UTT Throwback Thursday: US Government’s Failure to Address Domestic Threat

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, Aug.24, 2017:

Summary

The attacks of 9/11 were conducted against the U.S. homeland with support from the Islamic Movement inside the United States.  The U.S. government’s response to fight on battlefields overseas, while leaders of the U.S. Islamic Movement exclusively provided “advice” to our leaders, led to strategic defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq despite the fact the U.S. military crushed the enemy on the battlefield.

Why?  How did this happen?

The United States lost and is losing this war today because, contrary to U.S. warfighting doctrine, the United States government has failed to identify the enemy we face and the doctrine they use as the basis for why they are fighting.

The enemy clearly articulates that sharia (Islamic Law) is the basis for everything they do.

Now the United States is re-engaging in Afghanistan using some of the same leaders who crafted the losing war strategy in the first place, who still have not defined the enemy, using the same allies who are still our enemies (eg Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, et al), while ignoring the massive jihadi network in the United States, which is the primary front for our enemy in this war.

Then (Post 9/11)

After 9/11, President Bush stated the purpose for our operations in Afghanistan was to “make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans,” and that U.S. military actions are “designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice.”

During the entire Bush administration the United States never defined the enemy.  Yet, the administration and all key government agencies were primarily advised by Muslim Brotherhood leaders which led to the United States writing constitutions for Afghanistan and Iraq (2005) creating Islamic Republics under sharia (Islamic Law), thus achieving Al Qaeda’s objectives in those two countries.

That is when we lost the war.

Now (August 2017)

In announcing renewed military operations in Afghanistan, President Trump stated the objectives of this endeavor include:  “Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terrorist attacks against America before they emerge.”

First, if we kill all ISIS fighters, the Global Islamic Movement will roll on.  This is bigger than merely ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

As UTT reported on Monday in its article “US Islamic Movement Enters Final Stage” the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and its allies INSIDE the United States are experiencing the culmination of six decades of work domestically to overthrow our nation.  At the same time, the State Department is meeting with representatives of Hamas doing business as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) which raises grave concerns.

Mr. Trump’s original instincts were correct.  He should stick with his gut.  We should not engage in Afghanistan as his National Security Advisor and others recommend.

This is a strategic distraction from the real war here at home.

The pattern we see between the U.S. government response after 9/11 and today are very similar:

9/11:  Jihadis attack the homeland using airliners killing nearly 3,000 Americans.

Response:  U.S. fails to define the enemy in any of its national security documents. U.S. military attacks targets in Afghanistan, while using U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders as primary advisors on how to fight the war.

Result:  Strategic loses in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Significant gains for Islamic Movement inside the U.S.

Today: U.S. Islamic Movement in “Final Stage” of its Civilization Jihad using hard-left Marxists as leading edge of their violent actions.

Response:  U.S. fails to define the enemy in any of its national security documents.  National Security Advisor Herbert McMaster demonstrates no knowledge of enemy doctrine (sharia).  U.S. Launches renewed military operations in Afghanistan, while failing to pursue the MB and designate it a terrorist organization.  The U.S. government continues to allow the MB to operate in the open in the United States.

Result:  While the U.S. puts its strategic focus on Afghanistan, the cooperating Islamic and hard-left/Marxist Movements will achieve the intentional outcome of their campaign – increased civil disorder, chaos, and a high likelihood of open civil war.

The Islamic Movement in the United States includes over 3000 Islamic centers/mosques, over 800 Muslim Student Associations (MSA) on every major college/university campus, over 255 Islamic Societies, and many others as has been detailed in previous UTT reports.  Nearly all of the jihadi attacks on the United States in the last 16 years, including the attacks of 9/11, had direct support from this network.

The 9/11 attacks had direct support from Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar.

Yet, this network remains untouched by the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security.

If the United States government wants to thin the jihadi herd, as the President states is his desire, he can begin with dealing with the mothership of their Movement – the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) – and jihadi leaders inside America like Nihad Awad, Ibrahim Hooper, Oussama Jamal, Salam al Marayati, Mohamed Magid, Azhar Azeez, Javaid Siddiqi, Sayyid Syeed, Muzammil Siddiqi, and so many others, as well as those aiding and abetting them like the President of the Southern Poverty Law Center Richard Cohen and the entire SPLC, and Congressmen Keith Ellison and Andre Carson.

House Witnesses: Al-Qaeda ‘Strongest in Syria’ Where It Could ‘Incorporate’ Failing Islamic State

AFP PHOTO / OMAR HAJ KADOUR

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, uly 13, 2017:

WASHINGTON, DC — Al-Qaeda, the primary target of the U.S. war on terror that followed the 9/11 attacks, has evolved and grown stronger mainly in Syria where it has set the conditions to establish an Islamic emirate while America primarily focuses on defeating the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), some analysts tell House lawmakers.

“ISIS has strengthened al Qaeda,” argued Katherine Zimmerman from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in written testimony, adding, “Should ISIS’s global network collapse, al Qaeda will be able to capture the remnants and incorporate ISIS’s capabilities into its own organization.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Seth Jones, the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation, argued in his prepared remarks that al-Qaeda “has been in decline,” failing to “conduct or inspire many attacks in the U.S. homeland.”

The al-Qaeda experts testified before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence during a hearing Thursday titled, “The Persistent Threat: Al Qaeda’s Evolution and Resilience.”

Zimmerman and Jennifer Cafarella from the Institute for the Study of War agreed that Syria serves as al-Qaeda’s primary base.

They pointed out that the group has capitalized on the international community’s single-minded focus against ISIS to grow stronger and remain a prominent threat to the United States.

ISIS has suffered significant losses in Iraq and Syria at the hands of the coalition and its local partners.

Zimmerman testified:

US strategy is setting the stage for al Qaeda to lead the Salafi-jihadi movement again when that movement is the strongest it has ever been globally. Al Qaeda has adapted and evolved as America focused myopically on retaking two cities [Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria] from the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS). Al Qaeda has become more resilient and ready to exploit our own strategic weaknesses.

Amid the ongoing U.S.-led efforts to defeat ISIS, some analysts and news reports predicted that al-Qaeda would eventually be positioned to establish its own Islamic state in Syria.

Cafarella explained in her written testimony:

Al Qaeda’s main effort is in Syria, which has become the world’s largest jihadist incubator. Al Qaeda’s intent in Syria is to embed within the uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and to transform that uprising into a global religious insurgency… Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al Nusra, announced its formation in a video on January 2012 but did not state its goal to establish an al Qaeda emirate in Syria that could become a future component of a global al Qaeda caliphate.

Although Jabhat al-Nusra claimed in July 2016 it was no longer al-Qaeda’s affiliate, Voice of America (VOA) reported that most Western experts had dismissed the offshoot’s break with the jihadist organization as deceptive.

“Al Qaeda is strongest in Syria, where it has used the conditions created by the Syrian civil war and [the U.S.-led coalition’s] Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS to establish deep sanctuary in the northwest and position itself to expand farther into the Syrian theater,” Zimmerman told lawmakers.

“Al Qaeda has set conditions for the future establishment of an Islamic emirate—not necessarily under al Qaeda’s name—that will secure al Qaeda’s objective to build an Islamic polity in Syria,” she reiterated, adding, “The Syrian al Qaeda network is one of the best-resourced nodes in al Qaeda because of Syria’s primacy in the global theaters for jihad. Syria remains a top destination for al Qaeda’s foreign-fighter flow, creating a large foreign recruitment base.”

Zimmerman accused both Qatar and Turkey of lending support to al-Qaeda, noting that the jihadist group also generates funds from kidnappings for ransom, taxation, and commercial enterprise.

Contradicting the assessments from Zimmerman and Cafarella, Jones from the Rand Corporation testified:

Al-Qaida affiliates in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Algeria, and Mali also consistently failed to hold territory because of poor leadership, incompetent governance, limited local support, excessive violence, internal tensions, and other factors. Another problem has been a lack of overall Muslim support.

Nevertheless, he conceded that “the Islamic extremism that al-Qaida represents will not go away soon.”

Zimmerman notes that al-Qaeda has intentionally avoided attacks against Western targets to fuel the “false narrative that it was weak.”

“Al Qaeda is not in decline; it is preparing to emerge from the shadows to carry forward the Salafi-jihadi movement,” she told the Houe panel.

Also see:

The terrorist diaspora: After the fall of the caliphate

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, July 13, 2017:

[Editor’s Note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry into the United States. The hearing is titled, “The Terrorist Diaspora: After the Fall of the Caliphate.” A version with footnotes will also be posted.]

Chairman Gallagher, Ranking Member Watson Coleman, and other distinguished Committee Members, thank you for inviting me to testify today concerning foreign fighters and the threat some of them pose to the U.S. and Europe.

The fall of Mosul and the likely fall of Raqqa won’t be the end of the Islamic State. The group has already reverted to its insurgent roots in some of the areas that have been lost. It also still controls some territory. The Islamic State will continue to function as a guerrilla army, despite suffering significant losses. In May, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) assessed that even though it was losing significant ground, the Islamic State “will likely have enough resources and fighters to sustain insurgency operations and plan terrorists [sic] attacks in the region and internationally” going forward. Unfortunately, I think ODNI’s assessment is accurate for a number of reasons, some of which I outline below. I also discuss some hypothetical scenarios, especially with respect to returning foreign fighters or other supporters already living in Europe or the U.S.

Recent history. The Islamic State’s predecessor quickly recovered from its losses during the American-led “surge,” capitalizing on the war in Syria and a politically poisonous environment in Iraq to rebound. Indeed, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization grew into an international phenomenon by the end of 2014, just three years after the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq was completed. Baghdadi’s men did this while defying al Qaeda’s leaders and competing with rival jihadist groups. This recent history should give us pause any time we hear rhetoric that sounds too optimistic about the end of the Islamic State’s caliphate. The enterprise has had enough resources at its disposal to challenge multiple actors for more than three years. There is no question that the Islamic State’s finances, senior personnel, and other assets have been hit hard. But it is premature to say its losses amount to a deathblow.

Uncertainty regarding size of total membership. While it is no longer at the peak of its power, the Islamic State likely still has thousands of dedicated members. We don’t even really know how many members it has Iraq and Syria, let alone around the globe. Previous U.S. estimates almost certainly undercounted the group’s ranks. In September 2014, at the beginning of the US-led air campaign, the CIA reportedly estimated that the Islamic State could “muster” between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters. This figure was “more than three times the previous estimates,” CNN noted. By December 2016, the U.S. military was estimating that 50,000 Islamic State fighters had been killed. By February 2017, U.S. Special Operations command concluded that more than 60,000 jihadists had perished. Two months later, in April 2017, the Pentagon reportedly estimated that 70,000 Islamic State fighters had been killed.

Taken at face value, these figures (beginning with the September 2014 approximation) would suggest that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s enterprise was able to replace its entire force structure more than two times over, while fighting multiple enemies on numerous fronts. This is, of course, highly unlikely. Even with its prolific recruiting campaign, it would be impossible for any cohesive fighting organization, let alone one under the sustained pressure faced by the Islamic State, to train, equip and deploy fighters this quickly. It is far more likely that the U.S. never had a good handle on how many jihadists are in its ranks and the casualty figures are guesstimates. The purpose of citing these figures is not to re-litigate the past, but instead to sound a cautionary alarm regarding the near-future: We likely do not even know how many members the Islamic State has in Iraq and Syria today.

The Islamic State is an international organization. Since November 2014, when Abu Bakr al Baghdadi first announced the establishment of “provinces” around the globe, the Islamic State’s membership grew outside of Iraq and Syria. This further complicates any effort to estimate its overall size. Some of these “provinces” were nothing more than small terror networks, while others evolved into capable insurgency organizations in their own right. The Libyan branch of the caliphate temporarily controlled the city of Sirte. Although the jihadists were ejected from their Mediterranean abode by the end of 2016, they still have some forces inside the country. Similarly, Wilayah Khorasan (or Khorasan province), which represents the “caliphate” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, seized upwards of ten districts in Afghanistan as of early 2016, but has since lost ground. More recently, jihadists in the Philippines seized much of Marawi, hoisting the Islamic State’s black banner over the city. Wilayah Sinai controls at least some turf, and is able launch spectacular attacks on security forces. It was responsible for downing a Russian airliner in October 2015. Other “provinces” exist in East Africa, West Africa, Yemen and elsewhere.

In May, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that the so-called caliphate “is seeking to foster interconnectedness among its global branches and networks, align their efforts to ISIS’s strategy, and withstand counter-ISIS efforts.” Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, has said that Wilayah Khorasan went through an “application process” and the Islamic State mothership provided it with “advice,” “publicity,” and “some financial support.” Although it is impossible to judge the extent of the Islamic State’s cohesion, as much of the data is not available, there is at least some connectivity between the group’s leadership and its “provinces” elsewhere. This is best seen on the media side, as the organization is particularly adept at disseminating messages from around the globe in multiple languages, despite some recent hiccups in this regard.

While their fortunes may rise or fall at any given time, this global network of Islamic State “provinces” will remain a formidable problem for the foreseeable future. Not only are they capable of killing large numbers of people in the countries they operate in, this structure also makes tracking international terrorist travel more difficult. For instance, counterterrorism officials have tied plots in Europe to operatives in Libya. This indicates that some of the Islamic State’s “external plotters,” who are responsible for targeting the West, are not stationed in Iraq and Syria. The U.S.-led air campaign has disrupted the Islamic State’s “external operations” capacity by killing a number of jihadists in this wing of the organization. But others live.

The cult of martyrdom has grown. A disturbingly large number of people are willing to kill themselves for the Islamic State’s cause. The number of suicide bombings claimed by the so-called caliphate dwarfs all other jihadist groups, including al Qaeda. In 2016, for instance, the Islamic State claimed 1,112 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq and Syria alone. Through the first six months of 2017, the organization claimed another 527 such bombings (nearly three-fourths of them using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDs) in those two countries. These figures do not include suicide attacks in other nations where Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists are known to operate.

To put the Islamic State’s current “martyrdom operations” in perspective, consider data published by the Washington Post in 2008. According to the Post, there were just 54 suicide attacks in all of 2001, when al Qaeda’s “martyrs” launched the most devastating terrorist airline hijackings in history. The Islamic State currently eclipses that figure every month in Iraq and Syria, averaging 93 suicide bombings per month in 2016 and 88 per month so far in 2017. Many of these operations are carried out by foreign fighters.

These suicide bombers have been mainly used to defend Islamic State positions, including the city of Mosul, which was one of the self-declared caliphate’s two capitals. For instance, half of the “martyrdom operations” carried out in Iraq and Syria this year (265 of the 527 claimed) took place in the Nineveh province, which is home to Mosul. The “martyrs” were dispatched with increasing frequency after the campaign to retake the city began in October 2016, with 501 claimed suicide bombings in and around Mosul between then and the end of June 2017.

Some caveats are in order. It is impossible to verify the Islamic State’s figures with any precision. The fog of war makes all reporting spotty and not every suicide bombing attempt is recorded in published accounts. Some of the claimed “martyrdom operations” likely failed to hit their targets, but were counted by the Islamic State as attacks anyway. The U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces have routinely taken out VBIEDs before drivers could reach their mark. Not all “martyrs” are truly willing recruits. For instance, the Islamic State’s figures include numerous children who were pressed into service by Baghdadi’s goons.

Still, even taking into account these caveats, it is reasonable to conclude that the number of people willing to die for the sake of the so-called caliphate is disturbingly high – much higher than the number of willing martyrs in 2001 or even much more recently. Even though most of these people have been deployed in war zones, it is possible that more will be used outside of Iraq and Syria if they survive the fight and are able to travel to other countries. The Islamic State has already had some success in instigating would-be recruits to die for its cause in the West after they failed to emigrate to the lands of the caliphate. It is certainly possible that more will be sent into Europe or the U.S. in the future.

Children used in suicide attacks, executions and other operations. The Islamic State has a robust program, named “Cubs of the Caliphate,” for indoctrinating children. It is one of the most disturbing aspects of the organization’s operations. Not only does the Islamic State’s propaganda frequently feature children attending classes, its videos have proudly displayed the jihadists’ use of children as executioners.

Earlier this month, for instance, the group’s Wilayah Jazirah disseminated a video entitled, “They Left Their Beds Empty.” Four children are shown beheading Islamic State captives. The same production is laced with footage of the terrorists responsible for the November 2015 Paris attacks, as well as other plots in Europe. Indeed, the children are made to reenact some of the same execution scenes that the Paris attackers carried out before being deployed. The Islamic State’s message is clear: A new generation of jihadists is being raised to replace those who have fallen, including those who have already struck inside Europe.

The “Cubs of the Caliphate” program is not confined to Iraq and Syria, but also operates in Afghanistan and elsewhere. This means that numerous children who have been indoctrinated in the Islamic State’s ways will pose a disturbing challenge for authorities going forward. As I noted above, some have already been used in “martyrdom operations” in Iraq and Syria. It is possible that others could be used in a similar fashion outside of the group’s battlefields, in Europe or the U.S. One purpose behind making children or adults commit heinous acts is to shock their conscience into thinking there is no way back, that they have crossed a threshold and there is no return. There are no easy answers for how to best deal with this problem.

Diversity of terrorist plots. There are legitimate concerns about the possibility of well-trained fighters leaving Iraq and Syria for the West now that the Islamic State is losing its grip on some of its most important locales. We saw the damage that a team of Islamic State operatives can do in November 2015, when multiple locations in Paris were assaulted. Trained operatives have had a hand in other plots as well. This concern was succinctly expressed by EUROPOL in a recent report. “The number of returnees is expected to rise, if IS [Islamic State], as seems likely, is defeated militarily or collapses. An increasing number of returnees will likely strengthen domestic jihadist movements and consequently magnify the threat they pose to the EU.” While a true military defeat will be elusive, the central point stated here has merit, even though the number of arrests of returnees across Europe has recently declined. According to EUROPOL, “[a]rrests for travelling to conflict zones for terrorist purposes…decreased: from 141 in 2015 to 77 in 2016.” And there was a similar “decrease in numbers of arrests of people returning from the conflict zones in Syria and Iraq: from 41 in 2015 to 22 in 2016.”

However, the overall number of arrests “related to jihadist terrorism” rose from 687 in 2015 to 718 in 2015, meaning that most of these terror-related arrests do not involve returnees.

Still, returnees and the logistical support networks that facilitate travel to Iraq and Syria were prominently represented in court cases tried by EUROPOL member states. “As evidenced in the past couple of years, the majority of the verdicts for jihadist terrorism concerned offences related to the conflict in Syria and Iraq,” EUROPOL reported in its statistical review for 2016. “They involved persons who had prepared to leave for or have returned from the conflict zone, as well as persons who have recruited, indoctrinated, financed or facilitated others to travel to Syria and/or Iraq to join the terrorist groups fighting there.” In addition, “[i]ndividuals and cells preparing attacks in Europe and beyond were also brought before courts.”

These data show that while the threat posed by returnees is real, it is just one part of the overall threat picture. The Islamic State has encouraged supporters in the West to lash out in their home countries instead of traveling abroad, directed plots via “remote-control” guides, and otherwise inspired individuals to act on their own. These tactics often don’t require professional terrorists to be dispatched from abroad. The Islamic State has also lowered the bar for what is considered a successful attack, amplifying concepts first espoused by others, especially al Qaeda. A crude knife or machete attack that kills few people is trumpeted as the work of an Islamic State “soldier” or “fighter.” On Bastille Day in Nice, France last year, an Islamic State supporter killed more than 80 people simply by running them over with a lorry. Other Islamic State supporters have utilized this simple technique, repeatedly advocated by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s propagandists, as well.

However, I would urge caution. While the amateurs or individual actors have become more lethal over time, the risk of professionally-trained jihadists carrying out a mass casualty attack remains distinct. On average, the professionals can still do more damage than their amateur counterparts – if they are not stopped beforehand. The threat to aviation demonstrates the point. In October 2015, the Islamic State’s Wilayah Sinai downed a Russian airliner, killing all 224 people on board. Although the jihadists claim to have used a crude improvised explosive device, the plot required that well-placed personnel implant it at an optimal location within the aircraft. U.S. officials are attempting to stop even more sophisticated devices, built by either the Islamic State or al Qaeda, from being placed on board flights bound for Europe or America. Other professionally-planned attacks could involve bombing commuter trains, Mumbai-style sieges, or multi-pronged assaults. Therefore, if the professionals are able to evade security measures, they could easily kill more people than the average amateur.

Counterterrorism services in Europe and the U.S. have stopped a number of professional plots through the years. Some of those foiled in the past year may have been more serious than realized at the time. However, there is a risk that as counterterrorism authorities deal with a large number of individual or amateur plots, the professional terrorists will be able to find another window of opportunity. The various threats posed by the Islamic State have placed great strains on our defenses.

The Islamic State could seek to exploit refugee flows once again. “The influx of refugees and migrants to Europe from existing and new conflict zones is expected to continue,” EUROPOL reported in its review of 2016. The Islamic State “has already exploited the flow of refugees and migrants to send individuals to Europe to commit acts of terrorism, which became evident in the 2015 Paris attacks.” The so-called caliphate and “possibly other jihadist terrorist organizations may continue to do so.” While the overwhelming majority of migrants are seeking to better their lives, some will continue to pose a terrorist threat. European nations are dealing with this, in part, by deploying more “investigators” to “migration hotspots in Greece and soon also to Italy.” These “guest officers” will rotate “at key points on the external borders of the EU to strengthen security checks on the inward flows of migrants, in order to identify suspected terrorists and criminals, establishing a second line of defense.”

This makes it imperative that U.S. authorities share intelligence with their European counterparts and receive information in return to better track potential threats. The U.S. has led efforts to disrupt the Islamic State’s “external attack” arm and probably has the best intelligence available on its activities. But European nations have vital intelligence as well, and only by combining data can officials get a better sense of the overall picture. Recent setbacks with respect to this intelligence sharing, after details of British investigations were leaked in the American press, are troubling. But we can hope that these relationships have been repaired, or will be soon.

It should be noted that would-be jihadists who are already citizens of European countries could have an easier route into the U.S. than migrants fleeing the battlefields. It is much easier for a British citizen to get on a plane headed for the U.S. than for an Islamic State operative posing as a Syrian refugee to enter the U.S. clandestinely through Europe. Given recent events in the UK, and the overall scale of the jihadist threat inside Britain, this makes intelligence sharing on potential terrorists all the more crucial. British officials have said that they are investigating 500 possible plots involving 3,000 people on the “top list” of suspects at any given time. In addition, 20,000 people have been on the counterterrorism radar for one reason or another and are still considered potentially problematic.

Exporting terror know-how. It is possible that more of the Islamic State’s terrorist inventions will be exported from abroad into Europe or the U.S. As the self-declared caliphate sought to defend its lands, it devised all sorts of new means for waging war. It modified drones with small explosives and built its own small arms, rockets, bombs and the like. Al Qaeda first started to publish ideas for backpack bombs and other IEDs in its online manuals. The Islamic State has done this as well, but we shouldn’t be surprised if some of its other inventions migrate out of the war zones. The group could do this by publishing technical details in its propaganda, or in-person, with experienced operatives carrying this knowledge with them.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

***

(Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony begins at 1:35:22 in the video)

House Panel Expert: U.S. ‘Losing in Afghanistan’ as Al-Qaeda Grows Stronger

Reuters

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, April 27, 2017:

WASHINGTON D.C. — Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is growing stronger with the resurgence of the Taliban in recent years and “remains a direct threat” to America more than a decade and a half after the United States began targeting both terrorist groups in response to 9/11, an expert tells House lawmakers.

In October 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan, and the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda has been raging since.

President Donald Trump inherited chaos and overall deteriorating security conditions in the war-devastated country.

Under former President Barack Obama’s watch, the Taliban seized more territory in Afghanistan than during any time since the U.S. military removed the jihadist group from power in 2001 and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) gained a foothold in the country.

The U.S. military “downplayed this problem of the Taliban” during Obama’s tenure, Bill Roggio, an expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and editor of the Long War Journal, told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism.

“If that’s the attitude of the U.S. military towards the Taliban inside Afghanistan, we will continue to lose this war,” he later added. “We need to reassess Afghanistan… our policy in Afghanistan is a mess frankly, and the Trump administration needs to decide what to do and how to do it quickly.”

“The Taliban—al-Qaeda relationship remains strong to this day. And with the Taliban gaining control of a significant percentage of Afghanistan’s territory, al-Qaeda has more areas to plant its flag,” also said Roggio in his written testimony.

Last Friday, the Taliban carried out its deadliest-ever attack on a major military base in northern Balkh province that left as many as 250 soldiers dead.

Although the U.S. military argues the Afghan conflict is at a “stalemate,” Roggio told the House panel that America is losing the war.

“We are losing in Afghanistan… and The Taliban controls or contests at least half of Afghanistan,” Roggio told lawmakers, adding in his written testimony:

Al-Qaeda’s footprint inside Afghanistan remains a direct threat to U.S. national security and, with the resurgence of the Taliban, it is a threat that is only growing stronger. Al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan has not occurred in a vacuum. It has maintained its strength in the country since the U.S. invasion, launched a new branch, AQIS [al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent], and established training camps with the help and support of the Taliban.

Roggio testified alongside Dr. Seth Jones from the RAND Corporation and Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown from the Brookings Institution.

Echoing the U.S. military, the experts told lawmakers that Russia and Afghanistan’s neighbor Iran are providing military assistance to the Taliban, adding that neighboring Pakistan provides sanctuary to the terrorist group as well as its al-Qaeda and Haqqani Network allies.

According to the Pentagon, the Haqqani Network poses the “primary threat” to the American military in Afghanistan.

The experts noted that a U.S. military withdrawal from the war-devastated country would spell trouble for America’s national security.

The United States has already invested nearly $120 billion in nation-building efforts in the country.

Despite the threat posed by the Afghan Taliban, the group is not officially listed as a terrorist group by the United States like its ally al-Qaeda and its rival ISIS.

Roggio pointed out that although ISIS’s presence in Afghanistan is a problem, the Taliban remains a bigger threat.

ISIS is considered an enemy by both the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, considered the strongest group in the country.

“The reason the Taliban matters is the Taliban and al-Qaeda, they remain tied at the hip,” testified Roggio. “The Taliban refuse to surrender al-Qaeda members — Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. They continued to fight side by side. Al-Qaeda serves as a force multiplier.”

“The Islamic State is on the fringe. It’s a small problem in Afghanistan compared to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Pakistani jihadist groups that operate there (in ISIS’ Afghan stronghold Nangarhar province),” he added. They operate primarily in four districts in Nangarhar province and have a minimal presence in the north, and it certainly is a problem.

This week, ISIS in Nangarhar killed two U.S. troops and wounded another, the Pentagon revealed.

“Our efforts seemed to be focused on the Islamic State at this point in time while largely ignoring what the Taliban is doing throughout the country and that is directly challenging the Afghan military. They’re going toe to toe; They’re raiding their bases; They’re taking control of territory,” said Roggio.

***

Also see:

John Guandolo outlines his disagreement with Trump advisors on CT policy – plus my take

CJR: There is a fierce debate going on among counter-jihad activists right now over what the Trump administration’s official counterterrorism policy towards Islamic jihad should be. One positive development is the likely end of the disastrous Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) policy that de-linked Islam from terrorism and led to both domestic and foreign policy which placed Muslims “feelings” above the safety of our own people. Now the debate is focused on whether ISIS is Islamic. I have no doubt that both Lt General H. R. McMaster and Dr. Sebastian Gorka know that it is. I believe that they are using disinformation strategy to de-legitimize the enemy and gain Muslim allies. However, I believe that now is the time to make clear that Islamic doctrine is the enemy threat doctrine and Muslims who are not following that doctrine to the letter are technically apostates. Muslim reformers must acknowledge this. The Muslims we wish to ally with understand this very well and will not be “driven to radicalize” by an official U. S. policy that states the truth.

I would not impune the character and motives of Lt General H. R. McMaster or Dr. Sebastian Gorka as John Guandolo does in the following article but I do agree with his position that there is only one Islamic doctrine. I would just point out that Muslim belief and practice of that doctrine varies. I see no problem allying with Muslim reformers as long as we are all clear on what Islamic doctrine actually says. There needs to be a complete overhaul of CT training as well as public education on the matter so that we can begin to “orient on the enemy”.

I will continue to post opposing views on this important debate and encourage respectful comments. Perhaps Dr. Gorka should invite John Guandolo to the White House for a friendly chat over coffee like he did with that self-important, weasel attack dog Michael S. Smith II. That would probably be a much more productive meeting!

***

mcmaster-and-gorka

“Unfit for Duty” by John Guandolo at Understanding the Threat, Feb. 26, 2017:

The New York Times, Guardian, and CNN all report Lt General McMaster told members of the National Security Council Thursday he felt “radical Islamic terrorism” was an unhelpful way to describe terrorism because becoming a terrorist is actually “un-Islamic” in the first place.

In a talk he gave at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in May 2016, LtGen McMaster said, “There is a cycle going on where groups like ISIL, who use this irreligious ideology, you know, this perverted interpretation of religion to justify violence, they depend on ignorance and the ability to recruit vulnerable segments of populations to foment hatred, then use that hatred to justify violence against innocents.”

This is incoherent and factually wrong.  LtGen McMaster wrote a book entitled “Dereliction of Duty.”  He may want to look in the mirror to see if he is doing the same thing in this war he accused President Johnson of doing in Vietnam.

100% of all Islamic doctrine, from elementary, junior high, and high school Islamic text books as well as the highest authorities in Islamic jurisprudence, to include Al Azhar University in Egypt, all clearly and doctrinally state Islam is a “complete way of life (social, cultural, political, military, religious)” governed by sharia (Islamic Law).  100% of all sharia mandates jihad until the world is under Islamic rule, and 100% of sharia only defines “jihad” as warfare against non-Muslims.

“The duty of the Muslim citizen is to be loyal to the Islamic state.”

What Islam is All About  (most widely used junior high text book in U.S. Islamic schools)

The violence Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Boston bombers, the attackers in Paris, the Fort Lauderdale shooter, and all the jihadis we have faced over the past 20 years quote authoritative Islamic doctrine in support of what they do.  Al Qaeda and ISIS have never misquoted sharia in furtherance of their actions.

In the last 15 years it has been made clear – the more muslims study Islam and sharia, the more likely they are to support and participate in jihad.

So the questions remains…what the hell is Lieutenant General McMaster talking about because he is not talking truthfully about a real and present danger to these United States?  He is doing exactly what our enemy wants him to do – creating an imaginary target for us to chase while our real enemy prepares to defeat us.

Nearly 16 years after 9/11, the Global Islamic Movement has taken down nations, expanded its power, and defeated the United States in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq because leaders like McMaster decided they were too busy to stop and learn the enemy threat doctrine – Sharia – and instead have been given a counterfactual understanding of our enemy by Islamic advisors who are all batting for the other team.

The President’s Counterterrorism advisor, Sebastian Gorka, is “over the moon” LtGen McMaster is the new National Security Advisor.  However, Gorka’s lack of honesty about the Islamic threat raises much more serious questions.

Some have been lulled into believing he is on the right track because he uttered the word “jihad” but defeating this enemy takes more than pretending to know what you are talking about.

Speaking at CPAC this past weekend, Gorka stated:  “Zuhdi (Jasser) 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.”

Utter nonsense.  There is one version of Islam and one Sharia.  To say otherwise is to be factually wrong, but also dangerous when national strategies are being built off that utter nonsense.

When one’s duties include national security responsibilities, one has a professional duty to know the enemy or do due diligence to know the enemy.  To fail to do so makes one professionally negligent in one’s duties.  When people die (Ft Lauderdale, Boston, Orlando, Ft Hood…) because a person is unprofessional in his/her duties it is called “criminal negligence” and doctors and lawyers go to jail for such behavior.

Several years ago at a town hall presentation hosted by Washington, D.C. radio station WMAL, Sebastian Gorka stated “99.9% of muslims do not support terrorism (jihad)” despite a mountain of evidence and polling data proving this comment untrue, and the fact the entire purpose of Islam is to wage jihad until the world is dominated by Islamic rule (sharia).

Dr. Gorka also writes in his book, Defeating Jihad, we are not at war with Islam (p.129) but our enemy is “the ideology of takfiri jihad” (p.123).

No muslim jihadi who fought on the battlefields of Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else, nor any of the jihadis who have died in Europe in the United States attacking us nor the jihadis we have arrested have said they are “takfiri jihadis.”  They have said they are “Muslims” waging “Jihad in the cause of Allah” to “establish a caliphate under sharia.”

This is what Islamic doctrine commands them to do.

erdogan-moderate-islam-capture

On page 144 of his book, Gorka ends with the call for the United States to spend billions of dollars supporting “Muslim reformers” in their “ideological war to delegitimize the message of holy war against the infidel and bolster modern interpretations of Islam.”  This demonstrates Sebastian Gorka is either completely free of any clue of Islamic doctrine or is intentionally lying about what Islam actually teaches.
Since these ideas and strategies to use “moderate Muslims” to ensure the “other version” of Islam wins are based in fantasy not reality, these policies will necessarily fail – and have failed the United States for 15 years.
Is that Dr. Gorka’s intention?  Does he not know that strategies to win a war must be based in the reality of who the enemy is?  Why would Sebastian Gorka put forth such and idea when he knows what he is saying is untrue?
Is it possible Dr. Gorka has remained strategically incoherent for 15 years during this global war?  Is he working on behalf of some outside entity to intentionally mislead the President of the United States, or is he is simply putting his paycheck ahead of the American people and his duty.
The United States will lose this war against the Global Islamic Movement if we do not clearly define the enemy and target the enemy.  We cannot hit a target we do not identify and cannot defeat an enemy we do not target.
Our warfighting doctrine calls for an analysis of our enemy based on how the enemy defines itself.  We begin our analysis there.  Something we have not done since 9/11/01.  If we did, our entire national security apparatus, including our military, would have been studying and teaching authoritative sharia and more of our soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen would be alive today because of it.
Keeping LtGen McMaster and Sebastian Gorka in their current positions will ensure America remains strategically incoherent and will guarantee our defeat in this war against the Global Islamic Movement.
As always, this war will be won or lost at the local level because our federal government is still failing us.

House Report: ‘Unprecedented Spike’ in Homegrown Terror Threat

Homeland Security Committee

Homeland Security Committee

Breitbart, by  Edwin Mora, February 9, 2017:

The 2017 terrorism forecast for the United States and the rate at which Americans are being radicalized at home is “alarming,” according to a monthly assessment by the House Homeland Security Committee.

Citing an “unprecedented spike in the homegrown terror threat, primarily driven by the rise of” the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), the House panel’s Terror Threat Snapshot for February warns that, “at this rate, the forecast for 2017 looks alarming.”

“Authorities continue to track a high number of homegrown terror plots in the United States, and the number of cases since 9/11 is nearing a historic milestone: There have been nearly 200 total homegrown jihadist cases in the United States since 9/11 (the figure currently stands at 193), a majority having taken place in just the past few years,” points out the House report.

The monthly assessment attributes the alarming rise in the terror threat to the pressure ISIS is facing “in its key safe havens,” noting that the jihadist organization’s “external operations plotting appears undiminished.”

According to the report, there have been at least 39 homegrown jihadist plots or attacks across 19 U.S. states since the beginning of 2016.

In July 2016, FBI Director James Comey predicted that, as ISIS came close to defeat in its home turf of Iraq and Syria, the number of terrorist attacks against the U.S. and other Western countries would increase.

Echoing Comey, Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement:

I am very encouraged that the Trump Administration is preparing to put greater pressure on jihadists in their safe havens throughout the world. But as they do, we can expect to see militants returning to the West to build new networks and to plot more deadly operations. I look forward to working with the new Administration on shutting down terror pathways in America. We must also remain vigilant here at home, because Americans are being radicalized at an alarming rate.

The Terror Threat Snapshot notes that the jihadist threat against Europe has also increased dramatically.

“European nations are moving forward with counterterrorism reforms designed to cope with the surging terror threat,” points out the assessment. “Yet despite improvements, the continent still suffers from major security weaknesses that make European countries more vulnerable to attack and put U.S. interests overseas at risk.”

Since 2014, there have been at least 166 ISIS-linked plots or attacks against Western targets, including 69 in Europe, 36 in the U.S., and 61 targeting Westerners outside those two regions.

The U.S.-led war against ISIS began in 2014, soon after the group announced the establishment of its now shrinking caliphate.

In the assessment, the House panel also notes that al-Qaeda and its ally the Taliban remain dangerous after more than 15 years of U.S.-led war against the terrorist groups.

“The Taliban threat has proven resilient and powerful in Afghanistan. According to an Afghan Defense Ministry official, the group is responsible for nearly 19,000 attacks throughout the country in just the past 10 months,” states the assessment. “Throughout that time, however, Afghan National Security Forces only carried out approximately 700 counter-insurgency operations.”

U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that a few thousand more U.S. troops would help break the current “stalemate” with the Taliban.

“We remain very focused on the defeat of al-Qaeda and its associates, as well as the defeat of Islamic State Khorasan Province, which is the ISIL affiliate in Afghanistan,” he added. The U.S. declared war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in October 2001.

Christmas Market Massacre Proves Ignoring Muslim Warnings Will Get You Killed

berlin-truck-attackConservative Headquarters, by  George Rasley, CHQ Editor | 12/21/16

Hidden in the media coverage of the carnage at Berlin’s Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) was a hint or two that German intelligence had some previous indication that Christmas markets and other Christian holiday celebrations were potential targets for Muslim terrorists.

In actuality the warnings, both tactical and strategic, were not mere “indications”; they were clear for all who wished to heed them.

On November 22, 2016, the U.S. State Department issued a stark warning for tourists to Europe, advising them of “credible information” of an attack on Christmas markets this holiday season.

The UK Express reported the warning in an article headlined, “Europe’s Christmas markets at risk of ISIS terror attack, US warns tourists.” “Credible information indicates the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events,” said the release.

“US citizens should exercise vigilance when attending large holiday events, visiting tourist sites, using public transportation, and frequenting places of worship, restaurants, hotels, etc. … Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds, when possible,” the warning concluded.

Even earlier this fall, on September 14, 2016, under the headline, “Germany preparing for Nice-style attack as report says ISIS could strike at ANY TIME,” the UK Express quoted a secret report from Germany’s intelligence services predicts that Islamic terrorists can strike at any time in an “unconventional” manner like the truck massacre in Nice.

These tactical warnings were largely ignored by the public and were apparently of little practical utility to the German authorities who it appears did not harden the approaches to the Berlin Christmas Market. Nor did they have the personnel on hand to apprehend the hijacker who killed the Polish truck driver and then plowed the truck loaded with steel straight through the tents and stalls of the market killing at least 12 visitors celebrating a Christian tradition dating back to the Late Middle Ages.

However, what’s even worse, is that of less utility to the German authorities were the clear strategic warnings given by the Muslim invaders twelve years ago in an interview with leading German magazine der Spiegel.

In 2005, in article titled, “What al‐Qaida Really Wants,” Yassin Musharbash interviewed Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein about his remarkable reporting on al‐Qaida’s inner circle and his book “al‐Zarqawi ‐ al‐Qaida’s Second Generation.”

Hussein told Musharbash, “I interviewed a whole range of al‐Qaida (AQ) members with different ideologies to get an idea of how the war between the terrorists and Washington would develop in the future.” What he then describes are seven phases the terror network hoped would establish an Islamic caliphate which the West will then be too weak to fight.

I will focus on just the final phases of the plan, but you can read the entire article and review the seven phases of the Muslim conquest of the West through this link.

The Fifth Phase, between 2013 and 2016, was to be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, could be declared – and it was. The plan was that by this time, Western influence in the Islamic world would be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al‐Qaida hoped that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.

As 2016 closes it is debatable how much of the Fifth Phase was accomplished. The Caliphate was declared and clearly American influence in the Islamic world has been much-weakened, but Israel remains strong.

However, it is certainly arguable that, thanks to Barack Obama, a new world order is emerging with Iran as the nuclear armed Middle Eastern hegemon, Russian influence ascendant and, in the face of an expansive and aggressive China, the United States in retreat from the Western Pacific.

Now here is the key point regarding the Berlin Christmas Market terrorist attack and the building tempo of Muslim terror; the Sixth Phase Hussein reported is that from 2016 onwards there will a period of “total confrontation.”

As soon as the caliphate has been declared Hussein reported the “Islamic army” it will create will instigate the conclusive “fight between the believers and the non‐believers” which was predicted by Osama bin Laden and is central to Muslim millennialism.

What does Phase Six look like?

Priests are murdered in their Churches, Muslims demand an end to Germany’s Oktoberfest, Christmas Markets and Christian symbols are attacked. Priests remove Nativity scenes to avoid offending Muslims, restaurants remove traditional pork dishes, Christians are ordered to “pray in silence” so as not to offend Muslim migrants and now in Germany, Christians are being forced to hide their Bibles due to death threats from migrant Muslims.

Knowing that Phase Six of the AQ plan for its war against the West was one of “total confrontation” why would Western leaders, such as Angela Merkel, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, invite millions of Muslim invaders into their country?

But they have.

And so, thanks in large measure to Angela Merkle, a Muslim army has successfully crossed the Mediterranean, European culture and nation-states are in full retreat, and Phase Six of the Muslim conquest of the West is well and successfully under way.

According to the AQ timeline in der Spiegel we are now in the first year of the period of “total confrontation,” and so far, the Islamist army is winning. It is time Western leaders, such as Angela Merkel, take the Muslim leadership at its word.

Post Script: And if you think it isn’t happening in America consider the increasing tempo of Muslim terrorist attacks, including bombings, mass murder and random stabbings and the cultural war being waged that has seen even the mention of Christmas banned from the public square through the demands of Muslim Brotherhood fronts and terrorist affiliated organizations.