by Patrick Dunleavy
February 8, 2017
“O Allah, Free the Muslim Prisoners.”
The old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind” does not apply to dealing effectively with the threat of Islamism especially in the case of terrorists who have been captured or incarcerated.
Radical Islamic organizations such as al-Qaida and ISIS never forget their members. To them, going to prison is part of the pathway to paradise. Both groups’ leaders, Ayman al-Zawahri and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, spent considerable periods of time locked up. It did nothing to diminish their zeal, but rather, fueled their fervor. Often, as in their cases, what comes out of prison is worse than what went in.
This is further illustrated by the increased number of terrorists released from Guantanamo who rejoin the fight against U.S. military personnel. Almost one in three released prisoners return to the jihadists’ fold. This recidivism can be attributed in part to the admonitions terrorists receive to assist those who are captured or imprisoned. That support may include financial help for their families and for legal fees.
These instructions were found in a training manual discovered in 2000 by law enforcement officers in Manchester, England.
“I take this opportunity to address our prisoners. We have not forgotten you,” al-Zawahiri said in an interview with Al Shabab commemorating the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. “We are still committed to the debt of your salvation . . . until we shatter your shackles.”
AQAP’s Inspire magazine went so far as to list the names of incarcerated members for all to remember.
They do this because jihadis firmly believe that sooner or later they’ll be reunited with those members.
If that isn’t ominous enough, consider the fact that as many as 100 people convicted of terror-related offenses in U.S. prisons will be set free in less than four years.
And yet, while Islamic terrorist organizations have rapidly changed in their recruitment and tactical methodologies overall, the U.S. has not adapted to countering the evolving threat.
In the United States, the number of terror-related incidents increased exponentially since 9-11. As they did, authorities adapted new ways to investigate. State of the art technologies help collect and analyze data. Fusion centers were created to get the information into the hands of investigators in real time. Counter terrorism, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies joined together to share.
Legislation has changed how the judicial system prosecutes terrorists. “Our criminal law was unprepared for international terrorism. We simply did not have statutes and penalties that fit what terrorists do,” said former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, who led the prosecution against the first World Trade Center bombers and blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.
A vigorous debate continues whether to treat terrorists as criminals or as enemy combatants. A reasonable consensus among the military and the judicial branches is building for the use of both designations.
Two significant changes, in policy and practice, toward radical Islamic terrorists remain to be addressed.
Terrorists go into prison much the same way as the burglar, the drug dealer, or the pedophile. They are housed and fed in existing correctional facilities with common criminals. No mandatory rehabilitation or de-radicalization programs exist for convicted Islamic terrorists. And when they are released, there is no specialized supervisory program applied to monitor their employment or whereabouts.
This situation has to change if we are to deal effectively with terrorism. We should establish a registration list for convicted terrorists. This would provide local authorities with the identity of those recently released to their communities. It has been successfully used with sex offenders. It can work if properly applied.
With as many as 500 terrorists now in custody and more to come, the custodial system must also evolve in how it handles jihadists. Security classification must not be downgraded simply because the terrorist has become “jail wise” (exhibited good behavior) like “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, who will be released from prison in two years.
Special administrative measures – conditions of confinement – which restrict visits, correspondence and other prison privileges assigned to terrorists must continue.
Uniform security standards for imprisoned terrorists should be established in the federal, state, and local correctional facilities. Jose Padilla, the alleged “dirty bomber” who first learned of a radical form of Islam while in a Florida county jail and was originally sentenced to life in prison, is scheduled to be released in eight years. Who will be the parole officers assigned to supervise him and will those officers be afforded any specialized training before that happens?
In some cases, specialized facilities like Guantanamo are necessary in dealing with enemy combatants and other committed jihadists. They are effective. No anecdotal evidence has been presented showing them to be a recruitment tool for ISIS or al Qaida. That is like saying that Alcatraz was responsible for the increase in violent crime.
The number of people arrested in the U.S. for terrorism-related crimes nearly tripled in 2015. That year, FBI Director James Comey testified that more than 200 people traveled overseas from the United States in an attempt to fight alongside ISIS or al-Qaida related groups in the Middle East and North Africa.
In 2016, Comey said his agents still had 1,000 open cases related to ISIS. Within the next few years, he said, there may be a “terrorist diaspora” of ISIS fighters leaving the battlefield of Syria and returning to their home countries, committed to carrying out more terrorist attacks.
We can only hope that the vast majority will be apprehended before they can carry out attacks here in the United States. And when they are, we had better be prepared to effectively deal with them throughout their entire time in the system. Anything less is unacceptable to the citizens of this great country.
IPT Senior Fellow Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad. He currently teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School.
MEF, by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
On January 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to implement his proposed “extreme vetting” of those applying for entry visas into the United States. This article by Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes, who has written extensively on the practicality and enforceability of screening for Islamists, is an advance release from the forthcoming Spring 2017 issue of Middle East Quarterly.
Donald Trump issued an executive order on Jan. 27 establishing radically new procedures to deal with foreigners who apply to enter the United States.
Building on his earlier notion of “extreme vetting,” the order explains that
to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
This passage raises several questions of translating extreme vetting in practice: How does one distinguish foreigners who “do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles” from those who do? How do government officials figure out “those who would place violent ideologies over American law”? More specifically, given that the new procedures almost exclusively concern the fear of allowing more Islamists into the country, how does one identify them?
I shall argue these are doable tasks and the executive order provides the basis to achieve them. At the same time, they are expensive and time-consuming, demanding great skill. Keeping out Islamists can be done, but not easily.
By Islamists (as opposed to moderate Muslims), I mean those approximately 10-15 percent of Muslims who seek to apply Islamic law (the Shari’a) in its entirety. They want to implement a medieval code that calls (among much else) for restricting women, subjugating non-Muslims, violent jihad, and establishing a caliphate to rule the world.
For many non-Muslims, the rise of Islamism over the past forty years has made Islam synonymous with extremism, turmoil, aggression, and violence. But Islamists, not all Muslims, are the problem; they, not all Muslims, must urgently be excluded from the United States and other Western countries. Not just that, but anti-Islamist Muslims are the key to ending the Islamist surge, as they alone can offer a humane and modern alternative to Islamist obscurantism.
Identifying Islamists is no easy matter, however, as no simple litmus test exists. Clothing can be misleading, as some women wearing hijabs are anti-Islamists, while practicing Muslims can be Zionists; nor does one’s occupation indicate much, as some high-tech engineers are violent Islamists. Likewise, beards, teetotalism, five-times-a-day prayers, and polygyny do not tell about a Muslim’s political outlook. To make matters more confusing, Islamists often dissimulate and pretend to be moderates, while some believers change their views over time.
Finally, shades of gray further confuse the issue. As noted by Robert Satloff of The Washington Institute, a 2007 book from the Gallup press, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, based on a poll of over 50,000 Muslims in 10 countries, found that 7 percent of Muslims deem the 9/11 attacks “completely justified,” 13.5 percent consider the attacks completely or “largely justified,” and 36.6 percent consider the attacks completely, largely, or “somewhat justified.” Which of these groups does one define as Islamist and which not?
Faced with these intellectual challenges, American bureaucrats are unsurprisingly incompetent, as I demonstrate in a long blog titled “The U.S. Government’s Poor Record on Islamists.” Islamists have fooled the White House, the departments of Defense, Justice, State, and Treasury, the Congress, many law enforcement agencies and a plethora of municipalities. A few examples:
- The Pentagon in 2001 invited Anwar al-Awlaki, the American Islamist it later executed with a drone-launched missile, to lunch.
- In 2002, FBI spokesman Bill Carter described the American Muslim Council (AMC) as “the most mainstream Muslim group in the United States” – just two years before the bureau arrested the AMC’s founder and head, Abdurahman Alamoudi, on terrorism-related charges. Alamoudi has now served about half his 23-year prison sentence.
- George W. Bush appointed stealth Islamist Khaled Abou El Fadl in 2003 to, of all things, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
- The White House included staff in 2015 from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in its consultations, despite CAIR’s initial funding by a designated terrorist group, the frequent arrest or deportation of its employees on terrorism charges, a history of deception, and the goal of one of its leaders to make Islam the only accepted religion in America.
Fake-moderates have fooled even me, despite all the attention I devote to this topic. In 2000, I praised a book by Tariq Ramadan; four years later, I argued for his exclusion from the United States. In 2003, I condemned a Republican operative named Kamal Nawash; two years later, I endorsed him. Did they evolve or did my understanding of them change? More than a decade later, I am still unsure.
Uniform Screening Standards
Returning to immigration, this state of confusion points to the need for learning much more about would-be visitors and immigrants. Fortunately, Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” signed on Jan. 27, 2017, requires just this. It calls for “Uniform Screening Standards” with the goal of preventing individuals from entering the United States “on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission.” The order requires that the uniform screening standard and procedure include such elements as (bolding is mine):
- In-person interviews;
- A database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants;
- Amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent;
- A mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be;
- A process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and
- A mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.
Elements 1, 3, 5, and 6 permit and demand the procedure outlined in the following analysis. It contains two main components, in-depth research and intensive interviews.
When a person applies for a security clearance, the background checks should involve finding out about his family, friends, associations, employment, memberships, and activities. Agents must probe these for questionable statements, relationships, and actions, as well as anomalies and gaps. When they find something dubious, they must look further into it, always with an eye for trouble. Is access to government secrets more important than access to the country? The immigration process should start with an inquiry into the prospective immigrant and, just as with security clearances, the border services should look for problems.
Also, as with security clearance, this process should have a political dimension: Does the person in question have an outlook consistent with that of the Constitution? Not long ago, only public figures such as intellectuals, activists, and religious figures put their views on the record; but now, thanks to the Internet and its open invitation to everyone to comment in writing or on video in a permanent, public manner, and especially to social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), most everyone with strong views at some point vents them. Such data provides valuably unfiltered views on many critical topics, such as Islam, non-Muslims, women, and violence as a tactic. (Exploiting this resource may seem self-evident but U.S. immigration authorities do not do so, thereby imposing a self-restraint roughly equivalent to the Belgian police choosing not to conduct raids between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.)
In the case of virulent, overt, outspoken jihadis, this research usually suffices to provide evidence to exclude them. Even some non-violent Islamists proudly announce their immoderation. But many Islamists adopt a milder and subtler tone, their goal being to appear moderate so they can enter the country and then impose Shari’a through lawful means. As suggested by some of the examples above, such as Abou El Fadl or CAIR, research often proves inadequate in these instances because cautious Islamists hide their goals and glibly dissimulate. Which brings us to entrance interviews.
Assuming that lawful Islamists routinely hide their true views, an interview is needed before letting them enter the country. Of course, it is voluntary, for no one is forced to apply for immigration, but it also must be very thorough. It should be:
Recorded: With the explicit permission of the person being questioned (“You understand and accept that this interview is being recorded, right?”), the exchange should be visibly videotaped so the proceedings are unambiguously on the record. This makes available the interviewee’s words, tone, speech patterns, facial expressions, and body language for further study. Form as well as substance matters: does the interviewee smile, fidget, blink, make eye contact, repeat, sweat, tremble, tire, need frequent toilet breaks, or otherwise express himself in non-verbal ways?
Under oath: Knowing that falsehoods will be punished, possibly with jail time, is a strong inducement to come clean.Polygraph: Even if a lie detector machine does not, in fact, provide useful information, attaching the interviewee to it might induce greater truth-telling.
Public: If the candidate knows that his answers to abstract questions (as opposed to personal ones about his life) will be made public, this reduces the chances of deception. For example, asked about belief for the full application of Islamic laws, an Islamist will be less likely to answer falsely in the negative if he knows that his reply will be available for others to watch.
Multiple: No single question can evince a reply that establishes an Islamist disposition; effective interviewing requires a battery of queries on many topics, from homosexuality to the caliphate. The answers need to be assessed in their totality.
Specific: Vague inquiries along the lines of “Is Islam a religion of peace?”, “Do you condemn terrorism?” “How do you respond to the murder of innocents,” depend too much on one’s definition of words such as peace, terrorism, and innocents to help determine a person’s outlook, and so should be avoided. Instead, questions must be focused and exact: “May Muslims convert out of Islam, whether to join another faith or to become atheists?” “Does a Muslim have the right to renounce Islam?”
Variety in phrasing: For the questions to ferret out the truth means looking for divergence and inconsistency by asking the same question with different words and variant emphases. A sampling: “May a woman show her face in public?” “What punishment do you favor for females who reveal their faces to men not related to them by family?” “Is it the responsibility of the male guardian to make sure his women-folk do not leave the house with faces uncovered?” “Should the government insist on women covering their faces?” “Is society better ordered when women cover their faces?” Any one of the questions can be asked in different ways and expanded with follows-up about the respondent’s line of reasoning or depth of feeling.
Repeated: Questions should be asked again and again over a period of weeks, months, and even longer. This is crucial: lies being much more difficult to remember than truths, the chances of a respondent changing his answers increases with both the volume of questions asked and the time lapse between questionings. Once inconsistencies occur, the questioner can zero in and explore their nature, extent, and import.
Guidelines in place, what specific questions might extract useful information?
The following questions, offered as suggestions to build on, are those of this author but also derive from a number of analysts devoting years of thinking to the topic. Naser Khader, the-then Danish parliamentarian of Syrian Muslim origins, offered an early set of questions in 2002. A year later, this author published a list covering seven subject areas.
Others followed, including the liberal Egyptian Muslim Tarek Heggy, the liberal American Muslims Tashbih Sayyed and Zuhdi Jasser, the ex-Muslim who goes by “Sam Solomon,” a RAND Corporation group, and the analyst Robert Spencer. Of special interest are the queries posed by the German state of Baden-Württemberg dated September 2005 because it is an official document (intended for citizenship, not immigration, but with similar purposes).
1. May Muslims reinterpret the Koran in light of changes in modern times?
2. May Muslims convert out of Islam, either to join another faith or to be without religion?
3. May banks charge reasonable interest (say 3 percent over inflation) on money?
4. Is taqiya (dissimulation in the name of Islam) legitimate?
5. May Muslims pick and choose which Islamic regulations to abide by (e.g., drink alcohol but avoid pork)?
6. Is takfir (declaring a Muslim to be an infidel) acceptable?
7. [Asked of Sunnis only:] Are Sufis, Ibadis, and Shi’ites Muslims?
8. Are Muslims who disagree with your practice of Islam infidels (kuffar)?
The state and Islam:
9. What do you think of disestablishing religion, that is, separating mosque and state?
10. When Islamic customs conflict with secular laws (e.g., covering the face for female drivers’ license pictures), which gets priority?
11. Should the state compel prayer?
12. Should the state ban food consumption during Ramadan and penalize transgressors?
13. Should the state punish Muslims who eat pork, drink alcohol, and gamble?
14. Should the state punish adultery?
15. How about homosexuality?
16. Do you favor a mutawwa’ (religious police) as exist in Saudi Arabia?
17. Should the state enforce the criminal punishments of the Shari’a?
18. Should the state be lenient when someone is killed for the sake of family honor?
19. Should governments forbid Muslims from leaving Islam?
Marriage and divorce:
20. Does a husband have the right to hit his wife if she is disobedient?
21. Is it a good idea for men to shut their wives and daughters at home?
22. Do parents have the right to determine whom their children marry?
23. How would you react if a daughter married a non-Muslim man?
24. Is polygyny acceptable?
25. Should a husband have to get a first wife’s approval to marry a second wife? A third? A fourth?
26. Should a wife have equal rights with her husband to initiate a divorce?
27. In the case of divorce, does a wife have rights to child custody?
28. Should Muslim women have equal rights with men (for example, in inheritance shares or court testimony)?
29. Does a woman have the right to dress as she pleases, including showing her hair, arms and legs, so long as her genitalia and breasts are covered?
30. May Muslim women come and go or travel as they please?
31. Do Muslim women have a right to work outside the home or must the wali approve of this??
32. May Muslim women marry non-Muslim men?
33. Should males and females be separated in schools, at work, and socially?
34. Should certain professions be reserved for men or women only? If so, which ones?
35. Do you accept women occupying high governmental offices?
36. In an emergency, would you let yourself be treated by or operated on by a doctor of the opposite gender?
37. Does a husband have the right to force his wife to have sex?
38. Is female circumcision part of the Islamic religion?
39. Is stoning a justified punishment for adultery?
40. Do members of a family have the right to kill a woman if they believe she has dishonored them?
41. How would you respond to a child of yours who declares him- or herself a homosexual?
42. Should your child learn the history of non-Muslims?
43. Should students be taught that Shari’a is a personal code or that governmental law must be based on it?
44. May your daughter take part in the sports activities, especially swimming lessons, offered by her school?
45. Would you permit your child to take part in school trips, including overnight ones?
46. What would you do if a daughter insisted on going to university?
Criticism of Muslims:
47. Did Islam spread only through peaceful means?
48. Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry into the origins of Islam, even if it casts doubt on the received history?
49. Do you accept that Muslims were responsible for the 9/11 attacks?
50. Is the Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL/Daesh Islamic in nature?
51. Do you accept enhanced security measures to fight Islamism, even if this might mean extra scrutiny of yourself (for example, at airline security)?
52. When institutions credibly accused of funding jihad are shut down, is this a symptom of anti-Muslim bias?
53. Should Muslims living in the West cooperate with law enforcement?
54. Should they join the military?
55. Is the “war on terror” a war on Islam?
Non-Muslims (in general):
56. Do all humans, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious beliefs, deserve equal rights?
57. Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil rights with Muslims?
58. Do you accept the validity of other monotheistic religions?
59. Of polytheistic religions (such as Hinduism)?
60. Are Muslims superior to non-Muslims?
61. Should non-Muslims be subject to Islamic law?
62. Do Muslims have anything to learn from non-Muslims?
63. Can non-Muslims go to paradise?
64. Do you welcome non-Muslims to your house and go to their residences?
Non-Muslims (in Dar al-Islam):
65. May Muslims compel “Peoples of the Book” (i.e., Jews and Christians) to pay extra taxes?
66. May other monotheists build and operate institutions of their faith in Muslim-majority countries?
67. How about polytheists?
68. Should the Saudi government maintain the historic ban on non-Muslims in Mecca and Medina?
69. Should it allow churches to be built for Christian expatriates?
70. Should it stop requiring that all its subjects be Muslim?
Non-Muslims (in Dar al-Harb):
71. Should Muslims fight Jews and Christians until these “feel themselves subdued” (Koran 9:29).
72. Is the enslavement of non-Muslims acceptable?
73. Is it acceptable to arrest individuals who curse the prophet of Islam or burn the Koran?
74. If the state does not act against such deeds, may individual Muslims act?
75. Can one live a fully Muslim life in a country with a mostly non-Muslim government?
76. Should a Muslim accept a legitimate majority non-Muslim government and its laws or work to make Islam supreme?
77. Can a majority non-Muslim government unreservedly win your allegiance?
78. Should Muslims who burn churches or vandalize synagogues be punished?
79. Do you support jihad to spread Islam?
80. Do you endorse corporal punishments (mutilation, dismemberment, crucifixion) of criminals?
81. Is beheading an acceptable form of punishment?
82. Is jihad, meaning warfare to expand Muslim rule, acceptable in today’s world?
83. What does it mean when Muslims yell “Allahu Akbar” as they attack?
84. Do you condemn violent organizations such as Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Shabaab, and the Taliban?
85. Are non-Islamic institutions immoral and decadent or can they be moral and virtuous?
86. Do you agree with studies that show non-Muslim countries such as New Zealand to be better living up to the ideals of Islam than Muslim-majority countries?
87. Is Western-style freedom an accomplishment or a form of moral corruption? Why?
88. Do you accept that Western countries are majority-Christian or do you seek to transform them into majority-Muslim countries?
89. Do you accept living in Western countries that are secular or do you seek to have Islamic law rule them?
90. What do you think of Shari’a-police patrolling Muslim-majority neighborhoods in Western countries to enforce Islamic morals?
91. Would you like to see the U.S. Constitution (or its equivalents in other countries) replaced by the Koran?
92. In an immigration interview like this, if deceiving the questioner helps Islam, would lying be justified?
93. Why should I trust that you have answered these questions truthfully?
Observations about the Interviews
Beyond helping to decide whom to allow into the country, these questions can also help in other contexts as well, for example in police interrogations or interviews for sensitive employment positions. (The list of Islamists who have penetrated Western security services is a long and painful one.)
Note the absence of questions about highly charged current issues. That is because Islamist views overlap with non-Islamist outlooks; plenty of non-Islamists agree with Islamists on these topics. Although Leil Leibowitz in contrast sees Israel as “moderate Islam’s real litmus test,” Islamists are hardly the only ones who demand Israel’s elimination and accept Hamas and Hezbollah as legitimate political actors – or believe the Bush administration carried out the 9/11 attacks or hate the United States. Why introduce these ambiguous issues when so many Islam-specific questions (e.g., “Is the enslavement of non-Muslim acceptable?”) have the virtue of far greater clarity?
The interviewing protocol outlined above is extensive, asking many specific questions over a substantial period using different formulations, probing for truth and inconsistencies. It is not quick, easy, or cheap, but requires case officers knowledgeable about the persons being interviewed, the societies they come from, and the Islamic religion; they are somewhat like a police questioner who knows both the accused person and the crime. This is not a casual process. There are no shortcuts.
This procedure raises two criticisms: it is less reliable than Trump’s no-Muslim policy and it is too burdensome for governments to undertake. Both are readily disposed of.
Less reliable: The no-Muslim policy sounds simple to implement but figuring out who is Muslim is a problem in itself (are Ahmadis Muslims?). Further, with such a policy in place, what will stop Muslims from pretending to renounce their religion or to convert to another religion, notably Christianity? These actions would require the same in-depth research and intensive interviews as described above. If anything, because a convert can hide behind his ignorance of his alleged new religion, distinguishing a real convert to Christianity from a fake one is even more difficult than differentiating an Islamist from a moderate Muslim.
Too burdensome: True, the procedure is expensive, slow, and requires skilled practitioners. But this also has the benefit of slowing a process that many, myself included, consider out of control, with too many immigrants entering the country too quickly. Immigrants numbered 5 percent of the population in 1965, 14 percent in 2015, and are projected to make up 18 percent in 2065. This is far too large a number to assimilate into the values of the United States, especially when so many come from outside the West; the above mechanism offers a way to slow it down.
Finally, today’s moderate Muslim could become tomorrow’s raging Islamist; or his infant daughter might two decades later become a jihadi. While any immigrant can turn hostile, such changes happen far more often among born Muslims. There is no way to guarantee this from happening but extensive research and interrogations reduce the odds.As for those who argue that this sort of inquiry and screening for visa purposes is unlawful; prior legislation for naturalization, for example, required that an applicant be “attached to the principles of the Constitution” and it was repeatedly found to be legal.
Truly to protect the country from Islamists requires a major commitment of talent, resources, and time. But, properly handled, these questions offer a mechanism to separate enemy from friend among Muslims. They also have the benefit of slowing down immigration. Even before Trump became president, if one is to believe CAIR, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) asked questions along the lines of those advocated here (What do you think of the USA? What are your views about jihad? See the appendix for a full listing). With Trump’s endorsement, let us hope this effective “no-Islamists” policy is on its way to becoming systematic.
On January 18, 2017, just hours before Donald Trump became president of the United States, the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed ten complaints with the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) for questioning Muslim citizens about their religious and political views. Among the questions allegedly asked were:
1. Are you a devout Muslim?
2. Are you Sunni or Shia?
3. What school of thought do you follow?
4. Which Muslim scholars do you follow?
5. What current Muslim scholars do you listen to?
6. Do you pray five times a day?
7. Why do you have a prayer mat in your luggage?
8. Why do you have a Qur’an in your luggage?
9. Have you visited Saudi Arabia?
10. Will you every visit Saudi or Israel?
11. What do you know about the Tableeghi-Jamat?
12. What do you think of the USA?
13. What are your views about Jihad?
14. What mosque do you attend?
15. Do any individuals in your mosque have any extreme/radical views?
16. Does your Imam express extremist views?
17. What are the views of other imams or other community members that give the Friday sermon at your mosque?
18. Do they have extremist views?
19. Have you ever delivered the Friday Prayer? What did you discuss with your community?
20. What are your views regarding [various terrorist organizations]?
21. What social media accounts do you use?
22. What is your Facebook account username?
23. What is your Twitter account username?
24. What is your Instagram account username?
25. What are the names and telephone numbers of parents, relatives, friends?
CAIR also claims a Canadian Muslim was asked by CBP the following questions and then denied entry:
1. Are you Sunni or Shia?
2. Do you think we should allow someone like you to enter our country?
3. How often do you pray?
4. Why did you shave your beard?
5. Which school of thought do you follow?
6. What do you think of America’s foreign policy towards the Muslim world?
7. What do you think of killing non-Muslims?
8. What do you think of [various terrorist groups]?
Finally, CAIR indicates that those questioned “were held between 2 to 8 hours by CBP.”
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. This analysis derives from a chapter in Conceptualizing Moderate Islam, ed. Richard Benkin (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2017).
Breitbart, by John Hayward, November 14, 2016:
Breitbart News national security editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka, author of the best-selling book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, appeared on Fox News to discuss the Islamic State’s threat to attack the crowded Thanksgiving Day parade with trucks, similar to the attack on pedestrians in Nice, France.
Dr. Gorka noted that in just the first nine months of calendar year 2016, ISIS terrorists have been arrested in states across the country, as he demonstrated with an electronic map. The black states have seen ISIS-related arrests:
“Let’s just add, up to November, we’ve got four more states, including places like Kentucky, Ohio, where we’re arresting ISIS terrorists,” he said.
“Let’s look at the gross numbers: since the ‘caliphate’ was declared, just two and a half years ago from Mosul, we have killed or arrested 124 ISIS terrorists here in America. Not 24, not 34 – one hundred and twenty-four. And as you can see, it’s distributed,” Gorka said.
He emphasized the importance of understanding the global ISIS strategy as well, presenting a world map broken down into color-coded regions:
In the yellow regions, ISIS is “doing terrorist attacks far away from the Middle East, to polarize, to create fear amongst populations.”
“Don’t forget the pressure-cooker bomb here in New York recently, the pipe bombs in New Jersey, the Marine Corps run,” Gorka pointed out.
The orange areas of the global strategic map represent areas where ISIS has “affiliates,” giving it a “much more powerful presence.”
“The President was recently briefed by the National Counterterrorism Center: ISIS has, quote, ‘fully operational affiliates’ in 18 nations,” Gorka said.
He stressed there was always a “personal component” to the Islamic State’s jihad recruiting efforts, dismissing the idea of “a guy sitting in his basement, looking at the Internet, and suddenly becomes a jihadi.”
“Bogus. There’s no such thing as ‘lone wolf.’ There’s always some kind of connection,” he contended.
Nestled in the center of the orange zone is the actual Islamic State caliphate. “Now they’ve captured territory like Mosul, like Tikrit. They have to hold that territory and then expand it into the orange areas,” Gorka said, stressing the importance of denying that territorial expansion through military confrontation.
He said it was encouraging to see reports of battlefield success against ISIS in Iraq and Syria recently, but added: “The question is, what next? You can hold Mosul, but it’s like squeezing a balloon. You’re not going to kill everybody, so where are they going? Look, they understand they’ve got multiple battle fronts, and they’ve got at least 6,000 Westerners they’ve recruited, who they can send back to France, the U.K. So we have to be really aware of all the fronts in this war.”
- What’s in the future – John Batchelor interviews Dr. Gorka on what a Trump administration is likely to do to fight the global jihad.
PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, November 2, 2016:
In June 2012, Hillary Clinton’s State Department issued a visa to enter the U.S. to Hani Noor Eldin – an avowed member of the Egyptian terror group Gamaa Islamiya that was designated by the U.S. in October 1997 during the Clinton Administration.
But not only was Eldin allowed into the U.S., he was escorted into Hillary’s State Department where he met with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Under Secretary Robert Hormats, and then later received at the White House by Denis McDonough, then Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor and currently the White House Chief of Staff.
According to published reports, Eldin used these meetings as an opportunity to press Obama administration officials to release from federal prison the leader of his terror group, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for his leadership role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the planned follow-up “Day of Terror” plot targeting New York landmarks. That case was prosecuted by my friend and PJ Media colleague, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.
Those meetings resulted in serious Obama administration discussions about transferring the Blind Sheikh back to Egypt, then under control of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, who had vowed to pressure the U.S. for the Blind Sheikh’s release while Eldin was in Washington D.C.
The Blind Sheikh’s transfer was only stopped when members of Congress began asking about the deal, and the possibility of his transfer was publicly denounced by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who presided over the Blind Sheikh’s trial as a federal district court judge.
When Congress asked about Eldin’s visit to the U.S., then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano vowed that more foreign terrorists would be allowed in.
Questions were initially raised about how Eldin was allowed in the country and the details of his visit to Washington D.C. when the story broke from reporter Eli Lake, who interviewed the terror group member. Eldin had no problem admitting he was a member of the banned Gamaa Islamiya:
It was supposed to be a routine meeting for Egyptian legislators in Washington, an opportunity for senior Obama administration officials to meet with new members of Egypt’s parliament and exchange ideas on the future of relations between the two countries.Instead, the visit this week looks like it’s turning into a political fiasco. Included in the delegation of Egyptian lawmakers was Hani Nour Eldin, who, in addition to being a newly elected member of parliament, is a member of the Gamaa Islamiya, or the Egyptian Islamic Group—a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. The group was banned under former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and is now a recognized Islamist political party. Its spiritual leader, Omar Abdel Rahman—also known as the “blind sheik”—was convicted in 1995 of plotting attacks on New York City landmarks and transportation centers, and is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.
Eldin, according to his Facebook page, was born in 1968 and resides in Suez, near the canal that unites the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. He was arrested in 1993 on terrorism charges after members of Gamaa Islamiya got into a shoot out with Egyptian security officials at a mosque. He has proclaimed his innocence in the shooting and says he was arrested because of his political activism against Mubarak.
In an interview, Eldin confirmed he is a member of Gamaa Islamiya. By U.S. law, that means he would be denied a visa to enter the country. Nonetheless, he says, he got a visa from the State Department. A State Department spokesman said, “We have no information suggesting that he or anyone else in the delegation is a member of the Egyptian Islamic Group.”
The State Department blamed the visit on the U.S. government-funded Wilson Center, who then turned around and blamed the State Department:
While in Washington, Eldin also visited the Wilson Center, a think tank that specializes in foreign policy issues. A State Department spokesman said the delegation was “invited to Washington by the Wilson Center. I refer you to the Wilson Center for any additional information on their visit.”A spokesman for the Wilson Center, however, said the delegation was selected by the State Department. “We can’t speak to the background of Eldin,” said Drew Sample the media relations coordinator for the Wilson Center. “The Wilson Center was one of the places on the delegation’s Washington visit. We did not invite these people, the State Department arranged the visit.”
With Eldin openly admitting his affiliation with Gamaa Islamiya to members of the D.C. establishment media and even noting his membership on his own Facebook page, the State Department’s press briefing by Victoria Nuland on the affair turned into Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy routine:
QUESTION: Yeah. How did a guy who’s a member of a foreign terrorist organization get into the country and have meetings with – in the White House and at the State Department?MS. NULAND: Well, as you know – I mean, I can’t speak about the specifics of the visa adjudication of any individual case. What I can say is that anybody issued a visa goes through a full set of screenings.Those screenings do depend, however, on the integrity of the information that’s available to us at the time that we do screen. And this particular case is one that we are now looking into.
QUESTION: Well, how – it’s on the guy’s Facebook page. It doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult to find out. I mean, what kind of screening is there? Does anyone do a Google search on names? I mean, it seems like this is pretty basic stuff. I mean, was – you seem to be saying this was a mistake.
MS. NULAND: Again, we are looking into the circumstances of this particular case, and I don’t have anything more . . .
QUESTION: So when you say it’s under review, does that mean that he could be deported?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to what may result from a review; simply, to say that we’re trying to better understand this particular case.
QUESTION: You’re trying to better – you’re trying to find out if, in fact, he is a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization?
MS. NULAND: No. I’m saying we are reviewing the case of the visa issuance.
QUESTION: Do you know that this man is a member of a foreign terrorist organization?
MS. NULAND: Well, he has himself made such statements in the last day or two to the press, right? So that – we are seeing the same reports that you are seeing.
QUESTION: No, no, I understand that. But I think that it goes beyond that, and that it goes – I mean, he was a self-admitted member of this organization well before he was invited to come to the United States as part of this delegation. And it just – I don’t know; I’m just a little bit confused as to how a thorough screening would not have turned up his membership in this group given that it is literally on his Facebook page. Can you explain that?
MS. NULAND: Again, I said we are looking into it, and we are.
A spokesman for the terror group told CNN that the purpose of Eldin’s White House visit was to press for the Blind Sheikh’s release:
But according to Tarek Al Zumor, a party spokesman and founding member of Gamaa Islamiya, el-Din pressed American officials for a transfer into Egyptian custody of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric serving a life sentence in the United States for a conspiracy conviction in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.The request mirrors the demands of Gamaa Islamiya members in Cairo who have protested in Tahrir Square, seeking the sheikh’s release.
Coincidentally, at the same time that Eldin was in Washington D.C. lobbying for the Blind Sheikh’s release, the Muslim Brotherhood’s newly-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gave a speech in Cairo pledging to work for the Blind Sheikh’s freedom.
The following September when reports of discussions about the transfer of the Blind Sheikh were possibly in the works, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey pointed to Eldin’s Washington D.C. visit as the launching point for the effort in a Wall Street Journal editorial:
The first hint of something fishy came in June, when Hani Nour Eldin, a member of the terrorist group that carried out the Luxor slaughter and who had himself spent 11 years in Egyptian jail on terrorism charges, was granted a visa to come to the United States, where he visited the White House and urged that Abdel Rahman be transferred to Egypt. Members of Congress immediately raised questions about how such allowances were made for a member of a designated terrorist organization.The assistant secretary of homeland security for legislative affairs, Nelson Peacock, responded in a July letter. It suggested that no warning flags had been raised during the processing of the Eldin visa, but the letter acknowledged that, as a member of a designated terrorist organization, Hani Nour Eldin would have needed a waiver from someone in authority to get a visa.
Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) then demanded that the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general investigate how that waiver was secured and explain what role the department would play in any transfer of Abdel Rahman. Acting Inspector General Charles K. Edwards answered on Sept. 10 with a letter promising that the department would conduct the requested review “and add it to our FY 2013 workplan” (for which no deadline is announced).
It is unclear who in Hillary Clinton’s State Department issued the waiver for Hani Noor Eldin or what else the Homeland Security inspector general discovered.
And Mukasey noted the denials from the Obama administration’s about any discussions of the Blind Sheikh’s transfer were carefully couched and were contradicted by the Egyptian Embassy:
A congressional staffer I spoke with last week recently called the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and asked to speak with the official in charge of the request to release Abdel Rahman. This call elicited not a denial but rather the disclosure that the matter was within the portfolio of the deputy chief of mission, for whom the caller was invited to leave a message.Then there are the statements of U.S. officials on the subject, which all have sounded excruciatingly lawyered. Asked before Congress in July whether there is an intention “at any time to release the Blind Sheikh,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano responded: “Well, let me just say this. I know of no such intention.”
The State Department’s spokesperson last week, after the ceremonial “let me be clear,” said that there had been no approach on this topic “recently” from any “senior” official of the Egyptian government—an elucidation laden with ambiguity and certain to send chills up the spine of anyone familiar with Abdel Rahman’s record and President Morsi’s inclinations.
Obama administration officials were openly unrepentant about Eldin’s admission to the U.S.
When Rep. Peter King, then chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, questioned Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano about the matter in July 2012, she not only defended Eldin’s visit but vowed that more terrorists could possibly be admitted to the U.S. in similar circumstances.
Did Hillary Clinton play a direct role in allowing Hani Noor Eldin – a known member of a designated terror group – to visit the U.S., meet with senior State Department officials, visit with Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, all in a plan to lobby for the release of the terror group’s imprisoned leader who was responsible for acts of terrorism inside the United States?
If only we had a media willing to ask the Democrat presidential candidate such questions…
Previous installments of the Clinton Chronicles:
Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, October 20, 2016:
Today when a Muslim attacks non-Muslim in America, our leaders, Muslim leaders, and the media tell us these are the actions of “mentally ill” people. Strangely, this nonsense has been going on a long time.
For this edition of Throwback Thursday, UTT looks at a forgotten jihadi attack on America.
The Beltway Snipers
John Allen Muhammad was a U.S. Army veteran and a convert to Islam. Along with Lee Malvo – a 17 year old – the two terrorized the Washington, D.C. metro area by killing ten people in the fall of 2002.
John Allen Muhammad was executed in Virginia for these crimes. Lee Malvo was sentenced to life in prison.
Prior to this, the Muhammad and Malvo killed seven people and wounded seven others in a multi-state robbery and murder spree.
Four days before the shootings in the Washington Metropolitan area began, Ayman al Zawahiri, the second in command of Al Qaeda, issued a warning that Al Qaeda “will continue targeting the lifelines of the American economy.” The “Beltway Snipers” shot their victims at gas stations, a Home Depot, a Shopper’s Food Warehouse, a Michael’s craft store, an Auto Mall, and a Post Office.
Former Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Office in Arkansas Ivian Smith, who worked in the Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence Divisions, stated: “The cumulative effect of the shootings has been an economic slowdown in the local area.”
John Allen Mohammad was supposedly a “homeless” guy, but he always had money to travel overseas on trips and vacations. Yet, investigators never uncovered a source of funding.
Needless to say, Hamas’s U.S. Leader Nihad Awad (doing business as the Council on American Islamic Relations – CAIR) weighed in on the shootings: “There is no indication that this case is related to Islam or Muslims. We therefore ask journalists and media commentators to avoid speculation based on stereotyping or prejudice. The American Muslim community should not be held accountable for the alleged criminal actions of what appear to be troubled and deranged individuals.”
After his arrest, Lee Malvo drew pictures in prison. Many of these were entered into evidence by his attorney in an attempt to show how Malvo was influenced by John Mohammad. These drawings clearly showed support for Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Islamic Jihad, and the kinds of things that would lead an investigator to conclude these murders were acts of jihad.
Maybe it was jihad after all.
Homeland Security Committee, October 4, 2016:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The October Terror Threat Snapshot was released today by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). The “snapshot” is a monthly Committee assessment of the growing threat America, the West, and the world face from ISIS and other Islamist terrorists.
Chairman McCaul: “The recent arrest in Maryland of an ISIS supporter plotting to kill a U.S. service member and the attacks in Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey are stark reminders that Americans face a serious Islamist terror threat at home. The alarming surge of ISIS and al Qaeda-linked violence across the West is, in large part, fueled by a jihadist movement that is deeply entrenched in critical regions across the globe. Not to be outdone, hostile state actors like Russia and Iran continue to exploit a power vacuum, extending their own influence at America’s expense while also stoking the very conflicts that help sustain terrorist groups.”
Key takeaways in this month’s Terror Threat Snapshot:
- ISIS’ ability to sow terror in the West has not been significantly diminished as the United States confronts the most alarming terror threat environment since 9/11.
- Islamist terrorists from ISIS to al Qaeda sit atop a global jihadist network strengthened by safe havens, hardened fighters, local supporters, diverse resources, and advanced technologies.
- The “terrorist diaspora” from Syria and Iraq will remain a significant threat in the years to come, particularly as fighters continue to infiltrate the West amidst massive refugee and migrant flows.
- The primary state sponsor of terror, Iran, continues to threaten the United States and undermine its interests. It is dismantling the sanctions regime, developing more robust military and nuclear capabilities, spreading its malevolent influence throughout the Middle East, and sustaining the conflicts that empower extremists of all stripes.
- Former Guantanamo Bay terror detainees are continuing to return to the ranks of jihadist organizations at a dangerous clip.
The complete October Terror Threat Snapshot is available, here.
View the Committee’s interactive Terror Threat Map, here.