When will Congress finally debate our strategy in Middle East?

Whitney Hunter mourns the loss of her husband. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter was killed in Afghanistan during an attack on a NATO convoy. | Chris Bergin | AP Images

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz, Sept. 14, 2017:

The only thing worse than not having a strategy in the Middle East is sending our troops into harm’s way indefinitely without a strategy or even an understanding of who we are fighting and who we are supporting. The lack of concrete guidance from Congress has allowed the war on terror to drift and self-immolate.

Over the past few decades, our foreign policy has operated much like our domestic policy — it has been an utter failure. Much like domestic government programs, our foreign policy is completely backward and harms our national interests, but we continue to perpetuate the same policies because of the incumbent powers and special interests in charge.

Moreover, we are called upon to further bail out and treat the endless symptoms of those policies, rather than reviewing the source of the problem. Much like federal intervention in housing, education, and health care, our nation-building in Baghdad and Kabul have become too big to fail, even though the region has changed completely since the original mission.

It is in this vein that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., offered an amendment to the defense authorization bill (NDAA), in order to inject a much-needed debate over our involvement in the Middle East after 15-16 years of failure. Sen Paul’s amendment would sunset the twin authorizations of military force (AUMF) Congress originally granted the president for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The amendment was defeated 61-36.

Some conservatives might not want to carte blanche remove reauthorization without proposing a new one refocusing our military’s priorities. However, even those who opposed Rand’s tactic or are concerned that he might not be tough enough on the true threats of Iran and North Korea, must agree that the time has come to update the AUMF and finally force a national debate on what we are doing in the Middle East.

The world has changed immensely over the past 15 years — Iraq and Afghanistan in particular

Let’s put the original debate over our investment in those two theaters on the shelf for a moment. The authorization of military force in those two countries was clear: kicking out the Taliban in Afghanistan and removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Fifteen years later, we have a muddled mess in Afghanistan and a complete opposite dynamic in Iraq than the one that originally involved our military.

While the 2001 AUMF also tasked the president with destroying the terrorists behind 9/11, between regime changes, changes in terrorist organizations, and multiple civil wars between various groups (all enemies to the U.S. but not all posing equal strategic threats) the entire geo-political structure has changed so much. The time has come to properly articulate on paper what and who we are fighting or supporting, as well as a strategy to place our interests first.

The notion that a 15-year-old AUMF for the removal of Saddam would now suddenly authorize the endless use of the military to prop up an Iranian-puppet government in Baghdad is unconscionable. The Pentagon has no understanding of who we are fighting for, who we are fighting against, how the ground will be held, and why it is in our interests (and not harming our interests).

Afghanistan is no better. Trump recently announced a mini troop surge, but as we noted at the time there is still no clear strategy as to how we put the country together after 16 years of failure with just 4,000 more troops (when 150,000 coalition troops and others have failed for 1,300 years).

If anyone has answers to these questions, now is the time to air them out through a national debate. We have spent several trillion dollars in those two countries only to hand over the Middle East to Iran and waste our time in the mud huts of the Hindu Kush while Iran, Turkey, and Qatar pose greater threats and North Korea can hit U.S. soil with nukes. This debate must not be off limits.

Also of importance is the fact we stand at a crossroads in both theaters. The Taliban controls more territory than ever and the Afghani government is more corrupt (and Islamist) than ever. Ironically, they are already negotiating with the Taliban.

This is no longer about 9/11, and while technically any fight against the Taliban is covered by the 2001 AUMF, shouldn’t Congress have a new debate with so many changes on the ground?

In Iraq, we are now at the point where ISIS (which, for argument’s sake, let’s say is covered by the AUMF against terrorism) is on its last legs. And almost all of the territory vacated by them has been handed over to Iranian proxies on the tab of our military.

So yes, we are following the 2001 AUMF to fight terrorists, but doing so is arguably only benefitting the bigger threat — Iranian hegemony and Hezbollah (which has a vastly greater network in the Western Hemisphere than any other jihadist organization). Iran was certainly more behind 9/11 than Saddam Hussein and also harbored terrorists.

Mattis and McMaster have prevented our soldiers from fighting Iranian proxies and downright view them as allies in the theater, just like Obama did. Thus, we are now fighting in Iraq on behalf of a government that should be an enemy under the first AUMF, in order to fight a new enemy that is on the decline and not included in the 2002 AUMF.

Furthermore, the Kurds may very soon declare independence, but our government is declining to support the only ally in Iraq and is kowtowing to the Iranian puppets in Baghdad. Are we going to continue supporting the Iranian-backed government that is not only an enemy of the U.S. in its own right but whose hegemony over Sunni areas will continue fueling Sunni insurgencies that we will continue refereeing with our military?

Shouldn’t we just support the Kurds and allow them to take as much land as possible while leaving our military out of the Iranian-Sunni fight? I have my views on this issue, but we at least need a robust debate to air out these concerns as we stand at a critical crossroads.

The founders had great wisdom in vesting war powers with Congress

This is not about tying the hands of the commander in chief, this is about empowering him with clarity of mission and the united resolve of the people.

Our founders vested the power to declare war in the hands of the legislature, not only to preempt an imperial presidency but as part of the social contract of consent-based governance — that such an important decision should have the buy-in of the people as expressed through their elected representatives.

In the words of James Madison, they wanted “strict adherence” to the “fundamental doctrine” that the power of “judging the causes of war” (not the actual execution) be “fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.”

A declaration of war, or at least the crafting of an AUMF, allows the entire representative body of the people to raise the important questions about all aspects and strategy of the mission. If Congress votes to pass a resolution, it serves as a definitive guide for what success looks like. This further serves the purpose of rallying the country behind a defined mission, because public support is always needed to achieve such victory.

Yet, we are stuck with a dynamic — much like with failed domestic programs — where the rent-seekers in government and failed military leadership are perpetuating the failing and rudderless status quo.

Clearly, the president himself doesn’t feel comfortable with what we are doing in the Middle East, but nonetheless feels compelled to simply “stay the course” because of the endless threats and arguments regarding “destabilization.”

The American people are left out in the cold while their representatives, and even the president, aren’t controlling the priorities of our military engagements. This is not consent-based governance. This is why it’s so important for the administration to send Congress a new request updating the AUMF.

Some have criticized Sen. Paul for trying to yank the AUMF without a new replacement. Fine, let’s propose one, but propose one we must. In the meantime, pursuant to the War Powers Act, the president can always act swiftly to respond to an immediate short-term threat.

Does this make me a pacifist? Just the opposite. We have certainly laid out a list of priorities and DOs and DON’Ts that should guide a new AUMF.

POMPEO SPEAKS

Powerline, by Scott Johnson, Sept. 12, 2017:

Bret Baier interviewed CIA Director Mike Pompeo yesterday afternoon for a segment of the FOX News Special Report. The interview was occasioned by the anniversary of 9/11. The questions were well informed and the answers were direct. Most striking to me was Pompeo’s contrast with his predecessor.

Baier, for example, asked Pompeo whether the intelligence assessments supported the proposition that ISIS constituted a junior varsity terrorist organization consistent with the advertised assessment of President Obama. “No,” Pompeo responded.

Baier elicited news from Pompeo with his answer to the question when the trove of documents captured in the raid on bin Laden’s compound would be released. Pompeo promised that they would be released in their entirety “very soon” — with the exception of pornography and copyrighted material. “Everything other than those items will be released in the weeks ahead,” he said.

Pompeo also acknowledged and discussed Iran’s collaborative relationship with al Qaeda. President Obama, you may recall, helped make billions of dollars available to the Iranian regime for its nefarious purposes. President Trump’s options with Iran may be limited, but at least he understands that we need a way out and means to do something about it. Iran seems to me to represent the single most sinister example of Obama’s efforts to bind those who would follow him to his warped vision.

Winning the longest war 16 years after 9/11

The Hill, by Sebastian Gorka, September 11, 2017:

On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of Americans were killed in the worst mass casualty terror attack of the modern age. No American war has lasted as long as the one that began on that dreadful Tuesday morning, 16 years ago today. Since then, we have engaged in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and deployed our military and intelligence assets across the globe to neutralize the threat of jihadi terrorism to America and her citizens.

We restructured our national security enterprise in a reform more drastic than any since the 1947 National Security Act, which created the National Security Council and the CIA. We have spent trillions of dollars to fund these campaigns and government reforms. And thousands of our servicemen and women have died in what some call the “never-ending war.”

Shockingly, three presidential administrations after 9/11, we still seem unable to answer the simplest and most important questions about America’s war with the global jihadi movement: Are we winning? Can we win? What will it take to win? According to one simplistic metric, we seem to be faring well: We have not suffered an attack similar in scale to the Sept. 11 attacks here in the United States. The most severe post-9/11 attack was the Orlando massacre of 49 people by an American citizen of Afghan descent.

This may lead some to declare a partial victory. That would be a myopic conclusion. The fact is, we have seen more jihadist attacks and plots on U.S. soil in the last two years than any previous comparable period. In arrests as far apart as California and New York, we see an enemy that has moved from attempting to send foreign terrorists to America, to recruiting and indoctrinating U.S. nationals or residents already in the country, such as the Boston bombers and the San Bernardino killers. This is not an “improvement,” given that such homegrown terrorists are much harder for our domestic agencies to detect prior to an attack.

If we use a less parochial filter and look at what the jihadi movement has wrought globally since 2001, we cannot claim any kind of victory. It is not America’s job to police the world — this is especially true under the presidency of Donald Trump, who eschews the idea of the United States as “globocop” — but the fact is that global jihadism has increased, not decreased, and greatly.

ISIS may have lost the capital of its physical “caliphate” in Mosul, but the group which usurped and eclipsed Al Qaeda’s brand has more than 15 fully functional affiliates across the globe. Not only that, using simpler but deadly tactics such as vehicular attacks, ISIS has taken its “holy war” to the streets of our allies, from Paris to Berlin, Nice to Istanbul, Manchester to Brussels. Its wanton ability to do this undermines American interests and has led to the murder of Americans abroad.

The United States is the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. No longer a superpower, it is now the world’s sole “hyperpower.” How, then, can we explain the rise of ISIS and the spread of insurgent tactics onto the streets of our NATO allies? As with all significant matters, there is no one answer. However, certain policies have helped the jihadists to prosper.

First, all administrations since 2001 have focused almost exclusively on the “kinetic” aspects of counterterrorism: killing terrorists, either with invasion and occupation under President Bush, drone strikes under President Obama, or a new “strategy of annihilation” under President Trump. Killing terrorists is the right thing to do if you cannot arrest them or if your allies and partners can’t kill them. But if the dead jihadi can be easily replaced from a large and willing recruiting pool, the cycle is everlasting. As former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked in one of his now notorious “snowflake” memos, “Are we killing more of them than we are making?”

If we really want to win this war, which is in fact winnable, then we must stop young men and women from wanting to become jihadists. And this will not be done by killing more terrorists, given that the Al Qaeda and ISIS “incentive” narrative promises guaranteed salvation to the jihadi killed in battle. Victory in a war with adherents to a religiously fueled totalitarian ideology will only come when the message peddled by our enemy is undermined and delegitimized. This will require aggressive counter-propaganda measures, information and influence operations that leverage our Muslims allies around the world, especially those on the frontline of this war, such as Jordan and Egypt.

In the last 16 years, all U.S. administrations paid lip service to the need for a “war of ideas,” but they never engaged in a serious and strategic fashion akin to the way we did against the propaganda of our last totalitarian adversary, the Soviet Union. The Trump administration has yet to produce its national security strategy or its national counterterrorism strategy, in which a serious commitment to psychological warfare could be signaled, but the choice of a recognized expert, Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, to head the Middle East Broadcast Network of government-funded broadcast platforms is a positive indicator. Much more is, however needed, especially an indication from the White House that the West Wing cares for this issue and will coordinate and drive a counter-propaganda effort from the very highest level.

At a more operational level, after 16 years it is high time to understand where the true center of gravity is within counterterrorism in America. The focus on finding individual terrorists or cells before they execute an attack is fundamentally wrongheaded, leading as it does to a “mowing the grass” or “whack-a-mole” approach to keeping Americans safe. As the European experience (and our own) has shown us, it is almost impossible to find all the terrorists, or potential terrorists, before they initiate an attack. Instead, we must focus our attention on those who are the recruiters, indoctrinators and sanctioning authorities of jihad.

We have some amazing counterterrorism professionals working across thousands of law enforcement agencies and the federal intelligence community. But in a population of more than 300 million people, resources must be marshaled and prioritized for greatest effect. This means refocusing our attention onto individuals who may never pull a trigger or detonate an improvised explosive device but who, through their preaching and mentoring, encourage dozens or even hundreds of fellow believers to walk ever further down the path of jihad.

One such man is Ahmad Musa Jibril, who pushes the ideology of “holy war” to literally thousands of radical followers online. He is a far more valuable focus of our attention than the massive effort expended to find just one so-called “lone wolf.” In this, we will have to explore the most righteous mode for protecting our fellow citizens while protecting general First Amendment and fundamental freedom-of-conscience rights. Lastly, as we recalibrate our strategic focus to delegitimize the ideology of groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, and target the purveyors of its heinous message at home and abroad, we need to take a step back and see the broader picture of modern jihad.

For 16 years we have been targeting the non-nation state entities headed by the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. Unfortunately, their Sunni-brand of jihad is not the most dangerous version today. With the disastrous consequences of the so-called “Arab Spring,” and the precipitous decision by Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq just as that nation had been stabilized, a perfect situation developed for Iran to exploit instability across the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran remains the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. With the rise of ISIS, the collapse of Syria, and the continued conflict in Yemen, the mullahs and the forces under their command have expanded their destabilizing actions in support of their Shia version of radical Islam. As a result, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress, the whole region is now victim to “a game of thrones for the crown of the caliphate.”

ISIS wanted to have the neo-caliphate be a Sunni one. The Islamic Republic of Iran has its own Shia version of the caliphate ready to expand beyond the borders of the modern Persian state, using a deadly combination of official Republican Guard Forces and proxy or irregular forces such as Hezbollah, the Shia militias of Iraq and the Quds Force.

The Trump administration’s strategy to defeat Sunni jihadism must not play into the hands of Shia jihadism. All the more so after the billions of dollars released by the last White House back into the coffers of Tehran. A nuclear caliphate informed by an apocalyptic vision of Islamic salvation will not succumb to the logic of nuclear deterrence and the prior stability of mutually assured destruction.

Action must be taken now to obviate the establishment of a nuclear-capable Shia Caliphate. Recertification of the Potemkin accord that is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran deal, will not stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons but, at best, delay its acquisition. Now is the time to send a message to the religious dictators in Iran that America is as determined to halt a Shia caliphate as it is a Sunni one.

President Trump is not an ideological leader. He is a pragmatist. As such he is in the best position to jettison the subjective blinders of the past that undermined our response to the deadliest terror attacks in modern history. With clear-sightedness, he and his team can end “America’s longest war.”

Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D., is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War.” He most recently served as deputy assistant and strategist to President Trump. The above is adapted from his address today to the World Counter-Terrorism Summit in IsraelFollow him on Twitter @SebGorka.

Address to the World Summit on Counter Terrorism:

Can ex-militants, and their redemption stories, stop anyone from joining Islamic State?

In this photo released on June 23, 2015 by a website of Islamic State militants, an Islamic State militant looks through the scope of his rifle in Kirkuk, northern Iraq. (Militant website via Associated Press)

Los Angeles Times, by Simon Cottee, September 5, 2017:

It seems like common sense — enlist disillusioned extremists as credible voices against terrorism and put them to work persuading others to rethink their flirtation with political violence.

Richard Barrett, a former counter-terrorism chief in Britain, told the Guardian: “Many of the people who have been most successful in undermining the terrorist narrative are themselves ex-extremists.” And in a recent report summarizing the stories of 58 Islamic State defectors, scholar Peter Neumann concluded that their narratives “can be important in helping to prevent young people from being radicalized and recruited.”

Yet the case for enlisting ex-militants to prevent the radicalization of others remains contentious; there is little or no empirical data to back it up. Neither Barrett in the Guardian nor Neumann in his report offered any evidence — not even anecdotal — for the effectiveness of former Islamic State members as agents against future radicalization.

A burst of tweets last year from Georgia State University professor John Horgan in reaction to a newsstory about Harry Sarfo, a reformed Islamic State recruit from Germany, made the problem explicit. “We all kinda say ‘their stories might prevent others…’ but we should (from a research standpoint) be getting clearer traction on this.” And in a follow-up tweet: “Can we find evidence that defector narratives dissuade initial involvement of potential recruits?”

Although there is a small body of research on how to best frame and disseminate “counter-narratives” against terrorist propaganda (spearheaded by Horgan and Kurt Braddock), it doesn’t speak to the issue of how effective these messages are with their intended audience. The one study that has tried to figure it out captured likes, shares and comments related to three different counter-narrative campaigns on social media, but that doesn’t tell us anything about who was liking, sharing and commenting, or whether minds were changed.

A close examination of the stories told by reformed militants reveals that, in common with other kinds of “defector narratives” (from ex-cons, former cultists or reformed addicts), they are often exercises in self-justification. Because the ex-militant is in need of exoneration and self-forgiveness, he must come up with a suitably absolving explanation for why he joined the now-reviled group in the first place. This usually takes the form of a brainwashing tale in which he is more sinned against than sinning.

For example, many repentant female Islamic State supporters claim they were forced into traveling to Syria, or they insist — ludicrously, given the incessant news coverage of Islamic State atrocities — they were “lured” by promises of a paradise on Earth for Muslims, with bountiful markets, pristine hospitals and parks, and righteous justice. One French returnee conceded her own guilt but also blamed “those who manipulated me, exploited my naivety, my weakness, my insecurity.”

Stories of evil manipulation and exploitation may be psychologically useful for former extremists, but there’s little evidence that the radicalized (or those leaning in that direction) are buying them. As one British female Islamic State recruit witheringly put it in a tweet: “We’re not stupid young brainwashed females we’ve come here to syria for ALLAH alone.”

Nor do these retrospective atrocity tales do much to explain to the general public how normal people come to embrace violent extremism. The stories don’t “tell it like it is,” just how bad it is. They also tend to minimize the glamour and attractiveness of violent causes for young recruits. To the extent that studies tell us how radicalization works, far from being a pathological or passive process, it is the culmination of an active search for meaning and fulfillment, often undertaken with friends or kin.

Another argument used to justify belief in the preventive power of counter-messages is that former militants have the requisite street cred to be taken seriously by young Muslims. Only most don’t, because once, say, a member of Islamic State or Al Qaeda repents and rejects his former views, he relinquishes credibility with those who see truth in extremism. Worse, if the ex-militant is working with the secular liberal or moderate establishment, he’s considered a sellout.

Maajid Nawaz, who co-founded the Quilliam Foundation in London, the world’s first counter-extremism think tank, is an obvious case in point. For all his bona fides as a former member of the transnational Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, an association that earned him jail time in an Egyptian prison, Nawaz is regarded with suspicion among even moderate British Muslims, while those at the extreme end of the spectrum regard him with contempt as a traitor.

And yet, the ex-extremist, and his redemption narrative, finds eager supporters. This may have more to do with society’s need for catharsis than with any benefit he brings to fighting political violence. Like the one-time criminal who has found the right path after a lifetime of doing wrong, these repentant “formers” make the rest of us feel good. Their change of heart validates and reinforces our better angels. That’s especially satisfying in times of uncertainty, when we feel insecure about who we are and where we are going.

Simon Cottee is a visiting senior fellow at the Freedom Project, Wellesley College. He is the author of “The Apostates: When Muslims Leave Islam.”

The Gorka That Matters Isn’t Leaving The Trump Administration

C-SPAN / Via cspan.org

Sebastian Gorka is out at the White House, but his wife, Katharine, remains a force in government, wielding more power than her husband ever did.

Buzzfeed, by John Hudson, Aug. 29, 2017:

A wide array of progressive groups claimed victory on Friday following the dismissal of White House aide Sebastian Gorka, a staunch critic of Islam whose ties to anti-Semitic groups in Hungary made him the target of a public campaign dedicated to his ouster.

But the most effective advocate of Gorka’s brand of hardline policies on Islam is still in the government: Katharine Gorka, his wife and the coauthor of scores of his policy papers. She’s staying on in her role as an adviser to the secretary of homeland security, officials tell BuzzFeed News.

Though less high-profile than her husband, who regularly appeared on television to defend the president with his plummy British accent and distinctive half-beard, half-goatee, Katharine arguably has had a bigger impact on US policy.

Unlike Sebastian, whose failure to obtain a permanent security clearance barred him from some policy discussions, Katharine has dived into the weeds, advising top officials at DHS on counterterror policies, drafting the department’s reports to Congress on terrorism recruitment, and trying to instill her anti-Islamist philosophy throughout the department.

To her supporters, she is the intellectual forebear of President Donald Trump’s promise to call out radical Islam by name and shun political correctness. She is credited with convincing the department to claw back hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants for countering right-wing extremism and prioritizing the role of law enforcement in combating Islamic extremism. Her detractors accuse her of downplaying the threat of white nationalism and alienating Muslim communities who could be partners in US counter-extremism efforts.

“Katie is much more dangerous than Sebastian,” said Eric Rosand, a former senior State Department official responsible for programs on Countering Violent Extremism, or CVE. “She played a significant role in denying CVE grant funding to groups that work to de-radicalize neo-Nazis and other far right extremists and Muslim-American groups that work to build resilience against violent extremism, but without the involvement of the police.”

Read more

Terror Averted in Rotterdam

A tip from Spanish authorities saves Dutch lives.

Front Page Magazine, by Matthew Vadum, Aug. 24, 2017:

Authorities in the Netherlands foiled an apparent Muslim terrorist plot to attack a concert venue in Rotterdam while an American rock band with an Islamic-sounding name was performing there.

Authorities shut down the scheduled performance by Los Angeles act Allah-Las at a 1,000-person capacity club called Maassilo. The band’s name has attracted some unwanted attention in the Muslim world. Band members say they selected the name Allah, Arabic for the Muslim deity, because they wanted something that sounded “holy.” Lead singer Miles Michaud said: “We get emails from Muslims, here in the U.S. and around the world, saying they’re offended, but that absolutely wasn’t our intention.”

After being tipped off by Spanish police, on Wednesday Rotterdam police and counter-terrorism personnel located a van near the Maassilo venue bearing Spanish license plates and that reportedly contained “gas bottles.” The driver, a Spaniard, was detained, after he was observed by police going to and from the concert site repeatedly.

About 120 gas canisters were found at the suspected lair of the terrorist cell that used a rented van to mow down pedestrians last week in Barcelona, Spain. The night before the August 17 vehicular attack, two members of the terrorist cell are thought to have inadvertently blown themselves up in Alcanar, Spain, possibly while preparing terror materiel. At least 15 people were killed and 130 injured in a series of attacks by the cell.

According to one British media outlet,

It has since been claimed that the 12-strong terror cell planned to rent three large lorry-type vehicles, pack them each full of butane gas and TATP plastic explosive, and drive them into busy hotspots in Barcelona city. One van was to be driven into the Sagrada Familia, another was to be detonated on Las Ramblas, and the third was going to be blown up in Barcelona’s port area.

Of course, the foreign-born Muslim mayor of Rotterdam urged people not to connect the dots.

Ahmed Aboutaleb told a presser that there was no proven connection between the Spanish tip and the van. “We should not draw conclusions too fast.”

The ring that the police set up around the (concert hall) led to the detention of a bus with gas bottles. It would be wrong at this moment to pile up these facts and conclude: thus there was a plan to attack with gas bottles, et cetera, because that was the picture last week in Barcelona. I would be careful with that. Whether the bus with gas bottles can be linked to the threat, that cannot now be established.

Not that the judgment or public pronouncements of Aboutaleb, a Muslim immigrant of Riffian Berber ancestry who was born in Morocco and is a Dutch-Moroccan dual citizen, can necessarily be trusted.

Aboutaleb’s lax approach to Muslim terrorism is hardly uncommon on his continent. National and sub-national governments in European countries generally range from being partly to wholly in denial about the Islamofascist threat as they bend over backwards to appease their enemies and not be smeared as Islamophobes.

Islamists themselves are increasingly targeting music venues.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, on May 22 that claimed 22 innocent lives.

Four men shouting “Allahu akbar” burst into the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, as part of a coordinated, simultaneous assault on various sites around the French capital. A total of 130 people were killed in Paris, including 89 at Bataclan, and more than 300 were injured around the city. The band performing at the Bataclan was the Palm Desert, California-based Eagles of Death Metal.

England has been a hotbed of Muslim terrorist activity, with at least three deadly, mass-casualty events so far this year.

Apart from the Manchester bombing, on March 22, a car was driven into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, London. Five people lost their lives and almost 50 were injured. On June 3, men in a van drove into people on London Bridge, crashed, and then stabbed other people at Borough Market. The end result was 8 dead and 48 injured.

France has also been heavily targeted by Islamists this year.

On Feb. 3, there was a machete attack on a soldier at the Louvre in Paris. On March 18, a man was killed when he tried to seize a police officer’s gun at Paris Orly Airport. On April 20, police were fired on at the Champs-Élysées. Islamic State claimed responsibility. On June 6 a police officer was attacked with a hammer outside Notre-Dame Cathedral. On June 19 there was a car ramming attack on a police vehicle at the Champs-Élysées. The attacker claimed allegiance to Islamic State. On August 9, a car was driven into soldiers in Levallois-Perret, Hauts-de-Seine, injuring six.

Elsewhere in Europe so far this year, there was the April 7 truck attack in Stockholm, Sweden (5 dead, 14 injured) and the July 28 mass-stabbing at a supermarket in Hamburg, Germany (1 dead, 6 injured). On April 3 there was a suicide-bombing on public transit in St. Petersburg, Russia, with 15 victims killed and 87 injured. An al-Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility but a security service blamed Islamic State.

And there is still a little over four months left in 2017.

Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the investigative think tank Capital Research Center, is an award-winning investigative reporter and author of the book, “Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.”

National Security Cover-Ups, Missteps, and Miscalculations

American Thinker, by Janet Levy Aug. 24, 2017:

The Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated every one of our national security agencies, including our intelligence agencies, according to retired Navy admiral James “Ace” Lyons, former commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet.  Adm. Lyons made this startling declaration Jan. 16, 2015 during a conference sponsored by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative Washington, D.C. think-tank.

In the two years since, no action has been taken to reverse this dangerous situation.  Empowerment of individuals of questionable loyalties within our intelligence community continues unabated, as does a counterfactual view of Islam and thwarting of terrorist investigations.  Our government routinely targets and cashiers productive, legitimate counter-terrorism experts and fails to label terrorist organizations as such.  U.S. intelligence failures and feckless politicization have gone on for years, rendering our protections against terrorism ineffectual and putting our country at grave risk.

Post-9/11 Infiltration of the FBI

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 paradoxically led to major infiltration, according to Paul Sperry, author of Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.  After 9/11, the FBI sought to rapidly hire more Arabic-speaking translators, Perry writes in his 2005 book.  Arabic-speaking Jews applied, many of them retired linguists formerly with Israeli radio and the Israeli army, but only one was ever hired.  Then-FBI director Robert Mueller, who had mandated Muslim sensitivity classes for agents, confirmed that the hires were blocked by misgivings over “dual loyalty” and concerns for Arab Muslims who might be offended to work with Jews.

Further, Mueller onerously screened Jewish applicants but expedited Arab Muslim candidates, hiring some without full background checks.  One Pakistani woman earned a top-secret clearance despite a prior FBI investigation of her father’s Taliban and al-Qaeda ties.  Once hired, she proselytized, led prayer groups, and lobbied for separate bathrooms for Muslim translators.  Six months later, the FBI discovered its radio frequencies leaked to Pakistan.  Even more astonishing, the woman’s sons were later hired to translate classified material.

Sperry’s book details how Mueller allowed thousands of potential terrorists to apply by seeking translators from CAIR, ISNA, and the American Muslim Council, an organization founded by convicted terrorist Abdurahman Alamoudi.

Indeed, some Arab Muslim translators who were hired went on to warn individuals under government investigation, failed to translate large sections of surveillance log conversations, and created a backlog by translating slowly.  Translators also accepted gifts from foreign targets and had romantic ties to terrorists.

Sperry recounts Sibell Edmonds’s experience.  A Turkish-American translator, Edmonds was shocked at 9/11 celebrations in the translators’ office on her first day of work.  She was approached by a Turkish translator working for a Turkish spy and for Turkish groups under surveillance. Another translator, also from Turkey, tried to engage her in espionage.  She reported her encounters and conferred with her supervisor; no action was taken.  After reporting the incidents to upper management, she was fired.

Destruction and Ignoring of Able Danger Data

Destruction of crucial data also puts the U.S. at risk.  In 1999, Able Danger, a data-mining program, was created to provide the military with links to al-Qaeda-associated individuals.  It identified five al-Qaeda cells, including the “Brooklyn cell” of 9/11 hijacker leader Mohamed Atta and 9/11 hijackers Marwan Alshehhi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawal Alhazmi.

In April 2000, Able Danger contractor James Smith was fired, despite having done much of the data-mining and analysis on al-Qaeda and discovering a link between Atta and Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, the first World Trade Center bomber.  Further, Pentagon official Major Eric Kleinsmith, who said Able Danger’s extensive data could map al-Qaeda’s worldwide threat, was ordered to destroy all 2.5 terabytes of program data, equivalent to 25% of the Library of Congress’s print materials.

Philip Zelikow, 9/11 Commission executive director, did receive a detailed account of the program from Able Danger intelligence officers, but commission members later said they were never informed that Able Danger had identified Atta and other hijackers.  Records were destroyed that identified Atta and three hijackers more than a year before the attacks and the information not utilized or mentioned in the final 9/11 Commission Report.  Further, security clearance for Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a former Able Danger intelligence operations officer, was revoked when he tried to testify before the commission.

Shutting Down Operation Green Quest

After 9/11, scores of federal agents led by the U.S. Customs Service raided more than 100 homes, businesses, charities, and think-tanks in Herndon, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.  Codenamed Operation Green Quest, the multi-agency unit netted seven trucks of files and computers seized from the Safa Group, also called the SAAR network, after Sulaiman Abdul Aziz al-Rajhi, a Saudi banker and billionaire.  Sulaiman was close to the Saudi royal family and part of the Golden Chain, early 1988-1989 al-Qaeda supporters.  He was also connected to Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary, Wadih El-Hage, who was convicted of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa.

Federal investigators were particularly interested in connections between the SAAR network and Al Taqwa Bank, a Swiss bank closed after 9/11 for suspected ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.  U.S. officials tracked $20 million flowing from the SAAR network through Al Taqwa Bank, as well as ties to Muslim Brotherhood leaders, according to a report by author Douglas Farrah.

But the Mueller-compromised FBI demanded control of Green Quest and got it from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002.  DHS would later accuse the bureau of sabotaging Green Quest and other terror-financing investigations implicating Saudis.  In particular, Ptech, a Boston-area software developer, was reported to the FBI by a Ptech whistleblower who cited government contracts with a major Saudi investor identified as a terrorist financier.  After the bureau allegedly failed to act, the National Security Council supported a raid of Ptech offices by other Green Quest federal agents.

But in 2003, following extensive internal government battles and rumors of Saudi and Muslim Brotherhood indignation over the raid, Green Quest was permanently shut down.  Charges were dropped against Ptech, which continued to operate under a different name.

The 9/11 Commission Report never mentioned Ptech, Al Taqwa Bank, the Muslim Brotherhood, or any entities in the SAAR network.  Instead, the report “largely exonerated” the Saudi government of any involvement in the financing of al-Qaeda terrorists.

Presenting Counterfactual Views of Islam

Another continuing government misstep puts a benign face on Islam.  President Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Herbert McMaster and his counter-terrorism adviser, Sebastian Gorka, both espouse a counterfactual understanding of Islam, according to former FBI analyst and Muslim Brotherhood expert John Guandolo.  Guandolo says the two believe that the “terrorist threat America faces has nothing to do with ‘true’ Islam.”

McMaster told the National Security Council that the term “radical Islamic terrorism” is not helpful to characterize terrorism, Guandolo recalled.  Further, McMaster said being a terrorist is “un-Islamic” and that ISIS uses a “perverted interpretation of religion to justify violence.”

However, Guandolo asserts that Islamic doctrine mandates jihad, or warfare, against non-Muslims.  Thus, the more intensely Muslims study Islam, the more likely it is that they will support and wage jihad.  Further, he says Gorka falsely claims that 99.9% of Muslims do not support terrorism, despite substantial polling data proving this untrue.

Sabotaging Experts on Islam

The U.S. fight against terrorism is also weakened when individuals are removed from intelligence functions and military positions because of their views on Islamic ideology and threat doctrine.  Two examples stand out.

In 2008, attorney Stephen Coughlin, a decorated intelligence officer and recognized specialist on the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic doctrine, was cashiered from the Pentagon.  Hesham Islam, who worked on the Pentagon’s outreach program to Muslims and was suspected of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, successfully sought Coughlin’s dismissal.  According to Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Islam was “an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent who brought groups into the Pentagon who were unindicted co-conspirators.”

In 2009, Philip Haney, a DHS specialist on Islam, was ordered to delete or modify hundreds of records tied to individuals, schools, mosques, and Islamic centers that would have established links to thwart terrorist attacks.  Haney was reprimanded repeatedly, left the agency, and wrote a book, See Something Say Nothing, documenting his experience.  He maintains that if his work had continued, he might have identified San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook and prevented the attack that killed 14 Americans and wounded 22.  Instead, he said DHS conceded to the demands of the Obama State Department, with its overt political alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, and shut down his work.

Failing to Designate Terrorist Entities

Despite copious information on subversive activities obtained from research, investigations, surveillance, undercover operations, and open-source documents, two major terrorist entities are still not on the State Department’s designated terrorist group list.

Jamaat ul-Fuqra, or Muslims of America, maintains several dozen paramilitary camps in the U.S.  It has committed attacks and robberies, has acquired contraband weapons and recruits, and attracts followers within U.S. prisons.  Founded by Sheik Gilani in 1980, members participated in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  A 2007 report by the Center for Policing Terrorism called Jamaat ul-Fuqra the “best positioned group to launch an attack on the United States, or, more likely, help Al Qaeda to do so.”

Meanwhile, for several decades, one of the world’s largest sponsors of terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood, has developed an extensive network of front groups across the United States, infiltrating our government and national security agencies.  Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood supports extremist Islamic ideology and has direct ties to Hamas, al-Qaeda, and other jihadist groups.  Its terrorism fundraising web of entities in the United States was exposed during the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terrorism funding trial in our nation’s history.

Yet Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders have been to the White House during the Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations.  During his presidential campaign, Trump pledged to place the group on the terrorist entity list, but it remains a back-burner issue.

Conclusion

Not everyone has ignored the threats from Islamic infiltration.  As vice chair of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) repeatedly and unsuccessfully sought access to the documents supplied to terrorist defendants during the Holy Land Foundation trial.  He and four other Republican members of Congress have documented Muslim Brotherhood infiltration at the highest levels of the U.S. national security apparatus, only to have their calls for investigations ignored.

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch recently obtained documents revealing that the FBI under director Robert Mueller purged hundreds of pages of training curricula related to Islamic terrorism at the behest of Muslim Brotherhood front groups who were unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case.

This sampling of past national security fiascos and cover-ups and the more recent documentation of Islamic penetration and sabotage may be only a fraction of what is actually occurring.  It is abundantly clear that many of those pledged to protect Americans have engaged in national security malfeasance.  James Lyons’s assertion about infiltration of our intelligence community must be heeded and investigated.  For our nation to be protected against Islam’s virulent threat, we need an immediate course correction and removal of those in Washington who have long ignored the threat.  As Trump rightly says, “the swamp must be drained.”