Terror in France and the Annals of Willful Blindness

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By failing to take the jihadists’ ideology seriously, we refuse to understand the breadth of the threat we face.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, July 16, 2016:

Well into year eight of Obama, with the prospect of years nine through twelve hanging heavy in the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, it feels like I write the same column every few weeks now. How could it not? Fort Hood, Detroit, Times Square, Portland, Cairo, Benghazi, Boston, Garland, Paris, Chattanooga, Paris again, San Bernardino, Philadelphia, Brussels, Istanbul, Orlando, Istanbul again, Dhaka, and now, Nice. Even if we leave out the more overt war zones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Egypt, and Israel, the jihadist attacks targeting the West are coming in more rapid succession: iconic targets, dates of commemoration, diplomatic outposts, tourists, and citizens just going about their lives.

It is easy to grasp why this is the case. Willful blindness has metastasized from a dangerous dereliction of duty to a system of governance.

It was the wee hours of Friday morning, just after the Bastille Day jihadist mass-murder of at least 84 people. For Mrs. Clinton, that seemed the perfect time to take to Twitter and set the tone of the American response — the kind of resolve we can expect in a third Obama term. So as France retrieved the dead, dying, and maimed from the Promenade des Anglais, where Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had barreled over them in his truck, she unloaded with the concern foremost in her mind:

Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.

I know, I know: you’re just relieved that she didn’t find a video to blame this time. Still, Clinton’s remarks are criminally stupid. So much so, they overwhelm even the criminal recklessness for which the FBI has just given her a pass on felony charges. She clearly mishandled mounds of classified information, but it appears doubtful that she read much of it. Or maybe she did read it but learned nothing from it, since politicizing intelligence and purging the Islam from Islamic terrorism is strict Obama-Clinton policy.

RELATED: Jihadists Are ‘Strong-Horsing’ the West

Even to one so superficial as Clinton, it should by now be perfectly obvious that that there is no “Islam,” at least not if we are talking about a monolithic belief system. There are sects of Islam, all vying for supremacy in what is, in the main, a conquest ideology — with the various splinters having very different ideas about what conquest entails, and with no papal analogue to impose order by decreeing orthodoxy and condemning heterodoxy.

Clearly, some of these sects are our enemy. And just as clearly, these sects also have a legitimate claim on the designation “Islam.” That does not mean they have a monopoly on the interpretation of Islam (there, again, being no such monopoly). But it does oblige government officials responsible for national security to deal with jihadists and other sharia supremacists on their own terms.

Why? Because the objective is to defeat our enemies, not redefine them. To defeat the enemy still requires knowing the enemy. Try as he might, Obama is unable to fundamentally transform Sun Tzu.

Obama-Clinton policy is to deny Islamic standing to jihadist terrorists. To be fair, it is an exacerbation of Bush policy. More importantly, it is pointlessly suicidal.

First the pointless part: The enemy derives legitimacy from his own literalist interpretation of Islamic doctrine. Thus, he is utterly indifferent to what the Westerners he seeks to conquer think of him or say about him. We non-Muslims cannot broker the competing doctrinal claims of internecine Islamic conflict.

Jihadists care neither about what Washington thinks “the true Islam” is, nor about the counterfactual “peace” and “tolerance” rhetoric in which this “true Islam” is swaddled. Our enemies’ Islamic legitimacy was not granted by us, and we are powerless to take it away from them. That’s for Muslims to figure out. Our enemies, moreover, know a good deal more about the subject than we do, their highly influential scholars having spent lifetimes steeped in sharia jurisprudence. They shred Washington’s imaginary “true Islam” with their own informed Islam, making us a laughing stock. I hate to be the bearer of (more) bad news, but, yes, the Blind Sheikh actually does know a tad more about Islam than Hillary Clinton.

RELATED: How Will France and the West Respond to Savage Terror Attack in Nice?

Now for the suicidal part of denying the Islamic moorings of jihadism: Contrary to White House blather, people do not commit mass-murder attacks because of economic privation or over trifling slights. They commit it because they are seized by commands that they take to be divine injunctions rooted in scripture, their devotion to which will determine whether paradise or eternal damnation awaits.

You may be a haughty American progressive, but not everybody is. You may roll your eyes over quaint notions like religious obligation, but not everybody is equally evolved. Not everybody is convinced that bloody sectarian conflict — the norm of history — is just as obsolete as the rule of law in the age of Obama.

I had to fight of the urge to throw my television out the window Thursday evening. Images of bodies strewn across the promenade along the Côte d’Azur were interrupted by one vapid pol after another, brought on set to condemn the “cowardly” jihadist. Cowardly? Do you think you could drive a truck through a mass of humanity and then shoot it out with trained security personnel, knowing all the while that you were going to die? Our enemies are barbaric savages, but cowards? To do what our enemies do requires nerve, fervor — a cause they believe is worthy of the raging passion Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna called “the art of death.”

The fervor comes from their ideology. It has this terrifying hold on them because it is credibly drawn from their religious doctrine. If you don’t get that, if you think you can blithely dismiss jihadism as “cowardice” and thus avoid the unpleasant burden of understanding why it happens, you are never going to get what we’re up against. You are never going to summon the resolve it is going to take to overcome the enemy.

Because we don’t believe in much of anything anymore, we discount the pull of ideology. But everything about this enemy, from the pecking order of its leaders to its ruthless methods, from the targets it chooses to the ends it seeks, is all about ideology — fiercely held by its adherents because it is scripturally based. If we don’t face up to the fact that ideology is the core of the challenge we face — that we do not have the luxury of ignoring ideology until after it catalyzes murderous action — we cannot defend ourselves.

If we don’t grasp that the goal of our enemies is the imposition of fundamentalist sharia, we will continue to miss the breadth of the threat — the fact that the jihadists are just the front-line militants. Slipstreaming behind them, exploiting the atmosphere of intimidation they create, are the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated faux moderates who pursue the same ends by infiltrating our councils of government policy and institutions of opinion.

These “moderates” have called the tune throughout Obama’s first two terms, and they’re banking on a third. That’s why we’re losing.

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

Willful Blindness: Senate Hearing on Efforts To Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism

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UPDATE 1:50PM. Live-stream of the hearing is available on CSPAN-3. Follow our #WillfulBlindness twitter list for the most comprehensive, minute-by-minute coverage, featuring our CounterJihad team.

By CounterJihad, June 28, 2016:

Today at 2:30 Eastern, Senator Ted Cruz will lead Congressional hearings into the damage caused to national security by the Obama administration’s attempts to downplay the threat from radical Islam. The hearing seeks to get to the bottom of the Obama Administration’s attempt to cover up the threat posed by radical Islam to U.S. national security. President Obama and other government officials have effectively diverted attention away from the global jihadist movement and covered up key linkages in various terrorist attacks.

We have seen this strategy throughout Obama’s presidency: from labeling terrorist attacks like the Fort Hood shooting as workplace violence (finally called incident terrorist attack in 2015), to the Benghazi incident when former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others initially blamed the attack on an internet video, to the recent Orlando shooting where President Obama is shifting attention away from ISIS to gun control.

There is also a deliberate attempt to characterize individuals as “lone-wolf” terrorists to disconnect the individual from a broader terror network seeking to undermine U.S. security. Further attempts to disguise the real threat is evident in President Obama’s national security strategy “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) which National Review columnist Andrew C. McCarthy describes as an effort that “…forbids the conclusion that radical Islamic ideology has any causative effect on terrorist plotting.” Therefore, any terroristic activity executed in the name of Islam essentially has nothing to do with Islam. This handicaps our military, FBI, DHS and other federal authorities from going after individuals and groups who espouse radical Islamic ideology, which is a driver that leads individuals to commit violent terroristic acts. This also allows the penetration of Muslim immigrants who hold radical Islamic ideologies through U.S. immigration.

Worse yet, our federal government is taking advice from Muslim Brotherhood operatives like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who in the document An Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group explains their strategy for the Muslim Brotherhood in North America as leading a “grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated.” We can’t seek national security guidance from groups and individuals who want to subvert our government and the American way of life.

Senator Cruz’s office says that the panel will specifically focus on ways that the administration has sought to undermine its own investigators.

The hearing will examine the Obama administration’s refusal to attribute the terrorist threats we face with radical Islam, hobbling our ability to combat the enemy. The hearing will specifically investigate how the federal government has not only refused to appropriately identify the specific threat of radical Islam, but has sought to undermine the people and information who have sought to highlight the threat.

Speakers will include a number of former US investigators, including Andrew C. McCarthy, a former Federal prosecutor of radical Islamic terror cases, and Phil Haney, a former Homeland Security officer who has charged that his databases on the entry of radicals into the United States were destroyed by the Clinton State Department.  Michael German, also of the FBI.  Rounding out the panel will be speakers from groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and Muslim Advocates, who will defend the proposition that Islam is being mistreated by those who wish to tie it to terror attacks such as San Bernardino or the Orlando shooting.

Here at CounterJihad we will have full coverage of these hearings.  Please join us for live coverage, and be sure to tune in to the hearings themselves on CSPAN-3.

Defenseless in the Face of Our Enemies

Lynch with OWhat keeps America from protecting itself against radical Islam?

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy — June 25, 2016

The Narrative and what we are not allowed to say

Screen-Shot-2015-10-08-at-2.03.24-PM-1024x408About That New Speech Code for Lawyers – Andrew McCarthy wonders if lawyers will get to prove cases against jihadist terrorists anymore.

And Steve Coughlin explains how the CVE narrative prevents us from speaking the truth about jihad:

 

Is the world going in the direction of Orwell’s 1984?

What are you going to do about it?

No Death Penalty for Benghazi Jihadist Protects “Al Qaeda is Dead” Narrative

Accused Benghazi terrorist Ahmed Abu Khatallah

Accused Benghazi terrorist Ahmed Abu Khatallah

… a death-penalty prosecution would call into question many aspects of Benghazi that the Obama administration has long sought to keep under wraps: how Obama-administration policy empowered the jihadists who carried out the attack; how those jihadists were linked to al-Qaeda, which the president was then ludicrously claiming to have defeated; how those jihadists attacked Western targets in Benghazi several times before September 11, 2012; how, despite that fact, the State Department led by Hillary Clinton reduced security at its Benghazi facility; how there has been no explanation why the State Department had a facility in Benghazi, one of the most dangerous places in the world for Americans; how there were American military assets in place that might have been able to rescue at least some of those killed and wounded in Benghazi, yet they were not used.

No Death Penalty for a Benghazi Jihadist — Is this Law or Politics?

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, May 11, 2016:

In a terse submission to the federal district court in Washington, D.C., the Obama Justice Department has announced that it will not seek the death penalty against Ahmed Abu Khatallah. He is the only terrorist charged in the Benghazi massacre of September 11, 2012, in which U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other American officials were killed in an attack carried out by dozens of jihadists.

Government lawyers provided no explanation for this decision. If you are wondering whether politics played a role in it, you have good reason to be suspicious.

On the face of it, Khatallah is a textbook case for capital punishment. The Benghazi indictment alleges that he willfully and maliciously caused the death of Americans in a terrorist attack that he helped coordinate. The facts of his offense check several of the “aggravating factor” boxes in federal death-penalty law. There is, moreover, a national-security component, inherent not only in the Benghazi atrocity itself but in the perverse incentive that the government’s failure to seek an available death sentence would create for others considering mass-murder attacks against American installations overseas.

In addition, terrorists imprisoned by the United States after being prosecuted for successful attacks against America become iconic figures in the jihad. As long as they live, they can and do inspire more attacks, recruitment, and fundraising.

Thus, legal and national-security considerations militate in favor of seeking capital punishment. Remember, Mr. Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. An attack on our ambassador and on sovereign American facilities abroad is an act of war against the United States. Since national security is the core responsibility of the federal government, there can be no federal offense more worthy of capital treatment.

We are talking about the Obama administration, though, so there are always political considerations. And when it comes to Benghazi, they always take precedence.

Read more

First, Let’s Get the Facts on Saudis and Iranian Involvement in 9/11

911 rubbleNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy — April 23, 2016

The 9/11 attacks were not civil torts. They were acts of war. It is important to keep that fact in the front of our minds as we press for long-overdue disclosure of evidence linking the Saudi Arabian government to the mass murder of nearly 3,000 Americans, to say nothing of the even more overdue investigation of Iran’s contributory role — an investigation that should have been in high gear immediately after the planes struck their targets.

Over the years in these pages, we have catalogued the damage done to national security by regarding international terrorism as a mere law-enforcement problem — the 1990s Clinton counterterrorism paradigm that President Obama has gradually reinstated. We haven’t much considered, though, another problem with thinking about violent jihadism as a litigation matter: It leads us to lose perspective about who was attacked, and why.

Much as our hearts ache for the victims whose lives were lost, and for the families whose lives were ripped apart, 9/11 was not principally an attack on the victims and their families. It was an attack on the United States of America. It was a stealth combat operation against the American people, all of us, by foreign enemies who had quite publicly declared war on our nation. Those killed and wounded are more accurately thought of as casualties than as victims.

This is why it is so unfortunate that the drive to get public accountability for the attacks has been intertwined with the effort to get financial compensation for the families by way of civil lawsuits against complicit nations.

Don’t get me wrong: All of us should demand that state sponsors of terrorism be made to pay dearly for their atrocities – although, for reasons I’ll get to in a bit, legislation permitting victims to sue is a counterproductive way to go about this. But for all the incalculable pain and suffering inflicted on our fallen fellow Americans and their families, the laudable desire to see them awarded hefty money damages is, at best, a secondary priority.

The national security of the United States demands that we endeavor to understand why and how the 9/11 attacks happened as well as what kind of relations we should have, all these years later, with nations that were culpable.

In just the last few days, as Tom Joscelyn reports, the Obama administration has transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Riyadh nine more hardcore anti-American Yemeni detainees – notwithstanding that al-Qaeda’s most capable franchise (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) has alarmingly expanded its safe haven in Yemen. Meanwhile, we learn in a jaw-dropping Wall Street Journal dispatch, the administration has announced that it will purchase from Iran tons of heavy water (used in developing plutonium bombs). In one fell swoop, Obama thus cures yet another Iranian violation of his vaunted nuclear deal (so soon after Iran tested ballistic missiles festooned with vows to destroy Israel); subsidizes Iran’s nuclear program; legitimizes Iran’s heavy-water production (i.e., its plutonium R&D) by encouraging other nations to engage in similar commerce; and apparently structures an infusion of multi-millions of American dollars into a country he promised Congress would continue to be precluded from access to our economy.

I know, I know: Obama is incorrigible. There is no American national-security interest that would be allowed to take precedence over his legacy hunt. He is determined to be remembered by the global Left – the only audience that matters – as the president who shut down Bush’s Gitmo gulag; and if Congress won’t cooperate by transferring anti-American jihadists to stateside prisons, then he will simply empty Gitmo by transferring the jihadists back to the jihad. And we have seen time and again that he is desperate to sustain his historic “achievement” in striking the Iran nuclear deal, no matter how often Tehran humiliates him.

Nevertheless, we will have a new president soon (albeit not soon enough). That president will have to decide the nature of our relations with the Saudis and Iranians. Assuming that, unlike Obama, the next president figures there should be a rational connection between how we engage a country and how much it threatens our interests, the facts about Saudi and Iranian complicity in the anti-American jihad must be known. More to the point, the American people are entitled to be able to weigh those facts in choosing the next commander-in-chief.

As I outlined last week, there is extensive evidence of complicity by high levels of the Saudi government in the 9/11 attacks. There is, moreover, compelling evidence of Iranian complicity.

Iran had an alliance with al-Qaeda beginning in the early 1990s. It principally included training by Hezbollah (the Beirut-based terrorist faction created and controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and such joint ventures as the 1996 Khobar Towers attack, in which 19 U.S. airmen were killed (and the FBI’s investigation of which was obstructed by the Saudi government). Toward the conclusion of its probe (and thus without time to investigate the matter fully), the 9/11 Commission learned that Iran had provided critical assistance to the suicide hijackers by allowing them to transit through Iran and Lebanon as they moved from obtaining travel documents in Saudi Arabia (Saudi passports and U.S. visas) to training for the attacks in al-Qaeda’s Afghan safe havens.

Indeed, we now know that Iran’s assistance was overseen by none less than Imad Mugniyah, the now-deceased Hezbollah master terrorist who spent much of his life killing Americans, most notoriously in the Beirut marine-barracks bombing in 1983, and almost certainly at Khobar Towers. In October 2000, Mugniyah went to Saudi Arabia to “coordinate activities” (as the 9/11 Commission put it) with the suicide hijackers. (See 9/11 Commission Report at page 240, as well as affidavits of former CIA officers and a 9/11 Commission staffer, here and here). Thereafter, Mugniyah and other senior Hezbollah members accompanied the “muscle hijackers” on flights through Iran and Lebanon.

By enabling the hijackers to cross through these countries without having their passports stamped – an Iranian or Lebanese stamp being a telltale sign of potential terrorist training – Iran made it much more likely that the jihadists’ applications for Saudi passports and U.S. visas would be approved, as they were. That is why, on the topic of potential Iranian complicity in the plot, the 9/11 Commission wrote, “We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government.”

The plea has fallen on deaf ears. In fact, thanks to Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal, our government is no longer content to be willfully blind; it is knowingly and materially supporting Tehran’s terror promotion, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

Will we ever get accountability?

The prospects are not promising at the moment. As noted above, legislation has been proposed by Senators John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Chuck Schumer (D, N.Y.) to allow 9/11 families to sue the Saudis. Unfortunately, this Cornyn-Schumer bill has gotten itself tied to the effort to get disclosure of the 28 pages on Saudi complicity in 9/11 from Congress’s 2002 report.

The Saudi government has threatened to destabilize the U.S. economy by dumping up to $780 billion in dollar-denominated assets if the kingdom is made liable to suit. They are probably bluffing. It is doubtful that they actually hold assets in that amount, and even if they sold off whatever they have, they are likely exaggerating the amount of havoc it would wreak. Still, the threat has given Obama the fig leaf he needs not only to threaten a veto of the legislation but to continue suppressing the long-sought 28 pages.

The two issues must be de-linked. The development of a truly definitive public accounting of the nations and terrorist organizations that colluded in acts of war against the United States should have nothing to do with whether the 9/11 families are given a legal basis to sue foreign sovereigns. Even if the two things were necessarily connected – and they’re not – it would be the legislation, not publication of the 28 pages, that should be dropped.

Civil lawsuits by victims are no more a serious response to wartime aggression than are grand-jury indictments. A great nation does not react to acts of war by issuing court process. Furthermore, permitting such lawsuits (a) encourages other nations to subject the United States to lawsuits for legitimate actions taken in our national defense; and (b) consigns the conduct of the most delicate foreign-policy matters to the vagaries of litigation presided over by the judiciary – the branch of government that lacks constitutional responsibility, political accountability, and institutional competence for managing international affairs and national security.

Of course our government should pressure rogue regimes to compensate victims of terrorism. The political branches of government that are actually responsible for foreign affairs should demand that any nation complicit in the 9/11 attacks provide a fund for the families. It is feckless, however, to punt that job to the courts. Unlike the president and Congress, judges are powerless to enforce their writs against, or otherwise credibly threaten, hostile foreign sovereigns.

That, however, is the least of our problems. First, we need to find out exactly what happened in the lead-up to and aftermath of 9/11. (Post-9/11, Iran harbored al-Qaeda as the terror network fled invading U.S. forces.) Then, we need to define our engagement with Saudi Arabia and Iran in accordance with what they have done and who they actually are – not who Obama and the bipartisan foreign-policy establishment fantasize they could become.

So let’s get the facts . . . finally.

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

New show at The Rebel: Culture Wars with Tiffany Gabbay

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Islam and terror: Smashing the “small minority of Muslims” MYTH

By Tiffany Gabbay, @Tiffany_Gabbay, April 19, 2016:

Tonight’s program will shatter the “small minority of Muslims” misconception peddled by the mainstream media, Hollywood and the Left in general.

Using hard facts and statistics, we show that the carnage the world has been experiencing at the hands of terrorists is VERY much about Islam, the religion, and that the number of radicals is not a “tiny minority,” as we’re told by the Ben Afflecks of the world.

Truth told, hundreds and hundreds of millions of Muslims, including many in the West, hold radical beliefs. Author Raheel Raza, a practicing Muslim, is honest and open about this on the show.

PLUS: We tackle the refugee issue with terrorism expert Andy McCarthy – Yes, Trump’s proposal to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. is constitutional

***

“Since 9/11, there have been 28,000 Islamic terror attacks” — each one followed by “meaningless renditions of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’”

Pay Attention! While Primaries Distract, Obama Shreds Constitutional Governance

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But understand: Obama is reduced to this bullying because the JCPOA is not a treaty and there is no statute that enforces its terms. He is attempting to rule by fiat backed by raw power, not law.

***

The more significant point, though, is the supplanting of our constitutional order of popular American sovereignty, federalism, and separation of powers. Obama’s Iran deal is the imposition of unilateral executive rule, against the popular will, supported by vaporous international arrangements rubber-stamped by the UN Security Council and reliant not on law but on executive intimidation of the states.

PJ MEDIA, BY ANDREW C. MCCARTHY, APRIL 19, 2016:

While all eyes are on both parties’ primaries, constitutional governance — liberty, popular sovereignty, and state power, those vital things the Constitution is supposed to shield from encroachment by the central government — continues to be shredded.

Two cases in point: President Obama’s pressure on the states to drop sanctions against Iran, and his continuing scheme to dictate immigration law unilaterally.

The invaluable Omri Ceren (citing a Bloomberg View report) alerts us that the State Department has sent monitory letters to the governors of all fifty states “suggesting” that they review any sanctions imposed against Iran. Over half the states have such sanctions, targeting not only Iran’s nuclear work but the regime’s other weapons work (e.g., ballistic missiles), terror promotion, human rights abuses, detention of Americans, etc.

Explains Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

[These sanctions] are an essential part of the non-nuclear sanctions architecture designed to both deter Iranian illicit behavior and to safeguard pension funds from the risk associated with entering Iran’s economy.

Alas, any counter-Iranian measure with real teeth is certain to fly in the face of President Obama’s Iran deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As I’ve recently recounted, the text of the JCPOA expressly indulges Iran’s position that it will “cease performing [its] commitments” under the deal if it deems the sanctions to have been “reinstated in whole of part.” That threat should only relate to sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, but — as the Obama administration well knew — many of the sanctions against significant Iranian entities (e.g., the National Iranian Oil Company and Bank Melli) are based on activities in addition to support for the nuclear program.

Moreover, Iran has publicly announced that it interprets the JCPOA as a sweeping eradication of sanctions related both to various non-nuclear activities (e.g., other weapons and ballistic missiles) and to sectors of its economy sanctioned due to activities beyond support for the nuclear program.

Consequently, because of Obama’s obvious desperation for a deal, coupled with the incompetent manner (or, more cynically, the intentionally ambiguous manner) in which the deal is drafted, Obama has created the following situation:

(a) Iran — having already pocketed major concessions — continually threatens to walk away unless the United States agrees to additional sanctions relief.(b) If it is to accommodate the mullahs, as Obama is hard-wired to do, the administration must lean on the relevant actors to relax sanctions even if they are based on non-nuclear activities (e.g., terrorism or ballistic missiles).

Against that backdrop, the JCPOA also purports to oblige the federal government to use:

… “all available authorities [to eliminate any] law at the state or local level … [that] is preventing the implementation of sanctions lifting as specified in this JCPOA[.]”

Obama further explicitly commits in the JCPOA:

The United States will actively encourage officials at the state or local level to take into account the changes in the U.S. policy reflected in the lifting of sanctions under this JCPOA and to refrain from actions inconsistent with this change in policy. (Emphasis added)

Notice anything odd?

This is a foreign relations matter. So why does the Iran deal commit Washington merely to “encourage” and otherwise try to persuade state and local officials to honor the deal’s terms? Why not simply direct them to do so?

Because, for all its bluster about domestic and international law, the administration knows this deal has no legal standing.

Plainly, the president is trying to muscle his way through the inconvenience that the JCPOA is merely an executive agreement. It is not a legally enforceable treaty, nor is it supported by any legislation that would bind the states.

Obama is willing it to work through sheer extra-legal executive power.

Under the Constitution, the federal government has the power to bind the states on matters over which the Constitution gives Washington control, provided that the federal government does this binding in a constitutionally lawful manner.

It is freely conceded that the conduct of foreign relations and the regulation of international commerce are matters over which the Constitution grants the federal government supremacy. Yet, there are only two constitutionally lawful ways of binding the states: a ratified treaty, and/or a properly enacted congressional statute.

A mere executive agreement with the government of a second country (or multiple countries) that the president declines to submit to the Senate as a treaty, and that is not otherwise given legal teeth by Congress, is not enforceable against the states. Period.

This explains why the language of the JCPOA and the State Department’s letter to the states is vaguely extortionate rather than legally direct: Obama will “actively encourage” states and municipalities; the State Department “would urge [the state] to consider,” etc. The administration is pressuring the states, exploiting the brute fact that states know crossing the administration is fraught with risk. States, after all, depend on various federal funding streams and live in constant fear that the most politicized Justice Department in U.S. history will find some pretext or other to investigate them.

But understand: Obama is reduced to this bullying because the JCPOA is not a treaty and there is no statute that enforces its terms. He is attempting to rule by fiat backed by raw power, not law.

And, characteristically, his administration is trying to pull this off by contorting the facts.

The State Department letter “urges” the states to reconsider their sanctions because, it assures them, “the JCPOA … verifiably ensures that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful.” This is false.

The Iran deal is not verifiable; it thus cannot and does not assure that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. Even by the deal’s own terms, Iran gets an industrial-size nuclear program that will be able to weaponize nuclear power with the flip of a switch — or as Obama himself has put it, with “breakout times [that] would have shrunk almost down to zero” — in a little over a decade (if not way before).

Moreover, even if the Iran deal had been an enforceable ratified treaty rather than a non-binding executive agreement, it was (as noted above) only supposed to relate to Iran’s nuclear program. By contrast, state sanctions against Iran (like federal sanctions) are not narrowly targeted at nukes; they relate to the panoply of the mullahs’ rogue activities in the areas of weapons and terrorism.

The State Department’s letter to the states implies that Obama’s purported achievement of a deal that renders Iran’s nuclear program permanently peaceful “addresses the underlying concerns” that caused the states to enact sanctions. Also false: far from addressing those concerns, the JCPOA exacerbates themIt provides lavish funds for Iran’s terror promotion and eases weapons sanctions outside the nuclear sphere. Hence, Iran’s brash testing of ballistic missiles — festooned with the words “Israel must be wiped out” written in Hebrew — in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolution 2231, which went into effect the very day the JCPOA was formally implemented.

After over seven Obama years, such legerdemain is to be expected. The more significant point, though, is the supplanting of our constitutional order of popular American sovereignty, federalism, and separation of powers. Obama’s Iran deal is the imposition of unilateral executive rule, against the popular will, supported by vaporous international arrangements rubber-stamped by the UN Security Council and reliant not on law but on executive intimidation of the states.

What Obama is attempting with respect to the Iran deal is another iteration of the authoritarian, anti-constitutional approach he has followed in the context of immigration policy — the crux of United States v. Texas, the case argued before the Supreme Court Monday (and in which a decision is expected at the end of the Court’s term in late June).

Under a series of Supreme Court precedents (which, I have argued, improperlyusurped state authority over immigration enforcement), it has been held that immigration enforcement is primarily a federal responsibility. Therefore, the legal doctrine of preemption is applied: any state law that contravenes federal law is void — i.e., states may regulate only insofar as regulations are consistent with federal law.

I highlight the word “law” to hone in on how Obama has perverted the principles of preemption.

As I explained in my 2014 book Faithless Execution, the president takes two legally untenable positions on illegal immigration:

(a) That the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion empowers him to choose which laws he will enforce, and(b) That if he chooses not to enforce laws in an area, like immigration, where the courts say federal law preempts state law, then state enforcement of congressional law is preempted by this executive branch non-enforcement policy.

Obama’s first position is perverse. A president’s chief constitutional duty is to see that the laws are faithfully executed. “Prosecutorial discretion” is just a resource-allocation doctrine specific to criminal law enforcement. Recognizing that law-enforcement resources are finite, it gives the executive branch authority to decide which individual cases merit prosecution. It is not a sweeping license to, in effect, repeal congressional statutes by not enforcing them across-the-board.

If it were? That would nullify the president’s obligation to execute the laws faithfully — in effect making him the law-giver rather than the law-enforcer.

The president’s second position is also perverse: only federal law, adopted under the constitutionally prescribed legislative procedures, can preempt state law. When the president declines to enforce the law, he undermines rather than affirms the congressional laws that preempt the states.

Presidential policy preferences, moreover, are not legally binding on Congress, the states, or the people. Preemption is a doctrine of law, not policy. At the federal level, only Congress can make law. Consequently, the president lacks Congress’s limited constitutional authority to preempt the states.

Thus, Obama is claiming what is really dictatorial power masquerading as preemption law. Laid bare, he asserts the unilateral power to forbid states from enforcing immigration laws duly enacted by Congress — laws that are essential to the security and stability, and thus to the very sovereignty, of the states.

The high-stakes contests for the presidential nominations of both major political parties are, of course, extremely important. But they are less important than the damage daily being done to our governing system: the “fundamental transformation” of the Constitution’s limited presidency into something more like the raw-power autocracy the framers feared.

Willful Blindness and Our Saudi ‘Friends’

Anwar al-Awlaki in October 2008 (Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Anwar al-Awlaki in October 2008 (Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, April 16, 2016:

For many years, I was reluctant to write a memoir of my experience leading the investigation and prosecution of the jihadists against whom we are still at war over 20 years later. For one thing, while an exhilarating experience for a trial lawyer, it was also a very hard time for my family, for obvious reasons. Also, with all the tough judgment calls we had to make, we inevitably made some mistakes — “we” very much including me. A triumphant outcome has a pleasant way of bleaching away any memory of errors; to write honestly about the case would mean revisiting them. Who needed that?

And about that triumph: I had, and have, a gnawing sense that we failed. Yes, the conviction of the Blind Sheikh and his henchmen was a great law-enforcement success. Throughout the long trial and in the years that followed, though, I came to appreciate that national security is principally about keeping Americans safe, not winning court cases. Sure, winning in this instance meant justice was done and some terrorists were incarcerated. How safe, though, had we really kept Americans?

For all the effort and expense, the number of jihadists neutralized was negligible compared to the overall threat. The attacks kept coming, as one might expect when one side detonates bombs and the other responds with subpoenas. As the years passed, the tally of casualties far outstripped that of convicted terrorists. When 9/11 finally happened, killing nearly 3,000 of our fellow Americans, al-Qaeda credited none other than the Blind Sheikh with issuing the fatwa — the sharia edict — that authorized the attack. We had imprisoned him, but we had not stopped him.

That is mainly why I finally wrote the memoir in 2008. I called it Willful Blindness . . . and not just because my infamous defendant was both blind and willful. American counterterrorism, even seven years after 9/11 (and fully 15 years after the jihadists declared war by bombing the World Trade Center), had bored its head ever deeper in the sand. It consciously avoided the central truths driving the terrorist threat against the United States.

The most significant of these is that violent jihadism is the inexorable result of the vibrance in Islam of sharia supremacism — a scripturally-rooted summons to Muslims to strive for conquest over infidels until Allah’s law (sharia) is established everywhere on earth.

This ideology — also referred to as “Islamism,” “Islamic supremacism,” “radical Islam,” “political Islam,” and other descriptors that endeavor to distinguish it from Islam (and to imply that such a distinction should be drawn) — is not the only way of interpreting Islam. Indeed, it is rejected by millions of Muslims. The conquest for which it strives, moreover, is not necessarily to be achieved by violence. Sharia supremacism is, nevertheless, a mainstream interpretation of Islam. Inevitably, it leads some believers to carry out jihadist violence, and an even greater number of believers to support the jihadists’ objectives, if not their methods.

Since 1993, the bipartisan American ruling class, throughout administrations of both parties, has refused to acknowledge, much less grapple with, this central truth of the threat we face. It has insisted, against fact and reason, that Islam is a monolithic “religion of peace,” and therefore that there can be no causal connection between Islamic doctrine and terrorism committed by Muslims. It has fraudulently maintained that jihadist violence is not jihadist at all — after all, we are to understand jihad (notwithstanding its roots as a belligerent concept, as holy war to establish sharia) to be a noble internal struggle to become a better person, to vanquish corruption, and the like. Terrorist attacks must be airbrushed into “violent extremism,” shorn of any ideological component — as if the killing were wanton, not purposeful. The fact that the attacks are so ubiquitously committed by Muslims (who explicitly cite scriptural chapter and verse to justify themselves), is to be ignored — as if all religions and ideologies were equally prone to inspire mass-murder attacks if believed too fervently.

This deceit at the core of American counterterrorism efforts has led seamlessly to other frauds. Among the most grievous is this one: Saudi Arabia is a key counterterrorism ally of the United States.

This is why it is time — it is long, long past time — for the United States government to come clean with the American people, and with the families of Americans slaughtered on 9/11 by 19 jihadists, 15 of them Saudis. The government must disclose the 28 pages of the 2002 congressional report on the 9/11 attacks that it has shamefully withheld from the public for 14 years. Those pages outline Saudi complicity in the jihad.

It is nothing short of disgraceful that the Bush and Obama administrations, relying on the president’s constitutional authority over foreign intelligence and the conduct of foreign affairs, have concealed these materials. It is equally disgraceful that Congress has indulged this decision in the context of its own fact-finding exercise. This has been done under the pretense that the Saudi government is a stalwart counterterrorism ally of the United States — an absurd proposition that passes the laugh test only if one accepts the even more absurd premise that Islam has nothing to do with jihadist terrorism.

The Saudis are the world’s chief propagator of sharia supremacism, sharia being the law of the Sunni kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, a literalist interpretation of Islam rooted in scripture dating back 1,400 years, is the dominant belief system. For decades, the House of Saud has played a double game with the West: 1) feigning moderation while promoting and internally enforcing this repressive fundamentalism, which brutally discriminates against women, non-Muslims, and Muslim minorities; 2) posturing as a staunch counterterrorism ally while exporting their ideology — and, when called on it, rationalizing either that their ideology does not catalyze jihadism, or that, even if it does, exporting it is necessary to ensure that jihadists do not seize control of the kingdom and its oil wealth — an outcome that, we are warned, would be far worse for the West.

Several Saudi connections to 9/11, as well as our government’s disturbing appearance of not wanting to know the depth of Saudi culpability, have been reported over the years. Let’s look at some of the main ones. Read more…

 

*          *          *

Washington’s bipartisan insistence that the Saudi regime is a vital counterterrorism ally of the United States is a delusional byproduct of its willful blindness to sharia supremacism — the ideological driver of violent jihadism and the oil-rich kingdom’s most consequential export.

The point of the post-9/11 investigations was to hold every culpable actor and negligent government agency accountable. No American citizen or government official, not even the sitting president, was spared. It is time for Washington to stop running interference for the Saudis while the Saudis run interference for the jihadists. At long last, let’s see the 28 pages.

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

Also see:

Incubators of Islamic Supremacism

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National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy — March 26, 2016

With no hope of winning an argument on the facts, demagogues resort to the argument ad hominem. Too often, it works. And in the modern “progressive” West, no demagogic tactic works better than branding one’s political adversaries as racists. That is why the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamic-supremacist organization, dreamed up the term “Islamophobia.” It is why Western progressives, stalwart allies of the Brotherhood, have lustily embraced the Islamophobia smear tactic — even sought to engrave it in our law, in brazen violation of the First Amendment.

It beats trying to refute the irrefutable nexus between Islamic scripture, sharia supremacism, and jihadist terror. It beats trying to rationalize the sheer idiocy of a policy, theirpolicy, that idealizes Islam as the irenic monolith they would like it to be, rather than the complex of competing and contradictory convictions it is. Of the latter, the most dynamic is the conviction that Islam is an alternative civilization determined to conquer the West by force, by political pressure, by cultural aggression, and by exploiting Western civil liberties (liberties that are forbidden in the sharia societies Islamists would impose).

Ted Cruz found himself in the middle of this demagogic storm this week. Reacting to the latest jihadist atrocity in Brussels, in which 31 were killed and 230 wounded, Senator Cruz argued that to protect our national security against radical Islamic terror networks, it is imperative for law enforcement to conduct surveillance in Muslim communities.

Cruz was not calling for a dragnet targeting all Muslims. In his presidential campaign (to which I am an adviser), he has stressed the importance of identifying the enemy asradical Islam. That is not campaign rhetoric; it is how we figure out who warrants surveillance — and far from being anything new, it is how counterterrorism was done before President Obama came to power. Yet, as night follows day, the Islamist-leftist alliance pounced with the fury of an emperor whose lack of clothes has just been noticed.

It is simply, undeniably, a fact that some Muslim mosques and surrounding communities are hotbeds of Islamic supremacism, a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that holds that Muslims must struggle against non-believers — by force and by all other means –- until Allah’s law (sharia) is established throughout the world. Islamic supremacism is not the only way of construing Islam, and millions of Muslims reject it. This, however, does not undo the remorseless fact that millions of Muslims accept it, that it is a mainstream construction of Islam (it is, for example, the Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood), and that it has a considerable following in the West.

Why do millions of Muslims accept it? Why do I describe it as a “fundamentalist” interpretation of Islam? Because it is drawn literally from scriptures, which are quite easy to read and grasp. That is why Islamists and leftists slander as a racist/Islamophobe anyone who points out this inconvenient fact. They want you to smile and repeat after them: “Religion of Peace!” — end of story. They are desperate that you do not pick up the Koran (which Muslims take to be the verbatim, immutable word of Allah) and read what Muslims read, such as this (from the ninth chapter, or sura):

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor Hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book [i.e., Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

(The jizya is a tax imposed on dhimmis — non-Muslims who are permitted to live because they’ve submitted to the authority of an Islamic state. It is designed to remind them of their inferior status under Muslim law, so that they “feel themselves subdued.”)

Again, as I have pointed out on numerous occasions, there are modernist Muslims who embrace the Western Enlightenment and reject the fundamentalist interpretation of Islam — Islam for them truly is a faith rather than a totalitarian political ideology. But while we welcome them into our society (many of them are our fellow Americans), it makes no more sense to see them as the only true Muslims and thus absolve Islam than it would to see the fundamentalists as the only true Muslims and condemn Islam.

We have to distinguish between the two, our security requires targeting surveillance on the hostiles, and non-fundamentalist Muslims — if they are sincere — have as great an interest as anyone in the identification, marginalization, and defeat of the fundamentalists. So we also have to stop walking on eggshells about this, as if commonsense defense measures signaled the rise of the Third Reich.

The challenge we face is not merely jihadists. They constitute the forcible factions of Islamic supremacism. There are other cohorts. Islamic supremacism self-describes as acivilizational alternative to the West. It pulls every cultural and political lever to introduce and codify sharia — the same goal jihadists pursue. This means the jihadist threat arises and thrives within a larger support system of ideological sympathizers. Though not terrorists themselves, these Muslims provide moral and material support to the jihad — very much including their silent acceptance of jihadists in their midst.

This is why, in Europe, jihadists succeed in virtually hiding in plain sight for months on end, despite continent-wide manhunts. They move easily between and within communities notoriously sympathetic to fundamentalist Islam and thus hostile to Western police. The vast majority of Muslims in these communities are not terrorists, but many applaud the jihadists; others, opposed to the jihadists, are too intimidated to alert the authorities about suspicious goings-on. These communities have become safe havens. Law enforcement has ceased being a presence, much less conducting surveillance; therefore, the recruitment for and plotting of terrorist attacks proceeds apace.

This experience is not foreign to the United States. In 1995, I led the prosecution of the jihadist cell directed by the “Blind Sheikh” (Omar Abdel Rahman), which carried out the 1990 assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, besides unsuccessfully plotting to bomb other New York City landmarks, to attack U.S. military installations, and to assassinate American and other pro-Western political officials. In the nine-month trial, we proved two things of great consequence.

First, there was a straight line of causation between commands to jihadist violence in Islamic scripture; the exploitation of those scriptures by a renowned Islamic scholar in order to urge jihadist attacks against America, Israel, and the West; and the execution of jihadist strikes by young Muslims against Western targets. Second, the hubs of jihadist activity were the mosques and Islamic community centers in Muslim communities where fundamentalist Islam was mainstream. Mosques and community centers were used to store and transfer weapons, raise funds, recruit young Muslims to jihad, propose attack plans, and study potential targets that had been cased. This is not a theory; it happened, and we proved it.

Moreover, it happened quite strategically. Let’s nudge ourselves from our “Religion of Peace” slumbers for a moment and consider Muslim Brotherhood ideology — the main subject of my 2010 book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. Not only are the writings of the Brotherhood’s founding theorists (Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, to name the most prominent) readily available; the organization’s strategy in the West was laid bare by the Justice Department in the 2007–08 Holy Land Foundation prosecution of a conspiracy to fund Hamas (the terrorist organization that is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch).

I did not pull the title of my book out of the sky or from the dark recesses of my Islamophobic mind. I took it from the Brotherhood’s own words, in internal memoranda seized by the FBI from a high-ranking operative of the organization. The key memo explained that the Brotherhood’s American tentacles (including CAIR, one of the outfits that attacked Senator Cruz) see their mission as:

[A] kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. [Quotes in original.]

The plan for carrying out this grand jihad against Western civilization is based on Banna’s vision of a ground-up revolution, in which the use of force plays a part but is just one aspect of a multi-faceted aggression arsenal. Banna taught that, in each city and town where the Brotherhood operated, the mosque and Islamic community center must be the “axis” of the fundamentalist movement. This is reflected in the Brotherhood memoranda, which elaborate on the goal of forming:

an effective and stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood, which adopts Muslims’ causes domestically and globally, and which works to expand the observant Muslim base, aims at unifying and directing Muslims’ efforts, presents Islam as a civilization alternative, and supports the global Islamic state, wherever it is.

That last part is worth pausing over: Fundamentalists see Islam as a civilization alternative to the West, and their ultimate loyalty is to a global Islamic state, not the Western state they happen to be living in. They want their communities to be Islamic enclaves where sharia principles control and where fealty to fellow Muslims — even Muslim terrorists — is prized over loyalty to the home government and its police authorities.

Following the 9/11 attacks, counterterrorism policy shifted away from the Clinton approach of treating radical Islamic terrorism as a law-enforcement challenge, which essentially meant prosecutions only after Americans had been killed. The new strategy regarded jihadism as a national-security challenge and aimed to prevent attacks from happening. Such a strategy must be intelligence-driven. It must be based on an understanding of the nature of the threat and surveillance of the places where the threat thrives.

As I’ve discussed before, Obama-style national security — “Countering Violent Extremism” — denies the Islamic ideological component of terrorism. Because it indulges a counter-reality in which there is only a single, resolutely peaceful Islam, it denies that jihadists have a support system of ideological sympathizers in Muslim communities. Terrorists, instead, are imagined as non-Islamic (indeed, anti-Islamic) “violent extremists” who kill because . . . uh . . . well . . . don’t ask us why — all we know is that it has nothing to do with Islam, and don’t go quoting the Koran at us, you haters!

This week we continued to watch Europe disintegrate precisely because its swelling fifth column of non-assimilable fundamentalist Muslim communities are abetting the jihadist war against the West. Ted Cruz seized on the moment to urge that we not follow Europe down the Obama path, that we return to the intelligence-driven counterterrorism strategy that targets surveillance at communities where fundamentalist ideology is prevalent — under circumstances where we know, from hard experience, that our enemies intentionally use mosques and Islamic community centers as their operations base.

If that makes him an Islamophobe, we should all be Islamophobes.

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

Islam—Facts or Dreams?

WinstonHillsdale Imprimis, by Andrew C. McCarthy, February 2016:

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on February 24, 2016, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., as part of the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series.

In 1993 I was a seasoned federal prosecutor, but I only knew as much about Islam as the average American with a reasonably good education—which is to say, not much. Consequently, when I was assigned to lead the prosecution of a terrorist cell that had bombed the World Trade Center and was plotting an even more devastating strike—simultaneous attacks on the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations complex on the East River, and the FBI’s lower Manhattan headquarters—I had no trouble believing what our government was saying: that we should read nothing into the fact that all the men in this terrorist cell were Muslims; that their actions were not representative of any religion or belief system; and that to the extent they were explaining their atrocities by citing Islamic scripture, they were twisting and perverting one of the world’s great religions, a religion that encourages peace.

Unlike commentators and government press secretaries, I had to examine these claims. Prosecutors don’t get to base their cases on assertions. They have to prove things to commonsense Americans who must be satisfied about not only what happened but why it happened before they will convict people of serious crimes. And in examining the claims, I found them false.

One of the first things I learned concerned the leader of the terror cell, Omar Abdel Rahman, infamously known as the Blind Sheikh. Our government was portraying him as a wanton killer who was lying about Islam by preaching that it summoned Muslims to jihad or holy war. Far from a lunatic, however, he turned out to be a globally renowned scholar—a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence who graduated from al-Azhar University in Cairo, the seat of Sunni Islamic learning for over a millennium. His area of academic expertise was sharia—Islamic law.

I immediately began to wonder why American officials from President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno on down, officials who had no background in Muslim doctrine and culture, believed they knew more about Islam than the Blind Sheikh. Then something else dawned on me: the Blind Sheikh was not only blind; he was beset by several other medical handicaps. That seemed relevant. After all, terrorism is hard work. Here was a man incapable of doing anything that would be useful to a terrorist organization—he couldn’t build a bomb, hijack a plane, or carry out an assassination. Yet he was the unquestioned leader of the terror cell. Was this because there was more to his interpretation of Islamic doctrine than our government was conceding?

Defendants do not have to testify at criminal trials, but they have a right to testify if they choose to—so I had to prepare for the possibility. Raised an Irish Catholic in the Bronx, I was not foolish enough to believe I could win an argument over Muslim theology with a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence. But I did think that if what we were saying as a government was true—that he was perverting Islam—then there must be two or three places where I could nail him by saying, “You told your followers X, but the doctrine clearly says Y.” So my colleagues and I pored over the Blind Sheikh’s many writings. And what we found was alarming: whenever he quoted the Koran or other sources of Islamic scripture, he quoted them accurately.

Now, you might be able to argue that he took scripture out of context or gave an incomplete account of it. In my subsequent years of studying Islam, I’ve learned that this is not a particularly persuasive argument. But even if one concedes for the purposes of discussion that it’s a colorable claim, the inconvenient fact remains: Abdel Rahman was not lying about Islam.

When he said the scriptures command that Muslims strike terror into the hearts of Islam’s enemies, the scriptures backed him up.

When he said Allah enjoined all Muslims to wage jihad until Islamic law was established throughout the world, the scriptures backed him up.

When he said Islam directed Muslims not to take Jews and Christians as their friends, the scriptures backed him up.

You could counter that there are other ways of construing the scriptures. You could contend that these exhortations to violence and hatred should be “contextualized”—i.e., that they were only meant for their time and place in the seventh century.  Again, I would caution that there are compelling arguments against this manner of interpreting Islamic scripture. The point, however, is that what you’d be arguing is an interpretation.

The fact that there are multiple ways of construing Islam hardly makes the Blind Sheikh’s literal construction wrong. The blunt fact of the matter is that, in this contest of competing interpretations, it is the jihadists who seem to be making sense because they have the words of scripture on their side—it is the others who seem to be dancing on the head of a pin. For our present purposes, however, the fact is that the Blind Sheikh’s summons to jihad was rooted in a coherent interpretation of Islamic doctrine. He was not perverting Islam—he was, if anything, shining a light on the need to reform it.

Another point, obvious but inconvenient, is that Islam is not a religion of peace. There are ways of interpreting Islam that could make it something other than a call to war. But even these benign constructions do not make it a call to peace. Verses such as “Fight those who believe not in Allah,” and “Fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war,” are not peaceful injunctions, no matter how one contextualizes.

Another disturbing aspect of the trial against the Blind Sheikh and his fellow jihadists was the character witnesses who testified for the defense. Most of these people were moderate, peaceful Muslim Americans who would no more commit terrorist acts than the rest of us. But when questions about Islamic doctrine would come up—“What does jihad mean?” “What is sharia?” “How might sharia apply to a certain situation?”—these moderate, peaceful Muslims explained that they were not competent to say. In other words, for the answers, you’d have to turn to Islamic scholars like the Blind Sheikh.

Now, understand: there was no doubt what the Blind Sheikh was on trial for. And there was no doubt that he was a terrorist—after all, he bragged about it. But that did not disqualify him, in the minds of these moderate, peaceful Muslims, from rendering authoritative opinions on the meaning of the core tenets of their religion. No one was saying that they would follow the Blind Sheikh into terrorism—but no one was discrediting his status either.

Although this came as a revelation to me, it should not have. After all, it is not as if Western civilization had no experience dealing with Islamic supremacism—what today we call “Islamist” ideology, the belief that sharia must govern society. Winston Churchill, for one, had encountered it as a young man serving in the British army, both in the border region between modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan and in the Sudan—places that are still cauldrons of Islamist terror. Ever the perceptive observer, Churchill wrote:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. . . . Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Habitually, I distinguish between Islam and Muslims. It is objectively important to do so, but I also have a personal reason: when I began working on national security cases, the Muslims I first encountered were not terrorists. To the contrary, they were pro-American patriots who helped us infiltrate terror cells, disrupt mass-murder plots, and gather the evidence needed to convict jihadists. We have an obligation to our national security to understand our enemies; but we also have an obligation to our principles not to convict by association—not to confound our Islamist enemies with our Muslim allies and fellow citizens. Churchill appreciated this distinction. “Individual Moslems,” he stressed, “may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen.” The problem was not the people, he concluded. It was the doctrine.

What about Islamic law? On this topic, it is useful to turn to Robert Jackson, a giant figure in American law and politics—FDR’s attorney general, justice of the Supreme Court, and chief prosecutor of the war crimes trials at Nuremberg. In 1955, Justice Jackson penned the foreword to a book called Law in the Middle East. Unlike today’s government officials, Justice Jackson thought sharia was a subject worthy of close study.  And here is what he concluded:

In any broad sense, Islamic law offers the American lawyer a study in dramatic contrasts. Even casual acquaintance and superficial knowledge—all that most of us at bench or bar will be able to acquire—reveal that its striking features relative to our law are not likenesses but inconsistencies, not similarities but contrarieties. In its source, its scope and its sanctions, the law of the Middle East is the antithesis of Western law.

Contrast this with the constitution that the U.S. government helped write for post-Taliban Afghanistan, which showed no awareness of the opposition of Islamic and Western law. That constitution contains soaring tropes about human rights, yet it makes Islam the state religion and sharia a principal source of law—and under it, Muslim converts to Christianity have been subjected to capital trials for apostasy.

Sharia rejects freedom of speech as much as freedom of religion. It rejects the idea of equal rights between men and women as much as between Muslim and non-Muslim. It brooks no separation between spiritual life and civil society. It is a comprehensive framework for human life, dictating matters of government, economy, and combat, along with personal behavior such as contact between the sexes and personal hygiene. Sharia aims to rule both believers and non-believers, and it affirmatively sanctions jihad in order to do so.

Even if this is not the only construction of Islam, it is absurd to claim—as President Obama did during his recent visit to a mosque in Baltimore—that it is not a mainstream interpretation. In fact, it is the mainstream interpretation in many parts of the world. Last year, Americans were horrified by the beheadings of three Western journalists by ISIS. American and European politicians could not get to microphones fast enough to insist that these decapitations had nothing to do with Islam. Yet within the same time frame, the government of Saudi Arabia beheaded eight people for various violations of sharia—the law that governs Saudi Arabia.

Three weeks before Christmas, a jihadist couple—an American citizen, the son of Pakistani immigrants, and his Pakistani wife who had been welcomed into our country on a fiancée visa—carried out a jihadist attack in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people. Our government, as with the case in Fort Hood—where a jihadist who had infiltrated the Army killed 13 innocents, mostly fellow soldiers—resisted calling the atrocity a “terrorist attack.” Why? Our investigators are good at what they do, and our top officials may be ideological, but they are not stupid. Why is it that they can’t say two plus two equals four when Islam is involved?

The reason is simple: stubbornly unwilling to deal with the reality of Islam, our leaders have constructed an Islam of their very own. This triumph of willful blindness and political correctness over common sense was best illustrated by former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith when she described terrorism as “anti-Islamic activity.” In other words, the savagery is not merely unrelated to Islam; it becomes, by dint of its being inconsistent with a “religion of peace,”contrary to Islam. This explains our government’s handwringing over “radicalization”: we are supposed to wonder why young Muslims spontaneously become violent radicals—as if there is no belief system involved.

This is political correctness on steroids, and it has dangerous policy implications. Consider the inability of government officials to call a mass-murder attack by Muslims a terrorist attack unless and until the police uncover evidence proving that the mass murderers have some tie to a designated terrorist group, such as ISIS or al Qaeda. It is rare for such evidence to be uncovered early in an investigation—and as a matter of fact, such evidence often does not exist. Terrorist recruits already share the same ideology as these groups: the goal of imposing sharia. All they need in order to execute terrorist attacks is paramilitary training, which is readily available in more places than just Syria.

The dangerous flipside to our government’s insistence on making up its own version of Islam is that anyone who is publicly associated with Islam must be deemed peaceful. This is how we fall into the trap of allowing the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamic supremacist organization, to infiltrate policy-making organs of the U.S. government, not to mention our schools, our prisons, and other institutions. The federal government, particularly under the Obama administration, acknowledges the Brotherhood as an Islamic organization—notwithstanding the ham-handed attempt by the intelligence community a few years back to rebrand it as “largely secular”—thereby giving it a clean bill of health. This despite the fact that Hamas is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, that the Brotherhood has a long history of terrorist violence, and that major Brotherhood figures have gone on to play leading roles in terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda.

To quote Churchill again:  “Facts are better than dreams.” In the real world, we must deal with the facts of Islamic supremacism, because its jihadist legions have every intention of dealing with us. But we can only defeat them if we resolve to see them for what they are.

Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. A graduate of Columbia College, he received his J.D. at New York Law School. For 18 years, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and from 1993-95 he led the terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. Following the 9/11 attacks, he supervised the Justice Department’s command post near Ground Zero. He has also served as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense and an adjunct professor at Fordham University’s School of Law and New York Law School. He writes widely for newspapers and journals including National Review, PJ Media, and The New Criterion, and is the author of several books, including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad and Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotages America.

Robert Jackson on Sharia v. the Constitution

Constitution vs Sharia (1)National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Jan. 4, 2015:

I’ve been working my way through my friend Steve Coughlin’s invaluable new book, Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad (which I discussed a bit in this recent column on the San Bernardino terrorist attack).

In light of the sharia encroachment campaign to bend the First Amendment to the repressive blasphemy standards of Islamic law (the subject of my columns today and over the weekend), it is very much worth noting Steve’s unearthing of a 1955 statement by the legendary Robert Jackson – the former Supreme Court justice and Nuremberg prosecutor, who was United States attorney general under FDR:

In any broad sense, Islamic law offers the American lawyer a study in dramatic contrasts. Even casual acquaintance and superficial knowledge – all that most of us at bench or bar will be able to acquire – reveal that its striking features relative to our law are not likenesses but inconsistencies, not similarities but contrarieties. In its source, its scope and its sanctions, the law of the Middle East is the antithesis of Western law.

The passage is part of a Forward Justice Jackson wrote to a book called Law in the Middle East. He thought it was a subject we needed to be informed about.

Today, we don’t want to know about sharia – not the government, the commentariat, or the popular culture. As noted here time and again, foreign policy of the United States has for a generation proceeded on the absurd assumption that sharia and Western liberalism are perfectly, seamlessly compatible.

Indeed, that is the operating assumption of the new constitutions for Afghanistan and Iraq that the United States government helped write – constitutions that impossibly purport to protect civil rights while simultaneously enshrining sharia as a principal source of law. In Afghanistan, the government has, for example, convicted former Muslims for apostasy under the new Constitution – the apostates escaped the death penalty only by being whisked out of the country. In Iraq, since the American invasion and the new constitution it ushered in, the Christian population has decreased by more than 70 percent (from about 1 million down to around 250,000 to 300,000, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2015 Report, pp. 95-96). While the rise of ISIS has exacerbated religious persecution in Iraq, it was rampant even before the terror network came along. (See id. at 97: “The Iraqi government, under both former Prime Minister al-Maliki and current Prime Minister Haideral-Abadi, also has committed human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial killings of Sunni prisoners and civilians.”)

Tellingly, Islamic supremacists fully comprehend the fundamental incompatibility between Islamic and Western standards. In Cairo in 1990, the 57-government Organization of Islamic Cooperation (then known as the Organization of the Islamic Conference) issued its “Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.” This sharia supremacist proclamation was issued because the “Universal” Declaration of Human Rights presumptuously issued by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 was not consistent with Islamic norms.

Steve observes that the deeply flawed assumption of compatibility between sharia and the Constitution that undergirds our policy flows from “an absence of functional knowledge of Islamic law in America’s halls of power.” Why don’t officials inform themselves? Because, he opines, “our national security leaders have taken active measures to suppress both analysis and discussion of the topic, under threat of harsh sanctions.”

There was a time, not so long ago, when America’s national security leaders and legal titans grasped the need to be informed about Islamic law as it actually exists, not as they wished it were. Until we recover that understanding, we will be able neither to protect ourselves nor to know how and when to intervene in the world’s most volatile region.

Just Asking about Islam and Terrorism

jihadiNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Dec. 26, 2015:

Let me ask you a question.

Let’s say you are an authentically moderate Muslim. Perhaps you were born into Islam but have become secularist. Or perhaps you consider yourself a devout Muslim but interpret Islam in a way that rejects violent jihad, rejects the concept that religious and civic life are indivisible, and rejects the principle that sharia’s totalitarian societal framework and legal code must be imposed on the state. Let’s just take that as a given: You are no more inclined toward terrorism than any truly peaceful, moderate, pro-democratic non-Muslim.

So let me pop the question: Is there any insulting thing I could say, no matter how provocative, or any demeaning video I could show you, no matter how lurid, that could convince you to join ISIS?

Mind you, I am not asking whether, upon my insulting and provoking you, you would ever want to have anything to do with me again. I am asking whether there is anything that could be said or done by me, or, say, Donald Trump, or Nakoula Basseley Nakoula — the video producer (Innocence of Muslims) whom Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to blame for the Benghazi massacre — that could persuade you to throw up your hands and join the jihad? Is there anything so profoundly offensive to Islam that we could conjure up that would make a truly moderate, peaceful Muslim sign up for mass murder? Torching and beheading? Killing children? Participating in systematic rape as a weapon of war?

I didn’t think so.

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Yet, understand, that is what Washington would have you believe. Whether it is Barack Obama sputtering on about how Guantanamo Bay drives jihadist recruitment, or Hillary Clinton obsessing over videos (the real one by Nakoula that she pretended caused terrorism in Libya, and the pretend ones about Donald Trump that she claims have Muslims lined up from Raqqa to Ramadi to join ISIS), you are to believe violent jihad is not something that Muslims do but that Americans incite.

And it’s not just Democrats who’d have you buy this bunkum. Think of the Arab Spring fairy tale — about Libya, Egypt, and, most recently, Syria — that Republicans have been telling for years, critiqued by yours truly in Spring Fever. It is still GOP gospel, glibly peddled by Marco Rubio just a couple of weeks ago at the 2016 presidential candidates’ debate. (Disclosure: I support Ted Cruz.)

RELATED: Dispelling the ‘Few Extremists’ Myth — the Muslim World Is Overcome with Hate

The fairy tale goes something like this. There is a terrible dictator who so tormented his people that they rose up against him. These were noble people, overwhelmingly moderate, secular Muslims — adherents of a “religion of peace” (or, as Bush secretary of state Condi Rice put it, “a religion of peace and love”), who craved democracy. (Caution: You can call them “rebels,” but words like “Muslim Brotherhood” and “sharia” are not to be uttered — we’re trying to build a narrative here!) Sure, the noble people may have tolerated the occasional jihadist in their midst, but that could happen to even the most well-intentioned peaceful moderate, right? (The pervasive presence of jihadists who used Syria and Libya as gateways to jihad against Americans in Iraq is also not to be mentioned.)

Now let’s let bygones be bygones. No need to tarry over small details — like how the noble people installed anti-democratic Islamists who imposed a sharia constitution on Egypt after ousting their pro-American dictator; or how Libya became a jihadist playpen where Americans are murdered after the U.S. government sided with the noble people to oust the U.S.-supported dictator who had been giving us counterterrorism intelligence about jihadists in places like Benghazi.

Let’s just skip ahead to Syria. There, the noble people needed America’s help, but Barack Obama turned a deaf ear. (No need to get into Obama’s collusion with the Islamic-supremacist governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to arm and train the “rebels.”) This forfeited our golden opportunity to intervene actively and empower the bounty of moderate, secular, America-loving, democracy-craving Muslims (because that worked so well in Libya). But for Obama’s default, these moderate legions could simultaneously have toppled the dictator and purged the teeny-tiny number of jihadists who might have been skulking about. (Let’s not get into how there don’t seem to be enough of these moderates to man a soccer team, let alone a legion; or how weapons supplied to these “rebels” somehow keep ending up in the hands of the jihadists.) Obama’s default, coupled with the ruthlessness of the dictator, created a leadership and territory void into which jihadists suddenly poured (apparently out of nowhere). Somehow, these spontaneously generating jihadists managed to entice recruits, vastly increasing in number and power (even though — you’ll have to trust us on this — the moderate, secular Muslims really want nothing to do with them).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how ISIS was born and al-Qaeda rose from the ashes.

You buying it? Me neither.

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About 20 years ago, I prosecuted a dozen jihadists, led by the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, for waging a terrorist war against the United States — including the World Trade Center bombing and a plot to attack the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, as well as other New York City landmarks. The defendants were caught on tape building bombs, scheming to strike at American military sites, and planning attacks timed to achieve maximum infidel carnage.

At trial, the jihadists tried to tell the jury they were just moderate, peace-loving Muslims who had been provoked by American foreign policy, a perception of anti-Muslim bias, and videos of Muslims being persecuted in Bosnia. The Blind Sheikh insisted his incitements to jihad were simply a case of faithfully applying sharia principles, which, according to his lawyers, the First Amendment gave him the right to do.

So I asked the jury a simple question:

Is there any obnoxious, insulting, infuriating thing I could say to you, or show to you, that would convince you to join up with mass-murdering terrorists? To become a terrorist yourself?

Of course, a dozen commonsense New Yorkers did not need to be asked such a question. They laughed the defense out of the courtroom.

Alas, in the 20 years since, the defense they laughed out of the courtroom has become the bipartisan government policy of the United States.

Go figure.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

How France Became an Inviting Target of the Jihad

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PJ Media, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Nov. 14, 2015:

Earlier this year, following the Charlie Hebdo massacre and related terrorist attacks in and around Paris, I wrote Islam and Free Speech, a Broadside” that is part of the series published by Encounter Books. The following is an excerpt.

How did we get to this historical anomaly in France where, as the estimable scholar Daniel Pipes observes, “a majority population accepts the customs and even the criminality of a poorer and weaker community”? It is the result of a conquest ideology taking the measure of a civilization that no longer values its heritage, no longer regards itself as worthy of defense.

France’s population of 66 million is now approximately 10 percent Islamic. Estimates are sketchy because, in a vestige of its vanishing secularist tradition, France does not collect census data about religious affiliation. Still, between 6 and 7 million Muslims are reasonably believed to be resident in the country (Pew put the total at 4.7 million back in 2010 – other analysts peg it higher today). To many in France, the number seems higher, due to both the outsize influence of Islamist activists on the political class and the dense Muslim communities in and around Paris – approximating 15 percent of the local population. An online poll conducted by Ipsos Mosi in 2014 found that the average French citizenbelieves Muslims make up about a third of the country’s population.

As night follows day, when Muslim populations surge, so does support for jihadism and the sharia supremacist ideology that catalyzes it. The reason is plain to see, even if Western elites remain willfully blind to it: For a not insignificant percentage of the growing Muslim millions in Europe, infiltration – by both mass immigration and the establishment of swelling Islamic enclaves – is a purposeful strategy of conquest, sometimes referred to as “voluntary apartheid.”

One of its leading advocates is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. A Qatar-based Egyptian octogenarian, Qaradawi is a Muslim Brotherhood icon. He is a copiously published scholar graduated from Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni Islamic learning for over a millennium, and thus oversees both the International Union of Muslim Scholars and the European Council for Fatwa and Research. Thanks to his pioneering of the highly trafficked IslamOnline website and, especially, to his hugely popular al-Jazeera television program, Sharia and Life, he has become the world’s most influential sharia jurist.

Qaradawi is the sharia backbone of the violent jihad to exterminate Israel – a tiny country surrounded by hundreds of millions of hostile Muslims. The sheikh also vows that Islam will “conquer” both Europe and America, but acknowledges that this conquest will require a strategy more suited to a determined minority that knows it cannot win by force of arms. The key, he asserts, is dawa, the Muslim equivalent of proselytism. In radical Islam, it is hyper-aggressive, pushing on every cultural cylinder, pressuring every institution, and exploiting the atmosphere of intimidation created by jihadist terror to blur the lines between legal advocacy and extortion.

In France, dawa presses against laïcité, the credo of secularism through the strict separation of religion and the state. Qaradawi is quite clear that “secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.” He is equally adamant that Muslims, who are bound to live in accordance with the strictures of sharia, must reject a secular framework because “acceptance of secularism means abandonment of sharia, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions.” Thus, he elaborates, “The call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of sharia is downright apostasy.”

This nexus between free speech and Western democracy is worth pausing over. Notice that, in focusing on the incompatibility between Islamic law and democracy’s secular, pluralist underpinnings, Qaradawi draws the inevitable conclusion that democracy equals apostasy. The term apostasy is not invoked idly in radical Islam. As explained in Reliance of the Traveller, a classic sharia manual endorsed by al-Azhar scholars, the renunciation of Islam is a death penalty offense.

Free speech does not exist in a vacuum. It is the plinth of freedom’s fortress. It is the ineliminable imperative if there is to be the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas, the rule of reason, freedom of conscience, equality before the law, property rights, and equality of opportunity. That is why it must be extinguished if there is to be what Qaradawi calls a “place of religion” – meaning his religion. For all its arrogance and triumphalist claims, radical Islam must suppress speech because it cannot compete in a free market of conscience.

To sustain their movement, therefore, Islamist leaders must separate Muslims from secular society. In the West, this means forming Islamic enclaves in which sharia gradually takes root as the de facto and, eventually, the de jure law – enabling Muslims to resist the challenge of critical thinking under the guise avoiding the near occasion of apostasy. Over time, dominion is established over swaths of not only physical territory but legal privilege. Qaradawi puts the matter succinctly:

Were we to convince Western leaders and decision-makers of our right to live according to our faith — ideologically, legislatively, and ethically — without imposing our views or inflicting harm upon them, we would have traversed an immense barrier in our quest for an Islamic state.

The key to the conquest strategy is to coerce the West into accepting a Muslim right to resist assimilation, to regard sharia as superseding Western law and custom when the two conflict. For precisely this reason, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – a bloc of 56 Muslim countries (plus the Palestinian Authority) – has decreed that “Muslims should not be marginalized or attempted to be assimilated, but should be accommodated.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Islamist president of Turkey who has systematically dismantled that country’s secular, pro-Western system, similarly pronounces that pressuring Muslims to assimilate in the West “is a crime against humanity.”

Free expression is the gateway to assimilation. Consequently, radical Islam cannot tolerate it.

As a result, France is now rife with Zones Urbaines Sensibiles – “sensitive urban areas.” The government officially lists some 751 of them: Islamic enclaves in the banlieues, often referred to as “no go zones” because the indigenous populations discourage the presence of non-Muslims who do not conform to Islamic standards of dress and social interaction, and of public officials – police, fire-fighters, emergency medical teams, and building inspectors – who are seen as symbols of the state’s effort to exercise sovereignty in areas Muslims seek to possess adversely.

Some of these zones inevitably evolve into hotbeds of jihadist activity. As the Gatestone Institute’s Soeren Kern notes, there has been no shortage of Internet traffic suggesting, for example, “the killing of France’s ambassadors, just as the manly Libyan fighters killed the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi.” In a low-intensity jihadist thrum stretching back several years, the torching of automobiles has become a commonplace – as many as 40,000 cars burned annually. Perhaps most alarmingly, over a thousand French Muslims, more than from any other Western country, are estimated to have traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS – meaning many will return to the country as trained, battle-hardened jihadists. Beyond the direct ISIS participants, moreover, the Washington Post has reported that a recent poll found 16 percent of French citizens expressing some degree of support for ISIS – an organization whose rule over the vast territory it has seized is best known for decapitations, rapine, the execution of homosexuals, mass graves, and the enslavement of non-Muslim communities.

Once one grasps the voluntary apartheid strategy, it becomes obvious why radical Islam’s inroads in France, and elsewhere in Europe, seamlessly translate into demands for the enforcement of sharia’s curbs on speech and artistic expression. What is not so obvious is just how profound a challenge to the West this constitutes.

The War That Hasn’t Ended

Paris attackNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy,Nov. 13, 2015:

There is always the chance that the next attack will knock the scales from our eyes. Always the chance that we will realize the enemy is at war with us, even as we foolishly believe we can end the war by not fighting it, by surrendering.

As this is written, the death count in Paris is 158. That number will grow higher, and very many more will be counted among the wounded and terrorized.

“Allahu Akbar!” cried the jihadists as they killed innocent after French innocent. The commentators told us it means “God is great.” But it doesn’t. It means “Allah is greater!” It is a comparative, a cry of combative aggression: “Our God is mightier than yours.” It is central to a construction of Islam, mainstream in the Middle East, that sees itself at war with the West.

It is what animates our enemies.

Barack Obama tells us — harangues us — that he is the president who came to end wars. Is that noble? Reflective of an America that honors “our values”? No, it is juvenile.

In the real world, the world of aggression — not “micro-aggression” — you don’t get to end wars by pronouncing them over, or mistaken, or contrary to “our values.”

You end them by winning them . . . or losing them.

If you demonstrate that you are willing to lose, then you lose. If you sympathize with the enemy’s critique of the West on the lunatic theory that this will appease the enemy, you invite more attacks, more mass murder.

France is hoping the night’s bloodshed is done as it counts its dead. And perhaps it is for now. But the atrocities are not over, not even close.

In Paris, it has been but the blink of an eye since the Charlie Hebdo massacre, after which Western nations joined together in supposed solidarity, supporting the fundamental right to free expression.

That lasted about five minutes.

Intelligentsia on both sides of the Atlantic rationalized that, while we of course (ahem) champion free expression — “Je suis Charlie!” and all that — columnists and cartoonists who dare lampoon a totalitarian ideology are bringing the jihad on themselves.

It was a familiar story. In 2012, jihadists attacked an American compound in Benghazi, killing our ambassador and three other officials. The president responded by . . . condemning an anti-Muslim video that had nothing to do with the attack, and by proclaiming that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

Islamic supremacism killed Americans, and America’s president validated Islamic supremacism.

How did the French and the rest of the West react when jihadists attacked Charlie Hebdo in Paris?

After a fleeting pro-Western pose, they condemned . . . themselves.

What happened when American commentators who had spent years studying Islamic-supremacist ideology warned that mainstream Muslim doctrine was fueling jihad against the West?

The Obama administration — the president and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton — reacted by targeting the messengers, not the aggressors.

Jihadist terror would be obfuscated by euphemisms like “violent extremism” and “workplace violence.” The critics of jihadist terror would be smeared as racist “Islamophobes.” Mrs. Clinton led the administration’s effort to portray examination of Islamic doctrine as hate speech, to brand commentary about radical Islam as illegal incitement.

Wouldn’t that be a betrayal of First Amendment free expression? If so, Mrs. Clinton declared, the government had other ways to suppress it. The administration, she said, would resort to extra-legal extortion: “old fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming.”

American government intimidation, not against the jihad but against opponents of the jihad. Could we tell the enemy any more clearly that we don’t think we are worth defending? Could we tell the enemy any more clearly that we are ripe for the taking?

Hard experience has taught us that when jihadists have safe haven, they attack the United States and our Western allies. But as ISIS and al Qaeda expand their safe haven in Syria and Iraq, we tell the world it is everyone else’s problem — the Kurds have to do the fighting, or the Yazidis, the Iraqis, the “rebels,” anyone but us.

As hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the region — many of them young, fighting-fit men whose potential terrorist ties cannot possibly be vetted — we encourage Europe to open its arms and borders to them, promising to open our own as well.

After all, to do otherwise would be to concede that the war is against us — and Obama is the president who “ends” war.

The enemy is not impressed. What Obama calls “ending” war the enemy sees as surrender, as the lack of a will to fight, much less to prevail.

So, as night follows day, the enemy attacked Paris tonight, yet again. Jihadists brazenly proclaimed that they were from Syria, spreading their jihad to France.

Obama responded by soft-peddling the atrocity as a “tragedy,” the acts of war as a “crime.”

A “crime” that tonight killed 158 people (and counting). A “crime” by “criminals” who vow more jihadist acts of war against Paris, Rome, London, Tel Aviv, and New York.

We did not ask for a war with jihadists. Years ago, they commenced a war of aggression against us. Pace Obama, you can’t end such a war by withdrawing, or by pretending it is just a crime. You end it by winning it or losing it.

The enemy senses that we are willing to lose it. Tonight, they pressed their advantage. It won’t be the last time.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.