Trump Continues Obama DHS Policy of Engaging CAIR

IPT, by John Rossomando  •  May 17, 2017:

Donald Trump might be the president of the United States, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to treat the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) as a credible outreach partner.

Its officials participated in DHS town hall discussions in Miami and Tampa, CAIR-Florida announced Thursday.

A discussion at Miami-Dade College included Veronica Venture, the outgoing DHS acting officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Kareem Shora, section chief of the DHS Community Engagement Section.

Venture and Shora are both holdovers from the Obama administration.

Shora enjoys close relations with CAIR-FL, organizing multiple events with the group on DHS’s behalf. He helped organize a December training event for visiting French police officials with CAIR-FL in conjunction with the State Department.

This marks the latest example of DHS’s partnering with CAIR as a Muslim community liaison partner despite its well-documented connection to Hamas – a tie that caused the FBI to sever similar outreach in 2008. CAIR officials have worked to discourage Muslims from cooperating with the FBI.

Both Shora and CAIR oppose to President Trump’s vocal support for Israel and desire to counter Islamic terrorism.

Shora urged the U.S. to stop shipping weapons to Israel during its 2006 war with Hizballah because Lebanese civilians we “getting bombed.” As executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Shora claimed in 2009 that Muslim charities fell victim to “undue scrutiny” from law enforcement in the effort to cut off funding terrorist groups. He also called the portrayal of Muslims as more “vulnerable” to terrorist recruitment an “unfortunate reality.”

The two Florida DHS programs indicate that the Trump administration has yet to change course on the Obama administration’s controversial Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program. The government has no way of telling whether these outreach programs work, the General Accountability Office (GAO) noted in an April report.

In Tampa, DHS allowed CAIR-FL Executive Director Hassan Shibly to participate in a roundtable with local law enforcement. Shibly played a key role in the December outreach event with the French police along with Shora. He also has made his share of radical statements.

He accuses FBI agents of unjustly killing a Muslim suspect who attacked them after questioning. After independent investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing, Shibly repeated the accusation and is helping the family sue the FBI.

He also opposes FBI sting operations as an “entrapment program targeting the Muslim community” and a form of tyranny that strayed away from the “great ideals of liberty, equality and justice.”

Gregg Roman: Trump Should Shift Focus from Fighting Obama’s ‘Violent Extremism’ to Fighting ‘Radical Islam’

Associated Press

Associated Press

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Feb. 27, 2017:

Gregg Roman, director of theMiddle East Forum, told SiriusXM host Alex Marlow ofBreitbart News Daily that he expects President Trump to proceed with his planned commission to study radical Islam.

Roman said the Middle East Forum has “drafted an off-the-shelf proposal to give President Trump whenever he thinks it’s time to begin this policy idea he spoke about back in August of last year, some really quick ways to get this moving forward.” The Middle East Forum report to which he referred is here.

“There was a working group that President Obama convened back in 2010 that was called the Countering Violent Extremism Working Group,” he recalled. “They came up with such quotes like, ‘Jihad as a holy war is a European invention,’ ‘The Caliphate’s return is inevitable,’ ‘Sharia is misunderstood,’ ‘Islamic terrorism is a contradiction in terms because terrorism is not Islamic by definition.’ There was a complete muddying of the waters as it relates to the intersection of Islamism as the political ideology that seeks to implement sharia across the West, and that of terrorism.”

“Now, the gem that was really great about Trump’s speech back in 2016, in August, was that he didn’t call this issue ‘violent extremism.’ What he called it was ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’” Roman continued, giving his own preferred definition of the term as “Islamist-inspired terrorism against Western targets.”

“The first thing he did, that I think any president would have to do, is define the problem that the White House would be trying to solve. So he did that. The second thing we would recommend to the president, as it’s written in the report, is to make sure that the structure of this commission should be much like that of what President Reagan put forward when he was trying to find ways in which to defeat the Soviet Union,” he recommended.

“The third thing is once we identify the structure of how this commission would look, we’d have to say who’s going to be on it. We urge the president to put representatives of law enforcement, the military, the intelligence community, diplomatic specialists, but also Muslims themselves, members of the Muslim reform movement and victims of Islamist terror,” he said.

“It’s not just inviting government representatives; it’s also inviting private citizens – those who might be able to reform Islam from within and those who have been victims of terror attacks emanating from Islamist terror groups like al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and so on and so forth,” he explained.

“The fourth thing about this commission is that it has to have a strong mandate. It can’t just be another organization, rather another quasi-organization, launched by the White House without any teeth. It should have the power to subpoena. It should have the power to call individuals not just to testify, but also to offer compelling evidence. And it should have the ability to recommend charges to the Justice Department for American groups that may be supporting Islamist activity in the United States,” he said. “It’s time to get the politics out of countering terrorism, and it’s time to really start sinking American law and teeth into this.”

“Lastly, the commission itself should implement its recommendations through legislation that the Congress would offer and also through executive orders that the president might put forward. It’s time to defeat radical Islamic terrorism. It’s no longer time to dance around the question like the Obama administration has done for the past eight years, prior to Trump being sworn in,” Roman concluded.

Marlow asked who Roman sees as allies on Capitol Hill in this endeavor and “who are the people who might be a force for preventing things like this from getting done.”

“Two of our allies that I really have to give words out to – I think there’s four of them that I would mention, but first Congressman Bill Johnson and also Ron de Santis are amazing on these issues,” Roman replied. “They’re working with us on another project, which is another recommendation for the administration called the Israel Victory Caucus, but they are two individuals that I think are at the forefront of combating radical Islamic terrorism.”

“The other two that I think you have on your show today are Keith Rothfus and Mike Kelly that are individuals that I’ve worked with when I was out in Pittsburgh in another function, before I came to the Forum, but they’re also at this,” he continued. “Especially Keith Rothfus’ work on terrorism finance. He’s doing it right now from an angle on how drugs affect the funding of terrorism, both here and also the criminal organizations behind it south of the border.”

“The individuals with the committees that are taking an interest in this, in the Senate you have the chair of the Committee on Homeland Security and also the chair of the Committee on Homeland Security in the House – McCaul in the House and Johnson in the Senate,” he said. “We sat down with their advisers and some of the subcommittee staff, the subcommittee staff directors,” said Roman. “It’s really important to understand that it’s not just the staff who are on board with defining the problem and trying to find a solution to it, but also many members of Congress are also interested in this. We had great meetings when we went down to the Hill last week, before the publication of the report.”

Marlow asked what Roman would like to see President Trump say to Congress on the topic of radical Islam during his upcoming address.

“I think definitive plans beyond the drafting of the executive order on immigration and extreme vetting that came out in the first few days of his administration, what he plans to do,” Roman replied. “He gave a directive to Secretary of Defense Mattis to draft a plan to defeat ISIS within 30 days of him drafting the order. I think it’s time that that plan not necessarily be shared – because President Trump has indicated he doesn’t intend to share his battle plans, which he shouldn’t with the public – but general guidelines on how he intends on getting that done.”

“The second thing is I’d like to hear him offer a stripping of the Countering Violent Extremism program that the Department of Homeland Security put forward under President Obama and a firm commitment that he will not be giving federal dollars to Islamist groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Committee or the Council on American-Islamic Relations,” he continued. “We saw two subsidiaries of these groups, allies, get hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funding. I don’t think it’s a good idea to give Islamists money to solve Islamist-backed terrorism.”

“The third thing that I’d like to see is him offer a definitive mindset and blueprint for him introducing his committee and commission on radical Islam. Those three things I think would be good starting steps for him to announce on policy,” he said.

“But I don’t necessarily expect this is going to be the platform for which he will make this speech,” Roman added. “I understand it’s more on domestic policy, tax reform, his infrastructure spending plan, so I won’t be disappointed if he doesn’t announce it. But if he does, those are the three things I would look for.”

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

LISTEN:

Gorka & Jasser: We Are Fighting ‘Not a War with Islam, but a War Inside Islam’

Flickr/AFP

Flickr/AFP

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Feb. 24, 2017:

Broadcasting live from CPAC 2017, SiriusXM host Alex Marlow spoke with Dr. Sebastian Gorka and Dr. Zuhdi Jasser about national security, Islamist terrorism, and their panel discussion, “When Did World War III Begin?”

Marlow began by asking his guests what they expected from the national security segment of President Donald Trump’s scheduled address to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

LISTEN:

“Exactly what we’ve heard before,” Gorka replied. “If you really want to understand the direction of the White House and how much everything changed at 12:01 on January the 20th, you look at two things: you look at a speech that really wasn’t carefully addressed or really paid enough attention to, that’s the Youngstown campaign speech, which was about the threat of jihad in general and what we’re going to do about ISIS.”

“Specifically, it really bears repeating, the inauguration, the address that the president gave at the inauguration, was explicit,” he continued. “Number one, we are going to eradicate the Islamic State – not degrade, not manage, not ameliorate – eradicate. And secondly, words have meaning. When he says our enemy is ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ that is a 180 degree change from the last eight years, when we weren’t allowed to even say who the enemy was.”

“Zuhdi knows it better than anybody because he understands that this isn’t about poverty or lack of education. It’s about people who are fighting for the soul of Islam – not a war with Islam, but a war inside Islam; as King Abdullah, as General Sisi has said, for which version is going to win,” Gorka said.

Marlow asked Dr. Jasser about the topic of language control Gorka touched upon and the previous administration’s reluctance to use explicit language like “radical Islamic jihad” to describe the enemy.

“We got to this point because we had an administration who was being whispered to by Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers, by apologists, by governments that might be our allies against al-Qaeda and ISIS, but they love a whack-a-mole program. They don’t want to treat the disease, which is not ‘violent extremism’ but violent Islamism,” Jasser charged.

“We have to start focusing on our own values,” he urged. “There’s nothing more American than fighting theocracy, and yet the Left for the last eight years has invoked blasphemy laws in America by telling us we can’t criticize Islamist political movements.”

Jasser predicted the new administration would succeed in destroying ISIS but warned that “it will come back in another form – two, three, four years later – unless we engage Muslim reformists, like our Muslim reform movement, to treat the underlying theocracy.”

Marlow complained that the mainstream media swiftly denounce candid talk about the problem of radical Islam as “hate speech” even when confined to straightforward reporting without editorial opinion, making it difficult to have a constructive discussion about the problem.

“I think this is exactly what the Saudi regime, the Iranian Khomeinists, the Brotherhood want, is they want to dominate what Islam means,” Jasser said. “And yes, it’s not my Islam, but we have to thread that needle. Because if you don’t call it political Islam or Islamism as the threat, you’re not going to be able to figure out who to engage. We want to engage anti-Caliphate, anti-violent jihad Muslims who are pro-freedom, pro-equality of men and women, who share our values. If we don’t do that discernment in our verbiage, we’re going to miss it and actually end up helping our enemies and end up actually not only being the firefighters, but the arsonists. We have to stop that cycle.”

“Let’s just take it one level deeper. It’s not just empowering our enemies, which would be bad enough,” Gorka added. “If you don’t talk truthfully about who the enemy is, how are you going to win? What we saw in the last eight years is a policy that actually weakened our most important allies.”

“So when you’ve got the president of the most populous Arab nation in the world say this is a war for the heart of Islam, General Sisi, when you’ve got King Abdullah with his Amman statement saying, ‘Look, we have to stop the jihadis hijacking the religion’ – we have a president here who stands up and says, ‘No, no, no, these are not the droids you’re looking for, the religion has nothing to do with this,’” he elaborated, referring to the Obama administration’s insistence on framing the war as a struggle against generic violent extremism.

“Do you know who we hurt the most? Those Muslims who are on the front lines with the jihadis, who understand this isn’t about poverty or lack of education; it’s about an ideology. So we’ve actually hurt the people who are on the front line the most. We’re not prepared to do that anymore. This administration’s going to help the Jordanians, help the Egyptians, help them fight this war,” Gorka vowed.

“I think we have to own what it means to be diverse,” Jasser suggested. “What is ‘diversity’ in the Muslim community? It’s not ethnic diversity. Being Muslim is not an identity movement of a monolithic homogenous group. It is a diverse ideological movement that has fundamentalist, orthodox, liberal, secularists that are all in this Muslim diverse group. So if the Left actually believes in diversity different from what Pelosi whispered into Andre Carson’s ear – ‘Tell them you’re Muslim’ – Islam is not a race. They’re racializing the faith. That’s the biggest obstacle.”

“I think the other thing I hope to see is not only us being against jihadists, but what are we for,” he added. “I think that will be the difference between some of the dictators in the Middle East, that yes, some of them have been on our side against jihad, the militants, but we are the adults in the world, in being for liberty and freedom. I hope that will be part of a Trump Doctrine.”

Gorka agreed, saluting Jasser as “the point man here in America for sense, for common sense in this battle.”

“The saddest part is there are people like him in the Middle East. There are people every day risking their lives on their blog sites, in North Africa, in the Middle East pushing back on this, saying, ‘I’m a Muslim, but I don’t think an infidel needs to be killed.’ That means he’s put the crosshairs on his chest,” Gorka noted. “In some parts of the Muslim world, that’s an instant death sentence.”

“That’s why the four million Muslims in America need to step up and act because we can do things here that you just can’t do in the Middle East,” Jasser said. “They end up in prison. They end up slaughtered, tortured.”

Marlow proposed that “the stifling of speech in the Muslim world is really what has allowed a lot of the jihadist movements to flourish.”

“Why do you think they use the term ‘Islamophobia’ instead of talking about, yes, there might be some bigotry against Muslims in the West?” Jasser asked. “They use the term Islamophobia because they want to anthropomorphize Islam so that you don’t criticize it, and they suppress free speech. That’s how they invoke blasphemy laws in the West.”

“You’re absolutely right. The freedom of speech issue is huge in the Middle East because it’s a life and death issue in many cases,” Gorka said. “But here, it’s almost as important. It’s not life and death, but it is closing down the discussion.”

“You look at what’s happened in the last four weeks with this administration,” he said. “There’s a phrase in soccer: you play the man on the ball. We’re not going to talk about policies; we’re going to attack individuals, whether it’s Kellyanne, the president, myself, Steve Bannon. They do that how? ‘We don’t want to talk about the threat to America. You’re a racist. You’re an Islamophobe. You’re a xenophobe. Oh, well, in that case, we can’t talk to you.’ That’s as dangerous as just the constant ad hominem attacks because then there is no discussion.”

Jasser said his message to CPAC was that “there is hope” for a lasting victory in the long war against Islamist extremism.

“The first step is to defeat the militants, which this president will finally do,” he said. “The second step is to go back to our American roots and defeat theocracy, work with Muslims and our Muslim reform movement. We have a two-page declaration that can be used, I hope, not only to vet refugees, to figure out which groups are with us and against us. I hope we start doing security clearances through those who share our values.”

“There are so many that are – not in this administration, but that are in the government from the previous administration – that I think are Islamists, that might not be violent extremists, but we need to shift the axis of the lens of Homeland Security, foreign policy, to countering violent Islamism. There’s nothing this group here and the country can do to better empower reform-minded Muslims that share our values than to shift from this blasé CVE to CVI,” Jasser said, lampooning the Obama administration’s acronym for “Countering Violent Extremism.”

Gorka referred to CVE as “garbage from the last eight years that obfuscated the threat.”

He said the most important step taken by the new administration was President Trump’s executive order to temporarily limit immigration from the most unsecure Middle Eastern nations.

“Whatever the final version of the reform measures are, the fact is, when an Iraqi collars me in the halls of Congress and says, ‘My friends back home in Iraq applaud this measure because they know how many bad guys are in Iraq that want to come over here, so do it. Thank you,’” Gorka said.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka is deputy assistant to President Trump and was formerly national security editor for Breitbart News. He is the author of Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is the founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith.

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6AM to 9AM Eastern.

Listen to the audio of the full interview above.

***

AP: Pentagon Program to Counter Islamic State Propaganda Rife with Incompetence, Corruption

jihadists-cheer-pentagon-counter-narrative-failure-1-sized-770x415xc

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

In 2011, the Obama administration conducted a purge of counter-terrorism training across all relevant federal agencies and imposed a new “countering violent extremism” (CVE) regime in its place to remove any reference in training to role of certain trends in Islamic ideology in support of terrorism.

As I reported last year here at PJ Media, these CVE programs have collapsed into absurdity, with some Obama administration programs intended to directly confront online terror recruitment becoming more harmful than helpful in that effort.

But now an extensive investigation by the Associated Press finds that CVE has claimed yet another victim – the Pentagon’s $500 million WebOps program intended to provide a counter-narrative to Islamic State propaganda.

According to the AP, the WebOps program is rife with incompetence and corruption. Some whistleblowers telling the news agency that the effort has become a laughingstock in the online jihadist community.

The AP reports:

A critical national security program known as “WebOps” is part of a vast psychological operation that the Pentagon says is effectively countering an enemy that has used the internet as a devastating tool of propaganda. But an Associated Press investigation found the management behind WebOps is so beset with incompetence, cronyism and flawed data that multiple people with direct knowledge of the program say it’s having little impact.

Several current and former WebOps employees cited multiple examples of civilian Arabic specialists who have little experience in counter-propaganda, cannot speak Arabic fluently and have so little understanding of Islam they are no match for the Islamic State online recruiters.

It’s hard to establish rapport with a potential terror recruit when — as one former worker told the AP — translators repeatedly mix up the Arabic words for “salad” and “authority.” That’s led to open ridicule on social media about references to the “Palestinian salad.”

Four current or former workers told the AP that they had personally witnessed WebOps data being manipulated to create the appearance of success and that they had discussed the problem with many other employees who had seen the same. Yet the companies carrying out the program for the military’s Central Command in Tampa have dodged attempts to implement independent oversight and assessment of the data.

So according to whistleblowers, you have government contractors tasked with countering Islamic State propaganda – much of it religious arguments – who have no knowledge of Islam. This is a feature, not a bug, of Obama’s CVE policies.

But it gets worse:

Engaging in theological discussions on social media with people who are well versed in the Quran is not for beginners. Iraq and Syria are riven with sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, who follow different interpretations of Islam. Multiple workers said that WebOps “experts” often trip up on language that is specific to one sect or region.

“People can tell whether you are local, or whether you are Sunni or Shia,” said another former worker, so poorly crafted messages are not effective. He said he left WebOps because he was disgusted with the work.

A number of the workers complained to AP that a large group on staff from Morocco, in North Africa, were often ignorant of Middle Eastern history and culture — or even the difference between groups the U.S. considers terrorist organizations. The group was so dominant that colleagues jokingly referred to them as “the Moroccan mafia.”

A lot of them “don’t know the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas,” said the employee who left to find more meaningful work. Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Shiite group based in Lebanon. Hamas, based in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, is the Palestinian branch of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood.

All of this is due to Obama’s purge.

Many of the government subject matter experts (SMEs) in the fields of Middle East culture, Islamic ideology, and Islamist organizations were either removed from their positions following hysterical accusations of “Islamophobia” and biased training, or so limited in what they could teach by Obama’s CVE policies that it was inadequate for the U.S. government departments and agencies to adequately conduct their missions.

A Joint Chiefs of Staff Action Memorandum issued at the height of the counter-terror training “purge” on October 11, 2011, directed a new undefined and secretive CVE screening process for all trainers. It involved “Military Information Support Operations, Information Operations, and Military Intelligence curriculum,” or, the military’s “eyes out” operations.

The failed WebOps program would be part of the Pentagon’s Information Operations branch and subject to the Joint Chiefs CVE guidelines.

The devastating effects of the “purge” aren’t limited to civilian specialists operating behind computer screens. The warriors on the front lines fighting against the Islamic terrorists that have sworn to destroy our society and threaten attacks against our homeland were hurt as well.

In December 2014, the New York Times reported that Major Gen. Michael Nagata, then-head of Special Operations Command Central, had held a series of conference calls attempting to understand why the Islamic State had grown so dangerous:

Trying to decipher this complex enemy — a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army — is such a conundrum that General Nagata assembled an unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration. Business professors, for example, are examining the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies.

In the midst of these discussions, Gen. Nagata issued this damning indictment of how the Obama administration’s CVE policies following the “purge” had blinded the very tip of the American war-fighting spear:

“We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it,” he said, according to the confidential minutes of a conference call he held with the experts. “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”

After the intentional purge from the Defense Department’s training of any ability to define the enemy, America’s top warriors now admit they are blinded, with no path to success.

But it’s not just the Defense Department that has been hamstrung by the Obama CVE policies.

On September 8, 2011, Obama signed Executive Order 13584, which led to the establishment of the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) to counter terrorist propaganda.

That State Department program suffered chronic leadership changes and a string of public embarrassments in the face of the growing international terrorist threat from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

As a consequence, the State Department closed the CSCC.

Now the U.S. government must delegate these vital tasks to foreign organizations, much as the WebOps program is doing with its Moroccan employees.

Among the many embarrassing CSCC episodes was a graphic video they produced called “Welcome to ISIS Land.” It featured severed heads, corpses, and crucifixions interspersed with messages directed at would-be ISIS recruits about the grisly skills they would need to acquire.

That CSCC director — a longtime U.S. diplomat — was promptly replaced.

Another CSCC effort was the “Think Again, Turn Away” program, which pushed out counter-messaging via social media targeting potential ISIS recruits. The program’s Twitter account would regularly “troll” ISIS adherents on Twitter.

But not long after the program was launched, terrorism experts were openly lambasting the program, including accusations that the CSCC’s efforts were legitimizing terrorists. Further, the actual penetration of their social media efforts barely touched the potential terror recruits they were trying to influence. For example, when one well-known pro-ISIS Twitter user, Shami Witness, was arrested, a comparison of the Twitter followers of Shami Witness and the “Think Again, Turn Away account” found that they only shared FIVE followers:

In the comments to that tweet, some users revealed that they were among the five followers that overlapped — and they weren’t even recruiting targets, but terrorism researchers or academics.

In February 2015, Obama’s envoy to the Muslim world, Rashad Hussain, was appointed to lead the CSCC. Yet by that year’s end, a State Department panel of experts concluded that the CSCC’s efforts were not effective, and questioned whether the U.S. government should be involved in counter-propaganda at all. Rashad Hussain was promptly moved to the Justice Department and the CSCC was shut down.

In January 2016 a new effort, the Center for Global Engagement, was launched, but with little prospect that rebranding their efforts will be more effective. Now, most of the State Department’s counter-propaganda efforts have been outsourced to the Sawab Center in Abu Dhabi, which pushes the now-failed CVE strategies. The continued in-country counter-propaganda efforts now have to be characterized as “ninja,” because they are essentially unseen (and unmeasurable).

 On the heels of all that failure, American taxpayers are now on the hook for the $500 million WebOps boondoggle at the Pentagon. Meanwhile, the Islamic State continues to spread its ideology virtually unopposed by the U.S. government.

To defeat the Islamic State will require not just military victories, but successfully rolling back and defeating its ideology. That requires, as Sun Tzu famously said, to “know your enemy.” As Gen. Negata admitted in his conference call, more than 15 years after the 9/11 attacks even our most hardened warriors don’t understand their movement or their ideology.

We undoubtedly require an abandonment of the failed Obama-era CVE policies, and a change in culture where discussions of the various strains of Islamic ideology that power groups like the Islamic State are encouraged — not punished. That’s the difficult task ahead for President Trump and his new administration.

FBI Training Questioned in Recent Terror Attacks

This notebook recovered in the arrest of suspected bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami mentions deceased al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki / AP

This notebook recovered in the arrest of suspected bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami mentions deceased al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki / AP

Washington  Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, Sept. 22, 2016:

Recent domestic terror attacks by Islamic extremists are raising questions among officials and security experts about whether FBI counterterrorism training is deficient.

The chief suspect in the New York City homemade bombing attacks last weekend, Ahmad Rahami, was probed for several weeks by the FBI in 2014 after his father alerted authorities to his terrorist leanings.

Rahami’s father, Mohammad Rahami, told reporters this week that he informed the FBI about concerns about his son after Rahami stabbed one of his brothers in a domestic dispute.

“Two years ago I go to the FBI because my son was doing really bad, OK?” the elder Rahami said. “But they check almost two months, they say, ‘He’s okay, he’s clean, he’s not a terrorist.’ I say OK.”

“Now they say he is a terrorist. I say OK,” Mohammad Rahami said.

The FBI acknowledged dismissing concerns that Rahami posed a terrorism threat. “In August 2014, the FBI initiated an assessment of Ahmad Rahami based upon comments made by his father after a domestic dispute that were subsequently reported to authorities,” the bureau said in a statement. “The FBI conducted internal database reviews, interagency checks, and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism.”

An FBI spokeswoman did not respond to questions about counterterrorism training.

Rahami is charged with setting off a bomb in downtown New York City that injured 29 people. Other bombs were planted nearby and in New Jersey. He was arrested after being wounded in a shootout with police.

Evidence gathered in the case reveals Rahami carried out the bombing in support of the terrorist groups Islamic State and al Qaeda.

A notebook found on Rahami mentioned ISIS terror leader Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Syria last August. The terror leader was quoted by Rahami as instructing sympathizers to kill non-Muslims.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, plans to question FBI Director James Comey about its counterterrorism work at a hearing Wednesday.

“From San Bernardino to Orlando to the most recent terrorist attacks in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota, the United States has experienced a rise in radical Islamic terrorism and we must ensure that the FBI has the resources needed for its counterterrorism efforts in order to thwart these heinous plots and protect Americans from harm,” Goodlatte said in a statement.

Former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo said the FBI does not lack resources but has failed to understand the nature of the Islamist terror threat and thus has prevented proper training of counterterrorism agents over misplaced concerns of discrimination against Muslims.

“Obviously the FBI’s training program is catastrophically broken,” Guandolo said, noting the string of recent domestic attacks involving terrorists who were at least familiar to FBI counterterrorism agents because of indications they were linked to Islamists.

Six earlier terrorist attacks, among them mass murders at an Orlando nightclub and killings on a military base in Texas, were preceded by FBI investigations or inquiries into the attackers or their immediate family members.

The list of those recent attacks includes:

  • The 2009 shooting at a U.S. military recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas, by a Muslim extremist who had been investigated earlier by the FBI
  • The 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people. Hassan was known to the FBI in 2008 through communications he had with an al Qaeda terrorist in Yemen
  • The 2013 Boston Marathon bombings were carried out by two Islamist terrorists from Russia who were the subject of terrorism warnings provided to the FBI by the Russian government
  • The 2015 shootings at military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee, carried out by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, whose father had been placed on a terrorism watch list in the past
  •  The 2015 shooting in Garland, Texas, by two terrorists, one of whom was known to the FBI in 2009 as a potential terrorist
  • The 2016 Orlando nightclub killings of 49 people by Islamic terrorist Omar Mateen who was investigated twice by the FBI prior to the attack

Counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka said the FBI’s counterterrorism division has created excellent counterterrorism training courses since the 2009 Fort Hood attack.

“That is not the problem,” said Gorka, professor of strategy and irregular warfare at the Institute of World Politics. “The issue is the courses aren’t being held.”

Since last year, Justice Department funding for counterterrorism training was slashed by nearly 50 percent, Gorka said. As a result, the “Terrorism: Origins and Ideology” course designed specifically for Joint Terrorism Task Force members—whose mission is to catch people like Rahami before they kill—were reduced from eight courses per year to less than four.

“As a result our law enforcement officers are less prepared just as the threat has increased,” Gorka said.

Michael Waller, an expert on unconventional warfare, said the FBI is missing the bad guys in advance of their attacks due to a policy that prevents monitoring jihadists before they become violent.

“This policy began under the previous FBI director, Robert Mueller, and for years has had a chilling effect throughout the bureau,” said Waller, an analyst with the research firm Wikistrat.

Waller says the FBI made a strategic error after the September 11 terror attacks by reaching out to Muslim Brotherhood Islamists and their front groups in the United States to court “moderate” Muslims.

“That’s equivalent to the FBI asking the KGB for help in fighting Communist subversion and violence,” he said, referring to the Soviet-era political police and intelligence service.

“The administration’s whole approach to ‘countering violent extremism’ literally keeps avowed jihadists off the FBI watch list, as long as they are not ‘violent,’” Waller said. “So while the FBI does investigate some of these jihadis in advance, too often it lets them go, or misses them completely, until they murder and maim.”

Waller noted that any expression of Islamic extremism poses a threat to the Constitution because, whether violent or not, it advocates the overthrow of the U.S. government.

“Such individuals, by statute, are proper targets for arrest and prosecution,” he said. “The FBI’s job—like any federal agency’s job—is to defend the Constitution ‘against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ In this regard, the FBI has failed.”

The FBI did not have information about the terrorists in advance of last year’s shooting in San Bernardino, California, in which a married couple pledging loyalty to ISIS murdered 14 people. However, the couple had communicated privately on social media about waging jihad, or holy war, before the attack.

A common tie between the perpetrators of several recent Islamist terror attacks, including the New York bombings, was English-speaking online al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011 but whose recruiting videos are available on the Internet.

Awlaki was an inspiration behind the shootings at Fort Hood, San Bernardino, and Orlando, as well as the New York bombings, according to investigations of those attacks.

Court documents in the New York and New Jersey bombing case reveal that Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, had made “laudatory references” to Awlaki that were found in a journal he carried at the time of his arrest after a shootout with police.

Rahami also praised Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people during the Fort Hood attack.

The FBI complaint against Rahami indicates that he constructed several pressure cooker bombs planted in a two-state bombing spree. The bombs contained homemade explosives and were meant to be triggered remotely by cell phones.

Similar pressure cooker bombs were used in the Boston Marathon bombings. Plans on how to manufacture the devices have been published in an al Qaeda magazine called Inspire.

Guandolo, the former FBI agent, noted that the FBI complaint against Rahami states that he received “instructions of terrorist leaders” to “attack nonbelievers where they live.”

Additionally, Rahami stated in a personal journal that “guidance came [from] Sheik Anwar”—a reference to Awlaki.

“From whence did that ‘extremist’ idea come?” Guandolo said, noting that the Koran directs Muslims to “fight and slay the unbelievers where you find them and capture them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush.”

Rahami’s notebook ends with the passage that “the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death to Your OPPRESSION.”

***

Also see:

Today there will be a hearing of the Homeland Security Oversight and Management Efficiency subcommittee, looking at the failure to successfully identify the enemy in our current fight. Former HIPSC Chairman Pete Hoekstra and Anti-Islamist Muslim formers Zhudi Jasser and Shireen Qudosi will be going up against DHS hack and former Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee grievance monger George Selim and Pro-terror Islamist law professor Sahar Aziz. – David Shideler, follow @ShidelerK for running commentary on the hearing

Hearing: “Identifying the Enemy: Radical Islamist Terror.” livestream:

Disconnecting the Dots: Blurring the Lines

dotsby Patrick Dunleavy
IPT News
June 22, 2016

In my childhood, one of the fun games in the daily newspaper was a “connecting the dots” puzzle. A simple system of drawing a line from one numbered dot to the other produced a picture any child could see. Every now and then a typo would occur in the printing of the paper and the result was an unsolvable puzzle with a blurred image. The newspaper would issue an apology to its readers and that was that. A harmless mistake in an innocent game.

The same solution does not hold true in more serious fields.

In the war on terrorism, substituting hard facts with esoteric rhetoric blurs the picture and creates confusion. The latest example of this situation, coming on the heels of the terrorist attack in Orlando, is the Department of Homeland Security’s interim report on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Subcommittee released this month.

This was not a wartime strategy report. On the contrary, this was the administration’s latest initiative to move further away from the war on terrorism and blur the picture as to who the enemy really is.

The subcommittee was formed as part of the DHS’s Homeland Security Advisory Council (“HSAC”) last November. It was described by the department as “an incubator of ideas.” It defines CVE as the actions taken to counter efforts by extremists to radicalize, recruit, or mobilize followers to violence. Who is a violent extremist you ask? According to the report, it is an individual who supports or commits ideologically-motivated violence to further political goals. And what type of weapons would one use in this fight? The committee recommends using “soft power tools.” Soft power is a conceptual idea that persuasive words are more important than the use of force in a time of war.

This formation of the subcommittee and its objectives coincided with the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 and injured more than 350 men women and children. The sophistication of the Paris attacks and the subsequent Brussels attacks led authorities to conclude that the terrorists had received prior combat training. Some had returned to Europe after fighting with ISIS in Syria.

One month after the subcommittee was formed, another terrorist attack occurred in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead and 22 injured. The attack was carried out by a husband and wife jihadi team, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik.

ISIS described the couple as “soldiers of the caliphate.”

In Orlando at the Pulse nightclub, Omar Mateen, having pledged bayat, or allegiance, to ISIS, opened fire on the crowd killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. His goal was not political. It was to rid the world of infidels.

In the original 9/11 Commission report, the committee clearly identified the enemy: It “is not just ‘terrorism,’ some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed byIslamist terrorism…”

And lest we think that pronouncement has changed in the 15 years since 9/11, we should look at the supplemental report issued by the commission 10 years later. In it, the members informed us that the threat of Islamic terrorism had not been defeated but had grown stronger, and had evolved in methodology, tactics and leadership.

When the current administration removes the words “radical Islamic terrorism” from the equation, it is more than a semantic faux pas. It is an intentional erasure of one of the dots necessary to see clearly the threat facing the United States. It identifies who has declared war on us.

Groups like al-Qaida, al-Shabaab, and ISIS are not looking to attract students to some philosophy or political science class.

They are soldiers, combat-hardened jihadists, sadistic killers. They are using every tool available to them to recruit more – social media, the internet, violent videos, fiery sermons. Soft power means nothing to them. They respond only to the sword.

When the president uses terms like “the full resources of the federal government” and “spare no effort” in responding to the latest terrorist attack by an Islamist, what exactly does it mean? To the average American it sounds like more rhetoric from the “incubator of ideas.”

This administration and Congress must give the FBI and local law enforcement thenecessary resources, including the additional manpower and equipment necessary to face the current challenge of investigating numerous leads on ISIS sympathizers within our borders. And they must restore to our intelligence agencies the ability to collect and analyze the data necessary to track Islamic terrorist organization like ISIS.

In a time of war we need decisive action, not soft power tools.

IPT Senior Fellow Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad. He currently teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School.

Also see:

The Fallacy of Focusing on Islamic Radicalization

extreme-koran3Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, April 13, 2016:

There are Jihadists from dozens of countries who have joined ISIS. What do they all have in common?

The official answer is radicalization. Muslims in Europe are “radicalized” by alienation, racism and unemployment. Neglected by governments, Muslim youth band together and become terrorists. Muslims in Israel are responding to the “despair and hopelessness” of the “Occupation”. Muslims from the rest of the Middle East are angry over their “dictators”. Muslims from the Ukraine? Who knows.

Radicalization comes packaged with a set of local grievances and explanations. It contends that all Muslim terrorism is a response to local conditions and that we are responsible for those conditions. Even though the “radicalization” is Islamic, it denies that Islam plays a positive role as a Jihadist goal. Instead, like Halal liquor or hashish, it’s what Muslims turn to when they have been disappointed in the West or in their own governments. Islam is just what happens when a Belgian Muslim can’t get a job.

And yet Islam is the only positive uniting factor for Islamic terrorism.

Why otherwise should a Moroccan youth from a French suburb who works at a nightclub, the son of a rural Saudi farmer who has never been outside his country and an American teenager who converted to Islam all risk their lives to form an Islamic State? The Jihadis of ISIS are a truly multinational and multicultural bunch. They have traveled to two foreign countries that most of them have never been to.

What else unites them into a common identity that they are willing to kill and die for if it isn’t Islam?

Radicalization favors local explanations. But those local explanations don’t add up nationally or globally. Europe spends a fortune on social services and yet Muslim terrorism has only grown worse. Other immigrant minorities in Europe have lower unemployment rates and aren’t blowing things up.

Removing Muslim dictators in the Arab Spring didn’t lower terrorism; it vastly increased the power and influence of Islamic terror groups. Nor have changes in American foreign policy and greater outreach lowered Islamic terrorism. If anything the scale of the problem seems to have only become more severe.

The Israeli peace process with the PLO likewise vastly increased the terror threat and no amount of concessions has brought peace any closer.  There are stateless Muslims throughout the Middle East. Jordan is filled with the same exact “Palestinians” as Israel, many of whom are stateless and have few rights, yet terror rates are far lower. Instead Muslim violence spikes where there are religious differences. As we see in Iraq, Syria and Israel, religious differences are more explosive than political ones. And where religious differences don’t exist, Jihadists create them by denouncing their Muslim enemies as un-Islamic. ISIS is the culmination of a process that you can see among “moderate” Islamists.

The official explanation is that a multitude of local factors cause Muslim disappointment leading to some sort of irreligiously religious radicalism which can be cured by preventing that disappointment.

We are expected to believe that there are hundreds of explanations for Islamic terrorism, but not one. And while no doubt individual choices and emotions play a role in the making of a Muslim terrorist, the same is true in the making of a soldier. An army exists as part of a positive national ethos. Reducing an army to a series of personal dissatisfactions is absurd. So is reducing ISIS to individually dissatisfied people while ignoring what its members actually believe. It’s as absurd as believing that Hitler became a monster because he couldn’t get his painting career off the ground.

Islamic terrorism is a positive ethos. It is horrifying, evil and brutal, but it is not some nihilistic void. You can look at unemployment rates in Brussels or dissatisfaction in Saudi Arabia, but nobody decides to fight and die for a Jihadist group because they’re having trouble applying for a job at McDonald’s. They join because they believe in its mission. Ignoring the organizing principle of Islamic terrorism while focusing on local conditions that might make Jihadist recruitment easier misses the forest for the trees.

Radicalization programs, under euphemisms such as CVE or Countering Violent Extremism, assume that Islamic terrorism can be countered by forming a partnership with Muslim groups and social services agencies. While the West will ease Muslim dissatisfaction by providing jobs and boosting their self-esteem to make them feel like they belong, the Muslim groups will tackle the touchy issue of Islam.

These partnerships achieve nothing because social services don’t prevent Islamic terrorism; they enable and fund the very no-go zones and dole-seeker lifestyles that are a gateway to the Jihad. Meanwhile the Muslim partners are inevitably Islamists looking to pick up potential recruits for their own terror agendas. Western countries fund terrorism to fight terrorism and then partner with still more terrorists to train their homegrown terrorists not to be terrorists, or at least not the wrong kind of terrorists.

This is what happens when the “Islam” part of Islamic terrorism is ignored and outsourced to any Islamist who can pretend to be moderate in front of a television camera for 5 minutes at a time.

None of this actually stops Islamic terrorism. Instead it empowers and encourages it.

The Islamist alliances suppress any discussion of Islamic terrorism as “harming” national security. Condemn the Muslim Brotherhood and you’re interfering with CVE efforts to stop terrorism by “educating” Muslims on real Islam and helping the Brotherhood take over entire countries to address the political anger of Muslims. At least the anger of those that are part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

And yet without discussing Islam, there is nothing to discuss.

There are plenty of unemployed non-Muslims in Europe. There are lots of bad governments all over the world. The non-Islamic factors on which Islamic terrorism is blamed are not unique to Muslims. Only Islam is. Islamic terrorism is unique and so its causes cannot be reduced to joblessness or bad governments. A unique outcome suggests a unique cause. And Islam is a unique cause.

Islam is the unique cause of Islamic terrorism. There is no way to fight Islamic terrorism without acknowledging its organizing principle, its objective and its worldview.

You cannot fight “radicalization” without dealing with what Muslim terrorists are “radicalized” to do. Without Islam, all that’s left is the political and sociological hunt for individual motives while completely ignoring what unites these individuals together. And so CVE plays the seven blind men while ignoring the elephant in the room. And the terror attacks and the futile efforts to avert them continue.

The issue isn’t radicalization, it’s Islamization.

Islamization is what happens to individual Muslims and to Muslim communities. Islamization is also the goal of Islamic movements, overtly violent or covertly subversive. Islamization is not the answer of some radical preacher, but of the Islamic religion. This is not about jobs in Europe or democracy in Egypt.

Islam is not radicalized. It is radical. Like Communism or Nazism, it offers a totalitarian answer to everything. To truly believe in Islam is to possess the conviction that every country in the world must become Islamic and be ruled by Islamic law. Islamic terrorism is one tactic for realizing this conviction.

We cannot and will not defeat Islamic terror without honestly and bluntly confronting Islamization.