HOW CAN WE DEFEAT AN ENEMY WE CAN’T IDENTIFY?

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Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, Sept, 11, 2017:

Sixteen years after 9/11, Washington is still afraid to the name the enemy.

It continues to be painfully difficult for our leaders to utter the words “radical Islam” or any substitute meant to connote that there is a religious element to the global jihad being waged upon us. As with Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, presidents since 9/11 have chosen not to name the enemy, instead referring to our jihadi adversaries as “extremists” or “terrorists” and countless other boilerplate terms determined by our representatives in government as politically appropriate.

The whitewashing of the very Islamic nature of jihadi terror not only misleads the public, but makes it impossible for government and military officials to focus on what is motivating our enemies and how to stop them from continuing to threaten us. What is it that connects the ISIS leader in Raqqa to the hate-preaching U.S.-born Imam in California to the Uighur militants in western China? To our 21st century leadership, it’s not radical Islamic doctrine, but some kind of widespread mental disorder without a name.

From Presidents Bush 43 to Obama and now President Trump, the leader of the free world since 9/11 has pointedly refused to name the enemy that seeks our demise.

And although Osama bin Laden justified the killings of Americans in the name of Islam (through religious declarations known as fatwas), discussion about the radical Islamic component of 9/11 were immediately quashed. We were told there are no issues with Islam whatsoever, even as millions and millions took up arms against the West, citing Islam’s call for war against infidels.

Everyone had their excuses for failing to define the enemy.

To Presidents Bush and Obama, groups like al-Qaeda and other jihadist entities were merely a bunch of deranged, bloodthirsty maniacs who were not linked by any particular doctrine.

President Bush took pains to ignore the dangerous components of Islam and define it wholly as a “religion of peace.”

Just six days after the attacks, Bush remarked at the Islamic Center of Washington: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

Bush 43’s gross abdication of responsibility in defining our enemies continued into the Obama era.

President Obama became famously known for making sure to censor language that could possibly be interpreted as connecting our Islamic enemies (such as the terror state in Iran and the Islamic State terror group) to the Muslim faith.

“ISIL is not Islamic … ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple, and it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way, ” President Obama said in a 2014 speech.

To both Obama and Bush, jihadist groups killed for the sake of killing, and nothing more, at least according to their public messaging.

“There is no doubt, and I’ve said repeatedly, where we see terrorist organizations like al Qaeda or ISIL — They have perverted and distorted and tried to claim the mantle of Islam for an excuse for basically barbarism and death,” Obama said in a 2016 town hall.

And then came President Trump.

On the campaign trail, Trump ran as a candidate who had no issue with defining our enemy as “radical Islamic terrorists.” But since becoming president, he has fallen prey to the D.C. Swamp’s way of thinking on the issue.

Comparable to his predecessors, Trump has largely refrained from addressing the ideology that motivated the 9/11 hijackers. In his most recent speech on Afghanistan, Trump did not once discuss radical Islam, but only the “evil ideology” of our enemies. Like Bush and Obama, Trump has taken to understanding global jihadists as just a bunch of random lowlives.

“Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next. They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and — that’s right — losers,” Trump said in his Afghanistan speech.

We must never forget that the 9/11 hijackers were not poor, delusional individuals, as previous administrations tried to frame them. They were motivated by a specific doctrine. It wasn’t a coincidence that they used the Islamic war cry “Allahu Akbar” as they carried out by far the deadliest terror attack in American history.

But you can’t begin to defeat an enemy when you refuse to identify what it stands for. Even our Arab Muslim partners have come to determine and point out that there is a branch of Islamic doctrine that is growing at an exponential rate. Now is the time for our leaders to stand with them and take on this ideological enemy.

Sixteen years after 9/11, our leaders continue to pretend that there is no interconnectedness to the global threat of radical Islamic terror. If the politically correct policies of shielding Islam from the implications of terror continue, America’s long war will become its forever war.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

Winning the longest war 16 years after 9/11

The Hill, by Sebastian Gorka, September 11, 2017:

On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of Americans were killed in the worst mass casualty terror attack of the modern age. No American war has lasted as long as the one that began on that dreadful Tuesday morning, 16 years ago today. Since then, we have engaged in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and deployed our military and intelligence assets across the globe to neutralize the threat of jihadi terrorism to America and her citizens.

We restructured our national security enterprise in a reform more drastic than any since the 1947 National Security Act, which created the National Security Council and the CIA. We have spent trillions of dollars to fund these campaigns and government reforms. And thousands of our servicemen and women have died in what some call the “never-ending war.”

Shockingly, three presidential administrations after 9/11, we still seem unable to answer the simplest and most important questions about America’s war with the global jihadi movement: Are we winning? Can we win? What will it take to win? According to one simplistic metric, we seem to be faring well: We have not suffered an attack similar in scale to the Sept. 11 attacks here in the United States. The most severe post-9/11 attack was the Orlando massacre of 49 people by an American citizen of Afghan descent.

This may lead some to declare a partial victory. That would be a myopic conclusion. The fact is, we have seen more jihadist attacks and plots on U.S. soil in the last two years than any previous comparable period. In arrests as far apart as California and New York, we see an enemy that has moved from attempting to send foreign terrorists to America, to recruiting and indoctrinating U.S. nationals or residents already in the country, such as the Boston bombers and the San Bernardino killers. This is not an “improvement,” given that such homegrown terrorists are much harder for our domestic agencies to detect prior to an attack.

If we use a less parochial filter and look at what the jihadi movement has wrought globally since 2001, we cannot claim any kind of victory. It is not America’s job to police the world — this is especially true under the presidency of Donald Trump, who eschews the idea of the United States as “globocop” — but the fact is that global jihadism has increased, not decreased, and greatly.

ISIS may have lost the capital of its physical “caliphate” in Mosul, but the group which usurped and eclipsed Al Qaeda’s brand has more than 15 fully functional affiliates across the globe. Not only that, using simpler but deadly tactics such as vehicular attacks, ISIS has taken its “holy war” to the streets of our allies, from Paris to Berlin, Nice to Istanbul, Manchester to Brussels. Its wanton ability to do this undermines American interests and has led to the murder of Americans abroad.

The United States is the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. No longer a superpower, it is now the world’s sole “hyperpower.” How, then, can we explain the rise of ISIS and the spread of insurgent tactics onto the streets of our NATO allies? As with all significant matters, there is no one answer. However, certain policies have helped the jihadists to prosper.

First, all administrations since 2001 have focused almost exclusively on the “kinetic” aspects of counterterrorism: killing terrorists, either with invasion and occupation under President Bush, drone strikes under President Obama, or a new “strategy of annihilation” under President Trump. Killing terrorists is the right thing to do if you cannot arrest them or if your allies and partners can’t kill them. But if the dead jihadi can be easily replaced from a large and willing recruiting pool, the cycle is everlasting. As former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked in one of his now notorious “snowflake” memos, “Are we killing more of them than we are making?”

If we really want to win this war, which is in fact winnable, then we must stop young men and women from wanting to become jihadists. And this will not be done by killing more terrorists, given that the Al Qaeda and ISIS “incentive” narrative promises guaranteed salvation to the jihadi killed in battle. Victory in a war with adherents to a religiously fueled totalitarian ideology will only come when the message peddled by our enemy is undermined and delegitimized. This will require aggressive counter-propaganda measures, information and influence operations that leverage our Muslims allies around the world, especially those on the frontline of this war, such as Jordan and Egypt.

In the last 16 years, all U.S. administrations paid lip service to the need for a “war of ideas,” but they never engaged in a serious and strategic fashion akin to the way we did against the propaganda of our last totalitarian adversary, the Soviet Union. The Trump administration has yet to produce its national security strategy or its national counterterrorism strategy, in which a serious commitment to psychological warfare could be signaled, but the choice of a recognized expert, Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, to head the Middle East Broadcast Network of government-funded broadcast platforms is a positive indicator. Much more is, however needed, especially an indication from the White House that the West Wing cares for this issue and will coordinate and drive a counter-propaganda effort from the very highest level.

At a more operational level, after 16 years it is high time to understand where the true center of gravity is within counterterrorism in America. The focus on finding individual terrorists or cells before they execute an attack is fundamentally wrongheaded, leading as it does to a “mowing the grass” or “whack-a-mole” approach to keeping Americans safe. As the European experience (and our own) has shown us, it is almost impossible to find all the terrorists, or potential terrorists, before they initiate an attack. Instead, we must focus our attention on those who are the recruiters, indoctrinators and sanctioning authorities of jihad.

We have some amazing counterterrorism professionals working across thousands of law enforcement agencies and the federal intelligence community. But in a population of more than 300 million people, resources must be marshaled and prioritized for greatest effect. This means refocusing our attention onto individuals who may never pull a trigger or detonate an improvised explosive device but who, through their preaching and mentoring, encourage dozens or even hundreds of fellow believers to walk ever further down the path of jihad.

One such man is Ahmad Musa Jibril, who pushes the ideology of “holy war” to literally thousands of radical followers online. He is a far more valuable focus of our attention than the massive effort expended to find just one so-called “lone wolf.” In this, we will have to explore the most righteous mode for protecting our fellow citizens while protecting general First Amendment and fundamental freedom-of-conscience rights. Lastly, as we recalibrate our strategic focus to delegitimize the ideology of groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, and target the purveyors of its heinous message at home and abroad, we need to take a step back and see the broader picture of modern jihad.

For 16 years we have been targeting the non-nation state entities headed by the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. Unfortunately, their Sunni-brand of jihad is not the most dangerous version today. With the disastrous consequences of the so-called “Arab Spring,” and the precipitous decision by Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq just as that nation had been stabilized, a perfect situation developed for Iran to exploit instability across the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran remains the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. With the rise of ISIS, the collapse of Syria, and the continued conflict in Yemen, the mullahs and the forces under their command have expanded their destabilizing actions in support of their Shia version of radical Islam. As a result, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress, the whole region is now victim to “a game of thrones for the crown of the caliphate.”

ISIS wanted to have the neo-caliphate be a Sunni one. The Islamic Republic of Iran has its own Shia version of the caliphate ready to expand beyond the borders of the modern Persian state, using a deadly combination of official Republican Guard Forces and proxy or irregular forces such as Hezbollah, the Shia militias of Iraq and the Quds Force.

The Trump administration’s strategy to defeat Sunni jihadism must not play into the hands of Shia jihadism. All the more so after the billions of dollars released by the last White House back into the coffers of Tehran. A nuclear caliphate informed by an apocalyptic vision of Islamic salvation will not succumb to the logic of nuclear deterrence and the prior stability of mutually assured destruction.

Action must be taken now to obviate the establishment of a nuclear-capable Shia Caliphate. Recertification of the Potemkin accord that is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran deal, will not stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons but, at best, delay its acquisition. Now is the time to send a message to the religious dictators in Iran that America is as determined to halt a Shia caliphate as it is a Sunni one.

President Trump is not an ideological leader. He is a pragmatist. As such he is in the best position to jettison the subjective blinders of the past that undermined our response to the deadliest terror attacks in modern history. With clear-sightedness, he and his team can end “America’s longest war.”

Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D., is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War.” He most recently served as deputy assistant and strategist to President Trump. The above is adapted from his address today to the World Counter-Terrorism Summit in IsraelFollow him on Twitter @SebGorka.

Address to the World Summit on Counter Terrorism:

The Path to Victory Begins with Knowing the Threat

Understanding  the Threat, by John Guandolo, June 11, 2017:

“Fight and slay the unbeliever wherever you find them, capture them and besiege them, lie in wait for them in each and every ambush.”

Koran, chapter 9, verse 5

Since 9/11/01, Americans have been told by their leaders the problem the U.S. faces from “global terrorism” has nothing to do with Islam.  The threat, so the leaders say, is from “extremists” – or some other equally useless euphemism.  Now that barbaric violence perpetrated by muslims has become commonplace around the world, the enemy’s talking points (read: information operation) have adjusted, and U.S. and other Western leaders and analysts have followed suit and adjusted as well.

Now we are told the problem is “Wahhabi Islam” or “a 7th century version of Islam” or “Salafi Islam” or muslims following a “perverted version of religion” or anything which has nothing to do with authentic doctrinal Islam.

All of these phrases used to describe the threat are meant to mislead the non-muslim community into believing there is an authentic version of Islam which is peaceful, loving and non-violent.

Actually, the Global Islamic Movement, including all sharia-adherent Islamic organizations and sharia-adherent muslims, does practice “Salafi” Islam and a “7th century version” of Islam.

The al Salaf al Salih – Salafi – are the “obedient” or “rightly-guided predecessors.”  They are those who follow the commands of Allah found in the Koran and the example of Islam’s prophet Mohammad most closely – i.e. the teachings of Islam.

7th century Islam is 21st century Islam.  There is no difference.  Those who attempt to differentiate are implying Islam has changed somewhere along the way.  This hypothesis has no support from authoritative Islamic doctrine and never will.  Muslims who do not adhere to sharia do not constitute another “version” of Islam.  These muslims, per sharia, are called “Apostates.”

While various cultures and schools of Islamic jurisprudence have variations on certain aspects of the sharia’s application in certain communities, all sharia does and always has mandated war against the non-muslim world until the entire earth is under sharia.

Islam requires all muslims to obey the Koran and the example of Islam’s prophet Mohammad.

Did Allah change his mind or make a mistake when he revealed the contents of the Koran to Mohammad?

If not, then how and when did Islam change?  It has not changed.

What did Islam’s prophet get wrong when he married a 6 year old, beheaded hundreds of Jews at the Battle of the Trench, tortured, condoned the killing of those who mocked him or commanded war against all non-muslims?

There is no place in a war plan to counter the Islamic threat for anyone articulating the threat in terms that are not clear and factual (truthful). When analysts, pundits, or “experts” claim the Islamic threat is “un-Islamic,” they are either ignorant and unfit to offer their opinion, or lying.  Both support the enemy.

The only times in history Islam has ever been “non-violent” is when non-muslim nations had the muslim ummah (global muslim community) under its boot.  There is no example in history when irrational actors fully intent on world domination were talked out of their position.

ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas, Tabligi Jamaat, Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, Abu Sayef, and all the other Islamic jihadi organizations say they are fighting jihad in the cause of Allah to establish sharia under a caliphate.

Take them at their word.  They are at war with us, therefore, we are at war with them.

A reasonable discussion about solutions can only happen when those involved in the discussion understand the problem.

In the wake of tremendous violence in Europe and the United States by muslims against non-muslims, the threat must be clearly stated by leaders.  Islam is the problem.  Islam is the threat.  Islam commands muslims to wage jihad against the non-muslim world until sharia is the law on the entire earth.  There is no other “version” of Islam

Now, all thoughtful, realistic strategies for victory must begin there, and leaders who fail to speak truth and deal with this threat in the realm of reality need to be removed for the sake of the security of free people and the the continuation of free governments.

Europe’s Next Big War

Thousands of terrorists and thousands of soldiers.

Font Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, June  2, 2017:

2,000 cases.

That was the most overlooked revelation to come from the testimony of the former FBI director. While the media parsed every Comey hiccup to bolster its election conspiracy theories, it ignored that number.

Comey stated that there were around 2,000 terrorism investigations. 1,000 of those came from “home grown violent extremism” with no evidence of contact with foreign terrorists. Another 1,000 had “some contact with foreign terrorists”. 300 from that 2,000 had come to America as refugees.

Two-thirds of the refugee terrorists were from Iraq. The other third were mainly from the six countries named in President Trump’s travel pause which left-wing activist judges have unconstitutionally halted.

Two years ago, Comey listed around 900 investigations. Even assuming that some of the 1,000 “home grown extremists” aren’t Muslim terrorists, that’s a staggering and shocking rise in case numbers.

Back then, he had said that the FBI was having trouble with the sheer volume of investigations in every state. “If that becomes the new normal,” he had said, “that would be hard to keep up.”

The new normal is only getting worse.

Those 2,000 investigations represent active cases. When an investigation does not pan out, it’s over. The FBI investigated Omar Mateen before he carried out the Pulse massacre where the second-generation refugee murdered 49 people, according to his own words, “in the name of Allah, the merciful.”

A preliminary investigation has to be wrapped up in six months. A year at the most. Mateen’s investigation was wrapped up in the spring of ’14. His name went off the terror watchlist.

Two years later he struck.

Those 2,000 cases are the tip of a very large iceberg. Below those 2,000 cases are the larger numbers of potential terrorists who, like Mateen, had the book closed on their investigations.

In the UK, there are 3,000 potential terrorists being investigated, but 20,000 others had been “subjects of interest” in the past. We don’t know how large that second number is in the United States. But it’s probably not too far off the British one. In which case we also have over 20,000 potential terrorists.

Nor do we know how large the third number of potential terrorists who never appeared on the radar is.

Against these numbers, MI5, which handles counterterrorism in the UK, has 4,000 staffers. Only a small fraction of these would be employed in counterterrorism in MI5’s G Branch. London’s Counter Terrorism Command has a staff of 1,500. The Greater Manchester Police’s counter-terrorism unit had a team of 20. These numbers are obviously inadequate. But what number could possibly be enough?

The British military can put 10,000 soldiers on city streets after a terrorist attack. After Manchester, 5,000 soldiers were deployed. SAS special forces are reportedly being permanently positioned in London. The military was deployed for the first time in a century when Tony Blair sent tanks to secure Heathrow Airport after an Islamic terror threat. Now military deployment is becoming the new normal.

France deployed 10,000 soldiers to patrol cities after the Paris attacks. Operation Sentinelle is still underway two years later. Soldiers patrolling Paris are awarded a medal for Protection of the Territory. Half of the French soldiers deployed in a military role are patrolling the streets of Paris and other cities.

Belgium and Italy also deployed troops in Brussels and Rome in 2015.

The forces being deployed include such storied names as the French 35th Infantry Regiment, one of the country’s oldest regiments with a history dating back to the 17th century, the Irish Guards at Whitehall and the legendary Chasseurs Ardennais in Belgium. This is not counterterrorism. It’s a war.

In 2015, the year of many of these military deployments, 211 terror plots occurred in EU countries. These attacks killed 151 people and wounded another 360. 1,077 terrorism arrests were made.

Those numbers are closer to Iraq than anything in the West. And they are only growing worse.

Obama tried to dismiss Islamic terrorism as a criminal problem. But when soldiers are being deployed in major cities, it’s not crime. It’s an insurgency. The Islamic insurgency from Iraq was exported to America by Iraqi refugees as the FBI’s own numbers show. Islamic insurgencies from Pakistan, Libya and Algeria have been exported to Europe in the same way. Islamic immigration has brought its insurgency here.

These insurgencies form around Muslim population centers. Manchester’s Muslim population nearly doubled in a decade. Toward the end of that decade, a Muslim plot to bomb a shopping mall in Manchester on the Easter Bank Holiday was broken up. That plot failed. Another one succeeded.

These insurgencies are not a police problem. They are a military threat.

A Muslim terrorist network in London, Paris or New York is as much of a military issue as one in Baghdad or Beirut. The infrastructure of investigations and trials we have set up to fight these networks is utterly unsuited to the nature of the problem of Islamic terrorism and overwhelmed by its growing scope.

The question is do we want to turn our cities into Baghdad with thousands of soldiers patrolling our streets? Rising Muslim domestic insurgencies will leave even the most liberal leaders with no choice but to resort to wartime measures. Even in America this has meant the TSA, the NSA and a host of other restrictions and violations. Yet these are inescapable unless the root cause of the insurgency is tackled.

If things go on as they are, the military occupation of our cities becomes permanent.

The great cities of the West crumble into a maze of insurgency and counterinsurgency operations with thousands of soldiers on the street securing safe green zones and venturing for raids into no go zones. Those soldiers stop just patrolling and occasionally responding to attacks. Instead they will be employed in manning checkpoints and deterring groups of armed insurgents from carrying out major attacks.

200 terror plots will become 2,000 terror plots. 151 dead will become 1,500 dead and then 15,000 dead. And then every Western country that opened its doors to “refugees” will become Iraq.

Comey estimated that 250 persons from this country had traveled to Syria to fight in its terrorist war. The British estimate is between 850 and 2,000, the French estimate between 500 and 900, the German estimate at 750 and the Belgian estimate around 500 and the total EU estimate tops out at 4,200.

If they survive and return, thousands of trained enemy insurgents will be living in Europe. And they will be facing thousands of soldiers in the streets of major cities who have been deployed to fight them.

The first major wave of terror this century was fueled by Islamic terrorists who had fought in Afghanistan. The newest wave of terror will have insurgents trained in Iraq and Syria.

Supporters of refugee admissions and open borders are ushering in a military occupation and a civil war. There is no escaping these numbers or evading the facts on the ground that they represent.

But unlike Iraq or Syria, the Islamic insurgency is not an indigenous problem. The Islamic terrorist is not indigenous to America or Europe. He is a recent guest. He has been here for decades, not centuries. We can’t fix the tribal conflicts in Syria or Iraq, but we can interdict them through immigration reform.

Every effort to oppose President Trump’s travel pause is a vote for soldiers in the streets and car bombs every morning. It can only end with the wars that the left hated in Iraq and Afghanistan being fought in the cities where its activists, protesters and supporters live behind barbed wire and checkpoints.

Islamic terrorism is a war. The only way to stop that war is to stop migration from terror states today.

Report: Global Terrorism Has Tripled Since 2011, Now At An All Time High

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, June 1, 2017:

The Institute for Economics and Peace has released their annual “Global Peace Index” for 2017, reporting some shocking findings.

According to the report, global terrorism has nearly tripled since 2011, and terrorism is now at an all-time high.

The Voice of America reports:

Worldwide terrorism is at an all-time high, and violence cost the global economy $14.3 trillion last year, with a $2.5 trillion impact in the United States alone.

These new figures from the latest Global Peace Index, a report on conflict and security, indicate that world peace has been deteriorating for the past decade, largely driven by terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The study says the decline interrupts long-term improvements the world had been making since the end of World War II.

According to the report, the annual number of terrorism incidents has almost tripled since 2011.

Deaths from terrorism have risen more than 900% since 2007 in the 35 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Of those members, 23 nations experienced terrorism related deaths over the past year.

Those countries include Denmark, Sweden, France and Turkey.

One eye-popping graphic from the report (p. 36) shows that terrorism deaths in OECD countries has increased 900 percent since 2007.

This is quite a turn-around from this time last year during the presidential campaign when the media was trumpeting major declines in terrorism.

Only a few were willing to acknowledge the growing terrorism problem developing in the West:

As I noted here at PJ Media after the terror attack in Nice last July, attacks in the West were occurring at a rate of one every 84 hours.

After last month’s suicide bombing in Manchester, among other recent attacks, it appears that another “Summer of Terror” may be in the offing.

But wait!? Didn’t we hear from President Obama that Osama bin Laden was dead, and al-Qaeda had been decimated? The Islamic State was the “JV team”?

In fact, we did.

Going back to April 2013, we had senior Obama State Department officials telling us that the “War on Terror” was over, and the primary reason was that Obama’s Arab Spring had unleashed the forces of democracy by encouraging hardcore Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, to take over in several critical countries in the Middle East.

[…]

The so-called Arab Spring and the Syrian War – both openly cheered and supported by the Obama administration – unleashed deadly and destructive forces whose full manifestation are only now being seen.

This new data documents the terrorism that has ripped open the Middle East, southeast Asia and Africa. Now it is literally exploding across Europe.

And it may take more than hugs and hashtags to roll it back.

Read more

Glazov Gang: John Guandolo on “Trump vs. Brotherhood Infiltration”

Jihad Watch, MAY 30, 2017 BY JAMIE GLAZOV

Subscribe to the Glazov Gang‘s YouTube Channel.

This new special edition of The Glazov Gang features John Guandolo, a former FBI agent, combat veteran Marine, and now the President of Understanding the Threat.

John discussed Trump vs. Brotherhood Infiltration, casting a disturbing light on the enemy within.

Don’t miss it!

And make sure to watch the new Jamie Glazov Moment in which Jamie focuses on Why Islamic Terror Targeted Children in Manchester, unveiling how death cults always prioritize child sacrifice: CLICK HERE.

Please donate through our Pay Pal account to help The Glazov Gang keep going. Thank you!

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and to Jamie Glazov Productions. Also LIKE us on Facebook and LIKE Jamie’s FB Fan Page.

***

Also see:

This week’s program assesss the President’s trip to Saudi Arabia and unveils the truth about what happened – its easy to understand if you translate what the Islamic leader said through the filter of sharia.  Many people think the President was “tough” on the Islamic rulers. In fact, the US submitted to Islam.  Understand why.  The program also looks at key events of the week including the AFDI protest in NY over the CUNY commencement address by Hamas operative Linda Sarsour, as well as the bombing in Manchester, UK and the ramifications.  As always, enjoy the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot segment and a little sharia in Chris Gaubatz’s Know Thy Enemy segment.  Join us as we take the fight to the enemy and put FREEDOM back on the offensive where it belongs.

John Guandolo’s website has an excellent Research and Resources page that you should see if you haven’t already.

Unfinished Business: What it will take to make America safe again

Medics rehydrate a member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division who was overcome by heat and exhaustion while conducting a
mission intended to deny sanctuary to al Qaeda and Taliban fighters along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, July 23, 2002. Photo credit: Scott Nelson / Getty

Weekly Standard Magazine June 5th issue, by Thomas Joscelyn:

Donald Trump is fond of claiming that his predecessor mismanaged America’s role in the world. “And I have to just say that the world is a mess. I inherited a mess,” the president noted during a joint press conference with King Abdullah of Jordan in the Rose Garden on April 5. “Whether it’s the Middle East,” he continued, “whether it’s North Korea, whether it’s so many other things, whether it’s in our country—horrible trade deals—I inherited a mess.”

The world is an inherently messy place, and each president is left with problems unresolved by the man who preceded him. But when it comes to America’s fight against terrorism, Trump has a point. Barack Obama claimed that he brought the war in Iraq to a “responsible end” and promised do the same in Afghanistan. In reality, he ended neither of the 9/11 wars. While Obama was arguing that the “tide of war is receding,” new conflicts emerged and old ones intensified.

Obama always had a tin ear for the psychological impact of terrorism. He liked to tell his staff that the number of Americans killed in terrorist attacks each year was smaller than the number who perished in car accidents or by slipping in the bathtub. But this argument is myopic. Jihadist groups, not automobile manufacturers, are fighting for the control of entire countries. The terrorist threat over here only grew as they gained ground over there. There have been large-scale plots, such as the Islamic State’s assault on Paris in November 2015 and the March 2016 Brussels bombings. Small attacks have become widespread. The December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino and the June 2016 nightclub massacre in Orlando both shocked this nation. Such attacks are often described as the work of “lone wolves,” but this is misleading. Al Qaeda has long sought to inspire individuals to strike out on their own. The Islamic State took this tactic further, using online applications to both attract and guide recruits in the West. The emergence of the so-called caliphate in 2014 created a new justification and urgency for believers to lash out in their home countries.

On May 22, the West was reminded, once again, of the persistent threat when a jihadist detonated a shrapnel-laden bomb at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. The bombing, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, targeted children who just wanted to see a favorite pop star. At least 22 people were killed and 64 wounded. Britain, like Paris and Brussels before it, was put on high alert as officials worried that a follow-up attack was in the works. Western officials have worked around the clock for years to prevent just such attacks. The casualty count would be much higher if not for their efforts. Thousands of potential terrorists now tie up counterterrorism and law enforcement resources throughout Europe and the United States. The U.S. and allied governments are rightly focused on the jihadist threat—not on the work of bathtub manufacturers or automakers.

Barack Obama does not bear all the blame; he inherited the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from his predecessor, George W. Bush. The Arab uprisings occurred on Obama’s watch, and they opened new opportunities for the jihadists in countries where they had only a minimal presence beforehand. The revolutions were beyond America’s control, but Obama did little to counter the growing jihadist menace and even exacerbated problems. He sought to downplay or dismiss every jihadist threat during his presidency. With few exceptions, such as the killing of Osama bin Laden, there is little Obama can point to as a counterterrorism success in his eight years in office.

The Trump administration is currently crafting its own counterterrorism strategy. An 11-page draft memo was leaked to Reuters on May 5, and in keeping with the president’s views on foreign policy, the administration seems to be planning to call on America’s allies to do more. “We need to intensify operations against global jihadist groups while also reducing the costs of American ‘blood and treasure’ in pursuit of our counterterrorism goals,” the document reads. “We will seek to avoid costly, large-scale U.S. military interventions to achieve counterterrorism objectives and will increasingly look to partners to share the responsibility for countering terrorist groups.”

There’s nothing wrong, in principle or in practice, with asking our allies to do more. President Trump was never likely to order nation-building projects or massive troop deployments. But it is worth noting that Obama described his approach to counterterrorism in terms remarkably similar to those used in the Trump memo. In his last major counterterrorism speech, on December 6, 2016, Obama noted that the current war effort against the Islamic State cost “$10 billion over two years, which is the same amount that we used to spend in one month at the height of the Iraq War.” “Instead of pushing all of the burden onto American ground troops,” he said, “instead of trying to mount invasions wherever terrorists appear, we’ve built a network of partners.”

Obama’s plan, too, was built around reducing “the costs of American ‘blood and treasure.’ ” It’s a fine goal and, in some ways, a sensible one. Limiting the number of American casualties has to be any president’s top concern. Nor can America be the primary force in every country that faces a jihadist fight. Substituting others’ boots reduces the cost to U.S. taxpayers. But an “Allies First” strategy has its limits. There is no better example than the ongoing war in Afghanistan, where America’s partners are struggling to keep the jihadists at bay.

AMERICA’S LONGEST WAR

Late in 2009, Obama ordered 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But he promised that the Americans deployed under his leadership would come home before the conclusion of his reelection campaign, and he delivered on that pledge.

“We’ve broken the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and begun the transition to an Afghan lead,” Obama announced in September 2012. “Next month,” he continued, “the last of the troops I ordered as part of the surge against the Taliban will come home, and by 2014, the transition to Afghan lead will be complete.” The soldiers came home, but the Taliban’s “momentum” was never truly broken. It was just slowed. Even Obama eventually realized he had to keep more American troops in Afghanistan than he originally planned. Today, more than 15 years after we invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, large parts of the country are falling back into the hands of the Taliban.

According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, who reports directly to Congress, at least 164 (40 percent) of Afghanistan’s 407 districts were either contested or under the insurgents’ control or influence in February. The jihadists are able to execute spectacular assaults like the April 21 raid on an Afghan military base near Mazar-e-Sharif that left more than 100 dead. The number of civilian casualties has increased as well. The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported in February that 11,418 civilians were killed or wounded in 2016. By contrast, 5,969 civilian casualties were recorded in 2009—Obama’s first year in office.

Testifying before the Senate in early February, Gen. John W. Nicholson, who leads all NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said that a “few thousand” more troops were needed to stabilize the war effort. He called the conflict a stalemate, but there is no denying the Taliban gained significant ground over the previous year.

President Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who held commands in both Iraq and Afghanistan, reportedly wants to send several thousand more U.S. soldiers to the country. Their primary mission would be to train additional Afghan forces in the hopes of stemming the Taliban’s advance. There are currently 8,300 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, so the total proposed force would still be a far cry from the 100,000 or so troops stationed there in 2010-11.

Some in the Trump administration object to even this modest strategy. The Washington Post reported that Afghanistan is now “derisively” called “McMaster’s War” by his West Wing rivals. White House counselor Steve Bannon has been particularly vocal in opposing any troop escalation in Afghanistan—as he opposed the president’s decision last month to strike the Syrian airfield from which the Assad regime had launched a chemical attack. It’s easy to see why Bannon is willing to give up on Afghanistan. The landlocked nation bedeviled foreign powers long before the Taliban ever rose to power. The Afghan government is rife with corruption and often unreliable. Over the last 16 years, 2,387 Americans have perished in the war for Afghanistan and 20,261 others have been wounded. The thought of sending more off to fight in a seemingly intractable war would be disheartening for any president.

But the restoration of the Taliban, or anything close to it, would have dire consequences for the United States, particularly because it would be seen as the result of our capitulation. The myth that faith in Allah was sufficient for the mujahedeen to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the 1980s (ignoring the billions of dollars in arms supplied by the United States) fueled the generation of jihadists from which al Qaeda arose. It is not difficult to imagine what a second vanquished superpower would do for their cause.

“Allah has promised us victory and America has promised us defeat, so we shall see which of the two promises will be fulfilled,” Mullah Omar, the Taliban founder, once said. He passed away in 2013, but his words are beginning to look prophetic. Indeed, an American retreat would be widely regarded as a vindication not just of Mullah Omar and his Taliban heirs, but of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

THE TALIBAN-AL-QAEDA ALLIANCE

Part of the Obama administration’s strategy for ending the Afghan conflict was an attempt to separate the Taliban from al Qaeda. It was a fool’s errand, as anyone aware of the overlapping structures and interests of the two understood. But for eight years, Obama’s advisers built a policy in Afghanistan on this deeply flawed assumption.

Since well before the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda’s chieftains have been loyal to the Taliban’s overall leader. In June 2016, Ayman al Zawahiri, who followed bin Laden as the head of al Qaeda, swore a blood oath to the Taliban’s emir, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada. In December, as something of a commemoration of the Obama policy failure, the Taliban released a lengthy video celebrating the historical alliance. There was footage of al Qaeda and Taliban figures—living and dead, including bin Laden and Mullah Omar—and no hint at all that the Taliban regretted the collapse of its rule in Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. invasion in October 2001.

Al Qaeda commanders are integrated with their Taliban counterparts throughout the Afghan insurgency to this day. The man who runs the Taliban’s military operations, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is particularly close to al Qaeda. He and his father, Jalaluddin, were among bin Laden’s earliest allies.

Throughout his tenure as president, Obama repeatedly insisted that al Qaeda was “decimated” and “on the run.” He was willfully blind to the situation in Afghanistan until the end. “Today, by any measure, core al Qaeda—the organization that hit us on 9/11—is a shadow of its former self,” Obama claimed in his December valedictory speech. It is true that al Qaeda suffered significant losses at American hands in Obama’s eight years in office. But the organization has survived the war on terror; it has evolved and it has grown.

In October 2015, the U.S. military made a startling announcement. Over the course of five days, a joint team of American and Afghan forces had raided an al Qaeda training camp far bigger than the one that produced the 9/11 hijackers and their comrades. The facility was nearly 30 square miles—about half the size of Washington, D.C. It was located in the Shorabak district of the southern Kandahar Province and had gone unnoticed for months, even as it churned out scores of new trainees. The whole of Shorabak district was overrun by the Taliban early this year.

The massive camp is indicative of a bigger problem. The Obama administration routinely downplayed the extent of al Qaeda’s footprint in Afghanistan. The CIA estimated in late June 2010 that there were just “50 to 100” al Qaeda operatives inside Afghanistan. U.S. officials stuck with this assessment for years, even as contradictory evidence mounted. Files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011, for instance, demonstrated that his men were operating in at least eight different Afghan provinces as of June 19, 2010. Just one al Qaeda “battalion” operating in the provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, the files showed, had 70 members.

The U.S. military continued to launch raids against al Qaeda positions, but the “50 to 100” range remained fixed. U.S. officials finally conceded in April 2016 that the extent of al Qaeda’s operations inside Afghanistan had been underestimated. In December, just weeks before the end of the Obama administration, Gen. Nicholson noted that 250 al Qaeda operatives had been killed or captured in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2016.

One of those killed was an especially important target. Faruq al Qahtani had been tasked by Osama bin Laden with organizing al Qaeda’s relocation to Afghanistan from northern Pakistan in 2010 at the peak of the Obama administration’s drone campaign. A significant number of al Qaeda leaders and fighters made the move, which allowed them to survive the drone onslaught. Qahtani and his men fought alongside their Taliban comrades. But that was not his sole mission. After Qahtani was struck down in October 2016, the Pentagon announced that he had been “one of the terrorist group’s senior plotters of attacks against the United States.” Al Qaeda is still plotting against America from Afghan soil in 2017, and a complete U.S. withdrawal would only make it easier for them to do so.

Al Qaeda has been expanding throughout South Asia. In September 2014, Zawahiri announced the creation of a new entity: Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). He explained that after two years of negotiations and planning, several preexisting al Qaeda-allied groups in Pakistan and its neighboring countries had merged. Almost immediately after this announcement AQIS members attempted to hijack a Pakistani frigate and fire its missiles at Indian and American warships. The goal was to get India or the United States to retaliate for a perceived attack by Pakistan and start a regional war. The plot, which was carried out by terrorists who had infiltrated Pakistan’s navy, was narrowly averted while it was in motion.

Thus far, the Trump administration has said little about how it plans to fight the Taliban-al Qaeda axis. The U.S. military has been mainly focused on fighting the Islamic State’s upstart presence in eastern Afghanistan—known as ISIS-K, for Khorasan, an old name for the wider central Asian region. Three American soldiers were killed during raids on ISIS-K positions in Nangarhar Province in April, and there is no question that the group poses a challenge. But it is not the gravest threat to Afghan security. At the height of their power, the Islamic State’s representatives controlled approximately ten Afghan districts and contested several others. Today, they control at most three. That is a far cry from the Taliban-led insurgency, which either dominates or is challenging Afghan and NATO forces in more than 160 districts across the country.

The Taliban has its allies, too. Iran long ago cut a deal with it to counter America’s presence in the region. The Russians have provided rhetorical support at the very minimum. Pakistan remains as duplicitous as ever, fighting some jihadists and allowing others to roam free. What little leverage we have in Pakistan today would surely be lost in the event of our withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Taliban was, after all, originally a Pakistani proxy.

NATO countries may be willing to contribute more forces to the Afghan war. And despite the Afghans’ many problems, they will always be the ones doing the majority of the fighting and dying in this war. NATO and the Afghans can do more, of course, but are most likely to do so with the spur of a significant American commitment.

IRAQ AND SYRIA

President Obama was always dismissive of any jihadist threat emanating from Iraq. He described the Islamic State and its predecessor organization as a “kind of mafia” and the “jayvee team,” even as its fighters were laying the groundwork for their caliphate. Underpinning Obama’s casual dismissal was, as he told the New Yorker in January 2014, the idea that “jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes” aren’t a serious threat to the West. Today, the Islamic State’s tentacles reach around the globe, from Southeast Asia, through the Middle East and Africa, all the way into the heart of the United States.

Obama was never going to keep nearly 150,000 troops stationed in the country when he took office. But even a small contingent would have interrupted the rise of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s caliphate. Obama and his surrogates liked to blame the Iraqi government’s refusal to enter a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) for America’s complete withdrawal at the end of 2011. The claim is false. Obama celebrated his “ending” of the Iraq war throughout his 2012 reelection campaign. It was a point of pride for him, not a lament.

Leon Panetta, Obama’s secretary of defense from 2011-13, wrote in Time in 2014 that the president was never interested in negotiating a new agreement. The Obama administration was “so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests,” Panetta explained. Obama’s rationale is also belied by the fact that when he eventually sent American troops back into Iraq in 2014, he did so without a new SOFA. Difficult negotiations with the Iraqi government aren’t the reason Obama closed the door on Iraq. He believed that the jihadists weren’t a serious threat to American security.

Nonetheless, as his two terms came to an end, Obama argued that his course correction in 2014 left President Trump with a successful strategy for defeating the Islamic State. During his December 6 speech, Obama said, “the results are clear: ISIL [Islamic State] has lost more than half its territory. ISIL has lost control of major population centers. Its morale is plummeting. Its recruitment is drying up. Its commanders and external plotters are being taken out, and local populations are turning against it.” Pointing to the campaigns in Mosul and north of Raqqa, the group’s “self-declared capital,” Obama added: “The bottom line is we are breaking the back of ISIL. We’re taking away its safe havens.”

It may be the case that the zenith of the Islamic State’s power is past. But Obama’s use of ad hoc allies and proxy fighting was an outgrowth of his hasty withdrawal and eventual reversal; it was never a cogent strategy. Iraqi government forces melted away quickly as the Islamic State’s killers marauded their way through the country in 2014. The United States worked to rebuild their capabilities in the years since, but there is no good reason to think the Iraqi army can stand on its own. What’s more, many of the anti-Islamic State actors fighting in Iraq are allies of Iran, which is fomenting an anti-American revolution throughout the region.

Iranian expansion was the poison pill in Obama’s plan for the Islamic State. Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which are involved in the battle for Mosul and operations throughout Iraq, have strong ties to Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). During the height of the Iraq war, the IRGC’s elite Quds Force hunted American-led coalition forces. The deputy commander of the PMF is Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, who has long worked with both the IRGC and Hezbollah, the notorious Iranian terror proxy in Lebanon. In 2009, the Treasury Department designated Muhandis a terrorist for his role in orchestrating attacks against Americans and allied forces in Iraq. Today, he and his men fight as part of the coalition against the Islamic State. The Shiite jihadists battling Baghdadi’s goons in Iraq do not serve America’s long-term interests, they serve Iran’s.

President Trump is aware that Iranian aggression throughout the region is one of Obama’s most troubling legacies. During his speech in Saudi Arabia on May 21, he said that “no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment.” Trump meant Iran and continued, “From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.” It was important for the president to make it clear that the United States views Iran as a major source of terrorism, but it is not at all easy to see how the new administration will untangle the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq from Iranian interests.

If Obama could claim some progress against the Islamic State in his December speech, he could not claim victory. The campaign has been a slog. The fighting to liberate Mosul began seven months ago. The Islamic State is close to losing the city but is also still operating throughout Iraq, having quickly reverted to a potent insurgency in many of the areas it lost. The fight for Raqqa has yet to begin. It is under threat from multiple directions, but the jihadists have had ample time to build a defensive house of horrors for their approaching enemies. The group has also redeployed its forces, securing ground along the Euphrates River and in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, one of the organization’s longtime strongholds. The end of the caliphate may be in sight, but the end of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is not.

Complicating matters is the fact that America’s chosen partners in Syria include members of the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. The Trump administration has decided to deepen this alliance, which was first struck under Obama. Earlier this month, the president approved a plan to directly arm the YPG, which is the leading partner in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). There may be no other choice at this point. The SDF has played a crucial role in taking territory from ISIS in northern Syria, including the city of Tabqah and the surrounding area, which are key to the western approach to Raqqa.

The movement for Kurdish independence is gaining momentum, but hopes for a new state are mired in internal rivalries. America has Kurdish allies in both Iraq and Syria, but they are far from a unified force. The presence of YPG/PKK fighters in Iraq has caused persistent problems for the Kurdish regional government, which is coordinating the anti-Islamic State fight in the north of the country. America’s Kurdish partners in the battle for Mosul (the Peshmerga) are sometimes allied with our Kurdish surrogate ground forces in the fight to take Raqqa (YPG/PKK), but they also clash with each other.

Turkey’s government, moreover, is vehemently opposed to the YPG/PKK and, more generally, to any expansion of the Kurdish regional footprint. The Turks present problems in their own right, beginning with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasing autocracy. The country is a safe haven for numerous bad actors, from senior Hamas operatives to al Qaeda figures, and has been the main jihadist pipeline into Syria.

Throughout all of this, Bashar al-Assad’s genocidal regime remains a power in Syria. Without the support of Iran and Russia, Assad would long since have been sent to the gallows. Iranian-backed Iraqi militias have been deployed to Syria on behalf of the butcher of Damascus, and today Assad is safer than he has been in years. If Obama had acted more urgently in 2011 when Assad first started his campaign of mass murder, the region and Europe—which has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees—might look much different today. There is no serious effort, U.S.-led or otherwise, to hold Assad accountable for his crimes. While it is tempting to suggest that wholesale regime change should be America’s policy in Syria, only naïve ideologues could overlook the fact that Sunni jihadists are the strongest force opposed to Assad.

The U.S. focus on fighting the Islamic State has obscured another problematic development: the rise of al Qaeda in Syria. In the first three weeks of 2017, the Defense Department launched airstrikes it says “killed more than 150 al Qaeda terrorists” in Syria. One target was the Shaykh Sulayman training camp, which has been operational since at least 2013. More than 100 al Qaeda fighters were killed in that attack alone. Al Qaeda has also built up al-Nusra Front, which Brett McGurk, whom Obama appointed as special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS in 2015, has described before the Senate as al Qaeda’s “largest formal affiliate in history.” U.S. officials estimate that al-Nusra has amassed at least 10,000 fighters.

Between September 2014 and December 2016, the Obama administration launched repeated drone strikes against individual al Qaeda terrorists residing in Syria. But they were not as significant as the bombings in January. The bulk of al-Nusra’s forces, which now fight under the name of the Assembly for the Liberation of the Levant, long went untouched, and, though they are battling both Assad and Iran’s Shiite militiamen, no American ally is currently fighting this group on the ground.

YEMEN AND SOMALIA

When President Obama announced his strategy for fighting the Islamic State in September 2014, he said it would mirror his administration’s efforts in Yemen and Somalia. Within months, the Yemen plan was a shambles.

The U.S. government had been relying on Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s government, supported by targeted drone strikes and Special Forces operations, to suppress Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But in January 2015, Hadi was forced into exile when Houthi rebels stormed the presidential palace in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. The Houthis adhere to their own peculiar brand of Shia Islam and opposed the Sunni-dominated Yemeni government. They have been cultivated by Tehran, which views them as an ally against Saudi Arabia. While the Houthis are not a purebred Iranian terrorist organization like Hezbollah, they are increasingly anti-American, even firing missiles at U.S. ships off the coast of Yemen. They draw crucial support from former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was pushed aside in 2011 during the Arab Spring. Saleh wants to reclaim power, and he has cut a deal with the Houthis, previously his foes, in an attempt to get it.

AQAP is a major force in Yemen. The group took advantage of the Houthi offensive against Hadi to claim parts of southern Yemen. After the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis intervened in 2016, AQAP’s forces melted away, declaring it was better to leave Yemen’s more urban areas intact rather than raze them in a bloody intra-Arab fight. The jihadists lived to fight another day.

The Trump administration has already stepped up the air campaign in Yemen. The United States launched more than 80 airstrikes against AQAP between January and May. The previous high was 41 bombings in all of 2009. President Trump has also approved riskier operations. One Special Forces raid in January gained notoriety for the death of a Navy SEAL in an intense firefight at an AQAP compound, which also led to numerous civilian casualties.

America’s chief partners in the Yemen fight, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are focused on hitting the Houthis and reinstalling Hadi in power. But AQAP also fights the Houthis, which makes for uncomfortable bedfellows. Hadi’s men are also sometimes AQAP’s battlefield allies. Meanwhile, no ground force is significantly opposing AQAP. The UAE does have troops who skirmish with them, but such clashes are so far minor. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Saudi Arabia is widely accused of carrying out indiscriminate bombing raids.

The troubles in Somalia are similar to those in Yemen. The African Union Mission in Somalia and government forces are struggling to contain al Shabaab, the local al Qaeda branch. Earlier this month, a Navy SEAL died in a battle with the group—the first American killed in combat in Somalia since the “Black Hawk Down” episode of 1993. Under Obama, American service members were to “advise, assist, and occasionally accompany regional forces.” In late March, Trump approved a plan that allows them to “provide additional precision fires in support of” our local allies. American service members are going to be called upon to do more in Somalia.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

In late April, Asim Umar, the head of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, released a provocative message. In it, he asked, “What is becoming of that very America?” and took direct aim at Trump’s foreign policy. “America is not only fleeing from Afghanistan, but with the jihadist strikes conducted against it by the sons of the Muslim ummah, inshaAllah, inshaAllah, it will also flee from, and give up the leadership of the world. The ‘America first’ slogan is the first step.”

Umar detected the problem in Trump’s “America first” rhetoric: It is not clear that there is any difference between putting American interests first and retreating from our preeminent position around the globe. It is striking that Umar sees the Trump doctrine as the “first step” to the demise of American “leadership of the world.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. The new president is right when he says he “inherited a mess.” He can begin to fix it by setting the record straight with the American people. We are still fighting a global war against jihadism. Al Qaeda is very much alive and, contrary to the Obama administration’s assertions, remains an international organization active on multiple continents. While the Islamic State has taken its lumps, it is not close to a total defeat. Today’s enemies may not possess the industrial might and war machines of yesterday’s foes, but they are persistent and committed to an anti-American ideology we cannot afford to ignore.

Trump and his advisers can explain why Afghanistan—the original 9/11 war—remains an essential fight. The 9/11 hijackings were launched from Afghan soil, and an American retreat in Afghanistan would be a clear victory for the Taliban-al Qaeda axis. Obama’s total withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 proved disastrous, and a replay of that scenario in South Asia—where Pakistan, the only nuclear-armed state infested with jihadists, is located—could be worse. Trump should quickly approve the McMaster plan to send more troops to Afghanistan. They will not win the war, but they can stem the tide of the jihadists’ advance. The Trump administration wants our NATO allies to step up their commitments. NATO follows America’s lead, not the other way around.

The multi-sided proxy wars in Iraq and Syria are a terrifying mess. During a press briefing on May 19, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the American strategy, on its present course, would “annihilate” the Islamic State. Mattis praised President Trump for delegating more authority to his military commanders and for blessing a plan to surround “the enemy in their strongholds” and prevent “the return home of escaped foreign fighters.” The previous week, during testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats sounded less optimistic. He warned that the Islamic State would maintain “enough resources and fighters to sustain insurgency operations and plan [terrorist] attacks in the region and internationally” for the foreseeable future.

In other words, the U.S. intelligence community is not expecting the defeat of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s enterprise anytime soon. America’s allies are moving slowly in Syria. In Iraq, we have already witnessed how quickly jihadists can rebound from a defeat. To make matters worse, no American-backed force is ready to move on al Qaeda’s strongholds in northwestern Syria. Iran has used the war against the Islamic State to pursue its long-term objective of becoming the regional hegemon, expanding its footprint in Iraq, Syria, and beyond. The president should have the U.S. military developing aggressive options for fighting the jihadists in Iraq and Syria and for maintaining our position as the chief regional broker.

Speaking before the National Governors Association on February 27, President Trump reminisced about the good old days as he remembers them. “We have to start winning wars again,” he said. “I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say ‘we haven’t lost a war’—we never lost a war—you remember.” Trump pointed out that “now we never win a war.” “We never win,” he reiterated. “And we don’t fight to win. We don’t fight to win. So we either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.” He then complained about the vast sums spent fighting in the Middle East since 2001.

The jihadists believe, as al Qaeda’s Asim Umar said earlier this month, that eventually America won’t fight at all. The president of the United States can prove them wrong.

Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.