Al-Qaeda Claims U.S. Killed ‘Blind Sheikh’ in Prison, Calls for ‘Violent Revenge’

Relatives and friends of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of plotting terror attacks in New York City in the decade before 9/11, carry his coffin after funeral prayers at the Grand Mosque in the Nile Delta town of Gamalia, Egypt, on Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Mostafa Albasuni)

Relatives and friends of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of plotting terror attacks in New York City in the decade before 9/11, carry his coffin after funeral prayers at the Grand Mosque in the Nile Delta town of Gamalia, Egypt, on Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Mostafa Albasuni)

PJ MEDIA, BY BRIDGET JOHNSON, FEBRUARY 22, 2017:

Al-Qaeda accused the United States of withholding necessary medication from “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind of the deadly 1993 World Trade Center bombing who died behind bars Saturday.

They also released a final statement from the sheikh complaining of strip searches that explored his private parts “front and back,” claiming that he could be poisoned behind bars and calling for “the most powerful and violent revenge” in the event of his demise.

Abdel-Rahman, 78, was serving a life sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Butner, in North Carolina. He had been blinded at a young age by diabetes, and reportedly passed away from complications of coronary heart disease and diabetes.

In a statement issued by their As-Sahab media, al-Qaeda’s central command grieved the sheikh “after a battle with the tyrants of the earth lasted almost six decades of his life” and winding up “in the grip of the people of the Cross.”

The terror group also noted operations that had been conducted over the years in an effort to win Abdel-Rahman’s release, including the kidnapping of westerners by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as well as al-Qaeda in Pakistan and its Yemen branch.

Citing Abdel-Rahman’s family, who first released the news of his death, al-Qaeda alleged “the Americans decided to kill him in prison” by withholding drugs.

Al-Qaeda encouraged followers to “slay” in the sheikh’s name as “Americans enjoy security and safety,” targeting U.S. interests everywhere.

Al-Qaeda also released a parting statement from Abdel-Rahman in their Al-Nafir Bulletin, in which he said the Americans were using his imprisonment to “rub the pride of the Muslims in the dirt.”

He complained of being filmed while bathing or using the toilet in solitary confinement, being strip-searched “until I am as naked as when my mother delivered me” before “they look into my private parts, from the front and the back — what are they looking for?” and of not having any fellow Arabic speakers visit. “If it were not for reciting the Quran I would have been afflicted with many psychological and mental illnesses,” he said.

The statement attributed to Abdel-Rahman also said he was prevented from Friday prayers and from celebrating Islamic holidays, or having “any contact with Muslims.”

“They are undoubtedly killing me, especially while I am isolated from the world. No one sees what they do to me in my food and drink. They may employ the method of slow killing with me, where they put poison in the food or a medicine or an injection, and may give me dangerous, bad medicine, or they may give me a quantity of lethal drugs or a madness-inducing drug,” he said. “This is in particular, while I smell strange and awful scents from the floor above me, constantly accompanied by a ‘whoosh,’ like the sound of an old air conditioner, with knocks, noise, and hammering, like the sound of grenades, which continues for hours, day and night.”

After offering several verses from the Quran, Abdel-Rahman continued, “If they kill me — and they inevitably will — publicize my funeral, and send my corpse to my family, and do not forget my blood and do not waste it.”

“Instead, avenge me with the most powerful and violent revenge,” he concluded. “Remember a brother who told you a word of truth and was killed in the way of Allah.”

Abdel-Rahman’s body was returned to his family in Egypt today via the Cairo airport. Thousands gathered in his hometown, Al-Gamaliya, for his funeral.

In an earlier issue of Al-Nafir released by their Global Islamic Media Front at the beginning of the month, al-Qaeda directly addressed President Trump, something official ISIS materials haven’t even done since Inauguration Day. Responding to the raid on an al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula camp, in which CENTCOM admitted civilian casualties, the terror group claimed “Americans in this massacre intentionally killed women and children, and even an infant in the womb was not spared.”

“And on this occasion we say to the stupid President Trump: The presidency of your country has had several presidents in years past, whom all have promised the American people to kill the mujahideen and excise them. However, they all ended up leaving the White House before fulfilling their promise, despite some of them having a second term. This is undoubtedly your fate, for the flame of jihad has ignited and reached all over the world.”

“Moderate” Muslim Brotherhood Mourns Terrorist’s Death

blind-sby John Rossomando
IPT News
February 21, 2017

Calls for revenge and glowing eulogies for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman by the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers dealt a blow to efforts to paint it as a moderate group.

Abdel Rahman, known as the “Blind Sheikh,” died Saturday in a U.S. prison where he was serving a life sentence for a seditious conspiracy to launch what prosecutors called a “war of urban terrorism” against targets around New York City. He also helped plot the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 that killed six people and injured 1,042.

“May Allah’s blessings be upon him, the deceased of the Islamic call, who was imprisoned by different repressive regimes, who was falsely and unfairly accused of terrorism by the Unites States of America, while being old and blind Sheikh, it also prevented him from receiving medical care until he met his Lord, Oh Allah please accept him and have mercy upon him,” the Muslim Brotherhood General Office said.

Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted Abdel Rahman, noted in a National Review Online column that the “Blind Sheikh” was proud of being a terrorist. This fact ought to raise red flags about the character of the Muslim Brotherhood.

McCarthy cited this Abdel Rahman statement as an example: “Why do we fear the word terrorist? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. And if the terrorist is the one who struggles for the sake of God, then we are terrorists. We . . . have been ordered with terrorism because we must prepare what power we can to terrorize the enemy of Allah and your enemy. The Koran says ‘to strike terror.’ Therefore, we don’t fear to be described with ‘terrorism.’ . . . They may say, ‘He is a terrorist, he uses violence, he uses force.’ Let them say that. We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.”

1988The Muslim Brotherhood’s official Facebook page posted another statement Saturday that was quickly taken down. The message, asking “God Almighty to bestow His Mercy, and ensconce him in the highest paradise of Heaven with the prophets, the saints, the martyrs, the righteous and the best of them as companions” was cross-posted on Ikhwanonline, the Brotherhood’s Arabic website.

Although Abdel Rahman left the Muslim Brotherhood to form the radical jihadist group Gamaa Islamiya in 1970 after the Brotherhood’s leadership renounced violence against the Egyptian government, Brotherhood leaders still mourned him in terms echoed by ISIS and al-Qaida. Mohamed Al-Sagheer, a former deputy minister of endowment in Egypt during the Muslim Brotherhood rule, called Abdel Rahman a “Mujahid” or holy warrior, in a video posted on Facebook. Muslims, he said, lost one of their most prominent scholars.

“May Allah avenge from those who did him (the sheikh) injustice, the Arab despots, and the crusaders, who loath and hate the faith and its followers,” Al-Sagheer said.

Al-Sagheer has ties to violent elements of the Muslim Brotherhood that have worked against the Egyptian government since the military forced the Brotherhood out of power in 2013, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports.

Mohamed el-Feky, chairman of the economic committee of Morsi-era Egyptian parliament who now resides in Istanbul, similarly lamented Abdel Rahman’s death.

“May God have mercy on Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and gather him into the troop of prophets, friends (of God) martyrs and the righteous, with the best of them as companions. Oh, God, compensate him for his imprisonment, and the wrong done him, and bless him with good and increase. Oh God, curse those who wronged him, Oh Lord of the worlds,” el-Feky wrote on Facebook.

Ordinary Muslim Brotherhood supporters like Abdel Rahman Muhammad Lotfy Abdel Rahman called for American blood.

“If they killed you O Omar, Allah has chosen you among the martyrs! Allah will fight you O America … Today, America has killed one of the Muslim scholars after unjustly detaining him for close to a quarter of a century, that is Dr. Omar Adel Rahman, the pious scholar, who always uttered the word of truth, which resonated out of his mouth, he did not fear anyone but Allah, and we present him to Allah. We ask Allah to accept him as a martyr, they killed him for America and its allies, who participated in killing him,” Rahman wrote.

Inspiration For al-Qaida

Abdel Rahman’s ideas inspired Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaida and ISIS. He acted as al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s “mentor.” Al-Zawahiri frequently attended Abdel Rahman’s lectures as a young man in Egypt.

Al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden handed out copies of Abdel Rahman’s will at a 1998 press conference.

The will demands vengeance after his death. “But, take revenge for me against them with the most extreme and violent revenge.”

Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri also passed out a fatwa from Abdel Rahman smuggled from prison authorizing attacks against the U.S. at the 1998 press conference.

“Cut all relations with [the Americans, Christians, and Jews], tear them to pieces, destroy their economies, burn their corporations, destroy their peace, sink their ships, shoot down their planes and kill them on air, sea, and land. And kill them wherever you may find them, ambush them, take them hostage, and destroy their observatories. Kill these infidels,” the fatwa said.

Al-Qaida responded to Abdel Rahman’s death by including the incendiary will in its latest newsletter Al-Nafir. Numerous jihadi social media sites followed suit, and the will accompanied a joint statement by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), both of which are openly loyal to al-Zawahiri.

The joint AQAP/AQIM statement calls on their followers to “viciously avenge the sheikh against his oppressors and wardens.”

Supporters Remember Abdel Rahman

1986Said Abbasy, a Muslim Brotherhood supporter living in New York, wrote on Facebook, “The passing of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman in the prisons of America after 24 years of incarceration. Oh God take vengeance on those who wronged him.”

Muhammad Shoubir, a self-described Muslim Brotherhood supporter who lives in New York, called Abdel Rahman “our martyr sheikh” in a since deleted Facebook post.

1987“A martyr to the interests between Egypt and America,, (sic) A martyr to the injustice done to him during his trial and the concocting of an accusation against him,, No Egyptian defended him,, but they thrust upon him a guard and a translators (Egyptian) who spied on him, and misled him,, so that he was sentenced in 93 to imprisonment for life,, the man died after 24 years in prison … May God have mercy on our noble Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman,, He was wronged in your country, and elsewhere,,” Shoubir wrote.

Jihadis aligned with various undefined factions used similar rhetoric in their social media eulogies.

“Not with tears but with red blood. We will lament Imam Omar Abdel Rahman,” said handle @ Yubayatajrasi09, who lives in the Tampa area.

In an inflammatory Twitter post on Saturday, an individual identifying himself as Obamajahid pushed a baseless conspiracy theory to blame the Trump administration for Abdel Rahman’s death.

“Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman is among the first victims of the rule of the tyrant Trump where pressure was exerted upon him in his prison, and he was deprived of his medicine and his radio as was mentioned someone who contacted them last week,” Obamajahid wrote.

Another follower of Abdel Rahman’s, Yubayatajastri09, called for vengeance.

“Oh God, forgive us for our shortcomings with regard to him. And raise his degree and accept him among the number of martyrs. And take vengeance on the head of the viper America,” he wrote.

It’s hard to claim the Muslim Brotherhood opposes terrorism when it laments the death of the man who inspired an attack on New York City, plotted even greater bloodshed and inspired bin Laden and al-Zawahiri.

***

 

 

Blind Sheikh Dead But His Network Lives On in America

Inset: the Blind Sheikh (Photo: Video screenshot)

Inset: the Blind Sheikh (Photo: Video screenshot)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, February 20, 2017:

The “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman, best known for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, has just died in prison, but his “work” lives on. He was not only a U.S.-based leader of the Gamaa Islamiyya terrorist group, but part of the connective tissue of an interconnected jihadist network that still operates today.

The “Blind Sheikh” and his U.S.-based network were like a cornucopia of jihadist offerings. His Gamaa Islamiyya, Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas, Jamaat ul-Fuqra (now known as Muslims of America) and other jihadist entities all overlapped “in a sort of terrorist ‘Internet,’” as one congressional testimony explained. It is through this “Internet” that the Blind Sheikh’s work lives on.

The best example is Jamaat ul-Fuqra, now known as Muslims of America, which is best known for its “Islamberg” headquarters in New York and its claim to having 22 such “Islamic villages” across the country. The Clarion Project has launched a comprehensive website about the organization at FuqraFiles.com.

A section of the Fuqra Files website documents the close ties between Fuqra and the Blind Sheikh. It is an odd match considering Fuqra’s ideology as a Sufi cult but was useful to the Blind Sheikh due to the group’s criminal experience and robust infrastructure including remote enclaves and jihadist training sites.

The Blind Sheikh was one of the very few Islamic preachers that Fuqra’s Pakistan-based leader, Sheikh Gilani, openly preached in support of. Despite being a cult dedicated to Gilani, authorities found posters of the Blind Sheikh when they raided Fuqra’s 101-acre terrorist training camp in Colorado in 1992.

Various law enforcement sources have told the Clarion Project that Fuqra had concrete links to the Blind Sheikh’s bombing of the World Trade Center and planned follow-up attacks. Some of the Blind Sheikh’s top operatives belonged to Fuqra’s network.

In fact, the links between Fuqra and Blind Sheikh were so strong that a 1993 intelligence report by the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare said that Fuqra’s militant operations in the U.S. were essentially under the control of the Blind Sheikh, with Sheikh Gilani acting mostly as a spiritual leader.

Fuqra still operates in the U.S. today. The Clarion Project recently published a FBI report from 2003 warning that Fuqra has links to Al-Qaeda and members go to Pakistan for guerilla warfare training and possible involvement in other jihadist groups.

The Blind Sheikh essentially contracted some of his dirty work to other groups, such as Islamist criminal gangs. For example, Marcus Robertson, who led “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves,” served as a bodyguard for the Blind Sheikh, as did jihadists associated with Hamas. Today, Robertson leads a radical Islamic seminary in Florida.

The Blind Sheikh’s jihadist collaborators continue to be active enough for the NYPD to gather intelligence on some of them. One such example was Mohammed El-Shinawy, the son of a close associate of the Blind Sheikh’s. Elshinawy preached at two major Islamist mosques in New York, Masjid at-Taqwa (whose imam was also very close to the Blind Sheikh) and Masjid al-Ansar.

Another close associate of the Blind Sheikh’s, Hesham El-Ashry, also spoke at the mosque frequently and preached that the U.S. would suffer from violent jihad if the Blind Sheikh was not released. Notably, the Blind Sheikh’s release was a top demand of the Muslim Brotherhood after it took over Egypt, again reflecting the interconnectedness of the Islamist web.

The NYPD had a wealth of information justifying its intelligence gathering on these subjects. Predictably, the Islamists sued the NYPD, accused the police of anti-Muslim discrimination, elevated the radicals as persecuted victims and won favorable media coverage.

The Blind Sheikh is dead, but his network lives on.

Omar Abdel Rahman, the ‘Blind Sheikh,’ Is Dead

Omar Abdel Rahman in 1993 (Reuters photo: Mike Segar)

Omar Abdel Rahman in 1993 (Reuters photo: Mike Segar)

Abdel Rahman, the Blind Sheikh, was responsible for much of the last quarter century of terrorism.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, February 18, 2017:

Omar Abdel Rahman, the notorious “Blind Sheikh” who died on Friday night while serving his life sentence in federal prison, was never shy about being a terrorist. As he put it:

What kind of name is this? Why are we afraid of it? Why do we fear the word terrorist? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. And if the terrorist is the one who struggles for the sake of God, then we are terrorists. We . . . have been ordered with terrorism because we must prepare what power we can to terrorize the enemy of Allah and your enemy. The Koran says “to strike terror.” Therefore, we don’t fear to be described with “terrorism.” . . . They may say, “He is a terrorist, he uses violence, he uses force.” Let them say that. We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.

Before there was an al-Qaeda or an ISIS, there was the Blind Sheikh, known to his worldwide following as “the emir of jihad.” And he bears much of the responsibility — he would think of it as the credit — for what followed him. Indeed, bin Laden credited Sheikh Abdel Rahman with the fatwa (the sharia-law edict) that approved the 9/11 jihadist attacks in which nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered. Abdel Rahman had indeed issued such a fatwa:

Muslims everywhere to dismember their nation, tear them apart, ruin their economy, provoke their corporations, destroy their embassies, attack their interests, sink their ships, . . . shoot down their planes, [and] kill them on land, at sea, and in the air. Kill them wherever you find them.

Having been the lead prosecutor in the trial at which he was convicted, I find that barely a day goes by that I don’t ruefully think about this. For all the praise we received for a job well done — and I am immensely proud of the work we did — we only managed to imprison him. We did not stop him.

Abdel Rahman was the central character in a memoir I wrote about the case nearly a decade ago, Willful Blindness. The title has become something of catch phrase describing the wayward American approach to counterterrorism. I meant it as something more than that — a contrast: the steely determination that underlay Abdel Rahman’s clarity of purpose that the world be ruled by Islamic law, versus our own conscious avoidance of the sharia-supremacist ideology that drives the jihadist threat, and diffidence about whether our own liberty culture is worth defending.

He was raised in the tiny Nile Delta town of al-Gamalia, where he lost his sight to juvenile diabetes in 1942, at the age of four. The sickly boy was a prodigy, memorizing the Koran at an early age and developing into a renowned scholar of Islamic jurisprudence — the discipline in which he earned a doctorate, with distinction, at storied al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni Islamic learning since the tenth century. Abdel Rahman was deeply influenced by Ibn Taymiyyah, the 14th-century docent who had come of age in a soul-searching time for Islamic fundamentalism: after invading Mongols routed the Abbasid Caliphate, laying Baghdad to waste. Taymiyyah championed a return to basics: a literalist interpretation of scripture and the notion that the original Islamic communities forged by the prophet Mohammed were the ideal to which all humanity must aspire.

Abdel Rahman was also affected by contemporary followers of Taymiyyah. Interestingly, one was the Shiite jihadist icon, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Notwithstanding their theological differences, Abdel Rahman perceived in Khomeini the possibilities of Islamic revolution and the exploitation of what he saw as American weakness — particularly by Hezbollah, Khomeini’s forward jihadist militia that, among other atrocities, killed 241 U.S. Marines in their Beirut barracks in 1983. “If Muslim battalions were to do five or six operations to the Americans in surprise attacks like the one that was done against them in Lebanon,” the Blind Sheikh urged, “the Americans would have exited [the Persian Gulf] and gathered their armies and gone back . . . to their country.” It was a recruitment speech he delivered hundreds of times.

Abdel Rahman also revered Sayyid Qutb, his fellow Egyptian and a Muslim Brotherhood hero long imprisoned and eventually executed by the hated Nasser regime. From the premise of Taymiyyah’s teaching, and building on the foundation laid by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Bannah, Qutb taught that Islam is “a declaration that sovereignty belongs to God alone”; that the “freedom” God offers is submission to His law, sharia; and that supplanting man’s dominion with Allah’s could never be achieved by “preaching” alone — it would require jihad “to wipe out tyranny” and impose this Orwellian conception of “freedom” on mankind.

Echoing Ibn Taymiyyah, Qutb’s jihad targeted not only declared non-believers but also those rulers who professed to be Muslim but did not adhere to sharia. Qutb also infused his teaching with visceral anti-Semitism, portraying the Jew as the instantiation of all that is anti-Islamic and treacherous. Abdel Rahman drank deeply from this noxious well.

The Blind Sheikh completed his master’s degree in Cairo in 1967, in the aftermath of Qutb’s execution and what Muslims still see as the humiliation of the Six-Day War. By the time he earned his doctorate in 1971, he already had a following of young budding jihadists. By 1973, the firebrand “cleric” (he is better thought of as a sharia jurist) was the emir of a jihadist organization, Gama’at al-Islamia (the Islamic Group). Essentially, it was a spinoff of the Brotherhood, comprised of young Muslims who had been lured into the Brotherhood’s sharia-supremacist ideology but were impatient with the Brotherhood’s methodical pace, which — in their view – too often failed to live up to the militant violence of its rhetoric, and too often played a double game of collusion with the secular regime Muslims were obliged to overthrow.

Abdel Rahman became most notorious for issuing the fatwa relied upon by the jihadists who murdered Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat at a military parade in 1981 — for the unforgivable offense of making peace with Israel. The Blind Sheikh was acquitted at his Egyptian trial when he defended himself with a stirring recitation of Islamic-law principles, exceedingly effective before a hypocritical authoritarian regime that nominally claims fidelity to sharia but does not actually enforce it. As he argued to the court, Allah’s commands hold that society must be governed by sharia; if it is not, it becomes the individual duty of every Muslim to perform jihad against the regime until it either is overthrown or enforces God’s law. This self-evident truth, he elaborated, required no scholarly fatwa. Thus, Sadat’s slayers were performing a sacred duty, and it was pointless to quibble over whether it had been authorized by him or by any man; it was dictated by the Koran.

It was the same defense the Blind Sheikh would later attempt to posit at his American trial. Suffice it to say that it did not have the same traction with a jury of New Yorkers sitting in a courthouse six blocks from the World Trade Center.

Though acquitted in Egypt, Abdel Rahman delighted in claiming credit for Sadat’s murder. Years later, safely out of Egypt and stoking new recruits, he would reflect that, of the “many jihad operations” carried out by his Islamic Group, the “most famous” one was “killing . . . the atheist, the oppressor and the profligate, . . . Anwar Al-Sadat.” But what about the result, someone asked. Hadn’t getting rid of Sadat only given Muslims Mubarak, who was worse?

Abdel Rahman would hear none of it. God “ordered us to eliminate” Sadat, he insisted, “even if this had to be done by killing him[,]” and even though Mubarak proved to be worse. Mubarak — “the third traitor, backstabber who became the loyal dog to America, . . . and was at the forefront of the treachery caravan to give to Israel and then America everything” — would, the Blind Sheikh assured, be dealt with in “another operation.”

While Abdel Rahman never managed to have Hosni Mubarak killed, he spent many years trying — and we ultimately convicted him on a count of conspiracy to murder the then-president of Egypt (one plan included trying to assassinate him near the U.N. in the early 1990s). Abdel Rahman could not fail to be pleased by Mubarak’s overthrow and replacement, in 2011, by a Muslim Brotherhood government whose platform included demanding that the United States transfer their beloved Blind Sheikh back home — a hope that was dashed when the Brotherhood government was ousted.

By the time he settled in the United States in late 1990, Abdel Rahman was a globally recognized . . . menace. He was deeply involved in recruiting and fundraising for the “Arab-Afghan” contingent that joined the anti-Soviet jihad (and to this day regards its service to Allah as responsible for the demise of the Soviet empire). His network of associates included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Afghan warlord and former prime minister to whom much of the funding of the Arab fighters was channeled; Sudanese leader Hassan al-Turabi; and such founding figures of al-Qaeda as Ayman al-Zawahiri (Abdel Rahman’s Egyptian contemporary and sometime rival, who is now the international terror network’s leader) and Abdullah Azzam, the charismatic Palestinian who, like Abdel Rahman, graduated with a doctorate from al-Azhar and taught for a time in Saudi Arabia — where both Azzam and Abdel Rahman profoundly influenced a young student named Osama bin Laden.

Even before he settled in the New York metropolitan area (thanks to a tragicomedy of errors by American immigration authorities, who failed to notice he was on terrorism watch lists), the Blind Sheikh had an ardent following. His acolytes included Sayyid Nosair, Mohamed Salameh, Mahmud Abuhalima, and Nidal Ayyad — to name just a few. They used mosques and Islamic community centers as hubs for recruitment, fundraising, and paramilitary training — including shooting sessions in Calverton, Long Island, and drills involving explosives and close combat in remote areas of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. They would report on their activities in overseas phone calls to Abdel Rahman, which were recorded and used to draw young Muslims to the cause.

In 1990, Nosair murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane, the controversial founder of the Jewish Defense League, at a hotel in midtown Manhattan. On February 26, 1993, Salameh, Abuhalima, and Ayyad, along with Ramzi Yousef, carried out the bombing of the World Trade Center — a plot long in the making, much of which was planned during visits to Nosair at Attica state prison in New York.

By then, for well over a year, Abdel Rahman had been urging jihad against the United States from within the United States. America, he declared, was “the head of the snake,” the world’s leading enemy of Islam. A notebook kept by Nosair and recovered after the Kahane murder contained such teachings as this:

Before announcing the establishing of the state of Abraham in our holy land . . . to break and to destroy the morale of the enemies of Allah. (And this is by means of destroying) (exploding) the structure of their civilized pillars. Such as the touristic infrastructure which they are proud of and their high world buildings which they are proud of and their statues which they endear and the buildings in which gather their heads (their leaders).

In the run-up to the bombing, Abdel Rahman was in constant touch with the plotters. Just a few weeks before the explosion that killed six adults (including a pregnant woman) and caused billions of dollars in damage, he spoke at a jihadist conference, thundering that “God has obliged us to perform jihad,” and thus that “the battalions of Islam and its divisions must be in a state of continuous readiness to hit their enemies with strength and power.” Reminding the crowd that “the enemies at the foremost of the work against Islam are America and its allies,” he continued with one of his favorite themes:

If those who have the right [to have something] are terrorists then we are terrorists. And we welcome being terrorists. And we do not deny this charge to ourselves. And the Koran makes it among the means to perform jihad for the sake of Allah, which is to terrorize the enemies of God and our enemies too. . . . Then we must be terrorists and we must terrorize the enemies of Islam and frighten them and disturb them and shake the earth under their feet.

In the summer of 1993, we arrested the Blind Sheikh and eleven of his followers as they conspired to carry out an even more ambitious plot against New York City landmarks: simultaneous bombing of the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the U.N. complex. Other potential targets under consideration were American military installations — which Abdel Rahman quite explicitly ordered attacks against — and the FBI’s headquarters in lower Manhattan. In October 1995, after a nine-month trial, they were convicted of conspiring to levy a terrorist war against the United States, including the WTC bombing, as well as the additional bombing plots and plans for various political assassinations. The presiding judge, Michael B. Mukasey — a peerless jurist who later served as U.S. attorney general in the Bush administration — sentenced the Blind Sheikh to life imprisonment.

As I said, we imprisoned him, but we failed to put an end to his reign of terror. Besides the fatwa that paved the way for 9/11, Abdel Rahman issued guidance to his Egyptian terrorist organization to end a truce with the Mubarak government. Lynne Stewart, the radical lawyer who had represented him at the trial, was eventually convicted of material support to terrorism for transmitting his directives from jail.

As I recounted in 2012, when the Egyptian press was reporting that the Obama administration was considering transferring Abdel Rahman back to Egypt:

In 1997, Gama’at al-Islamia threatened to “target . . . all of those Americans who participated in subjecting [Abdel Rahman’s] life to danger” — “every American official, starting with the American president [down] to the despicable jailer.” The organization promised to do “everything in its power” to obtain his release. Six months later, Gama’at jihadists set upon 58 foreign tourists and several police officers at an archeological site in Luxor, Egypt, brutally shooting and slicing them to death. The terrorists left behind leaflets — including in the mutilated torso of one victim — demanding that the Blind Sheikh be freed.

Gama’at subsequently issued a statement warning that its forcible struggle against the Egyptian regime would proceed unless Mubarak met its three demands: the implementation of sharia, the cessation of diplomatic relations with Israel, and “the return of our Sheikh and emir to his land.” In March 2000, terrorists associated with the Abu Sayyaf group kidnapped a number of tourists in the Philippines and threatened to behead them if Abdel Rahman and two other convicted terrorists were not freed. Authorities later recovered two decapitated bodies (four other hostages were never accounted for).

On September 21, 2000, only three weeks before al-Qaeda’s bombing of the U.S.S. Cole [killing 17 members of the U.S. Navy], al-Jazeera televised a “Convention to Support the Honorable Omar Abdel Rahman.” Front and center were Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri (then bin Laden’s deputy, now his successor as emir of al-Qaeda). They warned that unless Sheikh Abdel Rahman was freed, jihadist attacks against the United States would be stepped up. At the same event, Mohammed Abdel Rahman, an al-Qaeda operative who is one of the sheikh’s sons, exhorted the crowd to “avenge your Sheikh” and “go to the spilling of blood.”

Omar Abdel Rahman was physically 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. The only thing he could do for a terrorist organization was lead it. His life is a testament to the centrality of sharia-supremacist ideology to modern jihadism and to the broader Islamist movement in which it thrives. His death reminds us why we must fight everything he represented.

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

Hillary Clinton Gave Visa to Egyptian Terrorist to Visit State Dept, White House To Lobby For Blind Sheikh Release

hani-noor-eldin-hillary-clinton-egypt-terrorist-sized-770x415xtPJ Media, by Patrick Poole, November 2, 2016:

In June 2012, Hillary Clinton’s State Department issued a visa to enter the U.S. to Hani Noor Eldin – an avowed member of the Egyptian terror group Gamaa Islamiya that was designated by the U.S. in October 1997 during the Clinton Administration.

But not only was Eldin allowed into the U.S., he was escorted into Hillary’s State Department where he met with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Under Secretary Robert Hormats, and then later received at the White House by Denis McDonough, then Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor and currently the White House Chief of Staff.

According to published reports, Eldin used these meetings as an opportunity to press Obama administration officials to release from federal prison the leader of his terror group, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for his leadership role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the planned follow-up “Day of Terror” plot targeting New York landmarks. That case was prosecuted by my friend and PJ Media colleague, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.

Those meetings resulted in serious Obama administration discussions about transferring the Blind Sheikh back to Egypt, then under control of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, who had vowed to pressure the U.S. for the Blind Sheikh’s release while Eldin was in Washington D.C.

The Blind Sheikh’s transfer was only stopped when members of Congress began asking about the deal, and the possibility of his transfer was publicly denounced by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who presided over the Blind Sheikh’s trial as a federal district court judge.

When Congress asked about Eldin’s visit to the U.S., then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano vowed that more foreign terrorists would be allowed in.

Questions were initially raised about how Eldin was allowed in the country and the details of his visit to Washington D.C. when the story broke from reporter Eli Lake, who interviewed the terror group member. Eldin had no problem admitting he was a member of the banned Gamaa Islamiya:

It was supposed to be a routine meeting for Egyptian legislators in Washington, an opportunity for senior Obama administration officials to meet with new members of Egypt’s parliament and exchange ideas on the future of relations between the two countries.Instead, the visit this week looks like it’s turning into a political fiasco. Included in the delegation of Egyptian lawmakers was Hani Nour Eldin, who, in addition to being a newly elected member of parliament, is a member of the Gamaa Islamiya, or the Egyptian Islamic Group—a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. The group was banned under former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and is now a recognized Islamist political party. Its spiritual leader, Omar Abdel Rahman—also known as the “blind sheik”—was convicted in 1995 of plotting attacks on New York City landmarks and transportation centers, and is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.

Eldin, according to his Facebook page, was born in 1968 and resides in Suez, near the canal that unites the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. He was arrested in 1993 on terrorism charges after members of Gamaa Islamiya got into a shoot out with Egyptian security officials at a mosque. He has proclaimed his innocence in the shooting and says he was arrested because of his political activism against Mubarak.

In an interview, Eldin confirmed he is a member of Gamaa Islamiya. By U.S. law, that means he would be denied a visa to enter the country. Nonetheless, he says, he got a visa from the State Department. A State Department spokesman said, “We have no information suggesting that he or anyone else in the delegation is a member of the Egyptian Islamic Group.”

The State Department blamed the visit on the U.S. government-funded Wilson Center, who then turned around and blamed the State Department:

While in Washington, Eldin also visited the Wilson Center, a think tank that specializes in foreign policy issues. A State Department spokesman said the delegation was “invited to Washington by the Wilson Center. I refer you to the Wilson Center for any additional information on their visit.”A spokesman for the Wilson Center, however, said the delegation was selected by the State Department. “We can’t speak to the background of Eldin,” said Drew Sample the media relations coordinator for the Wilson Center. “The Wilson Center was one of the places on the delegation’s Washington visit. We did not invite these people, the State Department arranged the visit.”

With Eldin openly admitting his affiliation with Gamaa Islamiya to members of the D.C. establishment media and even noting his membership on his own Facebook page, the State Department’s press briefing by Victoria Nuland on the affair turned into Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy routine:

QUESTION: Yeah. How did a guy who’s a member of a foreign terrorist organization get into the country and have meetings with – in the White House and at the State Department?MS. NULAND: Well, as you know – I mean, I can’t speak about the specifics of the visa adjudication of any individual case. What I can say is that anybody issued a visa goes through a full set of screenings.Those screenings do depend, however, on the integrity of the information that’s available to us at the time that we do screen. And this particular case is one that we are now looking into.

QUESTION: Well, how – it’s on the guy’s Facebook page. It doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult to find out. I mean, what kind of screening is there? Does anyone do a Google search on names? I mean, it seems like this is pretty basic stuff. I mean, was – you seem to be saying this was a mistake.

MS. NULAND: Again, we are looking into the circumstances of this particular case, and I don’t have anything more . . .

QUESTION: So when you say it’s under review, does that mean that he could be deported?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to what may result from a review; simply, to say that we’re trying to better understand this particular case.

QUESTION: You’re trying to better – you’re trying to find out if, in fact, he is a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization?

MS. NULAND: No. I’m saying we are reviewing the case of the visa issuance.

QUESTION: Do you know that this man is a member of a foreign terrorist organization?

MS. NULAND: Well, he has himself made such statements in the last day or two to the press, right? So that – we are seeing the same reports that you are seeing.

QUESTION: No, no, I understand that. But I think that it goes beyond that, and that it goes – I mean, he was a self-admitted member of this organization well before he was invited to come to the United States as part of this delegation. And it just – I don’t know; I’m just a little bit confused as to how a thorough screening would not have turned up his membership in this group given that it is literally on his Facebook page. Can you explain that?

MS. NULAND: Again, I said we are looking into it, and we are.

A spokesman for the terror group told CNN that the purpose of Eldin’s White House visit was to press for the Blind Sheikh’s release:

But according to Tarek Al Zumor, a party spokesman and founding member of Gamaa Islamiya, el-Din pressed American officials for a transfer into Egyptian custody of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric serving a life sentence in the United States for a conspiracy conviction in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.The request mirrors the demands of Gamaa Islamiya members in Cairo who have protested in Tahrir Square, seeking the sheikh’s release.

Coincidentally, at the same time that Eldin was in Washington D.C. lobbying for the Blind Sheikh’s release, the Muslim Brotherhood’s newly-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gave a speech in Cairo pledging to work for the Blind Sheikh’s freedom.

The following September when reports of discussions about the transfer of the Blind Sheikh were possibly in the works, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey pointed to Eldin’s Washington D.C. visit as the launching point for the effort in a Wall Street Journal editorial:

The first hint of something fishy came in June, when Hani Nour Eldin, a member of the terrorist group that carried out the Luxor slaughter and who had himself spent 11 years in Egyptian jail on terrorism charges, was granted a visa to come to the United States, where he visited the White House and urged that Abdel Rahman be transferred to Egypt. Members of Congress immediately raised questions about how such allowances were made for a member of a designated terrorist organization.The assistant secretary of homeland security for legislative affairs, Nelson Peacock, responded in a July letter. It suggested that no warning flags had been raised during the processing of the Eldin visa, but the letter acknowledged that, as a member of a designated terrorist organization, Hani Nour Eldin would have needed a waiver from someone in authority to get a visa.

Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) then demanded that the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general investigate how that waiver was secured and explain what role the department would play in any transfer of Abdel Rahman. Acting Inspector General Charles K. Edwards answered on Sept. 10 with a letter promising that the department would conduct the requested review “and add it to our FY 2013 workplan” (for which no deadline is announced).

It is unclear who in Hillary Clinton’s State Department issued the waiver for Hani Noor Eldin or what else the Homeland Security inspector general discovered.

And Mukasey noted the denials from the Obama administration’s about any discussions of the Blind Sheikh’s transfer were carefully couched and were contradicted by the Egyptian Embassy:

A congressional staffer I spoke with last week recently called the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and asked to speak with the official in charge of the request to release Abdel Rahman. This call elicited not a denial but rather the disclosure that the matter was within the portfolio of the deputy chief of mission, for whom the caller was invited to leave a message.Then there are the statements of U.S. officials on the subject, which all have sounded excruciatingly lawyered. Asked before Congress in July whether there is an intention “at any time to release the Blind Sheikh,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano responded: “Well, let me just say this. I know of no such intention.”

The State Department’s spokesperson last week, after the ceremonial “let me be clear,” said that there had been no approach on this topic “recently” from any “senior” official of the Egyptian government—an elucidation laden with ambiguity and certain to send chills up the spine of anyone familiar with Abdel Rahman’s record and President Morsi’s inclinations.

Obama administration officials were openly unrepentant about Eldin’s admission to the U.S.

When Rep. Peter King, then chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, questioned Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano about the matter in July 2012, she not only defended Eldin’s visit but vowed that more terrorists could possibly be admitted to the U.S. in similar circumstances.

Did Hillary Clinton play a direct role in allowing Hani Noor Eldin – a known member of a designated terror group – to visit the U.S., meet with senior State Department officials, visit with Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, all in a plan to lobby for the release of the terror group’s imprisoned leader who was responsible for acts of terrorism inside the United States?

If only we had a media willing to ask the Democrat presidential candidate such questions…

Previous installments of the Clinton Chronicles:

Hillary Clinton Obstructed Boko Haram Terror Designation as Her Donors Cashed In

How Hillary Clinton Mainstreamed Al-Qaeda Fundraiser Abdurahman Alamoudi

REWIND: FBI Shuts Down Russian Spy Ring For Getting Too Cozy with Hillary Clinton

Clinton Foundation Employed a Now-Imprisoned Senior Muslim Brotherhood Official

Connecting dots between two of the two biggest terror attacks on U.S. soil

rahman

National Review, by Andrew McCarthy, June 14, 2016:

According to Fox News, Omar Mateen, the jihadist who carried out the mass-murder attack at a gay nightclub in Florida this weekend, was a student of Marcus Robertson, an Orlando-based radical Muslim who once served as a bodyguard to Omar Abdel Rahman — the notorious “Blind Sheikh” whom I prosecuted for terrorism crimes in the early to mid 1990s.

Robertson, a former U.S. marine with a serious criminal record, is now 47. That means he was in his early twenties when the Blind Sheikh lived in the New York metropolitan area. It was a commonplace in those days for the Sheikh to travel with an entourage, including bodyguards from various groups (e.g., his fellow native Egyptians, Palestinians associated with Hamas, Sudanese Muslims who lived in New Jersey, and — often in Brooklyn, where he frequented the Farooq and Taqua mosques — African-American Muslims, most of them converts to Islam).

In the spring of 1993, members of the Blind Sheikh’s cell were plotting to follow up the February 26 World Trade Center bombing with simultaneous bombings of several New York City landmarks (including the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the U.N.’s headquarters, and the FBI’s lower-Manhattan field office). The jihadists planning the landmarks attacks turned to a man named Clement Hampton-el for help obtaining detonators. In a conversation recorded by an FBI informant, Hampton-el explained that it had recently become harder for him to get detonators because his sources had recently been arrested by the FBI in Pennsylvania. He described these sources as members of a gang that robbed banks and post offices —activities ordinarily illegal under Islamic law but that, according to the Blind Sheikh, were permissible as long as a chunk of the proceeds went to support jihad. Before the FBI shut the gang down, Hampton-el said they had been able to supply “C-4s, M-16s, AKs, detonators, bulletproof vests — they had everything.”

In the recorded conversation, Hampton-el recounted being a longtime friend of the father-in-law of one of the arrested men. Because of that, he contributed money for the man’s defense. But to his great annoyance, Hampton-el learned that the arrested man had cooperated with the FBI and “talked on everybody.”

At our trial, Hampton-el testified in his own defense, implausibly claiming that he had “made up” the story about the gang. But when we cross-examined him, he admitted to being a longtime friend of a man named Suliman el-Hadi, who just happened to have a son-in-law named Marcus Robertson. In a remarkable coincidence, Robertson just happened to have been arrested by the FBI in Pennsylvania, to have pled guilty to a series of bank and post-office robberies, and to have gotten sentencing leniency because he cooperated with the government. Grudgingly, Hampton-el conceded that he just might know Marcus Robertson personally, might have had some meetings with him, and might even have seen him in the company of the Blind Sheikh at the Farooq mosque.

Small world. Well, Fox News reports that in 1991, Marcus Robertson joined with other Muslims who were former security guards in a robbery gang they dubbed “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” According to a private investigator in Florida, the group committed armed robberies of more than ten banks, private homes, and post offices; shot three police officers; and attacked one cop after he was injured by a homemade pipe bomb. It is alleged that Robertson — Ali Baba — donated more than $300,000 of the robbery proceeds to mosques he attended. Fox says prosecutors also claim Robertson has committed murders in addition to using pipe bombs, C-4, and other explosives. Nevertheless, he has never been convicted of those things and was given extraordinary leniency in the robbery case, serving just four years in prison.

Physically, Robertson is a very capable man. He served in the Marine Corps from 1986 until 1990, when he was reportedly discharged as a corporal, having been trained in marksmanship, scuba diving, counterterrorism, parachuting, surveillance tactics, communications equipment, infantry patrolling, and finance. Fox could not verify Robertson’s claims to have served in the Joint Special Operations Command, an elite counterterrorism unit.

Reportedly, his military training and involvement with both crime and terrorists convinced federal intelligence agencies that he might be a useful covert operative. This reflects a seamy side of national security, particularly in the field of foreign intelligence: The sort of people who can credibly pass for violent jihadists in order to infiltrate terror cells will often be former violent jihadists. Or, worse, they will be unreformed violent jihadists who pretend to work against the terrorists but are actually still with them. In any event, our agencies have to rely on a lot of bad people in order to learn what other bad people are plotting against us. They must constantly guard against being gamed.

In Robertson’s case, it is reported that he agreed to work for the government, gathering intelligence both overseas and in the United States. According to Fox, however, he was expelled from the covert informant program in early 2007 after attacking his CIA handler in Africa.

By 2008, he surfaced in Orlando, and became known by his Muslim name, Abu Taubah. The Investigative Project on Terrorism reported in 2012 that Robertson was the imam at the al-Ihsaan mosque (formerly, the Islamic Center of Orlando). He also ran an online Muslim education enterprise, known for years as the “Fundamental Islamic Knowledge Seminary” (FIKS) — although the name was recently changed to the “Timbuktu Seminary.” Robertson’s seminary has apparently been a springboard for lecturing gigs at universities in the United States and overseas.

Omar Mateen, the terrorist who killed 49 people and wounded over 50 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando over the weekend, had enrolled in Robertson’s seminary. At least one other student of Robertson’s has been convicted (along with Robertson) in a case that had terrorism implications. Robertson’s lectures are said to include a staple of sharia: the condemnation of homosexuals — whom Robertson refers to as “devil worshipers.”

The government suspects — with abundant reason, it appears — that Robertson’s prominence in the mosque, the online seminary, and the teaching circuit have given him ample opportunity to radicalize young Muslim men: not only indoctrinating them in sharia-supremacist ideology but also possibly providing them with paramilitary training.

For example, Robertson is alleged to have instructed one of his Orlando students, Jonathan Paul Jimenez, to file false tax returns for the purpose of obtaining funds that would pay for travel to Mauritania for jihadist training. Perhaps I should say additional jihadist training. Prosecutors, Fox reports, produced intercepted conversations showing that Robertson had trained Jimenez “in killing, suicide bombing, and identifying and murdering United States military personnel.”

Of course, if the government’s evidence had been as compelling as the Fox report makes it sound, one would figure that Robertson and Jimenez would have been charged with terrorism crimes. But the statements outlined in the Fox report appear to involve Jimenez talking about Robertson, not Robertson himself volunteering anything incriminating. Robertson’s computers also raised alarms when agents searched them and found documents about terrorist ideology from the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, and military reports on psy-ops and interrogation. It is not illegal, however, to possess these items, notwithstanding their obvious usefulness to a trainer of terrorists.

In any event, it appears that Jimenez was charged only with false statements and conspiring to defraud the IRS. He was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.

Robertson was apparently charged with some kind of minor firearms offense in 2011 and pled guilty in January 2012. Two months later, the Justice Department charged him with the Jimenez tax-fraud conspiracy, for which he was found guilty in 2013. In neither case did the government charge him with terrorism crimes. Yet prosecutors tried to slide terrorism into the mix at sentencing. They urged that, in imposing sentence on Robertson for the gun and fraud counts, U.S. district judge Gregory Presnell should factor in that he had been involved in terrorism activities, “focused on training others to commit violent acts” overseas.

This is a too-cute-by-half strategy the government sometimes attempts: Get a dangerous defendant convicted on easy-to-prove, comparatively minor charges and then push the judge to give him a maximum sentence based on a “terrorism enhancement” — i.e., an allegation of terrorist activity of which the defendant has not been convicted. The strategy is legal because prosecutors are not technically asking that the defendant be sentenced on the uncharged terrorism crime; they seek a sentence at the top of the range prescribed for the minor crimes for which the defendant has been convicted. But there is no getting around that, were it not for the “unconvicted” terrorism conduct, the defendant would get a much lower sentence.

This rubs many judges (and probably a lot of Americans) the wrong way: Most of us believe that if prosecutors want to sentence someone for terrorism, they should indict and convict him for terrorism. That was plainly the feeling of Judge Presnell, who concluded that the Justice Department’s terrorism evidence against Robertson was weak. While not doubting the Justice Department’s insistence that Robertson is a bad guy, the judge rejected the ten-year terrorism enhancement and sentenced Robinson to time served (about four years) on June 26, 2015.

Judge Presnell and the prosecutors had every reason to believe that Robertson was a bad guy. Fox reports that while in custody:

Robertson was considered so dangerous, he was kept in shackles and assigned his own guards. Whenever he was transported to court, a seven-car caravan of armed federal marshals escorted him. He was initially moved into solitary confinement after prison authorities believed he was radicalizing up to 36 of his fellow prisoners.

Now, we know that Omar Mateen enrolled in Robertson’s online seminary. Is there more to the story than that? For now, we do not know. In investigating the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, the FBI will be chasing numerous leads. Some of these leads will center on the relationship between Mateen, an apparently trained terrorist, and Robertson, a former Blind Sheikh bodyguard whom the government has long suspected of training terrorists.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is as 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.