The future of counterterrorism: Addressing the evolving threat to domestic security

joscelynLONG WAR JOURNAL, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | February 28, 2017 | tjoscelyn@gmail.com | @thomasjoscelyn

Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee Counterterrorism and Intelligence, on the future of counterterrorism and addressing the evolving threat to domestic security.

Chairman King, Ranking Member Rice, and other members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. The terrorist threat has evolved greatly since the September 11, 2001 hijackings. The U.S. arguably faces a more diverse set of threats today than ever. In my written and oral testimony, I intend to highlight both the scope of these threats, as well as some of what I think are the underappreciated risks.

My key points are as follows:

– The U.S. military and intelligence services have waged a prolific counterterrorism campaign to suppress threats to America. It is often argued that because no large-scale plot has been successful in the U.S. since 9/11 that the risk of such an attack is overblown. This argument ignores the fact that numerous plots, in various stages of development, have been thwarted since 2001. Meanwhile, Europe has been hit with larger-scale operations. In addition, the U.S. and its allies frequently target jihadists who are suspected of plotting against the West. America’s counterterrorism strategy is mainly intended to disrupt potentially significant operations that are in the pipeline.

-Over the past several years, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies claim to have struck numerous Islamic State (or ISIS) and al Qaeda “external operatives” in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. These so-called “external operatives” are involved in anti-Western plotting. Had they not been targeted, it is likely that at least some of their plans would have come to fruition. Importantly, it is likely that many “external operatives” remain in the game, and are still laying the groundwork for attacks in the U.S. and the West.

-In addition, the Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to adapt new messages in an attempt to inspire attacks abroad. U.S. law enforcement has been forced to spend significant resources to stop “inspired” plots. As we all know, some of them have not been thwarted. The Islamic State’s caliphate declaration in 2014 heightened the threat of inspired attacks, as would-be jihadists were lured to the false promises of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s cause.

-The Islamic State also developed a system for “remote-controlling” attacks in the West and elsewhere. This system relies on digital operatives who connect with aspiring jihadis via social media applications. The Islamic State has had more success with these types of small-scale operations in Europe. But as I explain in my written testimony, the FBI has uncovered a string of plots inside the U.S. involving these same virtual planners.

-The refugee crisis is predominately a humanitarian concern. The Islamic State has used migrant and refugee flows to infiltrate terrorists into Europe. Both the Islamic State and al Qaeda could seek to do the same with respect to the U.S., however, they have other means for sneaking jihadists into the country as well. While some terrorists have slipped into the West alongside refugees, the U.S. should remain focused on identifying specific threats.

-More than 15 years after 9/11, al Qaeda remains poorly understood. Most of al Qaeda’s resources are devoted to waging insurgencies in several countries. But as al Qaeda’s insurgency footprint has spread, so has the organization’s capacity for plotting against the West. On 9/11, al Qaeda’s anti-Western plotting was primarily confined to Afghanistan, with logistical support networks in Pakistan, Iran, and other countries. Testifying before the Senate in February 2016, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper warned that the al Qaeda threat to the West now emanates from multiple countries. Clapper testified that al Qaeda “nodes in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey” are “dedicating resources to planning attacks.” To this list we can add Yemen. And jihadists from Africa have been involved in anti-Western plotting as well. Incredibly, al Qaeda is still plotting against the U.S. from Afghanistan.

Both the Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to seek ways to inspire terrorism inside the U.S. and they are using both new and old messages in pursuit of this goal.

The jihadists have long sought to inspire individuals or small groups of people to commit acts of terrorism for their cause. Individual terrorists are often described as “lone wolves,” but that term is misleading. If a person is acting in the name of a global, ideological cause, then he or she cannot be considered a “lone wolf,” even if the individual in question has zero contact with others. In fact, single attackers often express their support for the jihadists’ cause in ways that show the clear influence of propaganda.

Indeed, al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) first began to aggressively market the idea of “individual” or “lone” operations years ago. AQAP’s Inspire magazine is intended to provide would-be jihadists with everything they could need to commit an attack without professional training or contact. Anwar al Awlaki, an AQAP ideologue who was fluent in English, was an especially effective advocate for these types of plots. Despite the fact that Awlaki was killed in a U.S. airstrike in September 2011, his teachings remain widely available on the internet.

The Islamic State capitalized on the groundwork laid by Awlaki and AQAP. In fact, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s operation took these ideas and aggressively marketed them with an added incentive. Al Qaeda has told its followers that it wants to eventually resurrect an Islamic caliphate. Beginning in mid-2014, the Islamic State began to tell its followers that it had already done so in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate has also instructed followers that it would be better for them to strike inside their home countries in the West, rather than migrate abroad for jihad. The Islamic State has consistently marketed this message.

In May 2016, for instance, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani told followers that if foreign governments “have shut the door of hijrah [migration] in your faces,” then they should “open the door of jihad in theirs,” meaning in the West. “Make your deed a source of their regret,” Adnani continued. “Truly, the smallest act you do in their lands is more beloved to us than the biggest act done here; it is more effective for us and more harmful to them.”

“If one of you wishes and strives to reach the lands of the Islamic State,” Adnani told his audience, “then each of us wishes to be in your place to make examples of the crusaders, day and night, scaring them and terrorizing them, until every neighbor fears his neighbor.” Adnani told jihadists that they should “not make light of throwing a stone at a crusader in his land,” nor should they “underestimate any deed, as its consequences are great for the mujahidin and its effect is noxious to the disbelievers.”

The Islamic State continued to push this message after Adnani’s death in August 2016.

In at least several cases, we have seen individual jihadists who were first influenced by Awlaki and AQAP gravitate to the Islamic State’s cause. Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife were responsible for the December 2, 2015 San Bernardino massacre. They pledged allegiance to Baghdadi on social media, but Farook had drawn inspiration from Awlaki and AQAP’s Inspire years earlier.

Omar Mateen swore allegiance to Baghdadi repeatedly on the night of his assault on a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. However, a Muslim who knew Mateen previously reported to the FBI that Mateen was going down the extremist path. He told the FBI in 2014 that Mateen was watching Awlaki’s videos. It was not until approximately two years later, in early June 2016, that Mateen killed 49 people and wounded dozens more in the name of the supposed caliphate.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man who allegedly planted bombs throughout New York and New Jersey in September 2016, left behind a notebook. In it, Rahami mentioned Osama bin Laden, “guidance” from Awlaki, an also referenced Islamic State spokesman Adnani. Federal prosecutors wrote in the complaint that Rahami specifically wrote about “the instructions of terrorist leaders that, if travel is infeasible, to attack nonbelievers where they live.” This was Adnani’s key message, and remains a theme in Islamic State propaganda.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has alleged that other individuals who sought to support the Islamic State were first exposed to Awlaki’s teachings as well.

These cases demonstrate that the jihadis have developed a well of ideas from which individual adherents can draw, but it may take years for them to act on these beliefs, if they ever act on them at all. There is no question that the Islamic State has had greater success of late in influencing people to act in its name. But al Qaeda continues to produce recruiting materials and to experiment with new concepts for individual attacks as well.

Al Qaeda and its branches have recently called for revenge for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who died in a U.S. prison earlier this month. Rahman was convicted by a U.S. court for his involvement in plots against New York City landmarks in the mid-1990s. Since then, al Qaeda has used Rahman’s “will” to prophesize his death and to proactively blame the U.S. for it. Approximately 20 years after al Qaeda first started pushing this theme, Rahman finally died. Al Qaeda’s continued use of Rahman’s prediction, which is really just jihadist propaganda, demonstrates how these groups can use the same concepts for years, whether or not the facts are consistent with their messaging. Al Qaeda also recently published a kidnapping guide based on old lectures by Saif al Adel, a senior figure in the group. Al Adel may or may not be currently in Syria. Al Qaeda is using his lectures on kidnappings and hostage operations as a way to potentially teach others how to carry them out. The guide was published in both Arabic and English, meaning that al Qaeda seeks an audience in the West for al Adel’s designs.

Both the Islamic State and AQAP also continue to produce English-language magazines for online audiences. The 15th issue of Inspire, which was released last year, provided instructions for carrying out “professional assassinations.” AQAP has been creating lists of high-profile targets in the U.S. and elsewhere that they hope supporters will use in selecting potential victims. AQAP’s idea is to maximize the impact of “lone” attacks by focusing on wealthy businessmen or other well-known individuals. AQAP has advocated for, and praised, indiscriminate attacks as well. But the group has critiqued some attacks (such as the Orlando massacre at a LGBT nightclub) for supposedly muddying the jihadists’ message. AQAP is trying to lay the groundwork for more targeted operations. For example, the January 2015 assault on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris was set in motion by al Qaeda and AQAP. Inspire even specifically identified the intended victims beforehand. Al Qaeda would like individual actors, with no foreign ties, to emulate such precise hits.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State has lowered the bar for what is considered a successful attack, pushing people to use cars, knives, or whatever weapons they can get in their hands. The Islamic State claimed that both the September 2016 mall stabbings in Minnesota and the vehicular assault at Ohio State University in November 2016 were the work of its “soldiers.” It may be the case that there were no digital ties between these attackers and the Islamic State. However, there is often more to the story of how the Islamic State guides such small-scale operations.

The Islamic State has sought to carry out attacks inside the U.S. via “remote-controlled” terrorists.

A series of attacks in Europe and elsewhere around the globe have been carried out by jihadists who were in contact, via social media applications, with Islamic State handlers in Syria and Iraq. The so-called caliphate’s members have been able to remotely guide willing recruits through small-scale plots that did not require much sophistication. These plots targeted victims in France, Germany, Russia, and other countries. In some cases, terrorists have received virtual support right up until the moment of their attack. The Islamic State has had more success orchestrating “remote-controlled” plots in Europe, but the jihadist group has also tried to carry out similar plots inside the U.S.

Read more

***

Homeland Security Committee:

Multiple terrorist networks actively plot attacks against the United States, and American interests, or encourage adherents to conduct inspired attacks inside the U.S Homeland without specific direction. Though significant progress has been made in improving American counterterrorism efforts since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, challenges persist. Over the last several years, the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence (CT&I) has continually worked to identify and address these weaknesses and improve U.S. domestic security. This hearing provides an opportunity to examine the continued evolution of the terrorist threat and review recommendations for improvement from national security experts.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Rep. Pete King (R-NY), Subcommittee Chairman
Opening Statement

WITNESSES

Mr. Edward F. Davis
Chief Executive Officer
Edward Davis, LLC
Witness Testimony

Mr. Thomas Joscelyn
Senior Fellow
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy
Witness Testimony

Mr. Robin Simcox
Margaret Thatcher Fellow
Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom
Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy
The Heritage Foundation
Witness Testimony

Mr. Peter Bergen
Vice President, Director
International Security and Fellows Programs
New American
Witness Testimony

Hamas Terror Double Game Backfires as Fighters Defect to Islamic State in Sinai

hamas-isisPJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE, FEBRUARY 27, 2017:

The Hamas terrorists in control of the Gaza Strip adjacent to the Sinai Peninsula find themselves between a rock and a hard place these days as the double game that they’ve played with the Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai has backfired as reportedly hundreds of their trained Qassam Brigade fighters have defected.

Meanwhile, an attempted rapprochement with Egypt in recent weeks also appears to be breaking down as the Islamic State is reportedly setting Hamas up for a war with Israel that it is most likely not prepared for.

As I reported here at PJ Media back in June, Hamas, fashioned by some in the Washington D.C. ‘smart set’ as supposed ‘moderates,’ had been actively cooperating with the Islamic State.

Read more

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.

Hundreds of Egyptian Coptic Christians Flee Sinai After Series of Islamic State Murders


coptic-christians-flee-arish-egypt-sized-770x415xtPJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE, FEBRUARY 25, 2017:

The largest community of Christians in the Middle East is in the crosshairs of the Islamic State.

Earlier this week I reported on an Islamic State video calling for the targeting the Coptic Christian community in Egypt, which included the testimony of a suicide bomber that struck a church in the cathedral compound in Cairo in December that killed 29 worshipers – mostly women and children.

Now a string of killings of Coptic Christians in the regional capital of Sinai, Arish, has hundreds fleeing to Ismalia on the western bank of the Suez Canal in the face of a terror campaign intended to religiously cleanse Sinai.

Read more

Also see:

New Islamic State Video Threatens Egyptian Christians, Shows December Church Suicide Bomber

vlcsnap-2017-02-19-17h40m02s698-sized-770x415xtPJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE, FEBRUARY 19, 2017:

A new video released today by the Islamic State in Egypt (titled “And fight against the disbelievers”) targets the Coptic Christian community, which is still reeling from the suicide bombing of a church service inside the main Coptic Christian Cathedral compound in December that killed 29 worshipers and injured dozens more.

The suicide bomber is featured in the new Islamic State video.

Just a week ago, I reported at PJ Media on the continued terror campaign directed at the Christian community in Egypt — the largest Christian population in the entire Middle East — noting the climbing death toll from the Dec. 11th bombing of the Two Saints church directly adjacent to the cathedral in Cairo.

In addition to the 29 victims of the church bombing, another seven Coptic Christians have been murdered since that time, including two just this past week.

Now comes the Islamic State video, which undoubtedly marks an increased targeting of the Coptic Church.

Reuters reports:

Islamic State published a video on Sunday threatening Egyptian Christians and showing the last statement of a man it said was responsible for the deadly bombing in December of a Coptic cathedral in Cairo.

The masked man in battle-dress, whom the group identified as Abu Abdallah al-Masri, is seen encouraging militants all over the world not to give up and promising Islamists jailed in Egypt they will be freed soon, when the group “liberates” Cairo.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had already identified the bomber as a 22-year-old student called Mahmoud Shafik, and it is believed Abu Abdallah al-Masri was his assumed name. He had been detained for two months in 2014 before joining an Islamic State cell in Sinai, the government said.

“Finally, to my brothers in captivity: rejoice, you believers, do not falter or grieve. I swear to God we will very soon liberate Cairo and free you from captivity. We will come bearing explosives, I swear we will, so rejoice you believers,” he said in the video.

Probably poor timing on the part of Pope Francis, whose visit with Coptic Pope Tawadros II is included in the Islamic State video:

Read more

White House Aide Criticizes Obama’s Counter-Terrorism Policy for Failing to Mention Islam

A propaganda photo depicting ISIS fighters near Nineveh, Iraq / AP

A propaganda photo depicting ISIS fighters near Nineveh, Iraq / AP

‘Our labels must reflect reality, otherwise we will misdiagnose’

Washington Free Beacon, by Natalie Johnson, February 14, 2017:

President Donald Trump’s deputy assistant condemned the Obama administration Monday for refusing to mention religion in its counterterrorism strategy, particularly when dealing with the Islamic State.

Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism specialist who now serves as a senior White House aide, said the Untied States has had “serious problems” over the past eight years identifying the nature of an enemy engaged in a religiously inspired war.

“The Obama administration in 2011 prohibited discussion of religion, expressly Islam, in all counter-terror training for federal agents and military,” Gorka said during an event at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“That’s like saying in 1944 you can’t say the word Nazi because you’ll offend a German. It’s absurd, it’s in fact asinine. You have to be able to talk about the enemy and the words that they use. When they say they’re a jihadist, you can’t say, ‘Well they’re just misguided nihilists.’ No, they think they are holy warriors,” he continued. “Our labels must reflect reality, otherwise we will misdiagnose.”

Gorka said it is imperative for U.S. officials to understand that 80 percent of the fight against ISIS and jihad-inspired terrorist groups will be fought in the domain of information and media operations rather than in military operations.

A report published last year by IntelCenter, a counter-terrorism research firm, found that between June and July 2016 there were significant terrorist attacks every 84 hours directed or inspired by ISIS outside the war zones in Iraq and Syria. Gorka said the findings underscore America’s overemphasis on a “whack-a-mole” strategy that targets individual terrorists while ignoring the root of the problem: ideology.

“For them, it’s not just a caliphate of the ground, it’s a caliphate of the mind,” Gorka said.

“We’re not going to capture all the jihadists, we’re not going to kill all of them … they’re going to move. They may go North, they may go West, they may come across the Atlantic,” he continued. “We must understand, ISIS’s battlefront begins when you leave your house in the morning. There is no battlefront like World War I or World War II, there are no trenches.”

Gorka said the United States during the Obama and Bush administrations focused too heavily on physical battlefield actions, like death tolls, as the metric of success in the war on terrorism. Meanwhile, the information war fell behind, he said.

Bill Gertz, senior editor at the Washington Free Beacon and author of the newly released book iWar, called for the Trump administration to reestablish a U.S. information agency that can both “promote American ideals” and counteract “lies and deception.”

Obama signed a defense bill in December requiring the State Department to engage in countermeasures, including counter-disinformation, to combat the spread of adversarial ideologies, but Gertz said the bill did not go far enough.

“We need to retool for the information age,” Gertz said at the Heritage Foundation. “We really are deficient in this area of promoting the American ideal and we’re facing competing narratives.”

Unlike al Qaeda, ISIS has been able to adapt and redefine its mission, even as it continues to lose ground in Iraq and Syria. The group has had particular success spreading disinformation and propaganda, Gorka said. He suggested the Trump administration combat the terrorist group’s efforts by establishing an information operation that is driven directly by the White House.

“We will have won when the black flag of jihad, when the black flag of ISIS, is as repugnant across the world as the white peaked hood of the Ku Klux Klan and the black, white, and red swastika of Hitler’s Third Reich,” Gorka said.

Gorka: Left Cares About Alinsky Tactics and Political ‘Triangulation’ More Than Safety of Americans

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, February 13, 2017:

Deputy Assistant to the President Dr. Sebastian Gorka, formerly National Security editor for Breitbart News, addressed the controversy over National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s pre-inauguration phone calls to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Monday’s Breitbart News Daily.

“I can’t comment on what was said, or what wasn’t said, on those telephone calls even though the good general himself says that he can’t remember all the details,” Gorka said. “All I can tell you is my personal experience. I spent several months working very closely with General Flynn and the transition team, in his National Security Council transition team. He’s a man you would trust with your life. He’s a great patriot, man of honor, worn the cloth of the Republic.

“The bottom line is, he shook things up in the DIA, and there are a lot of people who want to take revenge on him. Names I’m not going to list across the airwaves right now, but people who do a little bit of research can work out. The Establishment doesn’t like General Flynn, and for me, that’s a good thing,” he told SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.

Marlow proposed that Flynn was but the latest target of the Left’s “pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it” strategy, as defined by Saul Alinsky in Rules for Radicals.

“You’re absolutely correct,” Gorka said. “Whether it’s Steve Bannon, whether it’s Stephen Miller, whether it was Monica Crowley, or whether it’s General Flynn now. Important point for the listeners, and this is what has to be grasped: it’s never about the issues. It’s not about Russia, it’s not about the safety of Americans, it’s not about preventing attacks like Paris or Nice happening in America. It’s the triangulation. We have to isolate and take down the individuals, separate them from their community, pillory them, and then just make their position untenable. It’s classic Alinsky, and I’m sorry, they’re just picking on the wrong guy, because this guy is as hard as nails.”

[CJR: I feel very bad about Monica Crowley. She deserves her reputation back. Read this – Rising to Monica Crowley’s defense ]

Turning to President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Gorka said “the message that has to be taken home by everybody – our allies, our partners, and our competitors and our potential enemies – is that our relationship with Japan is back on track.

“Do you remember the ‘Asia pivot’ that wasn’t a pivot, that ended in China intimidating all her neighbors, building fake atolls with military installations on top of them? That age is over. Whether it’s sending a message to put Iran on notice, or whether it’s rekindling one of our closest ties in the region with Japan, this is a new age for America in foreign policy.”

Gorka said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to the White House would cover the “obvious issues,” such as “what can we do, as the outside potential interlocutor, to bring stability, to bring some kind of lasting peace to the region?”

“As part of that, it’s going to have to be a discussion of settlements, what is the status of settlements,” he said. “On top of that, one of the things that we are very keen on is to represent an understanding to the world that Israel isn’t alone. It’s not the threat to Israel from local terrorists. It’s the same thing as Orlando, as the attacks in New York, in Boston. There is this, what I like to call the global jihadi movement, and Israel is as much on the frontline – if not more – than any other country. So we want to bring that international recognition that Israel isn’t just our strongest partner in the region, it’s also really on the frontline of the war against the global jihadists.”

Gorka said the White House was not so much “shifting policy” with its latest statements on Israeli settlements, but offering a “nuanced explication of what our policy is.”

“I’m not part of that team, but I’ve spoken to the people that are working that issue, and it’s a fine line,” he said. “What we have suggested is that when it comes to the settlements, you can build on what you’ve already got. So if you’ve got a building, and you want to go up another story, it’s fine. But going to new territories is not going to help anybody. So we’d like to see a little bit of a snapshot in time. Let’s not have any more territory taken as part of the settlements, so that we can get down to some serious negotiations right now.

“That’s a nuanced policy statement from the team, but I think it bears recognition as acting in good faith, so we can bring the partners to the table.”

Another imminent presidential meeting will involve Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, described by Marlow as “pretty much the anti-Trump” for being “a young man who is very photogenic,” raised in an atmosphere of deep left-wing politics for his entire life.

Gorka thought the two leaders might find common ground by acknowledging “there are issues that have to be dealt with in every country,” including “the tension with regard to the terrorist threat internally.”

“We may be from different political communities, but the bottom line, it’s our northerly neighbor. They share a lot of the same issues that we share, especially when it comes to national security,” he observed. “President Trump is the master of the deal, and he can negotiate with people who even have different political opinions. So let’s see what the day brings, but I think it will be a substantive meeting for both parties.”

Gorka said President Trump will soon decide how to proceed on his immigration executive order, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a judicial restraining order against it. He praised the analysis Breitbart News has offered on the decision.

“Let’s not talk about the fact that the Ninth Circuit Court has been reversed 82 times. That’s their batting average. What Breitbart has very, very rightly revealed is that of the seven nations on the list that came from the Obama administration, 72 nationals of those nations have been convicted of jihadi terrorist activity in America since September the 11th,” he said.

“This narrative, this politicized narrative that it’s Islamophobic, and it has nothing to do with terrorism, and nobody from those countries has ever committed terrorist acts in America is so totally and utterly fallacious that we need to reset the standard of the discussion. It’s about national security. Seventy-two people – think about that. That’s more than five times the number of hijackers that did September the 11th. So we are going to maintain our commitment to that executive order and those seven countries being on a temporary halt.”

Same interview:

Gorka: Radical Islam Has Grown ‘Much, Much Stronger’ Since 9/11

On Monday’s Breitbart News Daily, SiriusXM host Alex Marlow asked for Deputy Assistant to the President Dr. Sebastian Gorka’s assessment of radical Islam and its position in the world today, compared to its influence on the morning of September 11, 2001. “Is radical Islam stronger now as a movement, or has it been weakened since 9/11?” he asked.

“Superb question,” Gorka replied. “And the answer is unequivocally, without a doubt, much much stronger.”

“Just think about one metric. Let’s look at ISIS. ISIS, the Islamic State, has achieved that which no other jihadi group has been able to do in 90 years since the dissolution of the Caliphate by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924. He fired the caliph, he dissolved the Caliphate, when he created the secular republic of Turkey. For 90 years, the bad guys – al-Qaeda included – have tried to re-establish a theocratic Caliphate. ISIS didn’t talk about it. They did it,” he noted.

“They did it in 2014 from the pulpit of the Grand Mosque in Mosul,” he continued. “According to our own counterterrorism center – this is open source – ISIS has 18 operational affiliates around the world. Compare that to just three years ago, when they had seven. They are getting stronger.”

“This is why it’s very important to understand, we’re not at war with Islam, but there is a war inside Islam, for which version is going to win. And right now, it’s the wrong version,” he warned. “It’s the seventh-century atavistic bloodcurdling version that is represented by the Islamic State. The version that is portrayed by Jordan, by Egypt, by the Emiratis, that needs our support because we cannot see the Islamic State expand any more. That is why the president used the phrase, ‘We are going to eradicate the Islamic State.’”

Gorka said there were two important conclusions to draw from the foreign policy speech President Trump gave in Youngstown, Ohio, during the campaign, principles that continue to shape his policy outlook since the election.

“Number one, it’s very clear, he’s given the generals 30 days to come up with a war plan to defeat the Islamic State, as the epitome of the threat right now – destroy it in theater with our allies, with our partners,” he said. “But that’s the smaller part. We’re the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. We can do that relatively easily.”

“Long-term victory, if you read General Flynn’s book, you’ll see this explicitly laid out,” he continued, referring to The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is now national security adviser to President Trump’s. “Long-term victory comes when people don’t want to become jihadis anymore.”

He said this would require a longer and more difficult second-stage strategy to “delegitimize the narrative of jihad.”

“Just as Ronald Reagan undermined the narrative of the communists, we have to help our allies, the Sunnis of the region, make the totalitarian ideology of the jihadists look hollow and crumble in upon itself,” Gorka urged. “The larger part of our task is to have a very, very full-throated counter-propaganda campaign, which means the Islam of our allies against the Islam of groups like the Islamic State.”

Dr. Sebastian Gorka is the author of the best-selling book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War and was national security editor for Breitbart News before joining the Trump administration.

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.

U.S. Ill Prepared for Convicted Jihadis Ending Their Prison Sentences

prisoner-releasesby Patrick Dunleavy
IPT News
February 8, 2017

“O Allah, Free the Muslim Prisoners.”

Inspire Magazine 2010

The old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind” does not apply to dealing effectively with the threat of Islamism especially in the case of terrorists who have been captured or incarcerated.

Radical Islamic organizations such as al-Qaida and ISIS never forget their members. To them, going to prison is part of the pathway to paradise. Both groups’ leaders, Ayman al-Zawahri and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, spent considerable periods of time locked up. It did nothing to diminish their zeal, but rather, fueled their fervor. Often, as in their cases, what comes out of prison is worse than what went in.

This is further illustrated by the increased number of terrorists released from Guantanamo who rejoin the fight against U.S. military personnel. Almost one in three released prisoners return to the jihadists’ fold. This recidivism can be attributed in part to the admonitions terrorists receive to assist those who are captured or imprisoned. That support may include financial help for their families and for legal fees.

These instructions were found in a training manual discovered in 2000 by law enforcement officers in Manchester, England.

“I take this opportunity to address our prisoners. We have not forgotten you,” al-Zawahiri said in an interview with Al Shabab commemorating the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. “We are still committed to the debt of your salvation . . . until we shatter your shackles.”

AQAP’s Inspire magazine went so far as to list the names of incarcerated members for all to remember.

They do this because jihadis firmly believe that sooner or later they’ll be reunited with those members.

If that isn’t ominous enough, consider the fact that as many as 100 people convicted of terror-related offenses in U.S. prisons will be set free in less than four years.

And yet, while Islamic terrorist organizations have rapidly changed in their recruitment and tactical methodologies overall, the U.S. has not adapted to countering the evolving threat.

In the United States, the number of terror-related incidents increased exponentially since 9-11. As they did, authorities adapted new ways to investigate. State of the art technologies help collect and analyze data. Fusion centers were created to get the information into the hands of investigators in real time. Counter terrorism, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies joined together to share.

Legislation has changed how the judicial system prosecutes terrorists. “Our criminal law was unprepared for international terrorism. We simply did not have statutes and penalties that fit what terrorists do,” said former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, who led the prosecution against the first World Trade Center bombers and blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.

A vigorous debate continues whether to treat terrorists as criminals or as enemy combatants. A reasonable consensus among the military and the judicial branches is building for the use of both designations.

Two significant changes, in policy and practice, toward radical Islamic terrorists remain to be addressed.

Terrorists go into prison much the same way as the burglar, the drug dealer, or the pedophile. They are housed and fed in existing correctional facilities with common criminals. No mandatory rehabilitation or de-radicalization programs exist for convicted Islamic terrorists. And when they are released, there is no specialized supervisory program applied to monitor their employment or whereabouts.

This situation has to change if we are to deal effectively with terrorism. We should establish a registration list for convicted terrorists. This would provide local authorities with the identity of those recently released to their communities. It has been successfully used with sex offenders. It can work if properly applied.

With as many as 500 terrorists now in custody and more to come, the custodial system must also evolve in how it handles jihadists. Security classification must not be downgraded simply because the terrorist has become “jail wise” (exhibited good behavior) like “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, who will be released from prison in two years.

Special administrative measures – conditions of confinement – which restrict visits, correspondence and other prison privileges assigned to terrorists must continue.

Uniform security standards for imprisoned terrorists should be established in the federal, state, and local correctional facilities. Jose Padilla, the alleged “dirty bomber” who first learned of a radical form of Islam while in a Florida county jail and was originally sentenced to life in prison, is scheduled to be released in eight years. Who will be the parole officers assigned to supervise him and will those officers be afforded any specialized training before that happens?

In some cases, specialized facilities like Guantanamo are necessary in dealing with enemy combatants and other committed jihadists. They are effective. No anecdotal evidence has been presented showing them to be a recruitment tool for ISIS or al Qaida. That is like saying that Alcatraz was responsible for the increase in violent crime.

The number of people arrested in the U.S. for terrorism-related crimes nearly tripled in 2015. That year, FBI Director James Comey testified that more than 200 people traveled overseas from the United States in an attempt to fight alongside ISIS or al-Qaida related groups in the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2016, Comey said his agents still had 1,000 open cases related to ISIS. Within the next few years, he said, there may be a “terrorist diaspora” of ISIS fighters leaving the battlefield of Syria and returning to their home countries, committed to carrying out more terrorist attacks.

We can only hope that the vast majority will be apprehended before they can carry out attacks here in the United States. And when they are, we had better be prepared to effectively deal with them throughout their entire time in the system. Anything less is unacceptable to the citizens of this great country.

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

Islamic State Using Funds to Recruit Children Among Illegal Alien Population

migrantsgreece-690x377Shariah Finance Watch, by Christopher W. Holton, Feb. 5, 2017:

The Islamic State is paying the smugglers’ fees of child “refugees” to attract new recruits.

Europol has identified as many as 88,300 unaccompanied minors among the illegal alien population overrunning Europe.

Both the ISIS and the Islamic State affiliate in Nigeria–Boko Haram–have been recruiting in refugee camps using financial incentives, as well as working with the human smugglers.

The Islamic State has reportedly offered as much as $2,000 per head in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. Jordanian special forces discovered an Islamic State “sleeper cell” inside a refugee camp in northern Jordan. The Islamic State has issued warnings that they are infiltrating the refugee population. Jihadist groups have been extremely active in their efforts to influence and recruit in the refugee population.

The term “refugee” is not meant to be all-inclusive here of all the people moving from the Islamic world to Europe and elsewhere in the West. Large numbers are better described as illegal aliens.

Reports also indicate that the Islamic State is using food to recruit from the refugee/illegal alien population.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/05/isis-recruitment-drive-child-refugees

Gorka: Trump ‘Incredibly Pragmatic’ About Relations with Russia, Iran

AP

AP

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Feb. 7, 2017:

White House Deputy Assistant Dr. Sebastian Gorka, author of Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War and former national security editor for Breitbart News, defended President Trump’s criticism that the media do not cover terrorism adequately.

On Breitbart News Daily, Gorka said the issue is not “how much coverage” terrorism gets, but rather, “the nature of the coverage and how much of it is spin.”

LISTEN:

“Do you recall, after the Orlando attack – 49 Americans massacred in the Pulse nightclub – the mainstream media, for almost two weeks, what was their spin on that attack? Not terrorism. Omar Mateen was clearly a repressed homosexual who was involved in some kind of act of revenge against his Latin lover,” he recalled. “For almost two weeks, that was the message, until the FBI said this is utterly fallacious, not true. But it got to a point where even the transcripts of his calls to the 911 dispatcher were doctored by the administration.”

“There was this kind of complicit relationship between the former administration and the media, downplaying how bad the terrorist threat is. And then when something occurs, just simply misrepresenting it. So that’s what we have a problem with in the White House,” he said.

SiriusXM host Alex Marlow argued that the president’s critique made it sound as if terrorism was not covered at all, prompting the media to respond by listing the stories they wrote about terror attacks throughout the years – a different dispute than Dr. Gorka’s point about misattribution and downplaying of motives in the coverage.

“I’m working on my own list that I’m going to run through the White House of all the attempted attacks,” said Gorka, pointing to another area where he felt media coverage has been insufficient. “We have dozens and dozens of attacks that really are jihadi-motivated, but don’t get reported as such, or are very simply, very rapidly dropped.”

“Let’s just talk about a couple of figures,” he suggested. “Breitbart listeners are, of course, different, but how many general members of the U.S. population know that we have arrested or killed 125 ISIS terrorists in America since the Caliphate was declared? One hundred and twenty-five. And how many people know that in the recent IED attack in New York and New Jersey, when that individual deployed a pressure cooker bomb and some pipe bombs, that only two exploded, but in one weekend, he’d actually deployed almost a dozen devices? A dozen devices in 48 hours – that’s like Beirut in the 1980s.”

“It’s quality of the reporting. It’s the spin and trying to explain it away that is the real issue,” he emphasized.

Marlow asked for Gorka’s take on President Trump’s exchange with host Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, in which O’Reilly referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer,” and Trump replied, “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

“If you want to know what the White House policy is with regards to Russia or the Kremlin, you can do no better than to listen to the president himself,” said Gorka. “I don’t know if you recall, a few weeks ago, he held a press conference in Trump Tower, and during the Q&A, he was asked explicitly this question about what are our relationships going to be like with Vladimir Putin. And he was very honest. It wasn’t some half-sentence ‘gotcha’ moment on a television interview. He said, ‘Look, there are problems with Russia, I would like to be able to work with Vladimir Putin. I’m not sure if I can, and if I can’t, so be it.’”

“The real answer is, we have a Commander-in-Chief who is incredibly pragmatic. You don’t get to be as successful a businessman as he is without being eminently pragmatic. And his attitude to how we’re going to get along with Russia is, ‘Look, we’d like to, but if we can’t, that’s also a reality.’ We’ve been very clear about that from the beginning,” he said.

Marlow asked if it was fair to say the Trump administration is backtracking on its support for Israel’s construction of settlements.

“There’s a nuanced approach to this, and sometimes I think that gets missed,” Gorka responded. “The policy right now of the White House is, we want to have a little snapshot in time. If there is building to be done, it shouldn’t be on new territories. You can do building to go upwards or to add to something that’s already there, but any new settlements in new territories would be counterproductive to any kind of settlement between the parties.”

“We are very, very vested in bringing some kind of resolution to these issues. We have somebody that’s named as a negotiator who’s going to work on them. But right now, we don’t want to see any new territories with new buildings because otherwise, that’s going to make any kind of long-term resolution very difficult,” he said.

When Marlow asked if there has been any movement on relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Gorka replied, “Just wait and see.” He agreed with Marlow and with others, such as frequent Breitbart News Daily guest John Bolton, that moving the embassy is a “simple” process to execute physically, and “the president is committed to that decision,” so “you can take that one to the bank.”

Marlow pointed to news about a surge in anti-Christian attacks in France and asked if the White House was following the “drastically under-reported story” of anti-Christian bigotry around the world.

“Absolutely,” Gorka said. “It goes back to the original story we were discussing. It’s the misrepresentation – one of the most powerful things, one of the greatest powers the media has is not to write stories, but to not write stories about things that are happening.”

“In addition to the spinning or misrepresentation of terrorist attacks, there’s this giant story for the last 15 years. It’s not just about bombs going off in Boston. It’s not just about murder in Orlando. It’s about genocide. It’s about the systematic extermination of religious minorities – not just the Yazidis running up Mount Sinjar; it is the Christians,” he said.

“If you look at what ISIS did after they took over Mosul, they marked every house in that city where a Christian lived with a sign for ‘follower of Nazareth.’ And they gave those Christians a very simple option: convert to Islam, or be killed, or be punished as an infidel, and pay a special infidel tax. That’s systematic genocide,” he contended.

“As you see in Europe and elsewhere, it’s not just in the Middle East. The murder of a priest saying Mass, a Catholic priest, in France – this is what the media should be talking about if they wish to give a truly honest depiction of how serious the global jihadi threat is, Alex,” he said.

Gorka said it was “great news” that Iran has taken to insulting the new U.S. President as a “newcomer” to geopolitics and rattling its ballistic-missile saber.

“They realize that it’s not just about being a newcomer. It’s about the new sheriff in town,” he said. “This is not business as usual. We are not going to underpin and support a theocratic dictatorship – that is the Iranian Republic. The Obama administration’s policy of making the mullahs in Tehran stronger and stronger, in some kind of regional balancing act, those days are over. So for all the bluster, I think the underlying message is, hopefully, they understand it’s not business as usual with regards to Washington.”

Marlow relayed a question from fellow Breitbart News Daily host and Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam about U.K. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow effectively banning President Trump from addressing both houses of Parliament during an upcoming state visit.

Gorka expressed “disappointment,” speaking as a proud American who grew up in the United Kingdom.

“I can’t recall a Speaker making such an incredibly partisan comment about a duly, democratically elected chief executive, of one of the most important – if not the most important – allies to the United Kingdom,” he said.

He recalled British Prime Minister Theresa May having an “amazing” visit with President Trump recently and said he expected “things to be executed as planned” when Trump makes his visit to London.

Turning to the legal battle over President Trump’s executive order for an immigration pause from seven nations with severe security problems, Gorka insisted the order is “completely constitutional,” adding that the president is completely in his powers to do so, but we are doing this as a preventative measure.”

“Good counter-terrorism is done before an attack, to prevent an attack,” he explained. “The whole logic of this EO, this executive order, is the following: we are going to destroy ISIS. The president has made that commitment to eradicate the Islamic State. But as we ramp up in the near future our approach to ISIS, what’s going to happen? We are going to see an increase in the movement of jihadis further west, further north, into Europe and across the ocean into America.”

“We don’t want to see them use the immigration streams to insert their people into America so they can do things like the Berlin attack, like the Nice attack, like the Paris attacks. This is purely and solely about national security and protecting the citizens of this great nation,” Gorka declared.

***

***

***

Sebastian Gorka: Trump Order About Safety, Not Religion

Also see:

ISIS Alleges Someone Is Publishing Fake Islamic State Magazines

12Heavy, February 4, 2017:

Islamic State terrorist channels are warning ISIS sympathizers that someone is publishing a fake, 6th edition of their Rumiyah online magazine and warning them to be careful where they download the PDF from.

The above screenshot alleges the perpetrators of the fake publication to be “the kuffar,” a broad, pejorative Islamic term meaning “disbeliever.”

It is unclear who created and distributed the alleged fake publication. However, chatter on ISIS channels indicates suspicion towards intelligence agencies like the CIA or the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).

The latest edition of the magazine was issue #5. It was released in early January and praises the terroristic possibilities of arson. It also specifically points out a target in the United States, First Baptist Dallas. First Baptist Dallas is a church in Texas that ISIS states is “a popular Crusader gathering place waiting to be burned down.”

In a November 2016 edition release of their magazine, ISIS stated that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be “an excellent target” for a lone wolf terrorist attack. It suggested that driving a car into a crowd would be the easiest way to carry out an attack. Soon after, 18-year-old Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove a car into a crowd of students at Ohio State University.

Somalia was recently listed as one of the countries involved in President Donald Trump’s executive order, titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States.” The order bans nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry into the United States for the next 90 days and coincides with a pause in the the admission of all refugees to the U.S. for the next four months.

Read more

So Much for the ‘Lone Wolf’ Theory of Islamic Terrorism

isis-iraq-sized-770x415xc

PJ MEDIA, BY MICHAEL WALSH FEBRUARY 4, 2017:

Rukmini Callimachi, probably the best reporter on terrorism active today, lays it all out here:

Not ‘Lone Wolves’ After All: How ISIS Is Guiding Terror Plots From Afar

When the Islamic State identified a promising young recruit willing to carry out an attack in one of India’s major tech hubs, the group made sure to arrange everything down to the bullets he needed to kill victims. For 17 months, terrorist operatives guided the recruit, a young engineer named Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani, through every step of what they planned to be the Islamic State’s first strike on Indian soil…

As officials around the world have faced a confusing barrage of attacks dedicated to the Islamic State, cases like Mr. Yazdani’s offer troubling examples of what counterterrorism experts are calling enabled or remote-controlled attacks: violence conceived and guided by operatives in areas controlled by the Islamic State whose only connection to the would-be attacker is the internet.

In the most basic enabled attacks, Islamic State handlers acted as confidants and coaches, coaxing recruits to embrace violence. In the Hyderabad plot, among the most involved found so far, the terrorist group reached deep into a country with strict gun laws in order to arrange for pistols and ammunition to be left in a bag swinging from the branches of a tree.

For the most part, the operatives who are conceiving and guiding such attacks are doing so from behind a wall of anonymity. When the Hyderabad plotters were arrested last summer, they could not so much as confirm the nationalities of their interlocutors in the Islamic State, let alone describe what they looked like. Because the recruits are instructed to use encrypted messaging applications, the guiding role played by the terrorist group often remains obscured.

As a result, remotely guided plots in Europe, Asia and the United States in recent years, including the attack on a community center in Garland, Tex., were initially labeled the work of “lone wolves,” with no operational ties to the Islamic State, and only later was direct communication with the group discovered.

Exactly right. The New York Times is to be congratulated on Ms. Callimachi’s work and other news media should take notice. From the start of the Muslim/Arab war on the West on 9/11, it’s been clear to anyone with an ounce of sense that most of the “lone wolves” are in fact anything but. Just as in prisons, where Muslim inmates whisper sweet nothings into fellow criminals’ ears about the wonders of jihad and “martyrdom,” so do they prey, like child molesters, on vulnerable young people on the Internet. Islam gives them a historically sanctioned excuse for their basest impulses, channeling what would be ordinary criminal behavior into something with a patina of “religion.”

While the trail of many of these plots led back to planners living in Syria, the very nature of the group’s method of remote plotting means there is little dependence on its maintaining a safe haven there or in Iraq. And visa restrictions and airport security mean little to attackers who strike where they live and no longer have to travel abroad for training.

“They are virtual coaches who are providing guidance and encouragement throughout the process — from radicalization to recruitment into a specific plot,” said Nathaniel Barr, a terrorism analyst at Valens Global, who along with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington wrote one of the first articles discussing the virtual plotters.

“If you look at the communications between the attackers and the virtual plotters, you will see that there is a direct line of communication to the point where they are egging them on minutes, even seconds, before the individual carries out an attack.”

Well, that’s just great. As the abortive attack on the Louvre — one of the glories of French civilization — shows, once the barbarians are inside the gates, they’re just a cell phone away from self-detonating. If we’re ever to get serious about “homeland security,” we’re going to have to address very unpolitically-correct notions of citizenship, visas, and green cards, as well as how far civil-rights protections extend to enemies within and even “faith” itself. It’s going to make a lot of folks uncomfortable. But discomfort is better than death.

Sebastian Gorka Defends Trump’s National Security Actions

Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, defended the president’s national security decisions Wednesday on CNN.

Host Jake Tapper asked Gorka what to make of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s statement earlier in the day to Iran that the country is being “put on notice.”

“Well, it’s a very simple signal: there’s a new sheriff in town,” Gorka said. “His name is Donald J. Trump, and we are not going to follow the policies of the prior administration, which really facilitated Iran in terms of getting more muscular, releasing those billions of dollars, and also bringing the JCPOA agreement, which also was disastrous in terms of our allies and security of the region.”

“So it’s sending a very simple message: this is a new dawn, a new day for relations with Iran.”

Tapper tried to ask Gorka if Iran would be emboldened to go ahead and produce nuclear weapons if Trump withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal.

“This is the great irony that people talk about how an action here in America in the White House or in the Congress will suddenly change the aggressive nature of Iran,” Gorka said. “This is a nation that is already going up to our naval vessels, is harassing our naval vessels, our friends’ vessels in the Red Sea, is firing upon Saudi ships.”

When Tapper asked Gorka if the immigration ban by Trump was going to help the Islamic State, Gorka lambasted the assertion.

“I would say that any document signed or executed in the United States makes no difference to ISIS. ISIS believes you are an infidel, Jake, and you should be beheaded or convert to Islam,” Gorka responded. “Whether or not a president signs something or not is utterly irrelevant to that attitude.”

“The idea that what we do here, that they’re suddenly going to surrender or give up or recruit less is absurd,” Gorka continued. “They wish to have a global caliphate, Jake. That’s all that they wish to do.”

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The AP reports:

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

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

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

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

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

But it gets worse:

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

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

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

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

All of this is due to Obama’s purge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a consequence, the State Department closed the CSCC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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