received updates from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, including details on a proposed truce with the government of Mauritania; authorized the relocation of veteran jihadists to Libya, where they could take advantage of the uprising against Muammar al Qaddafi’s regime; corresponded with the Taliban’s leadership; and generally made decisions that impacted al Qaeda’s operations everywhere around the globe.

Again, these are just a handful of examples culled from the publicly-available files recovered in bin Laden’s compound. The overwhelming majority of these documents remain classified and, therefore, unavailable to the American public.

Al Qaeda has grown under Zawahiri’s tenure

The story of how bin Laden’s role was missed should raise a large red flag. Al Qaeda is still not well-understood and has been consistently misjudged. Not long after bin Laden was killed, a meme spread about his successor: Ayman al Zawahiri. Many ran with the idea that Zawahiri is an ineffectual and unpopular leader who lacked bin Laden’s charisma and was, therefore, incapable of guiding al Qaeda’s global network. This, too, was wrong.

There is no question that the Islamic State, which disobeyed Zawahiri’s orders and was disowned by al Qaeda’s “general command” in 2014, has cut into al Qaeda’s share of the jihadist market and undermined the group’s leadership position. But close observers will notice something interesting about al Qaeda’s response to the Islamic State’s challenge. Under Zawahiri’s stewardship, al Qaeda grew its largest paramilitary force ever.

Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, warned about the rise of Al Nusrah Front during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 28. “With direct ties to Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden’s successor, Nusra[h] is now al [Qaeda’s] largest formal affiliate in history,” McGurk said. US officials previously contacted by The Long War Journal said Nusrah could easily have 10,000 or more fighters in its ranks.

It is worth repeating that Nusrah grew in size and stature, while being openly loyal to Zawahiri, after the Islamic State became its own jihadist menace. Far from being irrelevant, Zawahiri ensured al Qaeda’s survival in the Levant and oversaw its growth.

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On July 28, Al Nusrah Front emir Abu Muhammad al Julani announced that his organization would henceforth be known as Jabhat Fath al Sham (JFS, or the “Conquest of the Levant Front”) and would have no “no affiliation to any external [foreign] entity.” This was widely interpreted as Al Nusrah’s “break” from al Qaeda. But Julani never actually said that and al Qaeda itself isn’t an “external entity” with respect to Syria as the group moved much of its leadership to the country long ago. Al Nusrah’s rebranding was explicitly approved by Abu Khayr al Masri, one of Zawahiri’s top deputies, in an audio message released just hours prior to Julani’s announcement. Masri was likely inside Syria at the time.

Julani, who was dressed like Osama bin Laden during his appearance (as pictured above), heaped praise on bin Laden, Zawahiri and Masri. “Their blessed leadership has, and shall continue to be, an exemplar of putting the needs of the community and their higher interests before the interest of any individual group,” Julani said of Zawahiri and Masri.

Most importantly, Al Nusrah’s relaunch as JFS is entirely consistent with al Qaeda’s longstanding strategy in Syria and elsewhere. Al Qaeda never wanted to formally announce its role in the rebellion against Bashar al Assad’s regime, correctly calculating that clandestine influence is preferable to an overt presence for many reasons. This helps explain why Nusrah was never officially renamed as “Al Qaeda in the Levant” in the first place. However, fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, there is such widespread ignorance of al Qaeda’s goals and strategy that Nusrah’s name change is enough to fool many.

Al Qaeda has grown in South Asia as well. In Sept. 2014, Zawahiri announced the formation of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), which brought together elements of several existing jihadist organizations. AQIS quickly got to work, attempting to execute an audacious plan that would have used Pakistani arms against American and Indian ships. The plot failed, but revealed that al Qaeda had infiltrated Pakistan’s military.

Pakistani officials recently told the Washington Post that they suspect AQIS has a few thousand members in the city of Karachi alone. And al Qaeda remains closely allied with the Taliban while maintaining a significant presence inside Afghanistan. In October 2015, for instance, Afghan and American forces conducted a massive operation against two large al Qaeda training camps in the southern part of the country. One of the camps was approximately 30 square miles in size. Gen. John F. Campbell, who oversaw the war effort in Afghanistan, explained that the camp was run by AQIS and is “probably the largest training camp-type facility that we have seen in 14 years of war.”

With Zawahiri as its emir, al Qaeda raised its “largest formal affiliate in history” in Syria and operated its “largest training” camp ever in Afghanistan. These two facts alone undermine the widely-held assumption that al Qaeda is on death’s door.

Elsewhere, al Qaeda’s other regional branches remain openly loyal to Zawahiri.

From April 2015 to April 2016, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) controlled a large swath of territory along Yemen’s southern coast, including the key port city of Mukalla. An Arab-led coalition helped reclaim some of this turf earlier this year, but AQAP’s forces simply melted away, living to fight another day. AQAP continues to wage a prolific insurgency in the country, as does Shabaab across the Gulf of Aden in Somalia. Shabaab’s leaders announced their fealty to Zawahiri in February 2012 and remain faithful to him. They have taken a number of steps to stymie the growth of the Islamic State in Somalia and neighboring countries. Shabaab also exports terrorism throughout East Africa, executing a number of high-profile terrorist attacks in recent years.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) continues to operate in West and North Africa, often working in conjunction with front groups. Like al Qaeda’s branches elsewhere, AQIM prefers to mask the extent of its influence, working through organizations such as Ansar al Sharia and Ansar Dine to achieve its goals. Late last year, Al Murabitoon rejoined AQIM’s ranks. Al Murabitoon is led by Mohktar Belmokhtar, who has been reportedly killed on several occasions. Al Qaeda claims that Belmokhtar is still alive and has praised him for rejoining AQIM after his contentious relations with AQIM’s hierarchy in the past. While Belmokhtar’s status cannot be confirmed, several statements have been released in his name in recent months. And Al Murabitoon’s merger with AQIM has led to an increase in high-profile attacks in West Africa.

In sum, AQAP, AQIM, AQIS and Shabaab are formal branches of al Qaeda and have made their allegiance to Zawahiri clear. Jabhat Fath al Sham, formerly known as Al Nusrah, is an obvious al Qaeda project in Syria. Other organizations continue to serve al Qaeda’s agenda as well.

Al Qaeda’s veterans and a “new generation” of jihadist leadership

As the brief summary above shows, Al Qaeda’s geographic footprint has expanded greatly since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Some US officials argue that al Qaeda has been “decimated” because of the drone campaign and counterterrorism raids. They narrowly focus on the leadership layer of al Qaeda, while ignoring the bigger picture. But even their analysis of al Qaeda’s managers is misleading.

Al Qaeda has lost dozens of key men, but there is no telling how many veterans remain active to this day. Experienced operatives continue to serve in key positions, often returning to the fight after being detained or only revealing their hidden hand when it becomes necessary. Moreover, al Qaeda knew it was going to lose personnel and took steps to groom a new generation of jihadists capable of filling in.

From left to right: Saif al Adel, Abu Mohammed al Masri and Abu Khayr al Masri. These photos, first published by the FBI and US intelligence officials, show the al Qaeda leaders when they were younger.

From left to right: Saif al Adel, Abu Mohammed al Masri and Abu Khayr al Masri. These photos, first published by the FBI and US intelligence officials, show the al Qaeda leaders when they were younger.

Last year, several veterans were reportedly released from Iran, where they were held under murky circumstances. One of them was Abu Khayr al Masri, who paved the way for Al Nusrah’s rebranding in July. Another is Saif al Adel, who has long been wanted for his role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. At least two others freed by Iran, Abu Mohammed al Masri and Khalid al Aruri, returned to al Qaeda as well.

Masri, Al Adel, and Aruri may all be based inside Syria, or move back and forth to the country from Turkey, where other senior members are based. Mohammed Islambouli is an important leader within al Qaeda. After leaving Iran several years ago, Islambouli returned to Egypt and eventually made his way to Turkey, where he lives today.

Sitting to Julani’s right during his much ballyhooed announcement was one of Islambouli’s longtime compatriots, Ahmed Salama Mabrouk. The diminutive Mabrouk is another Zawahiri subordinate. He was freed from an Egyptian prison in the wake of the 2011 uprisings.

Al Qaeda moved some of its senior leadership to Syria and several others from this cadre are easy to identify. But al Qaeda has also relied on personnel in Yemen to guide its global network. One of Zawahiri’s lieutenants, Hossam Abdul Raouf, confirmed this in an audio message last October. Raouf explained that the “weight” of al Qaeda has been shifted to Syria and Yemen, because that is where its efforts are most needed.

The American drone campaign took out several key AQAP leaders in 2015, but they were quickly replaced. Qasim al Raymi, who was trained by al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1990s, succeeded Nasir al Wuhayshi as AQAP’s emir last summer. Raymi quickly renewed his allegiance to Zawahiri, whom Raymi described as the “the eminent sheikh” and “the beloved father.” Another al Qaeda lifer, Ibrahim Abu Salih, emerged from the shadows last year. Salih was not public figure beforehand, but he has been working towards al Qaeda’s goals in Yemen since the early 1990s. Ibrahim al Qosi (an ex-Guantanamo detainee) and Khalid al Batarfi have stepped forward to lead AQAP and are probably also part of al Qaeda’s management team.

This old school talent has helped buttress al Qaeda’s leadership cadre. They’ve been joined by men who signed up for al Qaeda’s cause after the 9/11 attacks as well. In July, the US Treasury Department designated three jihadists who are based in Iran. One of them, known as Abu Hamza al Khalidi, was listed in bin Laden’s files as part of a “new generation” of al Qaeda leaders. Today, he plays a crucial role as the head of al Qaeda’s military commission, meaning he is the equivalent of al Qaeda’s defense minister. Treasury has repeatedly identified other al Qaeda members based in Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Some members of the “new generation” are more famous than others. Such is the case with Osama’s son,Hamzah bin Laden, who is now regularly featured in propaganda.

This brief survey of al Qaeda is not intended to be exhaustive, yet it is still sufficient to demonstrate that the organization’s bench is far from empty. Moreover, many of the men who lead al Qaeda today are probably unknown to the public.

The threat to the West

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned that al Qaeda “nodes in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey” are “dedicating resources to planning attacks.” His statement underscored how the threats have become more geographically dispersed over time. With great success, the US worked for years to limit al Qaeda’s ability to strike the West from northern Pakistan. But today, al Qaeda’s “external operations” work is carried out across several countries.

During the past fifteen years, Al Qaeda has failed to execute another mass casualty attack in the US on the scale of the 9/11 hijackings. Its most recent attack in Europe came in January 2015, when a pair of brothers backed by AQAP conducted a military-style assault on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. AQAP made it clear that the Charlie Hebdo massacre was carried out according to Zawahiri’s orders.

Thanks to vigilance and luck, al Qaeda hasn’t been able to replicate a 9/11-style assault inside the US. Part of the reason is that America’s defenses, as well as those of its partner nations, have improved. Operations such as the 9/11 hijackings are also difficult to carry out in the first place. Even the 9/11 plan experienced interruptions despite a relatively lax security environment. (Most famously, for example, the would-be 20th hijacker was denied entry into the US at an Orlando airport in the summer of 2001.)

But there is another aspect to evaluating the al Qaeda threat that is seldom appreciated. It is widely assumed that al Qaeda is only interested in attacking the West. This is flat false. Most of the organization’s resources are devoted to waging insurgencies in Muslim majority countries.

The story in Syria has been telling. Although al Qaeda may have more resources in Syria than anywhere else, Zawahiri did not order his men to carry out a strike in the West. Al Qaeda’s so-called “Khorasan Group” laid the groundwork for such operations, but Zawahiri did not give this cadre the green light to actually carry them out. Zawahiri’s stand down order is well known. In an interview that aired in May 2015, for instance, Julani explained that the “directives that come to us from Dr. Ayman [al Zawahiri], may Allah protect him, are that Al Nusrah Front’s mission in Syria is to topple [Bashar al Assad’s] regime” and defeat its allies. “We have received guidance to not use Syria as a base for attacks against the West or Europe so that the real battle is not confused,” Julani said. However, he conceded that “maybe” the mother al Qaeda organization is plotting against the West, just “not from Syria.” Julani emphasized that this “directive” came from Zawahiri himself.

To date, al Qaeda has not lashed out at the West from inside Syria, even though it is certainly capable of doing so. Al Qaeda’s calculation has been that such an attack would be too costly for its strategic interests. It might get in the way of al Qaeda’s top priority in Syria, which is toppling the Assad regime. This calculation could easily change overnight and al Qaeda could use Syria as a launching pad against the West soon. But they haven’t thus far. It helps explain why there hasn’t been another 9/11-style plot by al Qaeda against the US in recent years. It also partially explains why al Qaeda hasn’t launched another large-scale operation in Europe for some time. Al Qaeda has more resources at its disposal today than ever, so the group doesn’t lack the capability. If Zawahiri and his advisors decided to make anti-Western attack planning more of a priority, then the probability of another 9/11-style event would go up. Even in that scenario, al Qaeda would have to successfully evade the West’s defenses. But the point is that al Qaeda hasn’t been attempting to hit the West nearly as much as some in the West assume.

In the meantime, it is easy to see how the al Qaeda threat has become more diverse, just as Clapper testified. AQAP has launched several thwarted plots aimed at the US, including the failed Christmas Day 2009 bombing. In 2009, al Qaeda also plotted to strike trains in the New York City area. In 2010, a Mumbai-style assault in Europe was unraveled by security services. It is not hard to imagine al Qaeda trying something along those lines once again. Other organizations tied to al Qaeda, such as the Pakistani Taliban, have plotted against the US as well.

Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda lives. Fortunately, Zawahiri’s men have not replicated the hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. But the al Qaeda threat looms. It would be a mistake to assume that al Qaeda won’t try a large-scale operation again.

*The spellings of al Qaeda and bin Laden are changed in this quote from Morell to make them consistent with the rest of the text.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

***

Listen to John Batchelor interview Thomas Joscelyn:

watching-bin-laden-raid

Fifteen Years Later, Al Qaeda Grows

15 years ago today: “We’re at war” – Secrets of 9/11: New details emerge

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-9-22-18-amBy Pamela Geller, Sept. 11, 2016:

National Geographic “Inside 9/11” Part I “War On America” 

National Geographic “Inside 9/11” Part II “War On America” 1080 HD Henry Higgins

And look at us now. Hiding and running, arms flailing, “do not insult Islam!”

In an interesting inside look at unfolding events on this day fifteen years ago, Bush’s former press secretary, Ari Fleischer,  released handwritten notes from 9/11.

Two items struck me. First, Bush’s declaration, ““We’re at war.” And yet he never declared war or developed a strategy to combat and defeat the jihadic doctrine. Instead, he almost immediately surrendered to Islam declaring, “it’s a religion of peace.”

And second but more importantly, that they knew almost immediately that it was OBL. They knew it was jihad — ““He’s nipping at the heels of Osama bin Laden right now….”

Also AOL News:

When chief of staff Andrew Card knelt down and told George Bush “America is under attack” 15 years ago Sunday, the words he whispered in the president’s ear in a Florida classroom launched what was supposed to be a planned, orderly response to a national emergency.

But what followed instead was chaos, a breakdown in communication and protocol that risked international conflict and could have made Sept. 11, 2001, a still bigger tragedy. There were live nukes on the tarmac at U.S. airbases, a failed communications system, and a security protocol for the president and his potential successors — the “continuity of government” plan — that only one top official followed.

Based on a review of newly unclassified documents, memoirs and other published accounts, and interviews with U.S. officials, NBC News has learned that:

  • Three dozen live nuclear weapons were aboard U.S. Air Force bombers at three airbases when al Qaeda struck New York and Washington.
  • Because of inadequate communications equipment and procedures, top U.S. officials couldn’t talk to each other or to anyone else. Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to speak to Bush to know why the U.S. was preparing to go to DEFCON 3 — but the White House couldn’t put him through to Air Force One. Bush had no way to receive phone calls.
  • After Bush left Florida, where he had been reading a book to schoolkids, his plane was low on fuel but for hours had nowhere to land.
  • Most of the top 10 people in the president’s line of succession, including Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, either refused to follow the protocol and go to their designated secure sites, or were out of the country, or were never contacted.
  • Now-disgraced Speaker of the House Denny Hastert, third in line, observed protocol and was taken to an underground bunker in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But that left him out of touch with all other top government leaders.
  • Attorney General John Ashcroft was in a government plane and tried to return to Washington, but was turned away by the FAA.
  • Education Secretary Rod Paige, 16th in line to the White House, was left on the tarmac in Sarasota, Florida. He rented a car and drove back to Washington.

Bush’s former press secretary, Ari Fleischer,  released handwritten notes from 9/11. NY Post, September 11, 2016:

President George W. Bush reacted immediately after the attacks on 9/11 with a mix of swagger, grim determination and worries about his family — including Scottish terrier Barney, according to a behind-the-scenes account of the fateful day.

Aboard Air Force One, Bush and his top aides watched coverage of the tragedy unfolding at the World Trade Center when a hair-removal commercial flashed on the screen at 10:37 a.m. — less than two hours after the first hijacked plane slammed into the north tower.
Modal TriggerFleischer speaks with Reuters from his home in Bedford, New York.Photo: Reuters

Bush pressed intelligence officials for information in an attempt to reassure Americans, but inaccurate reports swirled during the first few hours, Yahoo News reported, citing handwritten notes by press secretary Ari Fleischer.

Among the reports were a credible threat to Air Force One, a car bomb at the State Department, an airliner crashing near Camp David and a “high-speed object” headed toward the president’s Texas ranch.

To mark the 15th anniversary of the attacks, Fleischer provided his six pages of scribbled notes from Air Force One to Yahoo News and Reuters — whose reporters were with Bush in Sarasota, Fla., on Sept. 11, 2001.

On what started as a slow news day, White House chief of staff Andy Card was famously seen whispering word of the attack into Bush’s ear in an elementary school classroom.

The 9/11 Commission’s investigators reviewed the verbatim account as they compiled their report on the catastrophic attacks.

Fleischer told Yahoo that two sections are redacted — at 10:37 a.m. and 10:41 a.m. — when he wrote down the location of secure sites where Bush’s daughters, Barbara and Jenna, were taken.

The moment White House chief of staff Andy Card informs President George W. Bush of the first attack.Photo: Getty Images

The moment White House chief of staff Andy Card informs President George W. Bush of the first attack.Photo: Getty Images

The chronology starts when top political adviser Karl Rove tells the president about the first crash. The entry is labeled 8:45 a.m., a minute before the actual time of the first attack, and then skips to 9:45 a.m., with Bush aboard Air Force One.

“Sounds like we have a minor war going on here. I heard about the Pentagon,” Bush tells Vice President Dick Cheney.

“We’re at war,” Bush tells congressional leaders by phone a few moments later.

At 10:20 a.m., an entry notes that Bush “authorized shoot down if reason” — a reference to the president deciding that, if a hijacked plane was perilously on course to a potential target, fighter jets could open fire.

The false threat to Air Force One — “Angel is next” — then comes in from the White House at 10:32 a.m.

The 10:37 a.m. entry is also when Bush asks Card about Barney.

“He’s nipping at the heels of Osama bin Laden right now,” Card replies.

Five minutes later, the hair-removal commercial appears and Fleischer writes that Bush’s daughters are safe: “girls removed 2 safe house.”

Despite ‘28 pages’ release, Saudi’s 9/11 involvement still buried

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

New York Post, by Paul Sperry, Sept. 10, 2016:

The White House thinks releasing the “28 pages” summarizing Saudi involvement in 9/11 satisfied the public’s need to know. But don’t be fooled. The full story remains buried under more than 100,000 pages of other, still-secret documents.

The public didn’t even get to see everything that was in those long-classified 28 (actually 29) pages from the congressional inquiry, which narrowly focus on Saudi government officials’ contacts with just two of the 15 Saudi hijackers during their stay in San Diego. The Obama administration blacked-out critical information throughout the document.

In all, there are nearly 100 separate redactions, ranging from single words, such as names of Saudi suspects, to paragraphs and entire sections of text. Obama’s censors offered no reason why any of that information had to be kept secret 15 years after the attacks, even though such explanations are required as part of declassification reviews.

The 29 pages reveal numerous, reinforcing connections between Saudi officials and the 9/11 hijackers. As convincing as they are in tying them together as co-conspirators, they’re merely a summary of the FBI and CIA case files that detail the supporting evidence, including Saudi phone and financial records and statements from material witnesses and informants. The FBI files on alleged Saudi intelligence agent and hijacker handler Omar al-Bayoumi alone are said to run more than 4,000 pages. They are said to include interviews with Saudi government officials who had contact with Bayoumi.

Lawyers for 9/11 families suing the Saudi kingdom, who Friday won congressional passage of a bill removing Saudi’s sovereign immunity, want to get their hands on those documents, along with:

  • More than 80,000 pages of unreleased documents related to the FBI’s investigation of a wealthy, well-connected Saudi family in Sarasota, Fla., who had “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001,” according to a 2002 FBI report.
  • Still-classified FBI case files from the investigations of hijackers based in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as Arizona and Oklahoma.
  • Still-secret material from the 9/11 Commission, including investigators’ 2003 interview with Saudi Prince Bandar, the transcript of which remains under lock and key at the National Archives. (The interview could shed light on why, according to the 29 pages, Bandar personally wrote checks to one of the hijackers’ alleged handlers and why a top al Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan possessed an unlisted phone number tied to Bandar’s Aspen mansion, as well as the phone number for one of Bandar’s bodyguards at the Saudi embassy in Washington.)
  • An entire section on the Saudi’s role in 9/11 that was blanked-out from the 2015 report of the 9/11 Review Commission, set up to assess the FBI’s and CIA’s performance in implementing the original commission’s recommendations and to evaluate new evidence.
  • The 2005 “joint FBI-CIA intelligence report assessing the nature and extent of Saudi government support of terrorism,” which remains classified.
  • Some 632 pages withheld by the Treasury Department explaining why a Saudi charity tied to al Qaeda was formally designated a foreign terrorist organization.
  • Documents and other materials recovered from the raid of Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad,Pakistan compound in 2011 that still remain sealed.
  • Redacted pages from a 2002 CIA report titled “Saudi-Based Financial Support for Terrorist Organizations.”
  • Federal documents related to the investigations of as many as 70 Saudi nationals with Saudi diplomatic credentials who were kicked out of the country and sent back to their country after 9/11, most of whom worked in the Islamic Affairs offices of the Saudi Embassy in DC.
  • FBI reports and State Department memos detailing the decision to deny re-entry into the US in 2003 of Fahad al-Thumairy, a Saudi cleric who worked at the Saudi consulate in LA and is said to have acted as the advance man for two of the Saudi hijackers and, in fact, may have been at the center of the US support network for them.

The White House and Riyadh hoped the public would move on after the partial release of the 29 pages.

“Now that the declassification is complete,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, “we hope to continue our close cooperation with the US.” Not so fast. With so much still hidden from public view, the release of the 29 pages should be just the start of 9/11 transparency, not the end of it.

Paul Sperry is author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”

Lessons America didn’t learn from 9/11

(Photo: Twitter)

(Photo: Twitter)

WND, by Paul Bremmer, Sept. 10, 2016:

This Sunday Americans mark the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It will be a day of solemn remembrance, as most Americans now living still remember that horrible day.

But has the United States learned all the lessons it should have learned from the events of 9/11?

Only six days after 9/11, then-President George W. Bush delivered an address at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., in which he declared “Islam is peace.”

“These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith,” President Bush said that day. “And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that… The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

The idea that Islam is a religion of peace is nonsense, according to former Department of Homeland Security officer Philip Haney.

“In retrospect, 15 years later, was President Bush correct?” Haney asked during an interview with WND. “Has Islam proven itself to be, with the hindsight of 15 years, a religion of peace? There have been 29,100 and counting violent jihad attacks around the world since 9/11, scattered all over the world, not to mention conflicts in probably 15 to 20 different countries, with massive atrocities across the globe.”

The answer is obvious, according to Haney. Islam is a violent religion, and its adherents receive their commands to kill from the Quran itself. Haney cited Surah 9:111 of the Quran, which reads in part: “Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed.”

He also pointed to Surah 2:191, which reads in part, “And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you.”

So the lesson to be taken from the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent 15 years is that Islam is not peace, as President Bush stated.

“We’ve had 1,400 years of history to evaluate the effect of Islam, and if they were really serious about proving what George Bush said, haven’t they had plenty of opportunity to do so since 9/11?” Haney reasoned.

Not only did Bush fail to learn his lesson, but President Obama has refused to learn it.

Haney noted the Obama administration has allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization whose members hold dying in the service of Allah as their highest aspiration. He said the Muslim Brotherhood considers the Quran its highest law, not the U.S. Constitution. Article VI of the Constitution states the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, so there is a fundamental conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and American democracy.

But last weekend Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson spoke at the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, a Muslim Brotherhood front group. ISNA was exposed as a front group during the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial, as Haney documents in his revealing book “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad.”

“So the department that was founded in March of 2003 to protect our country from terrorism and threats from terror has now formed an open and overt alliance with the very organizations that state plainly that they intend to oppose all forms of human government, including the Constitution, and implement Shariah law,” Haney said.

Not only did the Obama administration fail to see the connection between Islam and terror, but they have not taken national security as seriously as they should in a post-9/11 world, according to Haney. He pointed to a directive signed by HHS Secretary Johnson in February 2014 that stated individuals only marginally affiliated with known terrorist organizations may still receive a visa from the State Department. This directive severely hamstrung Haney and his fellow counterterrorism officials.

“The U.S. Southern Command notified us a week or so ago that in 2015 at least 31,000 individuals from countries of concern regarding terror crossed the southern border,” Haney revealed. “That means we’re abrogating our responsibilities to protect our citizens from threats, that we’re not doing all that it takes to protect our border, both the actual physical border and the more abstract border of our civil liberties and our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Haney stressed that national security must come first when deciding who to let into America.

“Immigration, helping refugees are noble things, but not at the expense of the freedom and safety and civil liberties of American citizens,” he said.

Perhaps the most enduring legacy of 9/11 has been the War on Terror, which has included crusades to overthrow a number of dictators in the Middle East and replace them with democratically elected governments. But this is a fool’s errand, according to Haney, because devout Muslims prefer to Shariah law to Western-style democracy. Therefore, if they have the chance to vote, they will vote for Shariah and all the repression it brings.

“You know a tree by its fruit,” Haney said. “You look at the countries where Shariah law is practiced, whatever spectrum of intensity, from mild to Saudi Arabia-type – are any of those countries free democracies? Is there a single free democracy anywhere in the Islamic world?”

Haney noted whenever Middle Eastern Islamic countries have the choice, they always move toward Shariah, not away from it. Yet the United States often supports these countries under the banner of supporting democracy. The former DHS officer warned Shariah could creep into America if our leaders continue to ally themselves with Islamic supremacists.

“There are many provisions of the Declaration of Independence and/or the U.S. Constitution that are in direct conflict with Shariah law, and when you have Shariah law, those freedoms go,” Haney said ominously. “They do not make provision for the freedoms discussed in the Declaration or the Constitution. They are eliminated, and if it was to happen here, the same process would happen.”

***

CSPAN, Sept. 6, 2016:

Act for America 2016 Conference, Part 6 Phil Haney, a former Customs and Border Patrol officer with the Homeland Security Department, talked about his allegations of an Islamic infiltration of the U.S. government. He said that his work tracking people affiliated with the Islamic Deobandi movement was stopped so as not to offend the Muslim community. He used slides during his presentation and then responded to questions from members of the audience. Mr. Haney is the co-author of the book See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad.

“Refugee Vetting: Is Our National Security at Risk?” was a Refugee Resettlement segment of ACTCON 2016, Act for America’s “National Conference and Legislative Briefing: Taking Back America’s Security.”

philip-haney

***

Urgent messages from Ann Corcoran at Refugee Resettlement Watch:

Newt Gingrich: 9/11 anniversary — 15 years of strategic defeat, dishonesty and humiliation

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Fox News, by Newt Gingrich, Sept. 9, 2016:

“I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat.” — That was Winston Churchill’s description of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s surrender to Hitler in the Munich Agreement of 1938.

Yet Churchill’s words also apply to where the United States is today.

Our men and women in uniform have been heroic.

Many have signed up to serve again even after being wounded.

Our tactical units remain the best in the world.

Our intelligence officers and diplomats have risked their lives in service to the country.

The problem is not with the sincerity, the courage, the energy or the effort of individual Americans.

The problem has been the approach of a bipartisan Washington political elite that has squandered 15 years, thousands of lives, many thousands wounded, and trillions of dollars with no coherent strategy, no honest assessment of the challenge, and no willingness to learn from failure and develop new strategies and new institutions.

Since September 11, 2001, we have moved from righteous anger and clarity of purpose against the forces of terrorism in the immediate aftermath of the attacks to now sending $1,700,000,000 in cash to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

We have watched our efforts in Iraq collapse while our efforts in Afghanistan decay.

We have seen the Middle East grow more violent, more chaotic, and more ungovernable despite 15 years of American and allied effort.

Fifteen years ago this week, terrorists killed 2,977 Americans in the worst surprise attack on our homeland since Pearl Harbor, 70 years earlier. In fact, 574 more Americans were killed on 9/11 than on December 7, 1941.

It was a huge, tragic, and deeply emotional shock. And yet the 9/11 attack was not the beginning of our war with Islamic supremacism.

By 2001, we had been at war with the Iranian dictatorship (still to this day listed by the State Department as the leading state sponsor of terrorism) for 32 years, when Iranians seized the American embassy in Tehran. Mark Bowden described the event appropriately in the title of his book, “Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America’s War with Militant Islam.”

From an American perspective, that war had continued in Lebanon in the 1980s and in Saudi Arabia, East Africa and Yemen in the 1990s.

In 2001, the terrorist war came to American soil with shocking results.

American anger was vivid and deep. President Bush reacted with powerful, clear, morally defining words.

In his address to the Joint Session of Congress, just nine days after the 9/11 attack, President Bush asserted “on September 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country.”

President Bush described a huge goal. “Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated,” he said.

President Bush described the scale of the challenge, saying, “Americans are asking: How will we fight and win this war? We will direct every resource at our command–every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war– to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.”

Bush went on to warn that “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have seen. …Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

President Bush wisely warned that “the only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows.”

Four months later, in his 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush described North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an “Axis of Evil”.

Bush warned that “the United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.” The Congress applauded.

And that was the high water mark of the response to 9/11.

Just this week, North Korea had its fifth nuclear test. Last week North Korea launched three missiles in direct violation of United Nations Resolutions.

We now know that while deceiving the Congress and the American people, the Obama Administration has sent $1,700,000,000 to what even the State Department says is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, the Iranian dictatorship.

Iraq, at great cost in American lives, wounds and money, has degenerated into a mess dominated by Iran and by ISIS.

How did we go from brave words to defeat, dishonesty, and humiliation?

Tragically, after heroic leadership in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 (who can forget President Bush in New York standing next to the fireman and promising that the people who attacked New York would hear from all of us?) and after delivering exactly the right words to Congress, the Bush administration failed to plan for how big, how hard, and how long the fight with Islamic supremacists would be.

Almost immediately, the lawyers began imposing rules and regulations.

It was decided not to declare war even though President Bush had described 9/11 “as an act of war” in his congressional address.

The State Department began pushing back against an honest, clear statement of who was attacking us.

The Defense Department was very cautious about distorting the military establishment with an aggressive focus on learning how to defeat Islamic supremacists.

The initial Afghanistan campaign was brilliant, lean, decisive, and gave us an exaggerated sense of how powerful we were and how weak our enemies were. However, the campaign was understaffed and under resourced. We did not invest the military power to completely destroy the Taliban.

President Bush had warned that “you are with us or you are against us,” but the State Department rapidly began to offer an alternative in which you could be a little with us and a little against us.

Pakistan was with us in providing a logistics system to sustain our forces in Afghanistan. However, Pakistan was against us in providing an enormous sanctuary for the Taliban in the northwest region. Instead of thinking through the cost of a campaign to wipe out the Taliban sanctuary, we limped along in exactly the kind of indecisive guerrilla war we had waged in Vietnam. Today the Taliban has regained momentum and, the minute we leave, Afghanistan is likely to fall back into Islamist dictatorship.

Our efforts to create a modern Afghanistan were crippled by a State Department bureaucracy that was clearly unwilling to cut through red tape and learn to be effective. This pattern of systemic incompetence would be repeated in Iraq because the Bush Administration was simply unwilling to reform the State Department. Failure abroad was more acceptable than a bitter bureaucratic fight in Washington.

Once the Iraq campaign began, resources were drained from Afghanistan and the military was stretched almost to the breaking point. The unwillingness to build a genuine wartime military began to cost us lives and wounded warriors as we found ourselves unable to field and sustain the combat power that was needed. Jake Tapper’s book “The Outpost” details the tragic costs of an American military which is overextended and tries to accomplish more than it is resourced to achieve.

The Iraq campaign might have been a brilliant success if Ambassador Bremer had not changed the mission in mid-war.

The American military knew it could defeat Saddam Hussein very rapidly but it also knew that it then had to rebuild the Iraqi system and let Iraqis run their own country. It would have taken four times as many troops to actually occupy and police Iraq.

Bremer seemed to think he was supposed to profoundly change Iraq and he set about to do so with little coordination with the American military and little understanding of how deep the internal hatred and potential violence among Iraqis was.

Instead of a brief campaign Americans have been sucked into endless conflict.

As an example of the dishonesty in the title of this paper, it is simply a lie to say we don’t have boots on the ground in Iraq. At last count there were more than 4,400 American troops in Iraq, not counting temporary forces rotating in and out.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have failed to define the scale of the threat, the determination of our enemies, and the very real dangers we face.

Since the bipartisan establishment can’t even define the threat, it certainly can’t define a strategy for success.

As our enemies grow stronger and smarter, we slide from defeat to humiliation.

As our enemies watch us accept humiliation, they grow bolder and more daring.

There is a remarkable parallelism to Iranian ships crowding our navy and Russian planes crowding our air force.

None of this is a surprise.

I have posted here a paper from 2002 and 2003 warning that we had lost our way.

We have eight weeks before an historic election.

We need a robust, courageous, and honest debate about where we are and what we need to do — 15 years after 9/11.

Newt Gingrich, a Republican, was speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. He is the author of the new novel “Duplicity” and co-author, with his wife Callista Gingrich, of “Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation’s History and Future” (Center Street, May 17, 2016).

Also see:

Fifteen Years After 9/11, Blindness to the Islamist Threat Is Official Policy

FILE - Sept. 13, 2001 an American flag flies over the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center buildings in New York. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)

FILE – Sept. 13, 2001 an American flag flies over the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center buildings in New York. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)

Prohibiting mention of Islam in connection with jihadist violence won’t prevent future atrocities.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy — September 10, 2016

If there is a theme to this 15th annual observance — the word “anniversary” just seems so wrong — of the most lethal enemy attack ever carried out on American soil, it is erasure.

At least that’s what they’re being told in Owego, N.Y. There, a Muslim activist group is demanding that the town’s 9/11 memorial be erased. Not all of it; just the word “Islamic.”

Carved into the memorial — the point of which is to signify that which we must never forget — is the factual assertion that, on September 11, 2001, “nineteen Islamic terrorists” carried out coordinated suicide-hijacking attacks against the United States.

The Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier has decided that the monument is dangerous because it “could encourage hatred toward Muslims.” Fifteen years on, we are supposed to believe that the danger we face is not an enduring global threat fueled by an ideology drawn directly from Islamic scripture; the danger lies in speaking honestly about the threat.

It has taken less than two years to go from Je suis Charlie — the fleeting show of solidarity in support of Western free-speech principles after Islamic terrorists mass-murdered cartoonists at the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo — to Je suis Kerry. That’s a show of solidarity in support of our ineffable secretary of state who, when not steering aid, comfort, and goo-gobs of cash to the jihadist regime in Tehran, is telling the international media that maybe terrorism would go away if they’d just stop talking about it.

Erasure: It is Willful Blindness 2.0, specially fit for the age of Obama.

When I wrote my “Memoir of the Jihad,” willful blindness was an ingrained conscious avoidance of the abundant evidence of the threat posed by Islamic supremacism — the ideological commitment to coerce acceptance of sharia law, by force if necessary. It was a head-in-the-sand approach to easily accessible proof that the threat is rooted in Muslim scripture and a mainstream interpretation of Islam that stretches back over a millennium.

We’re way beyond that. Now, it is compelled blindness, a tireless campaign to erase the abundant evidence, to make it inaccessible. Alas, apologists of the See No Islam school cannot seem to make the jihadist carnage go away. But they work feverishly to make sure you can’t see what causes it. Or, if you do get a glimpse — because the carnage and its animating ideology are inextricably linked, and because jihadists are actually quite anxious to tell us why they do what they do — the apologists warn that you’ll keep your mouth shut if you know what’s good for you.

Or, as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it while working to create an unconstitutional legal restriction against criticism of Islam, she and her Islamist government partners will “use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel they have the support to do what we abhor.”

She wasn’t kidding. Mentions of “Islam” in connection with terrorism? Erased — in favor of “workplace violence,” “man-caused disasters,” and “overseas contingencies.”

Investigations of prominent Islamist organizations proved in a terrorism-financing prosecution to affiliate with the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian jihadist branch, Hamas? Erased.

Written materials on Islamic supremacism and classical sharia principles prepared for the training of military, intelligence, and law-enforcement agents? Erased — after all, any kind of “extremism” can cause violence.

Instructors expert in jihadist ideology formerly retained to lecture national-security personnel? Erased.

Terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay? Erased . . . at least from Gitmo.

Aren’t we afraid they’ll go back to the jihad? Well, why worry about “jihad.” According to former White House counterterrorism czar (and current CIA director) John Brennan, jihad is a “holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam” that means “to purify oneself or one’s community.” It has nothing to do with violence, and thus violence has nothing to do with Islam. Nothing more to see.

In fact, you know what else has been erased? Al-Qaeda.

First President Obama and his minions tried to miniaturize it. There is no real global terror network united by an overarching ideology rooted in the Koran; the words, deeds, and traditions of the prophet Muhammad; and sharia fundamentalism. Instead, there are independent franchises, outposts, and wannabes — to say nothing of the jayvee team — that are actually motivated by parochial political and territorial concerns, not ideology, and certainly not any ideology tied to Islam.

But, of course, it’s hard to miniaturize something that continues to kill, as al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists did on another September 11, this one in 2012 in Benghazi. Just as Obama was on the campaign homestretch, proclaiming al-Qaeda’s defeat and “decimation,” jihadists killed a United States ambassador and three other Americans.

It turned out that al-Qaeda hadn’t been erased after all. Just any talk about it.

If questions come up about the Benghazi attack, just talk about that YouTube video.

If questions come up about the Muslim militias fighting tyrannical regimes in Libya and Syria, just talk about “the rebels.” No need to mention that they are teeming with al-Qaeda cells fighting for the different tyranny of sharia.

And there’s absolutely no need to acknowledge that we’re supporting them — at least indirectly.

Fifteen years after 9/11, al-Qaeda has revived. Its breakaway faction, the Islamic State (formerly, al-Qaeda in Iraq) is our current obsession — and there are some understandable reasons for that, since the Islamic State controls major swaths of territory in the Middle East and projects terror into the West. But al-Qaeda is resurgent and as much a threat to America as it was in the late Nineties.

After 9/11, the American people seemed resolved to defeat jihadist terror. Today, the United States government is a major financial benefactor of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism — a regime that regards our country as its mortal enemy. Iran has a longstanding practice of abetting al-Qaeda. The Obama administration now has a practice of supplying Iran with plane loads of untraceable cash.

A threat can be repelled only by seeing it for what it is, understanding what it wants to accomplish, and exhibiting the will to deny it, however long that takes. Erasure is not a strategy. Fifteen years ago, we seemed to know that.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

***

Andrew McCarthy testified at the recent Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts to Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism.”

He provided the transcript of his statement at PJ Media. Here is a clip:

See more on that hearing here.

This 9/11 Anniversary is a Call to Action

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, Sept. 9, 2016:

It has been fifteen (15) years since September 11, 2001.  It is a day seared in our hearts and minds.

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Today, we are far from where we thought we would be 15 years after the jihadi attacks of 9/11.  America lost two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we lost thousands of American lives since 9/11.  Many have allowed themselves to be lied to about the true nature of the threat without any evidence they care about their ignorance.

Our leaders in both political parties have betrayed us and brought the Republic to a gravely dangerous point in our history.  Some say we are on the brink of destruction.

This weekend is meant to remember the dead of September 11, 2001, but it is also a time for Americans to dedicate themselves to defending freedom without apology.  It is a time to recall our duties as citizen soldiers, stand in the gap and refuse to surrender one more inch to tyranny and evil.

The cry once again is “Freedom.”

Freedom to speak your mind without concern for whom might be offended.

Freedom to declare the truth about America’s founding as a nation created by God’s divine providence.

Freedom to declare our rights come from God, and no man nor any government nor any tyrannical movement can take them from us.

But Freedom must be fought for.  We are at war whether you like it or not, and this fight requires mature adults who understand what is at stake to step up and engage wherever needed.

And our time is short.

The culmination of decades of work by the hard left/Marxist and Islamic jihadi Movements in the U.S. is coming to fruition right now. The enemy is on the move.  The Marxists and Jihadis are concentrating their forces.

Marxism, Communism and Socialism are evil systems.  They necessarily enslave people and, as history has repeatedly demonstrated, they are systems where few hold power over the masses – and the masses suffer greatly under that tyranny.

Islam obliges jihad (warfare against non-Muslims) until sharia is the law of the land.  This totalitarian system also enslaves and murders those who do not subscribe to its doctrines.

The cry now must be “Freedom.”

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The four key pillars of our society – Religion, Politics, Education, Media (free press?) – have been nearly obliterated by the hard-left/Marxists.  The Islamic Movement wages their war against Freedom on the very ground given to them by these Marxists.

Action at the local level needs to be taken now.

It is time to take our schools back.  Our universities may be unrecoverable, but our elementary and junior high schools are not.  Teachers teaching lies about America’s history should be aggressively made to teach the truth or bounced out of school.  The Bible should be, once again, the primary text for teaching morality and good character, among other things.

Christian Pastors who preach that any/all behavior is okay, Islam is peaceful, and that we should never offend others, are denying the faith of our founders and undermining the principles of “the law of nature (Natural Law) and nature’s God (Holy Scripture)” upon which our legal system and government are founded.  Such Pastors should be tossed out of their churches by their ears.  That is not “mean,” it is loving to all the people being corrupted by their evil teachings.

Elected officials who continue to violate their Oaths of Office must be held accountable to the people, who are the sovereign in the United States of America.  It begins at the local level.

Media outlets and reporters who continue to be mouthpieces for both the Marxist and Islamic Movements must be held to account.  Whether station sponsors are petitioned or the individual reporters shamed into speaking truth or quitting, action must be taken.

The two most important groups of people in returning the Republic to order and freedom are Sheriffs (most powerful law enforcement officers in America) and Pastors.  If a sheriff and the citizens (motivated by their Pastors) in any given U.S. county or parish understand the dangers we face, they can legally, aggressively, and thoughtfully identify and dismantle the Marxist and Islamic network in their area.

County by county and state by state we can build fortresses of Freedom.

If battle frightens you and you just want peace, you can have it in an instant.  You can surrender.  But we in a battle for the soul of our Republic and that requires action and it requires a fight.

Yes, this Presidential election is critical, and some people may feel a victory for Mr. Trump may not be victory for conservative Patriots. But a defeat for Mr. Trump will be a defeat for all of us.

However, this is a counterinsurgency and the focus of main effort is at the local level.

On this 9/11 anniversary, the cry once again is “Freedom.”  This is not a slogan nor is it hyperbole.  We are in a war and we need to start acting like it.

Lets put Freedom back on the offensive – where it belongs.

On 15th Anniversary Of 9/11, Al-Qaeda Leader Al-Zawahiri Urges Mujahideen To Focus On Targeting U.S., Incites Black Christians Against U.S. And Calls Them To Islam

MEMRI, Sept. 9, 2016:

On September 9, 2016, Al-Qaeda’s media wing Al-Sahab released a video message by the group’s leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Al-Zawahiri reiterates the reasons behind the attacks and their impact on the U.S., and urges the mujahideen to focus on targeting the U.S. and its allies, and to bring the battle onto their own soil as well. Appealing to non-Muslim African-Americans, he blames their woes on the U.S. and calls to them to convert to Islam.

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Most of the 20-minute video consists of Al-Zawahiri’s message, and the final several minutes feature an archival address by Osama bin Laden. Additionally, archival footage of a Malcolm X address is played as Al-Zawahiri appeals to African-Americans.

Below are the main points of the message:

Al-Zawahiri praises the “blessed raids” of 9/11, noting that they managed to strike deep within the U.S. and to attack its economic symbols, i.e. the Twin Towers. He also notes that the final and fourth hijacked airplane, United Flight 93, was heading towards “the biggest criminals in the White House or the Congress.” Al-Zawahiri boasts that 9/11 was a wakeup call to the U.S., reminding it that its crimes against Muslims won’t go unnoticed. The attacks’ impact, according to Al-Zawahiri, continues to be felt today, and its memory will forever be remembered by the Americans.

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Addressing the U.S., Al-Zawahiri reminds it: “The events of 9/11 were a direct result of your crimes against us, your crimes in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Mali, Somalia, Yemen, Islamic Maghreb, and Egypt [and] the result of your occupation of Muslim lands, theft of their resources, and support for the murderous corrupt criminals, who rule over them.” He further threatens the U.S.: “As long as your crimes continue, the events of 9/11 will be repeated thousands of times, by the will of Allah. And we will follow you – if you don’t cease your aggression [against us] – until the Day of Judgment…”

Moving on to the subject of the mujahideen, Al-Zawahiri informs the U.S. that their strength is increasing by the day: “There it is, the jihadi awakening [movement] increasing – thanks to Allah – many times over what it used to be before the blessed raids,” he says.

Addressing the mujahideen, Al-Zawahiri urges them to focus on attacking the U.S. and its allies, and on trying as much as possible to shift the battle onto these countries’ own soil. In that regard, he notes that the defeat of the U.S. will lead to the defeat of its lackeys. He also urges the mujahideen to unite, pledge allegiance to the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan (the Taliban), support the revolutions across the Muslim world, and urge prominent Islamic leaders to form the nucleus of a future council that will be tasked with appointing an imam (leader) for all Muslims.

Speaking to the Muslims in general, Al-Zawahiri implores them to rise up against their rulers: “It has become clear to you that your rulers are tools in the hands of the secular Safavid Crusader alliance, the alliance of the devils, headed by American and the West,” he says. He also urges them to disavow these rulers, and to adopt the path of da’wa and jihad: “Your true soldiers are your mujahideen sons… who wish for you to live free and honored in the shade of the righteous caliphate, in which the ummah chooses, holds accountable, and ousts its imam.”

Al-Zawahiri also lashes out at the various Islamic movements that have emerged in the awake of the Arab Spring, calling them “sheep” and agents of the U.S. who have hijacked the sacrifices of the Muslims. He also calls on the Muslims to be the real lions – like the mujahideen – who refuse to live under these corrupt and apostate regimes.

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Finally, Al-Zawahiri appeals to non-Muslims, particularly African Americans, blaming their woes on the U.S. and calling them to Islam. His message is augmented with an address by Malcolm X. Al-Zawahiri says: “We inform every weakened [person] in the world: America is the source of calamity and the head of evil in this world, and it is the thief of nations’ aliment, and it is the one who humiliate the Africans [i.e. African Americans] until this day, and no matter how much they try to reform and obtain their rights according to the law and the [U.S.] constitution, they will not attain it, for the law is in the hands of the white majority, [who] control it as they wish. And they [i.e. African Americans] will not be saved but by Islam.”

Reflections on 9/11’s Vulnerabilities

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Front Page Magazine, by Michael Cutler, Sept. 9, 2016:

It is hard to believe that 15 years have passed since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

What may be overlooked as the news media discusses the attacks of 9/11 is that in 1993, more than 23 years ago, terrorists from the Middle East also carried out two deadly attacks in the United States.

On January 25, 1993 a Pakistani citizen, Mir Aimal Kansi stood outside CIA Headquarters with an AK-47 and opened fire on the vehicles of CIA officials reporting for work.  When the smoke cleared, two CIA officer lay dead and three other were seriously wounded.  Kansi fled the United States and was ultimately brought back to stand trial.  He was found guilty and executed for his crimes. He had applied for political asylum.

Kansi’s strategy of fleeing the United States after the attack is one often used by alien terrorists and criminals to evade U.S. law enforcement authorities.  These foreign nationals have a sort of “trap door” they can escape through and all too often, this tactic is successful. In the case of Kansi, however, because of the nature of his crimes, our government took the extraordinary measures of tracking him down and capturing him in Pakistan.  He was apprehended by American law enforcement agents who were assisted by Pakistani officials. The New York Times reported on his capture in an article published on June 18, 1997, “U.S. Seizes the Lone Suspect In Killing of 2 C.I.A. Officers.”

On February 26, 1993, a bomb-laden truck was parked in the garage under the World Trade Center complex and detonated. The blast killed six innocent people and injured more than one thousand and inflicted an estimated one-half billion dollars in damages to that complex of buildings just blocks from Wall Street.

That attack was also carried out by alien terrorists who managed to not only game the visa process in order to enter the United States and get past the inspections process at ports of entry, but game the immigration benefits program as well.

On May 20, 1997, I participated in my first congressional hearing. That hearing was conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims and was predicated on those two terror attacks.  The topic of that hearing was “Visa Fraud And Immigration Benefits Application Fraud.”

There were a number of additional hearings conducted by the House of Representatives and the United States Senate about the terror attacks of 1993 and fact that aliens seeking to launch terror attacks had been easily able to gain entry into the United States.

On February 24, 1998, just two days shy of the fifth anniversary of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the U.S. Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information conducted a hearing on the topic, “Foreign terrorists in America : five years after the World Trade Center.”

That transcript and the transcript of other hearings have apparently been gathering dust. The hearing made it clear that failures of the immigration system were leaving our nation vulnerable to terrorists from foreign countries and yet, nothing of consequence was done about it.

It is notable that during the hearing Senator Dianne Feinstein hammered failures of the immigration system more than three years before the attacks of September 11, 2001 and included in her testimony this statement:

I am also concerned that we need to strengthen further our immigration laws and procedures to counter foreign terrorist operations. I have grave reservations regarding the practice of issuing visas to terrorist supporting countries and INS’ inability to track those who come into the country either using a student visa or using fraudulent documents through the Visa Waiver Pilot Program.

Now, however, when Donald Trump proposes blocking the entry of aliens from countries that sponsor terrorism, he is roundly accused of being an “extremist” by the media and by the Democrats.

Yet Senator Diane Feinstein’s comments about the wisdom of issuing visas to aliens from such problematic countries raised no such complaints in 1998.

Feinstein went on to state, in part:

The Richmond Times recently reported that the mastermind of Saddam Hussein’s germ warfare arsenal, Rihab Taha, studied in England on a student visa. And England is one of the participating countries in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, which means, if she could have gotten a fraudulent passport, she could have come and gone without a visa in the United States.

The article also says that Rihab Taha, also known as “Dr. Germ,” that her professors at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, speculate that she may have been sent to the West specifically to gain knowledge on biological weaponry.

What is even more disturbing is that this is happening in our own backyard.

The Washington Post reported on October 31, 1991, that U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq discovered documents detailing an Iraqi Government strategy to send students to the United States and other countries to specifically study nuclear-related subjects to develop their own program. Samir AJ-Araji was one of the students who received his doctorate in nuclear engineering from Michigan State University, and then returned to Iraq to head its nuclear weapons program.

The Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy found in September 1997 that many terrorist-supporting states are sending their students to the United States to get training in chemistry, physics, and engineering which could potentially contribute to their home country’s missile and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs.

If you think these issues have been addressed to protect us, you would be wrong.

On November 20, 2013, ABC News reported, “Exclusive: US May Have Let ‘Dozens’ of Terrorists Into Country As Refugees.”  This is not a new problem. On July 13, 2011 the Washington Times published a truly disturbing article, “Visas reviewed to find those who overstayed / Aim is to find any would-be terrorists.”

Consider that on September 2, 2014 ABC News reported, “Lost in America: Visa Program Struggles to “Track Missing Foreign Students.”

Here is how this report began:

The Department of Homeland Security has lost track of more than 6,000 foreign nationals who entered the United States on student visas, overstayed their welcome, and essentially vanished — exploiting a security gap that was supposed to be fixed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. 

“My greatest concern is that they could be doing anything,” said Peter Edge, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who oversees investigations into visa violators. “Some of them could be here to do us harm.” 

Homeland Security officials disclosed the breadth of the student visa problem in response to ABC News questions submitted as part of an investigation into persistent complaints about the nation’s entry program for students. 

ABC News found that immigration officials have struggled to keep track of the rapidly increasing numbers of foreign students coming to the U.S. — now in excess of one million each year. The immigration agency’s own figures show that 58,000 students overstayed their visas in the past year. Of those, 6,000 were referred to agents for follow-up because they were determined to be of heightened concern. 

“They just disappear,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. “They get the visas and they disappear.” 

Coburn said since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, 26 student visa holders have been arrested in the U.S. on terror-related charges. 

Tightening up the student visa program was one of the major recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, after it was determined that the hijacker who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon, Hani Hanjour, had entered the U.S. on a student visa but never showed up for school. 

It was clear to everyone that multiple failures of the immigration system enabled all of those terrorists to enter the United States and launch their deadly attacks in 1993.  Yet while some laws were enacted to address the vulnerabilities of the immigration system, those laws were of scant value because the former INS did not get any additional agents or other enforcement personnel.  In fact, the Clinton administration implemented a program, Citizenship USA (CUSA), which enabled an estimated 1.2 million aliens to acquire U.S. citizenship via the naturalization process.

That process required that the applications be moved so quickly that thousands of aliens were granted citizenship before their fingerprints were run through the system.  Moreover, to make certain that the bureaucratic machinery was able to move at “warp speed,” Doris Meissner, the Commissioner of the INS back then, decided to streamline the process for conferring citizenship to the point that many applications were adjudicated without even a face-to-face interview.

U.S. citizenship provides the “keys to the kingdom” and is a serious matter.

The failures of the Clinton administration to address the vulnerabilities of the immigration system literally and figuratively left the door wide open for the terror attacks of 9/11.

On December 6, 2014 Fox News published a report, “Saudi-born US naval engineer allegedly gave undercover agent info on how to sink carrier” that focused on how Mostafa Ahmed Awwad was educated in the United States, became a resident alien and then acquired U.S. citizenship, and later agreed to provide an FBI undercover agent with the plans of the Gerald R. Ford, a 13-billion-dollar aircraft carrier that is still under construction and has brand-new unique innovations. Allegedly Awwad even told the undercover agent where the ship would be most vulnerable to being sunk by a missile strike.

I addressed the significance of the naturalization process in terms of national security in my article, “The Immigration Factor – Naturalized U.S. Citizen Added to FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.”

The “War on Terror” grinds on and numerous additional terror attacks were attempted by radical Islamists within our borders and in countries around the world.  Fortunately not all of the attempted attacks were successful and our law enforcement officers were able to identify some terror plots before they could be carried out.  Yet some attacks, such as the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013 and the attack in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015, caused death, injuries and mayhem.

Once again, immigration failures were behind the ability of the terrorists to carry out these and other attacks.  Yet the administration continues to admit Syrian refugees who cannot be vetted, and so-called “sanctuary cities” go unpunished for harboring and shielding illegal aliens from detection by the federal government, in clear violation of our immigration laws and the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists committed visa and immigration benefit fraud — including political asylum fraud — to enter and embed themselves in the United States.

Page 54 of the report contained the following excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot”:

Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.

In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.

Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.

In my recent commentary, “Hillary Clinton’s Immigration Goals Would Irrevocably Undermine National Security,” I focused on how the fatally flawed adjudications process conducted by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), which has provided terrorists with political asylum and even United States citizenship, would require the beleaguered employees of USCIS to provide unknown millions of illegal aliens with lawful status under the aegis of Clinton’s amnesty program.

There would be no ability to conduct in-person interviews or field investigations, hence no way to verify their identities, backgrounds or possible affiliation with criminal or terrorist organizations.  There would be no way to determine when, where or how they actually entered the United States.

Ms. Clinton has certainly not learned the lessons of 9/11.

UTT Throwback Thursday: On 9/11 In Steps the Enemy to Tell Us How to Fight the Enemy

bush-with-alamoudiUnderstanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, Sept. 8, 2016:

Thanks to Karl Rove and Grover Norquist, American President George W. Bush was able to turn to his left and right after the jihadi attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 and find any of a number of Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas and/or Al Qaeda leaders (suit-wearing jihadis) to tell him how to fight the war.

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khan-and-norquistRepublican strategist Grover Norquist and Muslim Brother Suhail Khan (who was working in the White House on 9/11).  Khan is the son of Mahboob Khan, one of the most prolific Muslim Brotherhood leaders in North America in the 1960’s to 1980’s.  Suhail also served as an assistant to two consecutive Secretaries of the Treasury with a Secret Clearance and continues to pass himself off as a “conservative Republican.”

bush-with-nihad-awad-and-saffuriPresident Bush’s visit to the Islamic Center of Washington (DC) after 9/11.  On the right is Hamas Leader Nihad Awad (CAIR), and on the left is Khalid Saffuri (deputy to Al Qaeda operative Alamoudi)

bush-with-imam-muzammil-siddiqiImam Muzammil Siddiqi, a senior MB leader in the U.S. – who is currently the Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Fiqh Council of North America – at the memorial for 9/11 victims at the National Cathedral on 9/14/01

If you want to know how and why America lost the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – despite President Bush’s strong stand after 9/11 and our military’s heroic efforts and great battlefield victories – it is because every time the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, military Generals and Admirals, leaders in our national security apparatus, and others turned for advice on how to proceed in the war or in any of our counterterrorism matters domestically, they were talking to the enemy.

And we still are.