WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton Says Vetting Refugees Is Impossible

Getty Images

Getty Images

Breitbart, by Ken Klukowski, October 11, 2016:

Hillary Clinton regards vetting refugees as impossible, according to email released by WikiLeaks.

For his part, Donald Trump says his immigration plan does not ban Muslims, but instead requires “extreme vetting” for Muslims arriving from countries with documented problems of Islamic terrorism—consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

Regarding policy, Americans will decide between the sharply contrasting visions of Trump and Clinton—one focusing explicitly on security and America’s interests, the other saying behind closed doors that she believes in “open borders” but does not say so publicly, and that national leaders can have a private position that is different from their public positions.

Apologists for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton say that Trump’s immigration plan is both bad policy and unconstitutional, and that one type of immigrant—Syrian refugees—should be admitted in far greater numbers.

But hacked emails released by Wikileaks show Clinton thinks vetting Syrian refugees is “impossible.” Michael Patrick Leahy reports that Clinton acknowledged this reality for refugees pouring into Jordan.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper already admitted that the U.S. cannot vet these refugees, so this may be an instance of Clinton telling the public a different position than you take in private.

Emails also show Clinton’s inner circle caught in an echo chamber when it comes to constitutional rights for aliens (legal or illegal, not just refugees). Mandy Grunwald writes of wanting to “whack” a Republican “for trying to change the Constitution to deny babies born here the right to American citizenship if their parents aren’t citizens? (basically get rid of the 14th Amendment).”

To the contrary, the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not guarantee citizenship to the children of foreigners, whether they are in the United States legally or not. Congress chooses to grant citizenship very broadly in the Immigration and Nationality Act, but the Constitution does not require it except for the children of American citizens born on American soil.

This is not exclusively a conservative idea; in addition to constitutional conservative stalwarts like Prof. John Eastman, noted judicial activist Judge Richard Posner on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has declared that the Fourteenth Amendment does not confer birthright citizenship, calling the idea “nonsense.”

Moreover, in 1993 now-Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid introduced a bill (the Immigration Stabilization Act) that would change current law, denying citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. Since the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, the constitutional contours of this issue have not changed from 1993 through 2016—only the politics of a cynical attempt to create millions of Democratic voters for those who racially stereotype foreigners from certain countries.

All this goes back to the famous line of Justice Robert Jackson that the Constitution is not a “suicide pact.” It is a document that ensures several fundamental principles of fairness and justice—like due process and equal protection—to all persons, whether citizens or not. But for the most part, it is a document predicated upon American exceptionalism, and showcasing an “America First” paradigm. The Constitution frames issues like national security and immigration in terms of what is best for America.

The Supreme Court seemed split on what the Constitution requires when it comes to immigrants, including refugees. Liberal justices refer to constitutional limits on immigration laws, while conservative justices say that the Constitution gives Congress complete discretion and full authority to determine who can cross the U.S. border and who can stay in this country.

On issues of immigration, refugees, and the Constitution, Trump and Clinton are worlds apart—presenting voters with a clear choice.

Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter@kenklukowski.

***

Director of National Intelligence: Climate Change (Not Sharia) Leads to Jihad

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies during a hearing before Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee January 29, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on "Current and Projected National Security Threats Against the United States."  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 29: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies during a hearing before Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee January 29, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on “Current and Projected National Security Threats Against the United States.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Establishing this linkage diverts attention from Islamist ideology at the heart of modern terrorism.

CounterJihad, by Bruce Cornibe, Sept. 13, 2016:

It’s ridiculous when an elite university like MIT promotes bogus lectures such as Is Islamophobia Accelerating Global Warming? However, one can argue that it’s even worse when our top U.S. government leaders advocate for similar bogus theories such as linking climate change to terrorism.

This is what happened recently at the annual Intelligence & National Security Summit in Washington, D.C., when DNI’s James Clapper suggested a connection between environmental issues and terrorism.

The political left has been trying to establish a linkage between the two topics to provide a way to divert attention away from the actual radical Islamic ideology that is at the heart of modern day terrorism.

For example, in Paris a couple weeks after the horrific November 2015 attacks, U.S. President Obama had the audacity to insinuate a connection between climate change and terrorism. It’s bad enough that some leftists continue to push the narrative that humans are the main reason for climate change – now we have to hear our government officials promote a political agenda that basically says if we don’t go “green” we can expect terrorism to continue. Defense One reveals Clapper’s rationale behind this climate change and terrorism connection stating:

…Increased competition for “ever-diminishing food and water resources” will amplify socio-economically motivated armed conflicts, countries’ difficulties controlling their borders, and instability more generally, he said.

“I think climate change is going to be an underpinning for a lot of national security issues,” Clapper said. It affects “so many things: the availability of basics like water and food and other resources which are continually going to become matters of conflict, and already are, between and among countries.”

Defense One goes on to add:

The Pentagon has been getting increasingly serious about preparing for it, warning that warming global temperaturesand extreme weather events would act as a “threat multiplier” and foster terrorism. Earlier this year, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work ordered the military to adapt current and future operations to address climate change.

Clapper echoed this warning. Climate change-driven instability and other factors mean that “after ISIL is gone, you can expect some other terrorist entity to arise, and the cycle of extremism [to] continue for the foreseeable future.”

It seems like the line of logic is as follows: Humans (implied) -> climate change -> diminished resources -> struggle for resources -> “extremism”/terrorism

To say that climate change is causing a depletion of our resources like food and water–which then causes conflict that leads to terrorism is a massive stretch of the imagination. Of course, this didn’t stop President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry from linking climate change to the Syrian civil war.

Even left-leaning national security analyst Peter Brookes debunked this in an article last year, writing that, “there seems to be no strong quantitative (i.e., empirical) evidence to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between changes in the climate and conflict.”

It’s one thing to say that natural resources like fresh water are a security concern in arid regions like areas in the Middle East and Africa, and enter into countries’ national security policy. That much is true– and also obvious. However, to say Islamic jihad is a result from supposed conflict caused by a lack of resources is ludicrous.

Jihadists are driven by motives such as Sharia law and bringing back the Caliphate, not by frustration over the contention of scarce food and water supplies. This type of linkage is even weaker than the belief that terrorists are essentially joining the cause of jihad because of a lack of jobs/economic opportunities. ISIS could be living on the most resource-replete land and they still wouldn’t be satisfied until they bring the world under Islamic rule.

Regardless of their differences, there is a commonality between those who are hyper-ideological; a link between those who are so obsessed with their worldview that they believe it explains literally everything: In Paris last year, Obama said, “climate change — affects all trends”; the totalitarian Islamist thinks implementing Sharia law globally is the answer to solving the world’s problems.

Of course, Obama wants to see the establishment of liberal-progressive values, while the Islamist wants everything Islamic; however, both groups need each other politically at least temporarily in order to build up a powerful enough coalition to launch their respective agendas on the world stage.

Leftist politicians tend to dismiss or ignore the worldwide jihadist movement and seek to combat what they call “extremism” with vague solutions that furthers their political agenda.

Anyone with common sense realizes that hardcore jihadists like ISIS are not going to put down the sword of jihad through diplomacy and random acts of global kindness. The West needs to militarily wipe jihadists like those involved with ISIS off of the face of the earth, but also seek ways in countering their Sharia ideology that is reaching our next generation’s youth.

Emails Show Clinton Was Told About MB-AQ Links

scafby John Rossomando
IPT News
May 2, 2016

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails suggest that she may have known about connections between the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and hardcore jihadist groups such as al-Qaida early in the 2011 Arab Spring.

Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal noted in an April 7, 2011 email that Egypt’s military leaders expressed concerns about contacts between the MB and al-Qaida. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) reportedly feared that the Brotherhood would work with various violent Islamist groups, including al-Qaida affiliates.

“The main concern of the SCAF leaders is that the MB will begin working with more violent Islamist groups, including the various al Qa’ida affiliates,” Blumenthal wrote.

A source “with access to the highest levels of the MB,” including its Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, privately told Blumenthal that the relationship between the MB, al-Qaida and other radical groups was “complicated.”

“Egyptian military intelligence is aware of the fact that these contacts exist, but believe that the MB, under the influence of … [the] moderates, is carefully controlling its contacts with these radical/terrorist groups, in an effort to avoid providing the military with an excuse to move against them,” Blumenthal wrote.

Blumenthal’s source claimed that Mohamed Morsi admitted that the Brotherhood’s looming Islamist government in Egypt would find it difficult to control the rise of al-Qaida and other radical/terrorist groups, according to a Dec. 16, 2011 email. No context is provided for this statement apart from Morsi also noting that the younger generation of Egypt’s military had become Islamized and anti-American despite training by the United States. The email also notes that younger officers would support Egypt becoming an Islamist state more than the current crop of generals.

Morsi became president about six months later.

However, former CIA Director James Woolsey questions Blumenthal’s sources, telling the Investigative Project on Terrorism that he doesn’t know where Blumenthal found his information.

“This is highly speculative but interesting,” Woolsey said. “The issue with the emails is classification. What matters is the sources and methods.”

These emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server, written while she was secretary of state, were made public as a result of a Judicial Watch lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Many are alleged to contain potentially classified information, and this remains under FBI investigation.

Egyptian security sources recorded calls between Morsi and al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri while he Morsi was in power, according to a Nov. 22, 2013 article in Egypt’s El-Watan newspaper. Morsi allegedly agreed to grant a presidential pardon to 20 terrorists, including one al-Zawahiri had known since childhood, and another who ran Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis – now known as ISIS’s Sinai province.

Communications between Morsi and al-Zawahiri began during the first month of his presidency. Zawahiri’s brother, Mohamed, mediated the initial contacts between them.

“Rule by God’s law for us to stand beside you, there is no so-called democracy, then get rid of your opponents,” al-Zawahiri told Morsi, according to the El-Watan transcript.

Al-Zawahiri and Morsi allegedly agreed to cooperate in establishing training camps in Sinai and near the Libyan border where they could create an army to defend the Brotherhood regime. Morsi allegedly met with an emissary of Zawahiri’s at a Pakistani hotel for two-and-a-half hours, and this reportedly resulted in the international organization of the MB giving al-Qaida $50 million.

Morsi called al-Zawahiri asking for his help soon before the military toppled him, according to the Al-Watan report.

“We will fight the military and the police, and we will set the Sinai aflame,” al-Zawahiri allegedly told Morsi.

The pro-military newspaper’s reporting has been called into question in the past. Its editor remains under investigation for falsifying a report about an Islamist terror cell.

Still, the alleged phone calls with al-Zawahiri contributed to Egyptian prosecutors seeking a death sentence against Morsi.

Attacks in the Sinai increased following Morsi’s fall. The suggestion by Brotherhood leader Mohamed el-Beltagy following Morsi’s deposition that “Attacks in Sinai would stop the second President Mohammed Morsi is reinstated,” adds to evidence of Brotherhood connections with al-Qaida, according to Michael Meunier, an Egyptian activist who previously worked closely with the Egyptian government.

“There is a clear indication of coordination between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida in Sinai,” Meunier said.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the group responsible for most of the attacks, belonged to al-Qaida before joining the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014. Reports indicate that Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was “structurally” tied with the MB.

If true, the ties between the MB and al-Qaida challenge the academic contention that the two groups are mortal enemies. This contention was based upon mutual criticisms, such as al-Zawahiri’s 2006 condemnation of the MB’s participation in democratic elections.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper invoked the idea that the MB and al-Qaida were opposed to each other during February 2011 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

“The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’…is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam,” Clapper said.

A Feb. 16, 2011 email from an unnamed State Department official who helped draft Presidential Policy Directive-13  – a document that helped frame U.S. policy surrounding Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East – echoed Clapper’s remarks. U.S. policy should not “be driven by fear,” it said, and if it didn’t distinguish the Brotherhood and al-Qaida, it wouldn’t be able to adapt to changes in the region.

Not Just Egypt

Other government documents corroborate Blumenthal’s contention that the Brotherhood and al-Qaida are linked.

The Clinton emails describe a definitive personal link between the Brotherhood and al-Qaida in Libya dating from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state in the person of Ali al-Sallabi, who founded the al-Qaida linked Libyan National Party (LNP).

A Feb. 27, 2011 email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan describes al-Sallabi as “a key figure in the Libyan Muslim brotherhood and [Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Yusuf] Qaradawi’s man in Libya.” Sullivan stands accused of sending Clinton top-secret emails at her private account.

Blumenthal noted in a July 3, 2011 email that the LNP was dominated by former members of the al-Qaida-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), “who, according to sensitive sources, maintained ties to al Qa’ida during their struggle with the forces of former dictator Muammar al Qaddafi.”

A March 24, 2011 Libyan intelligence document claims that al-Sallabi coordinated the effort by the international Muslim Brotherhood to assist the LIFG in its fight against Gaddafi.

Similarly, Rached al-Ghannouchi, head of Tunisia’s Brotherhood-linked Ennahda Party,attempted to work with al-Qaida linked Ansar Al-Sharia and its late leader, Abu Iyadh – a former Bin Laden ally sanctioned by the U.S. after 9/11 – during the Arab Spring. Abu Iyadh was responsible for al-Qaida’s assassination of Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masood two days before the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

These examples also include connections between the Yemeni MB and al-Qaida through Sheikh Abdul Majid al-Zindani. Treasury Department officials described al-Zindani as a “Bin Laden loyalist” in a 2004 press release. He also helped al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki, while serving on the board of the Brotherhood-linked Union of Good, which raises funds for Hamas.

Al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood have also used many of the same funding mechanisms, such as the Lugano, Switzerland based Al-Taqwa Bank.

West Supported Brotherhood Making Egypt an Islamic State

In other correspondence, Blumenthal reported that “MB leaders are also pleased with the results of discussions with the United States Government, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), both of which, in the analysis of the MB leaders, appear to accept the idea of Egypt as an Islamic state.”

Western business and diplomatic leaders at the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos“appeared to accept” an end to Egypt’s role as a partner with Israel, Blumenthal wrote, even if the Egyptians had no desire for a military confrontation with the Jewish state.

Brotherhood members, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, advocated an Islamic government based upon the Turkish model, in which civilians rather than clerics rule. All legislation passed by such a government must conform to the Islamic law. Egypt’s 2012 constitution included this principle, which subjected legislation for review by Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s most important academic institution. Gamal al-Banna, brother of the Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, warned prior to his death in January 2013, that religious law would always prevail in such a system.

“If nothing else, the civilian and religious outlooks will differ and will therefore surrender to the religious outlook,” al-Banna said in a 2011 interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm. “Egypt should thus become a civil state, without involving the detailed legislation of Islam.”

Despite this knowledge Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration chose to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood as just another political party.

Meunier, who helped organize the demonstrations that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, doesn’t find any of these revelations surprising.

“To have that information and to ignore it is criminal. I kind of had an idea about this way back when [Clinton] came to Egypt, and I refused to meet with her when she requested a meeting with me,” Meunier said. “We knew that she was colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood.

“She was encouraging and working with a terrorist organization.”

Top Intel Officials: U.S. Faces Highest Terror Threat Level Since 9/11

James Clapper / AP

James Clapper / AP

Iran, N. Korea enhancing ties, ISIS more powerful than al Qaeda, terrorists pouring out of Syria

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Feb. 25, 2016:

Top intelligence community officials warned Thursday that the United States faces the highest terrorist threat level since the 9/11 terror attacks, citing a record-breaking increase in the flow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, as well as joint Iranian-North Korean plans to boost “attack capabilities” and other efforts by leading terror groups to increase their offensive capabilities.

As Iran “continues to be the foremost sponsor of terror” across the globe, ISIS has emerged as the “preeminent global terrorist threat,” with its combined strength now exceeding al Qaeda’s, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who warned lawmakers on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that “unpredictable instability has become the new normal.”

The United States has never dealt with this type of threat landscape and struggles to ensure it can continue gathering intelligence on these terror groups, which have shown unprecedented proficiency at obfuscating their actions.

Violent extremists now operate in 40 countries, Clapper said. Another seven countries have collapsing governments, and 14 are in danger of falling due to violent instability. An additional 59 countries have been marked as facing “significant risk of instability through 2016,” Clapper said.

Instability in these countries could enable them to become terrorist safe havens, as has been the case in Syria, Clapper said.

“There are now more Sunni [Muslim] violent extremist groups, members of safe havens, than any time in history,” Clapper said, noting that the rate of foreign fighters now traveling to Syria and Iraq is “without precedent.”

At least 38,200 foreign fighters, including 6,900 from Western countries, have made their way to Syria from about 120 different countries since the Syrian conflict began in 2012.

“Returning foreign fighters [to Europe and elsewhere], with first-hand battlefield experience, poses a dangerous operational threat,” Clapper said, citing last year’s massive terrorist attack in Paris.

Meanwhile, threats from global pandemics such as the Zika virus also threaten the U.S. homeland. The U.S. intelligence community expects up to 4 million Zika virus cases in just in the Western hemisphere, Clapper said.

Officials said that as the United States and other countries implement the Iran nuclear agreement, the Islamic Republic strengthens its alliance with terrorist groups and rogue nations such as North Korea.

“Iran continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terror and exert its influence in regional crises in the Mid-East through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, its terrorist partner Lebanese Hezbollah, and proxy groups,” Clapper said. “Iran and Hezbollah remain a continuing terrorist threat to U.S. interests and partners worldwide.”

Intelligence sources have predicted that Iran’s hatred for America will not abate despite the nuclear deal championed by the Obama administration.

“Iran’s supreme leader continues to view the U.S. as a major threat and we assess his views will not change despite the implementation of the [nuclear] deal, the exchange of detainees, and the release of the 10 sailors,” Clapper said.

Technology challenges remain for the U.S. as it seeks to disrupt cyber attacks and infiltrate online terror networks.

Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea continue to collect sensitive data from hacking American networks, Clapper said.

“Targeting collection of the U.S. political, military, economic, and technical information by foreign intelligence services continues unabated,” he said. “Russia and China post the greatest threat, followed by Iran and Cuba on a lesser scale.”

Terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda have demonstrated an ability to hide their online operations.

“The increased use by violent extremists of encrypted and secure Internet and mobile-based tech has enabled terrorist actors to go dark and serves to undercut intelligence and law enforcement efforts,” Clapper said.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), the intelligence committee’s chairman, expressed concern over the government’s ability to address all of these threats.

“The U.S. faces the highest threat level since the 9/11 attacks,” he said. “The intelligence community is being stretched thin and is overwhelmed by a complex threat matrix.”

Nunes also highlighted several instances of waste, fraud, and abuse in the U.S. defense network.

Whistleblowers have informed Congress that officials at U.S. Central Command have deleted “both files and emails” to hide them from lawmakers.

Additionally, sources have identified billions of dollars in waste and excess spending for programs, including “documentation showing the Department of Defense has provided false information to Congress.”

Several congressional committees are currently investigating this behavior.

***

An ISIS 9/11 Attack On America With WMDs In 2016

U.S. intelligence agencies confirm that ISIS has used chemical weapons, warn it will attempt direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016, and is infiltrating refugee groups fleeing Iraq and Syria. (Ho/Zuma Press/Newscom)

U.S. intelligence agencies confirm that ISIS has used chemical weapons, warn it will attempt direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016, and is infiltrating refugee groups fleeing Iraq and Syria. (Ho/Zuma Press/Newscom)

IBD, Feb. 12, 2016:

National Security: The CIA director confirms that the Islamic State uses chemical weapons days after the director of national intelligence says ISIS is planning attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016. Connect the dots.

CIA Director John Brennan, in a CBS News “60 Minutes” interview that will air Sunday, said ISIS has “used chemical munitions on the battlefield” and can construct chlorine and mustard gas-releasing weapons.

Earlier this week, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart told the Senate Armed Services Committee that ISIS will “attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016,” and that the caliphate is infiltrating the refugees fleeing the ISIS mayhem in Iraq and Syria.

At the same hearing on Tuesday, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said ISIS operatives are “pretty skilled at phony passports, so they can travel ostensibly as legitimate travelers,” with Syrian passport machines having been commandeered by the terrorist organization.

The “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community” Clapper presented to Congress on Tuesday said ISIS “has become the preeminent terrorist threat.”

So ISIS is “the preeminent terrorist threat” in the world.

It can make and has used weapons of mass destruction.

It is hiding among refugees, using fake passports to cross borders.

And it will “attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016.”

Can we please put two and two together? If ISIS is going to cross our border and attack America, why wouldn’t it shoot for the moon and use chemical weapons against us in assaults that would make the 9/11 attacks look like a walk in the park?

ISIS wouldn’t even have to smuggle them in. ABC News recently asked experts such as Michael Allswede of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Thomas Inglesby of the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at Johns Hopkins University about terrorists making chemical weapons surreptitiously within the U.S.

“Because they’re relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture, chemical weapons have long been considered ‘the poor man’s atomic bomb,’ ” they said, and “could be dispersed from a crop-dusting plane, from aerosols, or by distributing the chemical in water supplies.”

This nation should be on Code Red right now with a “severe risk of terrorist attack” — a WMD terrorist attack that could kill many thousands. Except that President Obama abolished the color-coded terrorism threat advisory scale five years ago.

Also see:

US Intel Chief: Islamic Terror Threat Biggest in History

ISIS fighters

ISIS fighters

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Feb. 11, 2016:

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said February 9 the Sunni terrorist threat “has been on an upward trajectory since the late 1970s and has more groups, members and safe havens that at any other point in history.”

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart also testified and his assessment wasn’t rosier.

More than 36,500 foreign fighters have gone to Syria, including at least 6,000 from Western countries, since 2012, said Stewart. Within the U.S., the FBI arrested some five dozen Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) supporters last year, a 500% increase from 2014.

“ISIL will likely increase the pace and lethality of its transnational attacks as infrastructure and capabilities mature. It will purposely attempt to stroke sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunnis and between the West and Islam to create the chaotic environment in which it thrives,” Stewart said.

Watch the Clarion Project on Newsmax TV’s “Newsmax Prime with J.D. Hayworth” discussing this topic:

The Islamic State will hold onto Mosul in Iraq through at least the end of the year, Stewart believes. It is the centerpiece of the caliphate in Iraq and has enormous ideological value to the group. The reason is that the Iraqi Security Forces, Kurdish Peshmerga and the Shiite and Sunni elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces (a coalition of militias, many of which are linked to Iran) lack the logistics, morale, qualified soldiers and overall military preparedness.

Stewart said the program to enlist Sunnis in the fight against ISIS—which proved decisive in beating back Al-Qaeda previously—is failing because of concerns about Iranian influence, persecution by Shiite militias and a lack of funding and material. The latter two elements validate Sunni complaints that the U.S. is inadequately supporting them due to the Iraqi central government’s insistence that all U.S. assistance be routed through Baghdad.

Clapper’s statement that Sunni terrorism has been on an “upward trajectory” casts a shadow over the Obama Administration’s  boast that ISIS has lost 40% of its caliphate in Iraq and 20% of it in Syria. It is true ISIS has lost ground and the statistic may be accurate, but Clapper’s statement shows it does not tell the whole story.

The testimonies of Clapper and Stewart explain that ISIS is expanding outside of Iraq and Syria, especially in Libya. The U.S. can and should boast of successes against ISIS, but the statistic doesn’t account for ISIS’ gains globally.

It also doesn’t mean progress against ISIS necessarily translates to overall progress in the war against Islamist terrorism. Clapper said al-Qaeda is poised to strengthen in 2016 because of its affiliates in Yemen and Syria. If ISIS’ holdings in Syria transfer to al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing, Jabhat al-Nusra (or another Islamist extremist group), then there’s no net gain.

Stewart told the Senate Armed Services Committee the ideological makeup of the Syrian rebels is projected to become even more radical in 2016. The chief reason is the Syrian regime’s advances on the ground with the help of Russia and Iran will cause more rebel groups to coalesce with Sunni extremists.

The two intelligence directors also see Afghanistan as an area with growth potential for al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban and others. Clapper believes ISIS’ branch in Afghanistan known as Khorasan is likely to only be a “low-level threat,” but the intelligence community has consistently underestimated the terrorist group. Stewart worries that al-Qaeda “could establish a significant presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” if pressure on the group decreases.

“[The Islamist insurgency is] steadily chipping away at Afghanistan’s security…we assess that fighting in 2016 will be more intense than in 2015, continuing a decade-long trend of deteriorating security,” Clapper said.

On the topic of Iran, the intelligence chiefs did not predict a change in the Shiite terrorist threat. Stewart warned Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have threatened to attack U.S. personnel there and some Shiite militiamen have attempted to do so. An Iran-backed militia kidnapped three American civilians working as contractors in Baghdad, just last month,.

Stewart absolved Iran of responsibility for the Shiite militias’ violence towards Americans and Coalition forces, saying it is “almost certainly not at the direction of Iran or [militia] group leadership.”

Even if that’s true—a big if—why shouldn’t Iran be blamed? It is supporting extremist militias who have an anti-American agenda and whose members are inclined to do that very thing. Perhaps Iran wants it to happen and knows it doesn’t even need to direct the Shiite extremists to do it. That would achieve plausible deniability while positioning itself as the power broker to whom the U.S. must plead for help.

Stewart also testified Iran is planning to launch a Space-Launch Vehicle equivalent to a nuclear-capable ICBM. He said it could happen this year, adding Iran continues to work on improving ballistic missile accuracy, range and lethality.

Iran was also rated as one of the top three foreign intelligence threats to the U.S. alongside Russia and China. Stewart said “some of these foreign intelligence entities also seek to influence our national policy and decision-making process.”

The most positive parts of their testimonies focused on the U.S.-backed Kurdish fight against ISIS and some encouraging news from Afghanistan.

Clapper said the Afghan National Security Forces will “probably” retain control of the major population centers and their losses will be limited to some rural areas with a small population. Stewart said the Afghan special forces are significantly improving and the Afghans have secured almost all of the provincial capitals and major highways. They have also shown they are capable of launching major counter-attacks like they did in Kunduz after a surprise routing at the hands of the Taliban.

Overall, the assessment was very bleak. Sunni extremists are getting stronger. Shiite extremists are, at best, not weakening and Iran is advancing its ballistic missile program for delivering nuclear weapons.

A summary of two intelligence chiefs’ statements could be written like this: The trend is in the enemy’s favor.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking 

***

Also see:

Intelligence Director: Al-Qaeda ‘Positioned to Make Gains in 2016’

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper looks at his notes during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about worldwide threats on Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper looks at his notes during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about worldwide threats on Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

PJ MEDIA, BY BRIDGET JOHNSON, FEBRUARY 9, 2016

The director of national intelligence warned Congress this morning that “unpredictable instabilities have become the new normal, and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.”

In a briefing of worldwide threats referred to as his “litany of doom,” James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “violent extremists” are “operationally active in about 40 countries.”

“Seven countries are experiencing a collapse of central government authority, 14 others face regime-threatening or violent instability or both. Another 59 countries face a significant risk of instability through 2016,” he said.

Russia and China “continue to have the most sophisticated cyber programs” and China continues cyber espionage against the United States.

“Whether China’s commitment of last September moderates its economic espionage” — a vow touted by President Obama — “remains to be seen,” Clapper noted. “Iran and North Korea continue to conduct cyber espionage as they enhance their attack capabilities.”

ISIS, he said, “displays unprecedented online proficiency”and “at least 38,200 foreign fighters, including at least 6,900 from western countries, have traveled to Syria from at least 120 countries since the beginning of the conflict in 2012.”

From 2014 to 2015, the number of ISIS supporters arrested by the FBI increased fivefold.

And despite repeated administration insistence that the “core” of al-Qaeda has been decimated, Clapper said they’ve bounced back just fine, with a network of affiliates “proven resilient despite counterterrorism pressure.”

“Al-Qaeda’s affiliates are positioned to make gains in 2016,” the director said, citing al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the al-Nusra front in Syria as “the two most capable al-Qaeda branches.”

Iran, Clapper noted, “continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terrorism and exert its influence and regional crisis in the Mid East.”

“Through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, its terrorist partner, Lebanese, Hezbollah and proxy groups,” he said. “Iran and Hezbollah remain a continuing terrorist threat to U.S. interest and partners worldwide.”

On the nuclear deal, “Iran probably views the JCPOA as a means to remove sanctions, while preserving nuclear capabilities. Iran’s perception of how the JCPOA helps it to achieve its overall strategic goals will dictate the level of adherence to the agreement over time.”

North Korea “continues to produce fissile material and develop a submarine launched ballistic missile” and is “also committed to developing a long-range nuclear armed missile that’s capable of posing a direct threat to the United States, although the system has not been flight tested,” Clapper continued.

Russia, meanwhile, “continues to have the largest and most capable foreign nuclear-armed ballistic missile force” and China “continues to modernize its nuclear missile force and is striving for a secure, second-strike capability.” Russia and China are also the greatest threats to the U.S. in terms of foreign intelligence, he said.

And despite the Obama administration lauding its deal with the Assad regime after it crossed the “red line” of using chemical weapons as a triumph of democracy that depleted the dictator’s stockpile, “chemical weapons continue to pose a threat to Syria and Iraq.”

“Damascus has used chemicals against the opposition on multiple occasions since Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention,” Clapper said. “ISIL has also used toxic chemicals in Iraq and Syria, including the blister agent sulfur mustard, the first time an extremist group has produced and used a chemical warfare agent in an attack since Aum Shinrikyo used sarin in Japan in 1995.”

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart warned that ISIS “will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016.”

In Russia, Stewart noted, “military activity has continued at a historical high.”

“Moscow continues to pursue aggressive foreign and defense policies, including conducting operations in Syria, sustaining involvement in Ukraine and expanding military capabilities in the Arctic. Last year, the Russian military continued its robust exercise schedule and aggressively and occasionally provocative out of area deployments,” he said. “We anticipate similar high levels of military activity in 2016.”

Russian and Chinese cyberattacks “target DOD personnel, networks, supply chain, research and development, and critical structural information in cyber domain.”

Stewart said during questioning from the committee that he does not see Mosul being recaptured from ISIS this year.

“I’m less optimistic in the near-term about Mosul. I think there’s lots of work to be done yet out in the western part. I don’t believe that Ramadi is completely secure, so they have to secure Ramadi. They have to secure the Hit-Haditha corridor in order to have some opportunity to fully encircle and bring all the forces against Mosul,” the DIA director said.

“Mosul will be a complex operation, and so I’m not as optimistic. As you say, it’s a large city. I’m not as optimistic that we’ll be able to turn that in the near-term, in my view, certainly not this year. We may be able to begin the campaign, do some isolation operations around Mosul. But securing or taking Mosul is an extensive operation and not something I see in the next year or so.”

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