State Department Waging “Open War” on White House

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, 

  • “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.” — Foreign policy operative, quoted in the Washington Free Beacon.
  • Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict President Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.
  • “Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.” — Veteran foreign policy analyst, quoted in the Free Beacon.

The U.S. State Department has backed away from a demand that Israel return $75 million in military aid which was allocated to it by the U.S. Congress.

The repayment demand, championed by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was described as an underhanded attempt by the State Department to derail a campaign pledge by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to improve relations with the Jewish state.

The dispute is the just the latest example of what appears to be a growing power struggle between the State Department and the White House over the future direction of American foreign policy.

The controversy goes back to the Obama administration’s September 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel, which pledged $38 billion in military assistance to Jerusalem over the next decade. The MOU expressly prohibits Israel from requesting additional financial aid from Congress.

Congressional leaders, who said the MOU violates the constitutional right of lawmakers to allocate U.S. aid, awarded Israel an additional $75 million in assistance in the final appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017.

Tillerson had argued that Israel should return the $75 million in order to stay within the limits established by the Obama administration. The effort provoked a strong reaction from Congress, which apparently prompted Tillerson to back down.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) “strongly warned the State Department that such action would be unwise and invite unwanted conflict with Israel,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) added:

“As Iran works to surround Israel on every border, and Hezbollah and Hamas rearm, we must work to strengthen our alliance with Israel, not strain it. Congress has the right to allocate money as it deems necessary, and security assistance to Israel is a top priority. Congress is ready to ensure Israel receives the assistance it needs to defend its citizens.”

A veteran congressional advisor told the Free Beacon:

“This is a transparent attempt by career staffers in the State Department to f*ck with the Israelis and derail the efforts of Congressional Republicans and President Trump to rebuild the US-Israel relationship. There’s no reason to push for the Israelis to return the money, unless you’re trying to drive a wedge between Israel and Congress, which is exactly what this is. It won’t work.”

Another foreign policy operative said: “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and President Donald J. Trump (right) on February 1, 2017. (Image source: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.

August 10. The State Department hosted representatives of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group established by the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of mainstreaming political Islam in the United States. Behind closed doors, they reportedly discussed what they said was Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and the removal of all Israeli control of the Temple Mount and holy areas of Jerusalem. Observers said the meeting was part of larger effort by anti-Israel organizations to drive a wedge between the Trump administration and Israel. The USCMO includes a number of organizations, including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which promote “extreme anti-Israel views” and “anti-Zionist” propaganda, and which support boycotts of the Jewish state.

July 19. The State Department’s new “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016” blamed Israel for Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews. It attributed Palestinian violence to: “lack of hope in achieving statehood;” “Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank;” “settler violence;” and “the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount.” The report also characterized Palestinian Authority payments to the families of so-called martyrs as “financial packages to Palestinian security prisoners…to reintegrate them into society.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) called on the State Department to hold the PA accountable in State Department Country reports: “The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism…. At the highest level, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership incites, rewards, and, in some cases, carries out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis. In order to effectively combat terrorism, it is imperative that the United States accurately characterize its root cause — PA leadership.”

June 14. Tillerson voiced opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, saying that such a classification would complicate Washington’s relations in the Middle East. During his confirmation hearings on January 11, by contrast, Tillerson lumped the Brotherhood with al-Qaeda when talking about militant threats in the region. He said:

“Eliminating ISIS would be the first step in disrupting the capabilities of other groups and individuals committed to striking our homeland and our allies. The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

June 13. During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson said he had received reassurances from President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority would end the practice of paying a monthly stipend to the families of suicide bombers and other attackers, commonly referred to by Palestinians as martyrs. One day later, Palestinian officials contradicted Tillerson, saying that there are no plans to stop payments to families of Palestinians killed or wounded carrying out attacks against Israelis.

May 22. Tillerson sidestepped questions on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel, while telling reporters aboard Air Force One they were heading to “Tel Aviv, home of Judaism.” Asked directly whether he considers the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty, Tillerson replied: “The wall is part of Jerusalem.”

May 15. In an interview with Meet the Press, Tillerson appeared publicly to renege on Trump’s campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“The president, I think rightly, has taken a very deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding what such a move, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have.”

Tillerson also appeared to equate the State of Israel and the Palestinians:

“As you know, the president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine. And so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

Critics of this stance have argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would, instead, advance the peace process by “shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

March 8. The State Department confirmed that the Obama administration’s $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority, approved just hours before Trump’s inauguration, had reached its destination. The Trump administration initially had vowed to freeze the payment.

In July 2017, the Free Beacon reported that Tillerson’s State Department was waging an “open political war” with the White House on a range of key issues, including the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Iran portfolio, and other matters:

“The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda.”

A veteran foreign policy analyst interviewed by the Free Beacon laid the blame squarely on Tillerson:

“Foggy Bottom [a metonym for the State Department] is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda. Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.”

Notable holdovers from the Obama administration are now driving the State Department’s Iran policy:

Michael Ratney, a top advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria policy. Under the Trump administration, Ratney’s role at the State Department has been expanded to include Israel and Palestine issues. Ratney, who was the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem between 2012 and 2015, oversaw $465,000 in U.S. grants to wage a smear to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office in 2015 parliamentary elections, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Ratney admitted to Senate investigators that he deleted emails containing information about the Obama administration’s relationship with the group.

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., a career foreign service officer who serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Shannon, the State Department’s fourth-ranking official, has warnedthat scrapping the Iran deal would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “Any effort to step away from the deal would reopen a Pandora’s box in that region that would be hard to close again,” he said. His statement indicates that Shannon could be expected to lead efforts to resist any attempts to renege or renegotiate the deal; critics of the deal say that Iran’s continued missile testing has given Trump one more reason to tear up his predecessor’s deal with the Islamist regime.

Chris Backemeyer is now the highest-ranking official at the State Department for Iran policy. During the Obama administration, Backemeyer made his career by selling the Iran deal by persuading multinational corporations to do business with Iran as part of an effort to conclude the Iran nuclear deal.

Ratney, Shannon and Backemeyer, along with Tillerson, reportedly prevailed upon Trump twice to recertify the Iran nuclear deal. The Jerusalem Post explained:

Washington was briefly abuzz on the afternoon of July 17 when rumors began to circulate that President Trump was eager to declare that Iran was in breach of the conditions laid out in the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).

Those receptive antennas were further heightened given the previous signals sent. After all, the State Department already released talking points to reporters on the decision to recertify Iran. The Treasury Department also had a package of fresh sanctions on over a dozen Iranian individuals and entities ready to announce to appease the hawks who were eager to cut loose from the deal.

But Trump didn’t want to recertify Iran, nor did he want to the last time around in April. That evening, a longtime Middle East analyst close to senior White House officials involved in the discussions described the scene to me: “Tillerson essentially told the president, ‘we just aren’t ready with our allies to decertify.’ The president retorted, ‘Isn’t it your job to get our allies ready?’ to which Tillerson said, ‘Sorry sir, we’re just not ready.'” According to this source, Secretary Tillerson pulled the same maneuver when it came to recertification in April by waiting until the last minute before finally admitting the State Department wasn’t ready. On both occasions he simply offered something to the effect of, “We’ll get ’em next time.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone InstituteFollow Soeren Kern on Twitter and Facebook

Also see:

The myth of a ‘moderate’ Taliban

KaninRoman | Getty Images

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, Aug. 23, 2017:

In his defense of President Trump’s strategy to once again bolster U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has explained that the Trump administration may seek to engage with “moderate elements” of the Taliban to achieve peace and stability in the war-torn country.

“We think there are plenty of others that we’re going to call upon for assistance as well,” Tillerson stated Tuesday in a State Department briefing.

“Rather, we’re there to facilitate and ensure that there is a pathway for reconciliation and peace talks as this pressure begins to take hold, and we do … we believe, we already know there are certain moderate elements of the Taliban who we think are going to be ready and want to help develop a way forward. How long that will take will be, again, based on conditions on the ground.”

The idea that there is a “moderate Taliban” in Afghanistan has been promoted largely by both the Republican and Democratic foreign policy establishment in Washington, D.C. Before President Trump came into office, the Obama administration and former presidential contender Hillary Clinton spoke of peace talks with the “moderate Taliban,” seeking to distance this supposed faction with the jihadist Taliban that commits acts of carnage against innocents.

It would be quite convenient for there to be a “moderate” Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban has agents embedded in the Afghan government, and the Taliban now contests or controls about 40 percent of the country (not to mention the backing of state actors like Russia and Iran).

But comparable to the so-called Arab “moderate Syrian rebels” — who all too often have gone off to join ISIS and al-Qaida — the “moderate Taliban” is just as unreliable and nonexistent.

Experts on the country have near-unanimously lambasted the Obama administration’s search for a moderate Taliban.

“Where are the so-called moderate Taliban? Who are the moderate Taliban?” asked Waheed Mozhdah, a former Afghan official, in 2009. Analyst Qaseem Akhgar also weighed in, adding:   “Moderate Taliban is like moderate killer. Is there such a thing?”

But the myth of a moderate Taliban continues, and it’s being adamantly pushed by actors in the Gulf, such as the state of Qatar.

Qatar often hosts Taliban delegations for talks with Western governments. From the Taliban’s political office in Doha, the group sometimes teases the West by floating the idea of peace. But this is ultimately a soft-power play to legitimize its cause of ruling Afghanistan.

And realities on the ground show that the Taliban wants conquest, not peace. Further, the Afghan people — in survey after survey — express extreme doubt over the Taliban’s sincerity concerning peace negotiations.

There are no records of moderate Taliban factions departing from their Islamic supremacist, Caliphatist ideology. And worse, Taliban factions deemed by some Western analysts as “moderate” have later led slaughter campaigns against thousands of people.

A U.S.-initiated strategy to legitimize any element of the Taliban would mean America taking an active role in normalizing an evil jihadist cult. The Taliban kills hundreds (if not thousands) of innocents each year, using suicide attacks and other vicious and indiscriminate methods to rack up the casualty count.

It’s bad enough that President Trump has chosen to bolster the U.S. role in Afghanistan without defining what “victory” is, or mapping out an exit plan. It’s worse that he’s flirting with helping a terrorist organization secure its grip over the country.

There are no moderate elements of the Taliban, just as there are no moderate elements of al-Qaida or ISIS.

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

Why is the State Dept Undermining President Trump’s Egypt Policy?

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, Aug. 23, 2017:

President Trump has been very clear that he wants to pivot away from Obama’s backing for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And the Arab Spring’s whole democratization program.

Senator McCain has been equally clear that he wants to double down on it.

Guess whom the State Department is listening to?

Egypt passed a law restricting foreign funding of NGOs. Egypt joins a number of countries, including Hungary, Poland and Israel, that are working to curb the influence of the Leftist/Islamist network which operates internationally through non-profit NGOs. Each such effort has led to hysteria and angry threats from the political figures associated with those networks.

Now the State Department is taking action against Egypt over the NGO law.

Officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to withhold $65.7 million in military assistance and $30 million in economic aid to Egypt that has been on hold since fiscal 2014, the officials said. That money will be reprogrammed, meaning it will now be sent to other countries, they said.

At the same time, the officials said Rex Tillerson had signed a waiver saying that $195 million in military assistance to Egypt is in the U.S. national interest but had decided to hold off on spending it. Under federal law, Tillerson had until the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, to either sign the waiver, certify that Egypt is meeting the human rights conditions or return the money to the Treasury. The waiver gives Egypt additional time to meet the requirements for the $195 million, which Congress appropriated for fiscal year 2016.

When Trump met with el-Sissi in the White House in April he made no mention of Egypt’s human rights record in the post-meeting statement, an omission that many took as a sign that the issue was not a priority for the administration. Yet, two months later, two senators from Trump’s Republican Party slammed as “draconian” the law that effectively bans the work of non-governmental organizations and urged that it be repealed.

Can you guess who those 2 senators are?

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called it “draconian legislation” and they said the US Congress should in response “strengthen democratic benchmarks and human rights conditions on the US assistance to Egypt.”

US Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and nine other senators sent Trump a letter on June 19 urging the president to press Sisi on the issue.

Unless I missed something, President John McCain is not in the White House. So why is Tillerson listening to him instead of to Trump?

According to Egyptian officials, this is an effort to stem funding to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Alaa Abed, chairman of the Free Egyptian Party’s parliamentary bloc, told The Daily Caller in a recent interview that although the idea behind NGOs is charitable and very needed in his country, a good number of them have taken a wrong turn.

“And the proof of that are the billions that have been given to these NGOs without any noticeable results that you can see,” Abed said.

According to Abed, about 48,000 NGOs are in Egypt and some are supported by the state. Of that number, though, “Only 500 receive foreign funds and 10 operate within the norms of the law…the rest (490) take the money into their pockets and 30 or 40 use the money to transfer to the [Muslim Brotherhood] or small terror cells.”

It obviously also starves some leftist NGOs of funds.

Why is McCain so agitated over it? The media won’t tell you. Few sources will.

But McCain chairs the International Republican Institute. The IRI was a Reagan idea to fight Communism. It’s since gone way off course and was involved in the Arab Spring. Sam LaHood was at the center of it. The international advisory board includes Mo Ibrahim whose daughter is a board member of the Clinton Foundation.

The question here is who is running the country. Whom did American vote for?

It was Trump who was running against nation building. Particularly of the ugly kind we’re seeing here. But Tillerson is obeying President McCain instead of President Trump. Our foreign policy is still being made by the same old people. That’s why the Iran deal is in place (and has not been made public), it’s why Israel is still being pressured to make concessions to terrorists and there’s yet more pressure on Egypt’s President Sisi to open the door to the same folks who brought you the Arab Spring.

It’s why Tillerson backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s backers in Qatar while Trump initially backed pressure on the terror state.

T o change the outcome, you have to change the policy. To change the policy, you have to change the people. Under McMaster and Tillerson, the foreign policy will be set by President McCain, not President Trump.

***

Also see:

State Department Confirms It Welcomed Visit from Muslim Brotherhood-Linked Group

AFP

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, Aug. 17, 2017:

The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) affiliated group, met with “working level officials” at the U.S. State Department, an administration official confirmed to Breitbart News.

On condition of anonymity, a State Department official explained, “The Department regularly hosts groups representing different constituencies in America to explain [U.S. government] policy and hear their perspective.”

“The group was interested in U.S. policy on Jerusalem given events on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif last month, and met a cross-section of working level officials from different offices in the Department,” continued the official.

The MB affiliate boasted about its meeting with State officials, the identities of whom remains unknown.

In an August 10 statement, USCMO said:

Representatives of the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local American Muslim organizations, met yesterday with State Department officials to discuss the ongoing Al-Aqsa Mosque crisis and Israel’s denial of religious freedom in Jerusalem, which is holy to the three Abrahamic faiths.

During the meeting at the State Department, the USCMO delegation highlighted the religious significance of Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa Mosque sanctuary – one of Islam’s holiest site … Officials assured the group the United States is committed to maintaining the safety and security of worshipers in Jerusalem.

There is a factional debate reportedly under way within President Donald Trump’s administration over adding the MB itself to the State Department and Treasury lists of foreign terrorist organizations.

Several Muslim-majority countries, including U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have officially labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. In their declarations, they urged the United States to follow suit and label both the MB and affiliates like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) terror groups. CAIR has been declared a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates and was named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-funding operation. It is a member group of the USCMO.

On Sunday, Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst with the Clarion Project, reported that the State Department hosted the MB-affiliated group.

Mauro wrote that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is opposed to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

“My article is just the latest in an ongoing series documenting problems arising in the Trump Administration’s policies towards Islamist extremism,” he told Breitbart News. “I’m seeing major issues with Secretary of State Tillerson’s treatment of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, perhaps attributable to his close ties to Qatar before joining the administration. Qatar is also on a spending spree for lobbyists, particularly those with close ties to the Trump campaign.”

In his report, Mauro described USCMO as an umbrella organization of Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups that was formed in 2014.

The national security analyst wrote that “a secret memo uncovered by federal investigators” lists several USCMO member groups among “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” The memo also describes the MB’s work in America as a sort of “grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”

Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood-linked group met with State Department officials to encourage them to pressure Israel.

“We were encouraged by the constructive dialogue at the State Department on this important issues,” declared Oussama Jammal, the USCMO secretary general.

Tillerson’s State Department hosts CAIR, radical Islamic groups

OPEN SUPPORTERS OF HAMAS TERROR GROUP MEET WITH STATE OFFICIALS.

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, Aug. 10, 2017:

The Council on American Islamic Relations, a Hamas-tied Muslim Brotherhood front group, met with officials from the State Department Thursday to discuss the ongoing situation in Jerusalem, the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) posted online.

The delegation was brought together by an umbrella conglomerate of Islamist outfits known as the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO). They went to the State Dept. to discuss the “ongoing Al-Aqsa Mosque crisis and Israel’s denial of religious freedom in Jerusalem, which is holy to the three Abrahamic faiths,” the AMP website said.

In July, Palestinian terrorists stormed outside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and assassinated two Israeli police officers, setting off a diplomatic firestorm that would result in Israel securing the facility with metal detectors (which would later be removed due to international pressure).

Represented at the meeting included a CAIR official and members of other suspected Muslim Brotherhood front groups, such as the Islamic Circle of North America and the Islamic Shura Council of North America.

The delegation included Osama Abu Irshaid, a leader at AMP and an open supporter of Hamas. Terrorism expert Steven Emerson reported that he once served as the editor of “Al-Zaitounah” periodical, which Emerson describes as “pro-Hamas propaganda.”

Emerson has compared AMP as a whole to a “Hamas-support network” that mimics the Hamas-funding organizations that federal prosecutors shut down during the George W. Bush administration.

Another member of the delegation, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, once called for Islamic law to dominate the world, declaring: “Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction.”

Oussama Jamal of USCMO, another member of the group, has accused the U.S. government of promoting a “Zionist agenda.” After the 9/11 attacks, he pondered, “How certain are we that it was Arabs who were behind it?”

As Rex Tillerson’s underlings and colleagues welcome the aforementioned radicals, he has thus far successfully blocked efforts to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. In June, Tillerson falsely claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood has moderated itself by “renouncing violence.” Far from renouncing violence, Muslim Brotherhood leaders continue to call for “open jihad” against perceived enemies.

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

State Department Officials Quitting Over “Complete and Utter Disdain for our Expertise”

Front Page Magazine, by Robert Spencer, Aug. 3, 2017:

The New York Times reported last Friday that “an exodus is underway” in the State Department. The Times didn’t think this was good news; it gave space to one career diplomat who lamented that there was “complete and utter disdain for our expertise.”

This could be the best news to come out of Washington since the Trump administration took office.

We can only hope that with the departure of these failed State Department officials, their failed policies will be swept out along with them. Chief among these is the almost universally held idea that poverty causes terrorism. The United States has wasted uncounted (literally, because a great deal of it was in untraceable bags full of cash) billions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries in the wrongheaded assumption that Muslims turn to jihad because they lack economic opportunities and education. American officials built schools and hospitals, thinking that they were winning over the hearts and minds of the locals.

Fifteen years, thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars later, no significant number of hearts and minds have been won. This is partly because the premise is wrong. The New York Times reported in March that “not long after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001…Alan B. Krueger, the Princeton economist, tested the widespread assumption that poverty was a key factor in the making of a terrorist. Mr. Krueger’s analysis of economic figures, polls, and data on suicide bombers and hate groups found no link between economic distress and terrorism.”

CNS News noted in September 2013 that “according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, ‘Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.’”

Yet the analysis that poverty causes terrorism has been applied and reapplied and reapplied again. The swamp is in dire need of draining, and in other ways as well. From 2011 on, it was official Obama administration policy to deny any connection between Islam and terrorism. This came as a result of an October 19, 2011 letter from Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates to John Brennan, who was then the Assistant to the President on National Security for Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism, and later served in the Obama administration as head of the CIA. The letter was signed not just by Khera, but by the leaders of virtually all the significant Islamic groups in the United States: 57 Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations, many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Relief USA; and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

The letter denounced what it characterized as U.S. government agencies’ “use of biased, false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam.” Despite the factual accuracy of the material about which they were complaining, the Muslim groups demanded that the task force “purge all federal government training materials of biased materials”; “implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law enforcement who have been subjected to biased training”; and moreto ensure that all that law enforcement officials would learn about Islam and jihad would be what the signatories wanted them to learn.

Numerous books and presentations that gave a perfectly accurate view of Islam and jihad were removed from coounterterror training. Today, even with Trump as President, this entrenched policy of the U.S. government remains, and ensures that all too many jihadists simply cannot be identified as risks, since the officials are bound as a matter of policy to ignore what in saner times would be taken as warning signs. Trump and Tillerson must reverse this. Trump has spoken often about the threat from “radical Islamic terrorism”; he must follow through and remove the prohibitions on allowing agents to study and understand the motivating ideology behind the jihad threat.

The swamp needs draining indeed. This news from the State Department, and the New York Times’ grief over it, are good signs that the U.S. is on its way back on dry land.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Free Speech (and Its Enemies). Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

Secretary of State Shills for Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro and Martin Mawyer, July 25, 2017:

The Trump Administration still hasn’t designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization as it was expected to do. Designation falls under the purview of Secretary of State Tillerson, who has chosen the Muslim Brotherhood and its backers in Qatar and Turkey over their Arab rivals.

Tillerson recently signaled his opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-June. He only has negative things to say about the idea.

His main point is that the Brotherhood’s political parties have representatives in governments like those in Bahrain and Turkey. That is irrelevant. If it was such a problem, Bahrain itself wouldn’t have banned the Brotherhood and the U.S. wouldn’t be dealing with the Lebanese government that has Hezbollah in it, which is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Tillerson also repeated the “non-violent” and “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood propaganda. He claimed that the Brotherhood’s political parties in governments “have become so by renouncing violence and terrorism.” That was false when the Obama Administration said it, and it is false now.

The disappointment in Tillerson’s position is made exponentially greater by the fact that now is an optimum time to designate the group.

The Arab world is putting unprecedented pressure on Qatar over its support of the Brotherhood and other jihadists in the Islamist swarm. Muslim foes of the Brotherhood are left wondering where the U.S.stands because Trump and Tillerson aren’t on the same page.

Counter-terrorism expert Patrick Poole goes so far as to assert that Tillerson is “sabotaging” Trump’s foreign policy and urges his departure from the administration.

While President Trump expressed his support for the Arab measures against Qatar and unequivocally described Qatar as a major terrorism-financier, Tillerson did the opposite. He described Qatar as “very reasonable” in its reaction to the Arabs’ pressure.

His spokesperson read a scripted statement accusing the Arab states of having ulterior motives, saying the U.S. is “mystified” by their complaints. The State Department even cast doubt on the credibility of the Arabs’ accusations, claiming that they haven’t provided supporting details. Qatar’s lavish sponsorship of terrorism and extremism is uncontestable.

As Poole documents, far from offering support for those Arab states opposing Qatar, Tillerson publicly made moves towards Qatar’s Turkish allies and increased criticism of Qatar’s Saudi adversaries. The Trump Administration also agreed to sell up to 36 fighter jets to Qatar right after the Arabs began their campaign.

Tillerson even signed a counter-terrorism agreement with Qatar, spitting in the faces of the Arab countries fed up with Qatar’s repeated breaking of its promises to change its behavior. Immediately after signing the deal, Qatar reiterated its firm commitment to Hamas (and therefore, the broader Muslim Brotherhoodorganization of which it is an official branch).

Tillerson’s Ties to Qatar

People are inevitably influenced by those they surround themselves with, especially if that interaction is lucrative. Perhaps Tillerson’s favoring of Qatar has something to do with the close relationship he had with the Qatari government as a businessman with ExxonMobil, which has a decades-long association with the rulers.

ExxonMobil was a founding member of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council in 1996, an entity created by the Qatari regime. Tillerson was a senior official at the time. Another listed founding member is Al-Jazeera, the jihadist-friendly propaganda network run by Qatar and the Brotherhood. One of the Arab states’ top demands is the closure of the network headquartered in Doha.

After becoming chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson became a member of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council’s advisory board. He apparently held this position up until when he became Secretary of State, as his name is still listed with that title on the website.

The Vice President of ExxonMobil Production’s name is currently listed as a member of the Council’s board of directors. Al-Jazeera officials also appear on the advisory board and board of directors.

The organization’s website says that the U.S.-Qatar Business Council “played a major role in the formation of Qatar Foundation International (U.S.-based).” The Qatar Foundation headquartered in Doha is a major promoter of Islamist extremism, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, including Islamists in America.

When the Arab campaign against Qatar began, the Qataris immediately began utilizing their contacts to try to win the State Department over. It deployed its lobbyists in America and they had leverage: The West’s three biggest energy companies, including ExxonMobil, were trying to strike a deal with the Qatari government for expanding liquified natural gas production.

But Qatar isn’t the only country working aggressively to influence U.S. foreign policy in a direction favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey’s government is also leading the Islamist charge.

Tillerson’s Ties to Turkey

ExxonMobil is a member of the U.S.-Turkish Business Council. The chairman is Ekin Alptekin, the very same Turkish businessman at the center of the controversy with President Trump’s former National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn.

Alptekin’s company had a $600,000 contract with Flynn to promote the Erdogan government’s interests. Flynn’s firm registered as a lobbyist but did not register as a foreign agent. The Justice Department’s National Security Division began an investigation last November. Flynn registered as a foreign agent of Turkey after he was fired and replaced by General H.R. McMaster.

We do not currently know of direct dealings between Tillerson and Alptekin, but ExxonMobil’s involvement in the U.S.-Turkish Business Council highlights how his prior relationship with the Turkish government may influence his behavior.

At a time when Erdogan has few defenders, the Islamist dictator finds a supporter in Tillerson.

On July 9, Tillerson traveled to Istanbul to receive an award from the World Petroleum Congress. There, he heaped praise upon those who defended Erdogan against a coup attempt last year, going so far as to describe the Islamist government as a democracy. He said:

“Nearly a year ago, the Turkish people – brave men and women – stood up against coup plotters and defended their democracy. I take this moment to recognize their courage and honor the victims of the events of July 15, 2016. It was on that day that the Turkish people exercised their rights under the Turkish constitution, defended their place in a prosperous Turkey, and we remember those who were injured or died in that event.”

Tillerson doesn’t defend Erdogan in all circumstances, as he did condemn the Turkish security personnel who attacked protesters in Washington D.C. in May. But that’s not exactly a bold stand; it’s something that any public official would condemn.

When it comes to the tough issues, Tillerson has sided with Qatar and Turkey, even when it contradicts the commander-in-chief who picked him for secretary of state.

On designating the Muslim Brotherhood, Tillerson sides with Qatar and Turkey

When the Arab states piled unprecedented pressure on Qatar for its sponsorship of terrorism and extremism including the Brotherhood and Hamas, Tillerson sided with Qatar and Turkey.

When it comes to last year’s coup in Turkey, Tillerson sided unequivocally with Erdogan’s Islamist dictatorship. He didn’t even necessarily have to talk about it during his visit to Istanbul. He chose to.

When it comes to the Kurds, our best allies in fighting ISIS, Tillerson’s State Department sided with Turkey in criticizing the Iraqi Kurds’ referendum on independent statehood. It also implied opposition to Kurdish independence, reacting to the referendum with a statement in support of a “united” and “federal” Iraq.

Political analysts always say that Trump was elected because people wanted change from an outsider. Tillerson is not bringing change. When it comes to Islamism, it’s the same-old same-old. Possibly worse.

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