Donald Trump’s Outreach to Moderate Muslim Leaders Highlights Clinton Failure in Egypt

AFP

AFP

Breitbart, by Tera Dahl, Aug. 17, 2016:

In his foreign policy speech on Monday, Donald Trump stated that he would “amplify the voice” of moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, saying, “Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”

He also said that he would work with Egypt, Jordan and Israel in combating radical Islam, saying, “As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”

He said that, as President, he would establish a “Commission on Radical Islam,” saying, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam – which will include reformist voices in the Muslim community who will hopefully work with us. We want to build bridges and erase divisions.”

His comments about cooperating with Egypt, Israel and Jordan were highlighted in the Arab world’s media, with headlines reading “Donald Trump Announces Plan to Cooperate with Egypt, Jordan, Israel to Combat Radical Islam” and “Trump vows to work with Egypt’s Sisi to ‘stop radical Islam’ if elected.”

Under the Obama Administration, US policy has not been friendly towards our Muslim allies such as Egypt. Hillary Clinton recently said in a primary debate with Bernie Sanders that, in Egypt, you basically have an “army dictatorship”.

Egypt is one of the most catastrophic foreign policy failures of the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton’s State Department. President Obama started his outreach to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood when he delivered his 2009 Cairo speech. The US Embassy invited 10 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend the speech, undermining US ally Mubarak – who had rejected to previous U.S. efforts to reach out to the Brotherhood.

The Obama Administration, and Clinton’s State Department, again undermined President Mubarak in 2011 when they urged him to step down and pressured Egypt to hold elections“ immediately” after the 2011 revolution. This policy favored the Muslim Brotherhood to win elections since they were the most organized at the time.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo offering “strong support” for the Islamist President, saying, “I have come to Cairo to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition… We want to be a good partner and we want to support the democracy that has been achieved by the courage and sacrifice of the Egyptian people.”

The Obama Administration embraced the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, but when millions of Egyptians took to the streets one year later, calling for early elections against the Muslim Brotherhood government, the Obama Administration did all they could to undermine their efforts.

Over 30 million Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, 2013 calling for the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power. After one year of being in power, the Brotherhood was taking Egypt towards an Iranian theocracy and the Egyptian people stood against political Islam. The 2011 Egyptian Constitution had no impeachment mechanism included, so the only democratic way to remove the Brotherhood was signing a petition and taking to the streets in the masses. Millions of Egyptians took to the streets again in July, supporting then Defense Minister General el-Sisi and the Egyptian military in their efforts to fight terrorism.

The Obama Administration condemned the Egyptian military and police after the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood and punished Egypt by freezing military and economic aid to Egypt. This was done while the Egyptian military had launched a major offensive to “crush terrorist activity” in the Sinai that had built up during the Muslim Brotherhood government. Egypt had to fight terrorism alone – not only without support from the US – but with pressure to succumb to the requests from the US Administration to release the Muslim Brotherhood members from prison and reconcile.

The pressure from the Obama Administration against the removal of the Morsi regime emboldened the Muslim Brotherhood and they waged an Islamist insurgency, not only in the Sinai but on the streets of Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood specifically targeted the Christian community and burned down over 65 Christian Churches and hundreds of Christian shops.

The Obama Administration sent U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to Egypt for “U.S. mediation efforts” and met with Khairat el-Shater, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was in jail at the time and sentenced for life in prison. Our State Department, under John Kerry, sent a representative to Egypt pressuring the Egyptian government to release terrorists from jail.

The Obama Administration also sent Senators McCain and Graham to Egypt to ask the Egyptian government and military to find an agreement with the Muslim Brotherhood. They asked the Egyptian government to “sit down and talk” to the Muslim Brotherhood, who had waged war on the Egyptian people.

Since being democratically elected in 2014, winning with 97% of the vote, Egyptian President al-Sisi has made history speaking out for equality between Muslims and Christians. He was the first President in Egyptian history to visit the Coptic Christian Christmas mass service in January 2015. During his speech at the Christmas mass, he emphasized the need to look at each other as “Egyptians” and not as Muslim or Christian. He said, “We will love each other for real, so that people may see.” President Sisi again visited the Coptic Christmas mass in January 2016 where he vowed to rebuild the Christian churches that were destroyed by Islamists in 2013 after the Muslim Brotherhood were removed from power.

President Sisi has called for “Islamic reform” within Islam numerous times. During a speech to Islamic scholars in 2015, marking the anniversary of Muhammad’s birth, President Sisi urged reform of Islamic discourse and called on Islamic scholars to send Christmas greetings to Christians. In the televised speech to Islamic scholars, President Sisi stated, “We talk a lot about the importance of religious discourse… In our schools, institutes and universities, do we teach and practice respect for the others? We neither teach or practice it.”

The Egyptian government has also addressed the ideology by banning thousands of radical clerics from preaching in the mosques that are not licensed.

Recently, the government of President al-Sisi introduced a textbook for Egyptian public schools that requires Egyptian pupils to memorize the provisions of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty and delineate the “advantages of peace for Egypt and the Arab states”. This is a major reform taken from the Egyptian government in normalizing and strengthening relations between Israel and Egypt.

President Sisi should be considered a key ally of America as he is leading Egypt towards democracy and also is leading the fight against global jihad, both militarily and politically, in countering radical Islamic ideology. Instead, he has yet to be invited to the United States from President Obama.

Hillary Clinton has been critical of Trump’s position towards Russia, but policies implemented under the Obama Administration have pushed Egypt towards Russia and have alienated our strongest Arab ally for over 40 years. Egypt and Russia signed a $2billion arms deal after the United States abandoned them during their fight against terrorism. Russia also is providing Egypt with $25 billion to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

Donald Trump in his speech recognized the need to support our Muslim allies in the global war on terrorism. This is critical in defeating global jihad. We cannot afford another four years of a policy of alienating our allies and emboldening our enemies as we have seen under the Obama Administration.

Tera Dahl is Executive Director of the Council on Global Security.

Revisiting the Muslim Brotherhood’s August 2013 ‘Reign of Terror’ Targeting Egypt’s Christians

St Mousa the Black Coptic Church, Minya, Upper Egypt (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

St Mousa the Black Coptic Church, Minya, Upper Egypt (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

PJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE, AUGUST 14, 2016:

Three years ago today a systematic campaign targeting Egypt’s Christian community by Muslim Brotherhood supporters began, causing the destruction of dozens of churches, monasteries, Christian businesses and homes across Egypt – attacks unprecedented for several centuries.

Even today many of these churches and monasteries that were looted and torched during August 2013 remain in disrepair as attacks on Christians continue in certain areas of Egypt.

Several months after the Muslim Brotherhood carved this path of destruction through the Egyptian Christian community, I had the opportunity to visit some of these sites and meet with Coptic church leaders to discuss the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in these attacks.

The Coptic Christian community in Egypt is significant not only because it is one of the oldest and largest Christian communities in the Middle East, but the Coptic Christians make up more than half of the Christians still remaining in the Middle East.

Escorted by Father Anthony Hanna of St. Mary and St. Mina’s Coptic Church in Concord, California, in April 2014 we traveled deep into Upper Egypt, where many of the attacks by the Muslim Brotherhood occurred.

Muslim-Brotherhood-church-attacks-August-2013

One of the first indications of how tense the situation remained even months after the attacks were the levels of security we had to pass through to attend the Easter service at St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral.

Our driver was not even allowed close to the cathedral entrance, so we were dropped off about a quarter mile away. As we passed through the gates, we were checked for our passports and the passes to attend the service. This would be the first of seven ID checks we had to go through to enter the cathedral on the holiest holiday for Christians around the world.

There was good reason for concern for security. A year earlier, the cathedral hadbeen attacked during a funeral by Muslim mobs without any intervention by police under the government of then-President Mohamed Morsi, a top Muslim Brotherhood leader.

Several days later we had lunch with Father Hanna, where he introduced us to a young Coptic man, “George,” who had been been kidnapped for eight days in January 2013. The son of a prominent Coptic businessman, he was held until his family paid a $100,000 ransom.

“George” described his captivity at the hands of his Islamist captors. Initially he was beaten, and subjected to anti-Christian taunts throughout his captivity. When his captors had obtained the ransom, but before he was released, “George” was blindfolded and a gun held to his head, where he was told that if he didn’t renounce his Christian faith and accept Islam, he would be killed. Unable to get him to renounce his faith and with their ransom secured, “George” was released.

Sadly, the kidnapping of Christians in Egypt is still a regular occurrence.

Later that evening, Father Hanna, My Unconstrained Analytics colleague Stephen Coughlin, and myself received a personal audience with Pope Tawadros II at his office and residence in the St. Mark’s Cathedral compound. Again, we had to pass through layers of security, including armored vehicles stationed at the cathedral gates.

Steve Coughlin, Fr. Anthony Hanna meeting with Pope Tawadros II (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

Steve Coughlin, Fr. Anthony Hanna meeting with Pope Tawadros II (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

Armored vehicle protecting St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Abbassia, Cairo, Egypt (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

Armored vehicle protecting St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Abbassia, Cairo, Egypt (Photo credit: Patrick Poole)

During our audience, Pope Tawadros detailed the ongoing fallout of the Muslim Brotherhood attacks in August 2013 and his reasons for backing Morsi’s ouster following the massive June 30 protests.

Two of the things he specifically cited were the April 2013 attacks on the cathedral, which he noted was without precedent in Coptic history and which a Morsi aide had blamed Christians for, and the torture of Christian protesters in March 2013 by Muslim Brotherhood cadres at a mosque following protests against the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi.

Pope Tawadros had been praised for speaking out during the Muslim Brotherhood’s August 2013 ‘Reign of Terror’ for discouraging attempts to save the churches and the monasteries. “We could replace the buildings, we couldn’t replace the people,” he told us.

Several days later Father Hanna and I set out for Upper Egypt with arrangements made by Pope Tawadros’ staff. Here is a video of Father Hanna discussing our trip into Upper Egypt with CBN News.

Murder in Minya

Our first stop in Upper Egypt was in Minya, one of the largest cities in Upper Egypt about 140 miles south of Cairo. A majority of Egypt’s Christian community lives in Upper Egypt, and considerable destruction occurred in the Minya region.

We initially met with Bishop Makarios, who had survived an assassination attemptjust months before. Bishop Makarios noted was that Christian homes and businesses in Minya had been marked with an “X” by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the days prior to the attacks, much as ISIS did with Christian homes in Mosul, Iraq two years later.

During their ‘Reign of Terror’ the Muslim Brotherhood had openly encouraged the attacks, such as this justification for retaliation posted on the Facebook page of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in Helwan…

******

…In July 2014, Father Hanna and I met with a number of congressional leaders in Washington D.C. describing what we found on our trip and the necessity to changing the U.S. government’s current openness to the Muslim Brotherhood that had waged the August 2013 terror campaign.

Steve Coughlin and I met again with Pope Tawadros last September when we escorted a congressional delegation to Egypt. He told us of the efforts by the Egyptian government to help rebuild the churches – a promise by President Sisi that is being fulfilled.

But issues clearly remain. As previously noted, attacks on the Christian community in Egypt are increasing as the government continues to deal with a widespread terror campaign, while the Parliament takes up several draft laws to end discrimination against Christians in building churches and removing religion from national identification cards.

And as I’ve reported here at PJ Media the Muslim Brotherhood has escalated their terror tactics in Egypt, most recently with a Muslim Brotherhood IED terror cell in Alexandria that had targeted military and police officials.

Three years on from the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Reign of Terror’ it seems time for Egypt to ensure that all Egyptians enjoy equal protection under the law free from discrimination. And it is overdue for the U.S. government to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as the terrorist group it is and always has been, as witnessed by the events of August 2013.

Read it all (many photos and video)

Also see:

Where Did They Go Wrong?

CC9FA462-FE00-420E-8B18-0E83E9AC7E92_mw505_mh331_sThe Cipher Brief, by Eric Trager Aug. 12, 2016:

August 14 2013 was the most violent day in contemporary Egyptian history.  Security forces brutally dispersed demonstrations in northern Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square and Giza’s al-Nahda Square, killing hundreds of Islamists who were protesting the ouster of Egypt’s first elected president, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, six weeks earlier. Human Rights Watch later put the death toll at more than 800 civilians.  Meanwhile, the incident became a rallying cry for the Brotherhood and its allies, who vowed to avenge the crackdown and reinstate Morsi.

Yet the Rabaa massacre, as it became known, was also significant for another reason: it reflected the total failure of the Brotherhood’s post-Morsi strategy, and its defeat in the power struggle with the military-backed government that assumed control following Morsi’s ouster.  Three years later, the Brotherhood still has not recovered: many thousands of its leaders are in prison or exile, at least hundreds more have been killed, and the organization is no longer a significant player on the ground.

It is worth recalling that Morsi’s overthrow caught the Brotherhood by surprise. When millions of Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, 2013 to protest the Brotherhood leader’s autocratic and failed presidency, Brotherhood leaders told their members that the military stood firmly with Morsi. And they continued to exude this confidence even after the militarywarned Morsi on July 1 that it would intervene with its own “road map” if he failed to respond to the protesters’ demands within 48 hours.

So when Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, flanked by a broad spectrum of Egyptian figures, declared Morsi’s ouster on the evening of July 3, the Brotherhood responded in haste. It ordered cadres from across the country to gather in Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda Squares, where the Brotherhood had been demonstrating in support of Morsi for nearly a week. These squares became no-go zones for the Egyptian police after Morsi’s overthrow, and served as sanctuaries where wanted Brotherhood leaders avoided arrest, held meetings, and addressed the international media.

Despite the military’s significant advantages in arms and capacity, the Brotherhood sincerely expected to win the ensuing power struggle. It believed that only a small number of generals had supported Morsi’s toppling, and that its protests would foment a split within the military and thus restore Morsi to power. The Brotherhood further believed that it could withstand any attempt to disperse the protests, given that its members were willing to die for the organization’s cause. “If they want to disperse the sit-in, they’ll have to kill 100,000 protesters,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad toldjournalist Maged Atef. “And they can’t do it [because] we’re willing to offer 100,000 martyrs.” At the same time, the Brotherhood called for pro-Morsi protests across the country.  Demonstrators blocked roads and clashed with security forces. All of these activities were intended to send a very clear message to the new regime: Egypt would not know stability until the coup was reversed.

The regime got the message, and it was similarly determined to win the power struggle. “We were sure of one thing: that no country can go on if a sector of its population just does not recognize [and] defies the authority,” Hazem el-Beblawi, who served as Egypt’s prime minister during this period, told me during an October 2014 interview. “This is unacceptable.”

The government also made it quite clear that it was willing to use significant force against the Brotherhood’s protests.  Fifty-one Morsi supporters were killed on July 8 outside the Republican Guard Headquarters, where Morsi was being held.  Then, on July 24, Defense Minister Sisi called for mass demonstrations to “authorize” the military to fight terrorism, by which he meant the Brotherhood, and many thousands of Egyptians responded by pouring into the streets two days later. Still, since the first month after Morsi’s ouster coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, the government delayed its plans to disperse the Brotherhood’s protests, and allowed Western diplomats to explore possibilities for a negotiated resolution. “We were aware that such a thing cannot be solved without some casualties, but we wanted as much as we [could] to delay it, but not to the extent that the perception of respect [for] the government should deteriorate,” Beblawi said.

When negotiations failed, however, Egypt’s cabinet met on July 31 and authorized the Minister of the Interior to “take all necessary measures to disperse protests or sit-ins.” To minimize bloodshed, some ministers suggested that security forces should encircle the protest sites and permit protesters to leave, but not allow new protesters or goods to enter. This type of siege strategy would have ended the protests more gradually, but would have also entailed far fewer casualties. According to Beblawi, however, the Interior Minister rejected this idea, arguing that a siege strategy would allow the Brotherhood to decide when to initiate hostilities with security forces, which would have put the police at a disadvantage. This, of course, isn’t how police typically deal with protests – it’s the way generals strategize during war. And that’s exactly how the new government viewed this particular moment in time. So the cabinet ultimately deferred to the Interior Minister, empowering the police to disperse the protests whenever they were prepared.

The Rabaa massacre dealt a very severe blow to the Brotherhood.  Beyond the high death toll, Brotherhood leaders and cadres lost their physical sanctuaries, and during the next few months many thousands of them landed in either prison or exile.  By the end of 2013, the Brotherhood’s notoriously hierarchical organization had been thoroughly decapitated, rendering it incapable of executing any sort of nationwide strategy within Egypt. While the Brotherhood continues to promote its ideas and political narrative from its de facto base in Istanbul, it no longer represents a significant threat to the current government and is barely visible within Egypt today.

I asked Beblawi whether he had any regrets about Rabaa. After all, when security forces killed 28 Christian demonstrators in downtown Cairo in October 2011, Beblawi resigned from his post as Finance Minister in protest. But when it came to Rabaa, Beblawi believed that Egypt’s future was at stake, and didn’t envision a better alternative. “It [was] very painful,” he said. “But you go to war, and many of your kids … lose their arms and even their lives, but you save the country. It was a terrible thing, very nasty, and the decision was not easy, but inevitable.”

For the Brotherhood, Rabaa remains an important symbol of its “steadfastness” in resisting Morsi’s overthrow, and those who were killed at Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda Squares are celebrated as holy martyrs on Brotherhood social media pages and elsewhere. Yet, in recent months, Muslim Brothers have started to reassess their leaders’ failed strategy during that period. In this vein, one Morsi supporter recently asked on Facebook why the Brotherhood simply remained in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square after the Egyptian military issued its 48-hour ultimatum to Morsi on July 1, 2013, rather than mobilizing to the Republican Guard headquarters where Morsi was staying to prevent the military from arresting him.

Of course, these types of questions became even more pertinent after last month’s failed coup in Turkey, as Islamists studied how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan managed to avoid Morsi’s fate. For example, Amr Farrag, who founded the Brotherhood-affiliated news site Rassd, recalled how on the day after Morsi’s ouster, Muslim Brothers were instructed to deal respectfully with soldiers who were entering and exiting a Ministry of Defense building right next to Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. “Our dear brothers were saying, we are peaceful,” Farrag posted on Facebook. “Our peacefulness is stronger than bullets. Fine, so we got smacked on our necks.”

These reassessments reflect the most significant change within the Brotherhood in the three years since the Rabaa massacre: the organization is increasingly fractured. Brotherhood leaders are either in prison, in hiding, or scattered among various countries in exile, and this has catalyzed an internal power struggle that hasn’t been resolved yet. In this sense, there are still many Muslim Brothers but no Brotherhood, at least for the time being.

Also see:

Emails Show Clinton Was Told About MB-AQ Links

scafby John Rossomando
IPT News
May 2, 2016

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails suggest that she may have known about connections between the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and hardcore jihadist groups such as al-Qaida early in the 2011 Arab Spring.

Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal noted in an April 7, 2011 email that Egypt’s military leaders expressed concerns about contacts between the MB and al-Qaida. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) reportedly feared that the Brotherhood would work with various violent Islamist groups, including al-Qaida affiliates.

“The main concern of the SCAF leaders is that the MB will begin working with more violent Islamist groups, including the various al Qa’ida affiliates,” Blumenthal wrote.

A source “with access to the highest levels of the MB,” including its Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, privately told Blumenthal that the relationship between the MB, al-Qaida and other radical groups was “complicated.”

“Egyptian military intelligence is aware of the fact that these contacts exist, but believe that the MB, under the influence of … [the] moderates, is carefully controlling its contacts with these radical/terrorist groups, in an effort to avoid providing the military with an excuse to move against them,” Blumenthal wrote.

Blumenthal’s source claimed that Mohamed Morsi admitted that the Brotherhood’s looming Islamist government in Egypt would find it difficult to control the rise of al-Qaida and other radical/terrorist groups, according to a Dec. 16, 2011 email. No context is provided for this statement apart from Morsi also noting that the younger generation of Egypt’s military had become Islamized and anti-American despite training by the United States. The email also notes that younger officers would support Egypt becoming an Islamist state more than the current crop of generals.

Morsi became president about six months later.

However, former CIA Director James Woolsey questions Blumenthal’s sources, telling the Investigative Project on Terrorism that he doesn’t know where Blumenthal found his information.

“This is highly speculative but interesting,” Woolsey said. “The issue with the emails is classification. What matters is the sources and methods.”

These emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server, written while she was secretary of state, were made public as a result of a Judicial Watch lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Many are alleged to contain potentially classified information, and this remains under FBI investigation.

Egyptian security sources recorded calls between Morsi and al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri while he Morsi was in power, according to a Nov. 22, 2013 article in Egypt’s El-Watan newspaper. Morsi allegedly agreed to grant a presidential pardon to 20 terrorists, including one al-Zawahiri had known since childhood, and another who ran Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis – now known as ISIS’s Sinai province.

Communications between Morsi and al-Zawahiri began during the first month of his presidency. Zawahiri’s brother, Mohamed, mediated the initial contacts between them.

“Rule by God’s law for us to stand beside you, there is no so-called democracy, then get rid of your opponents,” al-Zawahiri told Morsi, according to the El-Watan transcript.

Al-Zawahiri and Morsi allegedly agreed to cooperate in establishing training camps in Sinai and near the Libyan border where they could create an army to defend the Brotherhood regime. Morsi allegedly met with an emissary of Zawahiri’s at a Pakistani hotel for two-and-a-half hours, and this reportedly resulted in the international organization of the MB giving al-Qaida $50 million.

Morsi called al-Zawahiri asking for his help soon before the military toppled him, according to the Al-Watan report.

“We will fight the military and the police, and we will set the Sinai aflame,” al-Zawahiri allegedly told Morsi.

The pro-military newspaper’s reporting has been called into question in the past. Its editor remains under investigation for falsifying a report about an Islamist terror cell.

Still, the alleged phone calls with al-Zawahiri contributed to Egyptian prosecutors seeking a death sentence against Morsi.

Attacks in the Sinai increased following Morsi’s fall. The suggestion by Brotherhood leader Mohamed el-Beltagy following Morsi’s deposition that “Attacks in Sinai would stop the second President Mohammed Morsi is reinstated,” adds to evidence of Brotherhood connections with al-Qaida, according to Michael Meunier, an Egyptian activist who previously worked closely with the Egyptian government.

“There is a clear indication of coordination between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida in Sinai,” Meunier said.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the group responsible for most of the attacks, belonged to al-Qaida before joining the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014. Reports indicate that Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was “structurally” tied with the MB.

If true, the ties between the MB and al-Qaida challenge the academic contention that the two groups are mortal enemies. This contention was based upon mutual criticisms, such as al-Zawahiri’s 2006 condemnation of the MB’s participation in democratic elections.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper invoked the idea that the MB and al-Qaida were opposed to each other during February 2011 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

“The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’…is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam,” Clapper said.

A Feb. 16, 2011 email from an unnamed State Department official who helped draft Presidential Policy Directive-13  – a document that helped frame U.S. policy surrounding Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East – echoed Clapper’s remarks. U.S. policy should not “be driven by fear,” it said, and if it didn’t distinguish the Brotherhood and al-Qaida, it wouldn’t be able to adapt to changes in the region.

Not Just Egypt

Other government documents corroborate Blumenthal’s contention that the Brotherhood and al-Qaida are linked.

The Clinton emails describe a definitive personal link between the Brotherhood and al-Qaida in Libya dating from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state in the person of Ali al-Sallabi, who founded the al-Qaida linked Libyan National Party (LNP).

A Feb. 27, 2011 email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan describes al-Sallabi as “a key figure in the Libyan Muslim brotherhood and [Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Yusuf] Qaradawi’s man in Libya.” Sullivan stands accused of sending Clinton top-secret emails at her private account.

Blumenthal noted in a July 3, 2011 email that the LNP was dominated by former members of the al-Qaida-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), “who, according to sensitive sources, maintained ties to al Qa’ida during their struggle with the forces of former dictator Muammar al Qaddafi.”

A March 24, 2011 Libyan intelligence document claims that al-Sallabi coordinated the effort by the international Muslim Brotherhood to assist the LIFG in its fight against Gaddafi.

Similarly, Rached al-Ghannouchi, head of Tunisia’s Brotherhood-linked Ennahda Party,attempted to work with al-Qaida linked Ansar Al-Sharia and its late leader, Abu Iyadh – a former Bin Laden ally sanctioned by the U.S. after 9/11 – during the Arab Spring. Abu Iyadh was responsible for al-Qaida’s assassination of Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masood two days before the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

These examples also include connections between the Yemeni MB and al-Qaida through Sheikh Abdul Majid al-Zindani. Treasury Department officials described al-Zindani as a “Bin Laden loyalist” in a 2004 press release. He also helped al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki, while serving on the board of the Brotherhood-linked Union of Good, which raises funds for Hamas.

Al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood have also used many of the same funding mechanisms, such as the Lugano, Switzerland based Al-Taqwa Bank.

West Supported Brotherhood Making Egypt an Islamic State

In other correspondence, Blumenthal reported that “MB leaders are also pleased with the results of discussions with the United States Government, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), both of which, in the analysis of the MB leaders, appear to accept the idea of Egypt as an Islamic state.”

Western business and diplomatic leaders at the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos“appeared to accept” an end to Egypt’s role as a partner with Israel, Blumenthal wrote, even if the Egyptians had no desire for a military confrontation with the Jewish state.

Brotherhood members, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, advocated an Islamic government based upon the Turkish model, in which civilians rather than clerics rule. All legislation passed by such a government must conform to the Islamic law. Egypt’s 2012 constitution included this principle, which subjected legislation for review by Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s most important academic institution. Gamal al-Banna, brother of the Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, warned prior to his death in January 2013, that religious law would always prevail in such a system.

“If nothing else, the civilian and religious outlooks will differ and will therefore surrender to the religious outlook,” al-Banna said in a 2011 interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm. “Egypt should thus become a civil state, without involving the detailed legislation of Islam.”

Despite this knowledge Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration chose to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood as just another political party.

Meunier, who helped organize the demonstrations that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, doesn’t find any of these revelations surprising.

“To have that information and to ignore it is criminal. I kind of had an idea about this way back when [Clinton] came to Egypt, and I refused to meet with her when she requested a meeting with me,” Meunier said. “We knew that she was colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood.

“She was encouraging and working with a terrorist organization.”

Supporting Deep Democracy

1896925188An otherwise worthy criticism of Obama’s Muslim-World foreign policy misses a crucial point.

BY CounterJihad · @CounterjihadUS | April 20, 2016

Alex Rowell, a British-born journalist with substantial experience in the Middle East, has penned what is overall an excellent criticism of US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy in the Muslim world.  His basic thesis, which is correct, is that Obama’s tenure has empowered autocrats instead of democrats across the Middle East.  In violation of what he claimed were his basic principles, Obama has stood by while more than a million have been killed in Syria.  He stood by while Iran’s hardliners suppressed their democratic opponents, within two weeks of Obama’s famous Cairo address promising support to democrats in the Muslim world.  His Iraq policy and his State Department actively empowered then Prime Minister Maliki to act as a “Shi’a strongman,” which they decided Iraq needed.  This, along with his inaction in Syria, enabled the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the loss of the hard-fought peace in Iraq he inherited from the American military’s sacrifices in the Surge.

Where Rowell goes wrong is in assuming that failing to support a democratically-popular policy or leader of the moment is the same as failing to support democracy.  To be durable, a democracy has to balance a permanent constitutional system against the passing desires of the majority.  Such a constitutional system can be called “deep democracy.”  The danger facing it in the Islamic world is often the danger expressed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who compared democracy to a train.  You get off, he said, once you have reached your destination.

Erdogan may at the moment be able to withstand a democratic election, but supporting him is not being a friend to democracy.  His government has suppressed academics and free inquiry, committed war crimes against his own population, and is devoutly Islamist.  That he won an election does not make him a democrat.  To support democracy in Turkey, one has to support the deep democracy:  the defense of basic rights and values that make a lasting democracy possible.

By the same token, Rowell criticizes the Obama administration for failing to continue to back the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt once it had suspended the Egyptian constitution.  In fact, the error was ever to support a movement that is founded on the principle of overthrowing democratic states and instituting a form of government that bans democratically-enacted laws as blasphemous.  A deep devotion to democracy is incompatible with such a view.  That they might win an election does not make them democrats.

There is much to criticize in the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy in the Muslim world.  Much of what Rowell says is fair and accurate, and his piece is well worth reading.  However, readers should take this caveat:  to defend democracy, more is necessary than to defend whoever happened to win the last election.  Democracy is only sustainable within a constitutional system that protects the beliefs and basic rights that make democracy possible.  The enemies of such systems are the permanent enemies of democracy, even if they win today at the ballot box.

Will Egyptian schools strip religion from curriculum?

Students pray at Nile Garden School before the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival in Cairo, Nov. 11, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Students pray at Nile Garden School before the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival in Cairo, Nov. 11, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Al-Monitor, by 

A call made by Nadia Henry, deputy head of the Free Egyptians Party’s parliamentary bloc, to replace the religion course — which is mandatory for students in public schools — with an alternate course on “values” has raised considerable debate within the parliament, accompanied by an attack launched by the Salafist Nour Party and Al-Azhar.

Egyptian schools teach religion from elementary school through high school, and Christian students are separated from their fellow Muslims during religion courses. However, despite the importance of this course in Egyptian education, the students’ grades in religion are not included in their final grades because religion exams taken by Christians differ from those taken by Muslims, and this way everyone can be graded equally. Meanwhile, the Orthodox Church and Al-Azhar contribute to developing the curricula for the religion courses for both Christian and Muslim students.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Henry emphasized that she did not call for eliminating the religion course, but rather wanted to replace it with a course on values that would combine verses from both the Quran and the Bible that underline values and ideals. “The values course should be taught by educators who have knowledge in the science of counseling and psychology, in order to plant the idea of citizenship in students’ hearts and teach them how to love one another,” she said.

Henry refused the idea of teaching the values course along with religion, stressing that the religion course and its results over the past years must be evaluated.

Henry pointed out that the religion course did not produce clear results in changing the concepts of ethics and values in society. She also criticized the way religion is taught in schools by separating young Muslim students from Christians, which increases sectarianism. “The values course would teach students the principles of citizenship, without discrimination and without separating between minority and majority. All institutions must work hand-in-hand; the religious institution establishes doctrine, and the educational institution applies it through educational and behavioral rules.”

She called on all those opposing her proposal to join her at the dialogue table to develop the proposal, stressing that she does not aim at eliminating religion from schools but to establish a more advanced way to teach it.

Henry responded to attacks on her proposal by saying that changes to long-standing methods are always accompanied by societal shock, but it is necessary to reconsider the method of teaching religion in schools. According to her, the results of the religion course are negative because students are separated based on their religion and have teachers who are not specialized in teaching religion. She also argued that it would not lead to a decline in religion, claiming, “The values course would hamper any inclinations toward atheism among students, because they would [be taught] to understand and tolerate one another.”

“I will continue to defend the proposal after the Free Egyptians Party’s educational committee finishes preparing it in order to submit it to the parliament,” she asserted.

The veteran member of parliament revealed that she is preparing to hold a workshop for educators, clerics, experts in humanities, as well as media and cultural figures in order to establish regulations and standards for a new educational course under the name of “values.” Henry noted that she will not be affected by the attacks against her. She welcomes all opinions, and she will continue to implement her proposal. Henry expressed her hope that some religious leaders would be welcoming, noting, “The new religious leadership within the Evangelical Church shows how committed it is to teaching religion to the new generation.”

Henry explained that the values course would “emphasize the concepts ofmoderate Islam for Muslim and Christian students alike. Christian students will learn Quranic verses about tolerance and love, while Muslim students will learn Bible verses about being loving and giving. Thus, citizenship is truly achieved without any [sectarian] slogans.”

Al-Azhar’s committee of senior scholars issued a statement March 10 describing calls to remove religion from state curricula as “harmful to Al-Azhar’s status and the Islamic identity of our country.”

Al-Azhar’s statement was welcomed by Salafist Nour Party’s members of parliament, with parliamentarian Ahmed Sharif applauding Al-Azhar’s stance and stressing that the proposal to remove the religion course was not appropriate.

Meanwhile, Abdel Moneim El-Shahat, a spokesman for the Salafist Call — the Nour Party’s political wing — warned about responding to those calling for eliminating religious education from schools. In press statements published March 15 he said, “All societal classes are in desperate need of an increase in religion in schools, universities and the media.”

For his part, Mohamed El Shahat al-Gundi, a member of the Islamic Research Academy, told Egyptian daily Al-Youm Al-Sabeh in early March that replacing religion for values in school curricula would open the gate to the breakdown of key provisions in the Muslim and Christian religions, and that it was an attempt to resemble the West, which is not the right thing to do.

Henry’s proposal was met with various reactions within parliament. For one, member of parliament Amina Naseer supported the proposal, saying, “Islam and Christianity emphasize the need for ethics and an upright behavior in dealing with others. The values material should include the values contained in Christian and Muslim texts agreed upon by everyone.”

However, independent member of parliament Mohammed Ismail announced that he would make an urgent statement to the Minister of Education to demand including the grades students get in religious course in their final grades, in response to calls to replace the religion course with values. Ismail expressed the need to do away with the current pass/fail grading system for religion, which in his view would eliminate religious illiteracy and prevent the infiltration of extremist ideas into society.

Sitting Ducks? ISIS threatens American troops in Egypt’s Sinai

unnamed (34)Fox News, by Lucas Tomlinson, Jennifer Griffin, April 7, 2016:

Concerned that hundreds of American forces based in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula are vulnerable to attack by a nearby Islamic State affiliate, top administration officials are worried about their safety and what to do next.

The State Department said Wednesday the U.S. troops will not be withdrawn from Sinai.

“We remain fully committed to our multinational force and observers mission,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner. “So no change in policy, no change in our force structure.”

But troop safety has U.S. military leaders weighing what to do next.

More than 1,600 international forces occupy outposts in the Sinai, including 700 mostly U.S. Army National Guard troops. But these forces are unable to carry out offensive operations against ISIS-affiliated groups such as Wilayat Sinai since they are bound by an agreement made months after the 1978 Camp David accord, which made peace between Egypt and Israel.

At the Pentagon Wednesday, a senior U.S. military leader said discussions at the “highest levels” were taking place among the U.S., Israeli and Egyptian governments about the future size of the U.S. commitment to Sinai.

“My focus is making sure that they have the force protection measures in place and we have increased the force protection measures,” said Rear Adm. Andy Lewis, Joint Staff vice director for operations, in a briefing with reporters.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, the Army’s top officer, visited the force in December, accompanied by Fox News, shortly after four U.S. soldiers were injured by a roadside bomb. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

In early September, the Pentagon added 75 more troops, as well as additional armored vehicles including four Bradley Fighting Vehicles, after another ISIS attack injured two peacekeepers from Fiji. Their base is typically hit by incoming fire once a day.

As part of the routine harassment attacks, mostly from small arms fire, ISIS-aligned forces sometimes launch mortars without warheads to land inside the camp in order to send a message, one official told Fox News.

“The threat is increasing,” said the official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The warning signs have been mounting.

In November, a group claiming allegiance to ISIS said it downed the Russian airliner that crashed over Sinai, killing all 224 people on board.

In December, the Middle East Institute’s Geoffrey Aronson got the Pentagon’s attention when he wrote in an article: “Sinai is ground zero in the ongoing insurgency against the Egyptian government led by ISIS.”

Another foreign policy expert said it is unlikely the United States will be able to change its treaty agreements regarding the international force.

“The Israelis and Egyptians do not want them to [pull out], they don’t want to appear to be giving into ISIS,” said Paul Salem, of the Washington-based Middle East Institute, in an interview with Fox News. “They’re pushing the Americans hard not to … redeploy.”

Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld faced pushback when he tried to pull the U.S. troops out over a decade ago. Israel and Egypt have resisted calls for American troops to withdraw, leaving the Pentagon and the White House with a dilemma considering 700 U.S. troops are now positioned in the middle of an increasingly dangerous region.

“Almost everything has changed in the last few years,” Salem said. “Now there’s a full-on battle between ISIS and the Egyptian army.”

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at @JenGriffinFNC.

 

Blasphemy Convictions Intensify in Sisi’s Egypt

Gatestone Institute, by Raymond Ibrahim, April 6, 2016:

  • “There have been more blasphemy cases and convictions during the Sisi era than during the Morsi era.” — Ibrahim Eissa, Muslim television host in Egypt.
  • Their crime was to have made a 20-second video on a mobile phone mocking the Islamic State — an act interpreted as mocking Islam. In the video, the boys appear laughing and joking, as they pretend to be ISIS members praying and slitting throats. “The judge didn’t show any mercy. He handed down the maximum punishment [five years].”
  • Egypt is becoming more like Pakistan. Although that nation also prohibits the defamation of all religions, only Christians and moderate Muslims are targeted and imprisoned; some, such as Asia Bibi, a 50-year-old Christian woman and mother of five, are on death row. Conversely, Muslims who openly defame Christianity — and they are many — are regularly let off.

Despite Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s many pluralistic words and gestures, which have won him much praise from the nation’s Christians and moderates, he appeases the Islamist agenda in one very clear way: by allowing the controversial defamation of religions law, colloquially known as the “blasphemy law,” to target Christians and moderates in ways arguably worse than under the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi.

Last month three Christian teenagers were jailed for five years for breaking the defamation of religions law. A fourth defendant, 15, was given juvenile detention for an indefinite period. [1]Earlier, they were detained for 45 days and subjected to “ill-treatment,” according to a human rights group.

Their crime was to have made a 20-second video on a mobile phone mocking the Islamic State — an act interpreted as mocking Islam. In the video, the boys appear laughing and joking, as they pretend to be ISIS members praying and slitting throats. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, an independent rights group, confirmed that the four teenagers were performing scenes “imitating slaughter carried out by terrorist groups.” Even so, according to their defense lawyer, Maher Naguib, the Christian youths “have been sentenced for contempt of Islam and inciting sectarian strife…. The judge didn’t show any mercy. He handed down the maximum punishment.”

Considering that even Egypt’s Al Azhar — the Islamic world’s most prestigious university —refuses to denounce the Islamic State as being un-Islamic, it is not surprising that mockery of ISIS is being conflated with mockery of Islam.

The Christian youths made the brief video in January 2015, when three of them were aged 17 and one 15. It is believed that the court kept delaying their case until the three 17-year-olds turned 18, so they could receive the full penalty as adults. Their teacher, who also appeared in the video, had earlier been sentenced to three years in jail.

Despite Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s many pluralistic words and gestures, he appeases the Islamist agenda by allowing the “blasphemy law” to target Christians and moderates. Pictured above: Sisi became the first Egyptian president ever to visit the St. Mark Cathedral during Coptic Christmas Eve Mass, on January 6, 2015. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

Several other Christians have been prosecuted under Sisi’s tenure for insulting Islam and Muslims. One young Christian man was sentenced to six years for “liking” an Arabic-language Facebook page administered by Muslim converts to Christianity. A female Christian teacher was imprisoned for six months after Muslim parents accused her of insulting Islam and evangelizing.Bishoy Armia Boulous, a Muslim convert to Christianity, remains behind bars on trumped up charges of blasphemy, according to his lawyer.

While Christian minorities are the most prone to being targeted by the blasphemy law, secular Muslim thinkers and writers are also on the hit list. In January, Muslim writer Fatima Naoot was sentenced to three years in prison after she criticized the sadistic slaughter of animals that takes place during the Islamic festival, Eid al-Adha. The month before that, television host Islam al-Behairy was sentenced to one year in prison for questioning the validity of some of the sayings (hadiths) attributed to Muslim prophet Muhammad.

Although Egypt’s constitution outlaws the “defamation of religions,” the plural indicates that, along with Islam, Judaism and Christianity are protected. In reality, however, the law is almost exclusively used to prosecute Christian minorities and secular Muslims. Despite the fact that there are many more Muslims than Christians in Egypt, rarely are Islamists arrested and prosecuted for defaming Christianity.

In this, Egypt is becoming more like Pakistan. Although that nation also prohibits the defamation of religions — which technically includes Christianity — only Christians and moderate Muslims are targeted and imprisoned; some, such as Asia Bibi, a 50-year-old Christian woman and mother of five, are on death row. Conversely, Muslims who openly defame Christianity — and they are many — are regularly let off one way or the other. A few weeks ago, a Muslim broke into a church and proceeded to burn its Bibles. Although several Christians caught him and handed him over to police, the perpetrator claimed he was mentally unstable and could not stand trial. In another case, a Muslim shopkeeper started selling shoes that depict the Christian cross on their soles. Christians demonstrated but police did nothing.

On January 26, soon after the sentencing of the writer Fatima Naoot, another moderate Muslim and television host in Egypt, Ibrahim Eissa, scathingly criticized the Sisi government, including by saying that “there have been more blasphemy cases and convictions during the Sisi era than during the Morsi era.” He continued:

There is no greater contradiction between what the state says and claims about itself and the reality on the ground… The Egyptian state is schizophrenic because it says what it does not do…. It’s amazing and baffling to see a state who’s president regularly preaches about the need for religious discourse and renewal — and yet, during Sisi’s 18-19 month tenure, the nation has witnessed more reports, cases and convictions, and the imprisonment of writers, in the name of defamation religions than during the one year tenure of the Muslim Brotherhood president…. The [Sisi] revolution dropped the Brotherhood but kept the ideology unchanged.

Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (a Gatestone Institute and Regnery publication, April 2013).


[1] Although only now making English language media, this story was translated here in April 2015, soon after riots and attacks on Christians broke out when Muslims learned of the video.

The Bipartisan Enemy of the Good

secretary_kerry_with_president_al-sisi_july_2014Frontpage, by Caroline Glick, April 5, 2016:

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.

On March 25, The New York Times published an editorial effectively calling for US President Barack Obama to abandon the US alliance with Egypt.

The Obama White House’s house paper urged the president to “reassess whether an alliance that has long been considered a cornerstone of American national security policy is doing more harm than good.” The editorial concluded that Obama must “start planning for the possibility of a break in the alliance with Egypt.”

The Times’ call was based on an open letter to Obama authored by a bipartisan group of foreign policy experts that call themselves the “Working Group on Egypt.” Citing human rights violations on the part of the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Working Group urged Obama to tie US financial and military assistance to Egypt to the protection of NGOs operating in Egypt.

The self-proclaimed bipartisan band of experts is co-chaired by Robert Kagan from the Brookings Institution and Michele Dunne from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Among its prominent members are Elliott Abrams, Ellen Bork, Reuel Gerecht, Brian Katulis, Neil Hicks and Sarah Margon.

The Working Group has a history.

In January 2011, it called for Obama to force then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to resign from office. In so doing, it provided bipartisan cover for Obama’s decision to abandon the US’s most critical and dependable ally in the Arab world. Then, as now, the group’s esteemed experts argued that due to the regime’s infringement of human rights, the US could not in good conscience support it. Back in 2011, Israelis found a rare wall-to-wall unanimity of purpose in vocally and forcefully defending Mubarak from his American detractors. From the far Left to the far Right, from the IDF General Staff to the street, Israelis warned anyone who would listen that if Mubarak were forced out of power, the Muslim Brotherhood would take over and transform Egypt into a jihadist state.

Due in large part to the presence of senior Republican foreign policy hands on the Working Group, by and large Israel’s warnings were ignored in Washington. Facing the unusual Israeli consensus backing Mubarak was an American consensus insisting that “democracy” would ensure that a new liberal democratic Egypt would emerge out the ashes of the Mubarak regime.

The Americans chided us for repeating over and over again that the Muslim Brotherhood, the progenitor of al-Qaida, Hamas, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and every other major Sunni jihadist terrorist group around at the time, was a terrorist group.

We were attacked as “anti-democratic,” for insisting that the Facebook posters and twitterers on Twitter were in no position to replace Mubarak.

Who were we, the Americans scoffed, to point out that the “Facebook revolutionaries” were but a flimsy veneer which barely hid the Islamists from willfully blind Western officials and reporters who refused to admit that liberal values are not universal values – to put it mildly.

In the ensuing five years, every single warning that Israel expressed was borne out in spades.

Just as we said, right after Mubarak was forced from power, the Islamists unceremoniously dispatched with the Facebook crowd. The two million Islamists who converged on Tahrir Square to hear Sheikh Yussuf Qaradawi call for jihad and the Islamic conquest of Israel weren’t interested in democracy.

The women and Christians of Egypt soon realized, Mubarak’s overthrow, which paved the way for the Muslim Brotherhood electoral victories in 2012, did not expand their rights, it endangered their lives. As for the hapless Americans, immediately after Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi was inaugurated to serve as president of Egypt, the government began demanding that the US release from prison Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called Blind Sheikh who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. The US embassy in Cairo was the target of jihadist riots on September 11, 2012.

Then, since Morsi was elected democratically, none of this was any sweat off the back of Washington’s Egypt experts. They supported sending F-16s to his air force even after he hosted then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Cairo, let Iranian warships traverse the Suez Canal and became a strategic ally of Hamas. They also supported his government, even though he enabled Libyan arms to flow through Egypt to Syria, transforming the war in Syria from a local dispute into the incubator for Islamic State – the precursor of which Morsi also gave a free hand to operate in the Sinai, in conjunction with Hamas.

The Americans didn’t reconsider their belief that Morsi was the guy for them, even after he allowed his Muslim Brothers to torch Coptic churches and massacre Christians. They didn’t revisit their support for the Muslim Brotherhood government even after Morsi arrogated to himself dictatorial powers that even Mubarak never dreamed of.

Perhaps if Morsi had been a responsible economic leader, and maintained the liberalization policies Mubarak enacted during his last five years in power, then defense minister Abdel Fatah Sisi wouldn’t have felt the need to remove him from power. After all, Morsi appointed Sisi to his position.

But in addition to ending even lip service to human rights, Morsi gutted the economy. By the time the military overthrew Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in the summer of 2013, Egypt had a mere $5 billion in reserves, and according to the World Health Organization, a quarter of Egyptians were starving.

So had the Muslim Brotherhood remained in power, Egypt would not have remained a democracy.

It would have become a jihadist state as dangerous as Iran, with the economic prospects of North Korea.

In other words, five years ago, there was no chance that a post-Mubarak Egypt would become a liberal democracy. There were only two options – a US-allied tyranny that fought jihad and maintained the peace with Israel, or a jihad state, aligned with Iran, that posed an existential threat to Israel, Jordan, the US and the international economy.

Those are still the choices today, but the stakes are even higher. Due to the Muslim Brotherhood’s year in power, the jihadist elements that gathered force in the Sinai over the past 20 years were able to organize as a more or less unified force, under the rule of Islamic State (ISIS), and in strategic alliance with Hamas. Like ISIS in Syria, ISIS in Egypt is an aggressive, dangerous group that stops at nothing to achieve its aims of expanding the ISIS empire.

The war it now fights against the Egyptian state is a total war.

To his credit, Sisi recognizes the nature of the threat and has taken steps to counter jihad that Mubarak never contemplated. The Egyptian leader recognizes that to defeat ISIS nothing less than a reformation of Islam is required. And so, in addition to fighting ISIS with everything he has, he is risking everything by taking on the jihadist belief system.

Sisi has mobilized the clerics at Al-Azhar seminary to develop an Islamic narrative that rejects jihad.

Sisi risks everything because everything is already at risk. If ISIS wins, Egypt is finished.

To win this war, he has publicly embraced Israel as an ally. He has openly sided with Israel against Hamas. Unlike Mubarak, Sisi has been fully willing to acknowledge that just because Hamas’s primary victims are Jews doesn’t mean that it isn’t a terrorist group that has to be destroyed.

Without putting too fine a point on in, for his fearless fight to the death with the forces of jihad – both in the mosque and on the battlefield – Sisi has already entered the pantheon, alongside Winston Churchill, of word historical figures. And yet, rather than embrace him and support him in his fight for Egypt and humanity, the same “experts” who called for Mubarak to be overthrown now urge Obama to abandon Sisi.

It is depressing that there is no magic bullet – like democracy – for the pathologies that afflict the Islamic world. But there is no magic bullet. And there are no easy choices for people who refuse to recognize that the natural state of man is neither liberal nor democratic.

But it is hard to accept the credibility of those who refuse to learn from their mistakes. It is harder still as well to listen to the “moral calls” of those who refuse to accept that because their past advice was heeded, thousands have died, and if their current calls are heeded, millions of lives will be imperiled.

Also see:

Muslim Brotherhood Defenders: ‘We’re Calling For Jihad Because Of Oppression’ [VIDEO]

Screen-Shot-2016-03-18-at-3.33.09-PM-e1458333877804Daily Caller, by Kerry Picket, March 18, 2016: (go to the link for video)

WASHINGTON — An Islamist organization sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood defended the Brotherhood’s mission of “uncompromising jihad.”

The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy hosted a press conference Thursday afternoon at the National Press Club, in an effort to stifle legislation sponsored by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Panelists specifically criticized Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who took the country’s presidency following a 2013 coup of Egypt’s then-Muslim Brotherhood government.

Radwan Masmoudi, a panelist at the conference, insisted to The Daily Caller the necessity of “uncompromising jihad” saying that not all jihad is violent.

“I think we need uncompromising jihad against all terrorist regimes in the Arab world. Jihad is not just violence.  This is another miscommunication or misunderstanding. Jihad is struggle. That’s the correct interpretation for jihad in the Arab world language,” Masmoudi said. “Look it up in the dictionary. Jihad is struggle. It could be violent. It could be peaceful. It could be many forms of jihad. And, yes, we’re calling for jihad, because of oppression — not just in Egypt but everywhere. Jihad is non-violent. Jihad is peaceful resistance…”

Fellow panelist Nader Hashemi took offense to TheDC’s question. He responded, “You seem to be only interested in one form of terrorism — one group’s education of terrorism. You mention 2015 — the website from the Muslim Brotherhood. Do you know what’s been happening in Egypt since the coup up to 2015? I just quoted from the Human Rights Watch report. It described General al-Sisi’s coming to power in an orgy of violence as a ‘likely crime against humanity.’ That’s far worse than terrorism. Are you willing to condemn that? I don’t think so, because I don’t think you’re really interested in questioning terrorism.”

Angrily, he added, “You’re interested in defending an ideological position. You have every right to do so. You have the First Amendment, but I just don’t take your question seriously if you’re going to frame it in such a narrow way. And trying to condemn the Muslim Brotherhood in 2015 for what they put up on their website, while not talking about or acknowledging what happened and what is happening over the last 2 ½ years in Egypt, which human rights watch wrote is a likely crime against humanity and possibly the biggest killing of civilians in human history. That’s Human Rights Watch’s characterization of General Al Si Si’s rise to power. Unless you acknowledge that I cannot take your question seriously.”

Counter-terrorism expert Patrick Poole calls Hashemi’s and Masmoudi’s defense of the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission of jihad laughable.

“When the MB called for ‘uncompromising jihad in the way of martyrdom’ they weren’t talking about yoga classes and self-improvement. For them to claim that the Jan 2015 call is anything but a call to violence is fundamentally dishonest. The statement published last May by the Muslim Brotherhood clerics un-mistakenly authorized retribution against politicians, judges, security officials and supportive media personnel in Egypt. To interpret that as anything but a call for violence is equally dishonest,” Poole told TheDC in a statement.

Poole notes that Hashemi’s comments regarding jihad against the Egyptian state “is nothing short of a restatement of the violent takfiri doctrine established by Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb in his book, ‘Milestones,’ that the MB apologists are now trying to say they reject.”

Qutb, a late Egyptian fundamentalist scholar, is known as the man who helped inspire 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden to ideas on jihad.

“This is precisely the doctrine that the 9/11 Commission report identified as inspiring Al-Qaeda’s worldview authorizing violence against Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” said Poole. “We see here that it doesn’t take much for them to drop their mask of moderation and return to their roots of the tactical use of terror, which is exactly why Cruz is right that they should be designated.”

Masmoudi also argued earlier that despite Muslim Brotherhood affiliate organizations from various countries being determined as engaging in or supporting terrorism by the U.S. government, the Brotherhood at large does not condone violence.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is an international movement and maybe school of thought.  These groups are not organized or linked in any direct way.  They’re mostly — they started fifty years ago as members of the Muslim Brotherhood whether in Kuwait or Palestine or Morocco or in Tunisia. Since then, they’re independent Islamic movements,” Masmoudi said.

He added, “Now some of them like Hamas or others may have joined or committed terrorist activities or acts but to come and say that all Muslim Brotherhood — all groups that are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, that this school of thought, from Morocco to Jordan to Egypt to everywhere, this is not very untrue, because the people that are involved are very small in number compared to the majority.”

“In Egypt—the Muslim Brotherhood has an official position of denouncing violence. It’s clear. You can read all of their statements. Their official position is they’ve never advocated violence. They’ve never encouraged their [supporters] to violence. In fact, they always condemn violence. Now its possible that some of their members, especially younger members and younger generations after the coup were involved in activities or terrorist activities or violence or whatever,” he said.

Poole called Masmoudi’s claim that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has never engaged in violence as false.

“During the 1930s, 40s and early 50s, the MB in Egypt operated a terror cell called the ‘secret apparatus’ that killed foreigners, judges, and eventually the Prime Minister. That’s what prompted Nasser to crack down on them in 1954. Even the New York Times back then reported on their terrorist activity. The MB there has essentially returned to those days,” Poole said.

Hillary Emails: State Discussed ‘Cooperating,’ ‘Increased Investment’ With Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Government

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, Feb. 28, 2016:

TEL AVIV – 1,500 pages of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails provide insight into the level of support the U.S. was considering in 2012 for Egypt’s newly elected Muslim Brotherhood government.

On August 30, 2012, Robert D. Hormats, the under-secretary of state for economic affairs, wrote to Clinton’s then-Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan to update him on a meeting he held with Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Adviser Khairat al-Shater.

Shater was later sentenced to life imprisonment and then to death for multiple alleged crimes, including inciting violence and financial improprieties.

The email reveals Hormats and other U.S. diplomats discussed  methods of cooperation with Shater, including an increase in American direct foreign investment.

Hormats wrote:

Anne Patterson, Bill Taylor, and I met with Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater. He discussed broad principles of economic development based on 100 large infrastructure projects (over a billion dollars each) as part of Morsi’s Nadah (Renaissance Plan) Plan; ways of cooperating with the US to obtain support for these projects and for SMEs; and his hope for an IMF agreement and increased foreign direct investment from the US, the West, and the Arab world. He also noted that it was a priority for the GOE to build a true democratic system based on human rights and the rule of law.

Patterson, the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt at the time, was known for her repeated engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood. Taylor was the U.S. Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions; that is, the U.S. envoy to the new leadership that emerged in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.

Hormats’ meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood were not secret. But the emails reveal the scope of his discussions with the group about possible future investment.

In September 2012, the New York Times reported that Hormats had led a delegation of businesses to Egypt to discuss possible private investment.

That same month, the State Department published a document that received little news media attention. It revealed that in August and September 2012, “Hormats visited Egypt to negotiate possible bilateral debt relief,” but the document did not provide further details.

After the toppling of Egypt’s longtime president Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi served as president from June 30, 2012 to July 3, 2013, when he was removed from office amidst widespread protests and a military coup. After Mubarak was removed from office, the Obama administration pledged $1 billion in assistance to bolster Egypt’s transition to democracy.

Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta each visited Cairo and met with Morsi during his tenure as president.

The meeting that Hormats describes in the email took place while the U.S. was negotiating an aid package to help relieve Egypt’s debt crisis amid concerns from U.S. lawmakers about funding the Muslim Brotherhood.

The email was sent a week and a half before protesters besieged the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on September 11, 2012, the same day the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi came under attack.

Following the attacks, Obama stated of Morsi’s government, “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy.”

With research by Brenda J. Elliott.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

MB Apologists Arrive In U.S. For Anti-Sisi Rallies

IPT, by John Rossomando  •  Jan 21, 2016

Three Muslim Brotherhood supporters who caused a row in Egypt last year after they met with Obama administration officials and members of Congress returned to the U.S. Wednesday, according to the Facebook page of Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ).

During their 2015 trip, Brotherhood leader Gamal Heshmat, former Egyptian Judge Waleed Sharaby and Maha Azzam, head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) lobbied State Department and White House officials for help against the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fatal al-Sisi.

The ERC formed in 2014 with the aim of toppling Sisi and bringing the Brotherhood back to power in Egypt. Sisi took power in 2013 after the Egyptian army ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.

Heshmat has a long history of supporting Palestinian terrorists and was photographed in June 2014 with Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal.

The State Department agreed with the delegation’s position that Sisi had not brought stability to Egypt, and that his removal would pave the way for a transition to democracy, Sharaby told Egypt’s Mekameleen TV in an interview last February. But that has not translated into concrete action to topple Sisi.

1341EAFJ leaders Mahmoud El-Sharkawy, Hani Elkadi and Aber Mostafa greeted Heshmat, Sharaby and Azzam at New York’s JFK airport and posed for a picture with them displaying the Brotherhood’s four-fingered Rabaa salute which has become representative among those wanting the Brotherhood’s return to power in Egypt.

The three are scheduled to speak Friday at an event titled “Egyptian Revolution from Sacrifices to Victory” in North Bergen, N.J.

The event is timed to commemorate the Jan. 25 anniversary of dictator Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power in 2011. Heshmat wrote that his group had no plans to meet with Obama administration representatives during this visit, due to their “position biased” toward Sisi’s regime. They hope to speak with some congressmen, academics and others.

El-Sharkawy is a Brotherhood member and serves as liaison with Brotherhood members exiled in Turkey, Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper reported last April.

He frequently reposts Muslim Brotherhood communiqués on his Facebook page. In December, El Sharkawy encouraged “all youth and revolutionaries” to distribute the official page of Brotherhood spokesman Muhammad Muntasir.

1342Elkadi seemed to self-identify as a Brotherhood member in a March 9 Facebook post showing an cartoon of a man holding a sign with the Brotherhood logo and the words which translate to, “I am [Muslim] Brotherhood and I’m not threatened.”

Last year, Elkadi, El Sharkawy and Mostafa posted graphics on their Facebook pages seeming to support violence in Egypt.

El Sharkawy and Elkadi posted a Feb. 10 communiqué from the Popular Resistance Movement (PRM) which has launched attacks against Egyptian police and other targets. It features an image of a blood-red map of Egypt with a fist superimposed over it. It claims responsibility for targeting two police cars. “God, martyrs, Revolution,” it said.

Mostafa posted the personal information of a pro-Sisi owner of an Egyptian soccer team with the word “Attaaack!” the same day.

Also see:

Nonie Darwish: Egypt At A Crossroads

El-SISI-660-800x450

Atlas Shrugs, by Nonie Darwish, Jan. 4, 2016:

The cards are stacked against Islamic reformers in 2016. Even the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is encouraging a reformation in Islamic education and preaching, is currently facing a strong movement of discontent from Al Azhar’s Islamic leadership.

It is against the grain of Islam for Muslims to self-criticize, and those who do must constantly apologize and emphasize that they are not speaking about Islam the religion, but are speaking about the interpretation. This is because those who call for any reformation are automatically accused of apostasy by Muslim leadership. Islam resists and refuses to focus on self-criticism or internal analysis in its preaching to its followers. Only one form of criticism is allowed in Islam, and that is the one directed against the non-Muslim outside world. That has always been the common form of preaching in Islam.

Not only Muslim preachers, but also Muslim political leaders, are expected to give fiery speeches against the outside world, but never against internal causes of trouble, especially if they’re related to Islam or Sharia.

Al-Sisi is the first Muslim leader in recent history who openly speaks of the need for a reformation in Islamic education. That makes him a new kind of Muslim leader, and unquestionably an exceptional and courageous one.

A year ago, Al-Sisi spoke before the leadership of the highest Islamic Sunni institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, and challenged the clerics to take the lead in an effort to examine their own teachings and source materials for interpreting Islam. He emphasized he was not critiquing the religion (of Islam) but the need for a “religious revolution” in the thinking that is “antagonizing the entire world.” Again, just a couple of weeks ago on December 22, al-Sisi reiterated his appeal to Islamic leaders to modernize and promote “changes in approach” for the sake of peaceful coexistence with all races and religions.

Even though Al-Sisi is widely popular among the majority of Egyptians who are fed up with the impact of political Islam on Egyptian society, there are forces of insurgency coming from Al-Azhar and the Muslim Brotherhood, which is far from being a dead movement in Egypt.

Egypt is at a crossroads, and the efforts to keep Egypt moderate are being constantly challenged from all directions: radical Muslim groups from inside Egypt, the impact of ISIS in the Sinai, the instability and terror on the border with Hamas in Gaza and the terror challenge on Egypt’s Western border with Libya. Even the Southern border of Egypt is not free of turmoil coming from the Islamic State of The Sudan.

Even though the West and the so-called “moderate” Muslims are hopeful for an Islamic reformation movement coming out of the Middle East, the prospects are grim. Reformists are being strangled from all directions, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which was condemned as an illegal terrorist organization by the Egyptian government, is getting stronger globally with global headquarters, not in Saudi Arabia, but in London and Istanbul.

Worst of all is the Obama administration’s refusal to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, have given it acceptance and even respectability at the international level and also inside the Middle East.

The weak state of Egypt’s economy and its shrinking income from tourism after several terror attacks on tourists in the Sinai are additional factors making it difficult for Al-Sisi’s reformation plans to succeed.

The stunning and rapid success of ISIS, its successful terrorism on the West, the sleeper cells in Europe and the US, Obama’s withdrawal from the Middle East, and his reluctance to fight ISIS, all are additional factors in favor of ISIS winning the Middle East. The same factors are working against the political stability of Egypt, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia, which just recently beheaded a Shiite cleric, together with a total of 47 Shiite protesters.

The year 2016 is the last year for the Obama administration, and Islam jihadists know that their golden opportunity to run wild and form a lasting Islamic State in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East will probably end with Obama’s term in office. We are looking at a very rocky 2016.

AFDI Geller Fellow Nonie Darwish is the author “The Devil We Don’t Know” and president of “Former Muslims United,” a program of the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

Al Azhar and ISIS: Cause and Effect

al-azharBy Raymond Ibrahim, Nov. 18, 2015:

After being asked why Al Azhar, which is in the habit of denouncing secular thinkers as un-Islamic, refuses to denounce the Islamic State as un-Islamic, Sheikh Nasr said:

It can’t [condemn the Islamic State as un-Islamic].  The Islamic State is a byproduct of Al Azhar’s programs.  So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?  Al Azhar says there must be a caliphate and that it is an obligation for the Muslim world [to establish it].  Al Azhar teaches the law of apostasy and killing the apostate.  Al Azhar is hostile towards religious minorities, and teaches things like not building churches, etc.  Al Azhar upholds the institution of jizya [extracting tribute from religious minorities].  Al Azhar teaches stoning people.  So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?

Nasr joins a growing chorus of critics of Al Azhar.  Last September, while discussing how the Islamic State burns some of its victims alive—most notoriously, a Jordanian pilot—Egyptian journalist Yusuf al-Husayni remarked on his satellite program that “The Islamic State is only doing what Al Azhar teaches… and the simplest example is Ibn Kathir’s Beginning and End.”

Ibn Kathir is one of Sunni Islam’s most renowned scholars; his Beginning and End is a magisterial history of Islam and a staple at Al Azhar.  It is also full of Muslims, beginning with Muhammad, committing the sorts of atrocities that the Islamic State and other Islamic organizations and persons commit.

In February, Egyptian political writer Dr. Khalid al-Montaser revealed that Al Azhar wasencouraging enmity for non-Muslims, specifically Coptic Christians, and even inciting for their murder.  Marveled Montaser:

Is it possible at this sensitive time — when murderous terrorists rest on texts and understandings of takfir [accusing Muslims of apostasy], murder, slaughter, and beheading — that Al Azhar magazine is offering free of charge a book whose latter half and every page — indeed every few lines — ends with “whoever disbelieves [non-Muslims] strike off his head”?

The prestigious Islamic university—which co-hosted U.S. President Obama’s 2009 “A New Beginning” speech—has even issued a free booklet dedicated to proving that Christianity is a “failed religion.”

In short, the phenomenon known as “ISIS” is not a temporal aberration within Islam but rather a byproduct of what is considered normative thinking for Al Azhar—the Islamic world’s most authoritative university.

Also see:

Amplifying Details on the Sinai Plane Bombing and the Egypt-Libya Nexus

Source: Associated Free Press/Getty Images (Maxim Grigoryev)

Source: Associated Free Press/Getty Images (Maxim Grigoryev)

The ISIS Study Group, Nov. 7, 2015:

The last few days have been filled with a flurry of information regarding the downing of Flight 7K9268. Within the last 18 hrs we’ve received amplifying information from our sources in the country. Our sources within the Egyptian Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) confirmed that Russian investigators found the remnants of the explosive device we were talking about in our 03 NOV “Sinai Plane Crash Update.” Furthermore, the running theory of those investigators is that depressurization caused by an internal explosion tore off the tail section, causing the plane to flip over and send it to the ground. When we asked one of our sources if 500 grams of C4 could cause that, he answered back that it wouldn’t take much to bring a plane down, especially if the device was placed near the fuel line – which is what DMI assesses to be the case. Another source working with Russia’s Health Ministry Center for Forensic Medical Expertise confirmed that parts of an explosive device was uncovered.

As for the operative who emplaced the device on the plane, we’ve confirmed that the individual did not receive any assistance from a member of the security forces – because he’s a member of the security forces himself. The individual in question used his position to circumvent the 8 explosive detection systems and security checkpoints located at the airport in order to get to his target. DMI knew how this went down fairly quickly, although our sources couldn’t answer how this fell through the cracks, although they did imply that the security forces are plagued with serious internal issues due to the rising insider threat. However, Sharm al-Sheik Airport Chief Abdel-Wahab Ali was removed from his position due to these major security lapses. The fact that the British government aired these very same concerns LAST YEAR made the decision to remove him much easier.

The Latest: Sharm El-Sheikh Airport Chief Has Been Replaced
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/11/04/world/middleeast/ap-egypt-russian-plane-crash-the-latest.html?_r=0

UK had concerns about Sharm el-Sheikh airport security almost a year ago
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/05/uk-had-concerns-sharm-el-sheikh-airport-security-year-ago-egyptian-beach-resort

Sinai Plane Crash Update
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=9184

Islamic State-Sinai (IS-Sinai) aka “Wilayat Sinai (WS)”: Just entered the next stage of Operations Source: The ISIS Study Group

Islamic State-Sinai (IS-Sinai) aka “Wilayat Sinai (WS)”: Just entered the next stage of Operations
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Adding further weight to what we’ve been saying is that the Black Box reveals that the crash was not an accident. More importantly, the media (and some Western governments) are saying what we first mentioned in our “Sinai Plane Crash Update.” Excerpt:

European investigators who analyzed the two flight recorders from the Metrojet plane that went down last weekend in Egypt are categorically saying the crash is not an accident, CNN affiliate France 2 reported Friday.

The investigators said the cockpit voice recorder of Metrojet Flight 9268 shows an explosion and the flight data recorder confirms the explosion is not accidental — there is no sign of mechanical malfunction during the initial part of the flight, France 2 reported.

Everything is fine during the first 24 minutes, then in a fraction of a second there is a blackout and no more cockpit conversation, convincing investigators there was a bomb on board, according to France 2.

CNN Aviation Analyst Richard Quest said there would have been different data on the black boxes if there was a catastrophic failure than if there was an explosion. The key is what happened just before the data suddenly stops, he said.

“It’s this split second, and it’s a millisecond, where you hear an explosion of some description,” he said. “And you see all the parameters (on the recorders) go haywire before the power is completely lost. If this report is accurate, (investigators) have now analyzed that … heard it and they can identify it.”

If the plane had broken apart due to structural failure, there would have been more noise — and for a longer time, he said.

France’s air accident investigation agency, the BEA, told CNN that Egyptian officials will make an announcement about the crash investigation within the next 24 hours.

Report: Black boxes show bomb brought down Russian jet
http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/06/middleeast/russian-plane-crash-egypt-sinai/

Media now talking about the bomb being placed in the cargo hold among the luggage near the fuel line Source: CNN

Media now talking about the bomb being placed in the cargo hold among the luggage near the fuel line
Source: CNN

This wasn’t the first time WS gained access to an Egyptian airport either. Last year they recruited an employee at Cairo International Airport who provided Team Baghdadi with schematics of the facility, locations of guard postings and security procedures. Fortunately, DMI found out and arrested him before the attack plan was set into motion – which was the same plan carried out in Sharm al-Sheik. This was one of a long list of incidents – many of which were never reported by the country’s media outlets – that led to GEN Sisi authorizing the DMI to lead the crackdown on the insider threat within the security forces. From MAY 15 – JUL 15 several junior and mid-level officers within the Army were detained for either being sympathizers or full-fledged members of WS. There’s also been an increase in military personnel refusing to carry out missions against WS – not because they’re “scared” – because they “didn’t want to kill their Muslim Brothers” (which is a red flag since most Muslims would never consider IS as their “Muslim Brothers”). For the most part the military has been the main advocate for moderate Islam and secularism. Unfortunately, that all changed when the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi rose to power, where he quickly began to sack “problematic” (read-those of moderate Islam or secular leanings) officers. Then he began to fill the ranks with those he reflected his values – in other words, guys with extremist views. The result was a new breed of officers in the junior and mid-level ranks who were very sympathetic to the ideologies of al-Qaida (of which the MB is closely-aligned) and IS. WS’ increase in capability is a good indicator of the success they’ve had in recruiting personnel with formal military experience (Check out “ISIS-Sinai Beheads Croatian Hostage – Just the Beginning” for additional info).

ISIS-Sinai Beheads Croatian Hostage – Just the Beginning
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8195

Egypt’s insider threat: Morsi’s legacy Source: Sharif Abdel Minoem (Associated Press)

Egypt’s insider threat: Morsi’s legacy
Source: Sharif Abdel Minoem (Associated Press)

The bombing of that Russian airliner is the beginning of WS and IS’ Libya affiliate entering into a new phase of Team Baghdadi’s overall global campaign of conducting high-profile attacks outside of Syria and Iraq. WS followed up the plane bombing with another attack targeting an officer’s club that killed three policemen. But that’s just the start – WS fully intends to expand their operations to targeting Russians and Western tourists to both cripple Egypt’s tourism industry (which would result in significant economic damage) and retaliating for Russia’s Syria intervention. The indicators were all there with the sharp increase in the frequency and scale of attacks carried out by WS in Sinai throughout the year and this past summer in particular (Reference – “Sinai Under Siege Rising capabilities of Wilayat Sinai”). That said, the first real indicators of WS’ increased capabilities was seen as early as JAN 14 when they shot down an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai with a MANPAD that was traced back to one of the Qaddafi regime weapons depots that was raided by so-called “moderates” during the early days of the “Arab Spring.” In AUG 15 another attempt was made by WS to bring down an aircraft – this time a Thomson Airways airliner – as it was heading to Sharm al-Sheik Airport. Fortunately the pilot was able to perform evasive maneuvers and avoid being brought down (See the Guardian’s article titled, “Sharm el-Sheikh flight from Stansted dodged missile in August” and our initial piece on the Sinai crash, “Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?”).

Egypt: 3 police officers killed in North Sinai bombing
http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/04/africa/egypt-north-sinai-bombing/

Militants Down Egyptian Helicopter, Killing 5 Soldiers
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/world/middleeast/militants-down-egyptian-helicopter-killing-5-soldiers.html

Sharm el-Sheikh flight from Stansted dodged missile in August
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/06/missed-by-a-1000-feet-how-british-holidaymakers-came-close-to-being-hit-by-a-missile-in-august?CMP=twt_gu

Sinai Under Siege Rising capabilities of Wilayat Sinai (WS)
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7587

Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=9157

This is just a quick snapshot of attacks that occurred in JUL 15 Source: The ISIS Study Group

This is just a quick snapshot of attacks that occurred in JUL 15
Source: The ISIS Study Group

WS also wanted to show Baghdadi that they’re an effective force capable of achieving the objectives of his external operations campaign, but also to justify that their request for additional funding. This was also a bid for obtaining heavier weaponry from IS’ Libya affiliate, who sends weapons and supplies to Syria – some of which goes through Sinai (Check out “The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS,” “2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa” and “The ISIS Expansion Into North Africa” for more details). We don’t think Libyan IS Emir Abu Nail will satisfy that request until after he seizes Darnah – which IS was driven out of back in JUN 15. As of this writing, IS-Libya has been busy consolidating its forces in the al-Fatayeh-area located Southeast of the city. That area is the likely staging-area from which the offensive to retake the town will be launched. The Libyan affiliate is facing a tough fight as they’re forced to take on several other opposition groups of varying jihadist flavors as well as the forces of the Egypt-back Libyan GEN Khalifa Haftar.

For the third time, Haftar’s forces fail to control Derna
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/20744-for-the-third-time-haftars-forces-fail-to-control-derna

Isis in Libya: Islamic State driven out of Derna stronghold by al-Qaeda-linked militia
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-libya-islamic-state-driven-out-derna-stronghold-by-al-qaeda-linked-militia-1506241

ISIS responsible for most Libya killings: ICC prosecutor
https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Nov-06/321833-isis-responsible-for-most-libya-killings-icc-prosecutor.ashx

ISIS In Libya? Gadhafi Sirte Residence Searched By Islamic State For Hidden Money: Report
http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-libya-gadhafi-sirte-residence-searched-islamic-state-hidden-money-report-2139456

Warplanes bomb Libya’s Sirte, target Islamic State: witness
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/29/us-libya-security-idUSKCN0SN2JM20151029

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1392

2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5248

The ISIS Expansion Into North Africa…
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3257

IS’ Libya affiliate is the terror organization’s most-developed branch and has become a critical part of Baghdadi’s vision of being able to project power outside of Syria/Iraq. Its worth noting that the Libya affiliate has been tasked with providing material support to other affiliates in North Africa in addition to WS and the main effort in Syria. WS actually receives a great deal of their financial support from the Libya affiliate. In fact so much influence has been placed on bolstering the Libya affiliate that some foreign fighters have actually been diverted there. Our sources report the presence of fighters from France, Germany, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Canada and one unconfirmed report of Americans serving among the ranks. Recent reporting also suggests that a group of Indonesian jihadists are projected to be entering the country for this same purpose – other sources imply that they may have already arrived. Not only is Libya an alternative for foreign fighters who aspire to wage jihad but can’t make the trip to Syria, its a training ground for select personnel who get sent back to their countries of origin to establish their own attack networks and conduct the cell-based external operations that the IS leadership has been transitioning to over the last few months (For more info on this transition to cell-based external OPs, check out “Neil Prakash and Friends – an Update” and “Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe”). Think of it as IS’ way of “diversifying their terror portfolio” for their goal of launching such attacks in the West.

Neil Prakash and Friends – an Update
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8862

The Loss of Key ISIS External OPs Figures and the Anwar al-Awlaqi Battalion
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8467

Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8562

With all this happening, what’s next for Vlad? Make no mistake, he’s going to respond – and when he does, people are either going to die or “disappear.” The big mistake the IS mothership in Syria and the Sinai affiliate made is thinking that Vlad is as soft and flaccid as President Obama. They’re going to find out real quick just how big of a mistake they made once he expands his intervention in Syria (although there will be challenges-more on that in another article) followed by enhanced collaboration with the Sisi regime – which has been steadily moving away from America and getting closer to Russia for well over a year (Check out “Egypt Atmospherics” for more details). On the flip side we assess that IS’ Caucasus affiliate (made up mostly of remnants of Imarat Kavkaz or “IK”) are going to become very active in launching attacks inside Russia itself. Although the media seized on the fact that Syria is one of Vlad’s client states, what didn’t get any real coverage are the 2,500-3,000 Russian nationals currently fighting under the IS banner in Syria – many of which are of Chechen/Dagestani/Tajik ethnicity (Reference the following for additional info – “Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength,” “Islamic State’s Expansion into the Caucasus Region,” “Gulmurod Khalimov Update – His Militant Views May Not Be a Recent Development” and “Introducing Tajik Special Police COL Gulmurod Khalimov: Islamic State Defector”). At some point those foreign fighters are going to return to Mother Russia. A few already have. So if you thought this high-profile attack was an “isolated incident” that only affects Egypt, you thought wrong.

Egypt Atmospherics…
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=614

Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8416

Islamic State’s Expansion into the Caucasus Region
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6880

Gulmurod Khalimov Update – His Militant Views May Not Be a Recent Development
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7760

Introducing Tajik Special Police COL Gulmurod Khalimov: Islamic State Defector
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7027

Egyptian locals are increasingly “Pro-Vlad” – but aren’t big fans of President Obama Source: The ISIS Study Group

Egyptian locals are increasingly “Pro-Vlad” – but aren’t big fans of President Obama
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Other Related Articles:

Haftar-Sisi Alliance: The Roadblock to ISIS Bridge Into the Maghreb
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5033

Egypt Strikes ISIS Positions in Libya: Moderate Muslims Rise Up Against Terror
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4889

Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes in Libya – US Kept in the Dark
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1302

Is Egypt Planning Military Intervention in Libya?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=584

Jordan Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4669

Egyptian Army and IDF Take On ISIS Supporters in Sinai
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1500

Egyptian Army Hits Back At ISIS In Sinai
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2410

ISIS Plots to Bring the “Flames of War” to US, UK and Australia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6431&