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

AFP PHOTO / OMAR HAJ KADOUR

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, uly 13, 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zimmerman testified:

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

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

Cafarella explained in her written testimony:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

Obama Administration Rules of Engagement Stymie Air War against ISIS

Refueling F-22 Raptor in mid-flight in air war against ISIS Source:  US Air Force

Refueling F-22 Raptor in mid-flight in air war against ISIS
Source: US Air Force

NER, by Jerry Gordon, June 1, 2015:

Without boots on the ground providing intelligence feed, the US led coalition air war is failing to “deter, let alone degrade” ISIS.  How else can you explain 7,000 sorties over Syria and Iraq with less than 25% having ‘bomb releases”?   That was the key disturbing finding in a Washington Times (WT) article, U.S. bombers hold fire on Islamic State targets amid ground intel blackout.”

The U.S. conducted 7,319 sorties over Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in the first four months of 2015. Of those, only 1,859 flights — 25.4 percent — had at least one “weapons release,” according to data provided by United States Air Force Central Command. That means that only about one in every four flights dropped a bomb on an Islamic State target.

There have been reports of frustration by US Air Force, Navy and Marine pilots engaged in the ISIS air campaign who have acquired targets and yet been commanded to stand down from attacking them. That has led to criticism of the Administration ISIS air war from Members of Congress, most notably, Sen. John McCain who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee cited in the WT report:

The Arizona Republican said at a hearing this year that missions that don’t drop bombs needlessly put American pilots in danger and that U.S. boots on the ground would produce better intelligence that could lead to more effective bombing missions.

The level of air sorties in the US-led coalition air war is far below those of Gulf Wars I and II and even the Balkan Air campaigns during the Clinton era.  The question is what is causing this?  Many believe it is the restrictive rules of engagement to spare civilian lives, when ISIS fighters move among columns of civilians, effectively using them as human shields.  Further, some analysts ironically believe that these strict rules of engagement actually contribute to civilian casualties by to ISIS. Perhaps this also reflects the misguided Obama Administration obsession in both avoiding collateral damage and avoiding putting special teams on the ground to provide better target intelligence.

Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel Source: Times of Israel

Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel
Source: Times of Israel

Perhaps, the Central Command planners and air war commanders might best heed Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Eshel who was cited in a Defense News article saying:

“We have an offensive capability that is unprecedented and extremely significant which we’ve been developing over years and are now able to implement.

“In small wars, it’s a very significant challenge for us to reduce collateral damage on the other side when the enemy is using all he has to elevate the damage we’re forced to inflict on him,” Eshel said.

“First of all, it’s a moral challenge. … It sounds like a slogan, but we are constantly thinking, planning and operating with this challenge in mind.”

The demonstration of that approach was what  occurred in Operation Defensive Edge against the Hamas rocket and terror tunnel war threatening Israel when the IAF F-16’s flew missions in attacks against urban targets with precision guided 1 ton bombs within 250 meters of IDF troops.  The key is precision strikes based on precise intelligence.

Note these debates about the Pentagon handling of the ISIS air war campaign in the WT article:

Former US Navy Helicopter Pilot, Cmdr. Harmer:

Without ground forces, argues Cmdr. Christopher Harmer, a retired Navy helicopter pilot, U.S. airmen are essentially flying half-blind and, as a result, are returning to base with their bombs still in the bay.
“As long as the body politic or president or whoever is making decisions absolutely refuses to put American air controllers on ground, essentially pilots are flying with one eye closed,” Cmdr. Harmer said. “It’s almost impossible for pilots to designate between [Islamic State] fighters and coalition fighters.”

Cmdr. Harmer, who now serves as a senior naval analyst with the Middle East Security Project at the Institute for the Study for War, said airstrikes can hit big, static targets such as bridges, runways and tanks without on-the-ground guidance. But to be effective in hitting moving targets such as enemy troops in a firefight, U.S. pilots need American joint terminal attack controllers to give specific directions from the ground to guide their missiles precisely.

Fewer targets of opportunity says CENTCOM:

Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), told reporters Friday that while pilots can often place bombs on targets “within minutes,” it’s very important to be very precise and exercise tactical discipline to protect civilian populations.

“We’re dealing with a hybrid adversary who often hides among the population,” he said. “It’s more important for us to accurately target the enemy with a high degree of precision in order to minimize civilian casualties than it is to strike with such speed or force that would risk disenfranchising the very population we’re there to protect.”

Richard Brennan of RAND Corporation has a more pragmatic assessment:

But to make things work without a ground force and employing only air power, the rules of engagement must change, argues Richard Brennan, a senior political scientist at RAND Corp.

Mr. Brennan said the Islamic State, in adapting and responding to U.S. airstrikes, has started to intermingle its fighters with civilians to frustrate U.S. attacks from the air.

In an effort to protect civilian lives, the strict rules of engagement are doing the opposite by giving the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, the opportunity to kill civilians, he said.

“Even though the United States isn’t doing the killing, by its inability to use force in all but the cases where they’re sure of not having collateral damage, we’re ceding the advantage to ISIS in many situations,” Mr. Brennan said.

Looks to us that CENTCOM needs to whistle up a session with IAF General Eshel to understand how the Israelis do precision hits against Hamas in heavily urbanized Gaza City and Hezbollah Syrian missile and weapons transfers.  Both Cmdr. Harmer of the Institute for the Study of War and Brennan of the RAND Corporation are correct about the stringent rules for engagement in the air war against. They are generating more collateral civilian casualties.  Something that didn’t dawn on the Metternichean Munchkins in the Obama National Security Council who call the shots over Pentagon objections.

***

Salafi-Jihadists: “A Persistent Threat” to Europe and America

The Dutch-Turkish jihadist known as Yilmaz (center) poses with fellow jihadists in Syria.

The Dutch-Turkish jihadist known as Yilmaz (center) poses with fellow jihadists in Syria.

by Soeren Kern:

The other key reason for the growing threat, the report says, is due to American disengagement and a significant scaling back of counterterrorism efforts.

“A complete withdrawal of U.S forces from Afghanistan by 2016 could seriously jeopardize U.S. security interests…. The United States should also consider a more aggressive strategy…. The failure to weaken… jihadist groups will likely have serious repercussions for the United States.” — RAND report.

The European report also calls attention to the misuse of charities and other non-profit organizations to collect funds for terrorist entities.

In keeping with strict conformity to European multiculturalism and moral relativism, the European Union refused to classify two of the most high-profile terrorist attacks in 2013 as “religiously inspired terrorism.”

The threat to Europe and the United States from Islamic terrorism is serious and growing, and new attacks with unexpected targets and timings are increasingly likely, according to two new reports that provide insights and predictions about the threats posed by al-Qaeda and other Salafi-jihadist groups.

The reports — one by the US-based RAND Corporation and another by the EU-based Europol — show that al-Qaeda and related jihadist groups are evolving, splintering and morphing, and that the number of Islamic militants, especially from Western countries, is growing apace.

Taken together, the two reports thoroughly dispute claims by members of the Obama Administration and other policymakers that al-Qaeda has been severely weakened and no longer poses a major threat to the West.

The first report, entitled, “A Persistent Threat: The Evolution of al-Qaeda and Other Salafi Jihadists,” was prepared for the U.S. Defense Department and published on June 4 by the RAND Corporation, a public policy think tank based in California.

As the title implies, the report focuses on the Salafi-jihadist movement, a particular strand of militant Sunni Islamism which emphasizes the importance of returning to a “pure” Islam: that of the Salaf (an Arabic term which means “ancestors” or “predecessors” and refers to the first three generations of Muslims, including Mohammed and his companions and followers).

Salafi-jihadist groups are actively seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate — a theocratic Muslim empire governed by Islamic sharia law — to bring about the unification of the entire Muslim world, and, according to their writings, ultimately the subjugation of the entire globe. These groups believe that violent jihad to achieve this objective is a personal religious duty for every Muslim.

The report documents how the broader Salafi-jihadist movement has become more decentralized among four tiers: 1) core al-Qaeda in Pakistan; 2) formal affiliates that have sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda; 3) Salafi-jihadist groups that have not sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda, but are committed to establishing an extremist Islamic emirate; and 4) inspired individuals and networks.

Between 2010 and 2013, the report says, the number of al-Qaeda-sympathizing Salafi-jihadist groups has increased to 49 from 31; the number of jihadist fighters has doubled to 100,000; and the number of attacks by al-Qaeda affiliates has tripled to roughly 1,000 from 392.

The most significant threat to the United States, the report warns, comes from terrorist groups operating in North Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, the location that has seen the greatest growth in the numbers of jihadist groups and militants.

Libya represents the most active sanctuary for Salafi-jihadist groups in North Africa, and Syria the most significant safe haven for groups in the Levant. Egypt is the one country where Salafi-jihadist groups have lost ground, the report says, due to a concerted effort by Egyptian military leaders to target these groups in the mainland and on the Sinai Peninsula. [Claims by Egyptian military officials that the Sinai Peninsula is under their complete control are being disputed by recent media reports suggesting that jihadists still hold considerable sway there.]

One reason for the increase in Salafi-jihadist groups, fighters and attacks, the report says, is the weakness of governments across North Africa and the Middle East. Weak governments have difficulty establishing law and order, which allows militant groups and other sub-state actors to fill the vacuum.

Another key reason for the growing threat, the report says, is due to American disengagement from key parts of North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and a significant scaling back on counter-terrorism efforts.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Also see:

Terrorist Groups Rise 58% Since 2010

130221_terrorists-450x306by Arnold Ahlert:

One of the principal narratives of the 2012 Obama re-election campaign — as in al Qaeda has been “decimated” and put on a “on the path to defeat” — has itself been decimated. According to a study released yesterday by the RAND Corporation, there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of jihadist groups over the last four years. Even more troubling, the number of jihadist fighters has doubled, and the number of worldwide attacks has tripled. The report further notes that terrorist groups operating in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan pose the greatest threat to the United States.

“Based on these threats, the United States cannot afford to withdraw or remain disengaged from key parts of North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia,” states Seth G. Jones, author of the study and associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at RAND. “After more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, it may be tempting for the U.S. to turn its attention elsewhere and scale back on counterterrorism efforts. But this research indicates that the struggle is far from over.”

The raw numbers are stark. The number of groups have increased from 31 to 49, the number of fighters to a high estimate of 100,000 and the number of attacks from 392 to approximately 1000.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Jones points out that America also faces significant threats in addition to Islamic jihadism, including the invasion of Ukraine by Russia that threatens our NATO alliance; China’s flexing of its economic, military and cyber muscles in East Asia; and the instability of North Korea. He also puts Iran and their dedicated pursuit of nuclear-weapons in this category.

Jones’s analysis pokes a giant hole in the leftist ideology that posits America’s forays into Iraq and Afghanistan caused an increase in jihadist activity. In fact it is quite the opposite. As America has retreated from the Middle East – completely from Iraq in December of 2011, combined with a highly-publicized schedule of winding down combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of this year — terrorism is surging.

Read more at Front Page

Expert Testimony: Global al-Qaeda, Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges

map-2-al-qaedaSubcommittee Hearing: Global al-Qaeda: Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges:  (Jul 18, 2013)

Witnesses

Seth Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Director
International Security and Defense Policy Center
RAND Corporation
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Frederick W. Kagan, Ph.D.
Christopher DeMuth Chair and Director
Critical Threats Project
American Enterprise Institute
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Mr. Thomas Joscelyn
Senior Editor
The Long War Journal
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Thomas Hegghammer, Ph.D.
Zuckerman Fellow
Center for International Security and Cooperation
Stanford University
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Also see:

AL QAEDA: THE REPORTS OF MY DEATH ARE GREATLY EXAGGERATED

Dr. Matusitz Humiliates Islamic Intimidation Group CAIR

download (4)by ALAN KORNMAN:

Hassan Shibly, Director of the CAIR Tampa Office and Emerge USA instinctually attack anyone who challenges their Sunni version of Islamic doctrine and theology.  CAIR and Emerge USA were counting on a weak academic professor to attack,  not the academic cage fighter Dr. Jonathan Matusitz.

CAIR and EMERGE USA Attack Dr. Matusitz

Hassan Shibly of  CAIR Tampa and Ms. Laila Abdelaziz of Emerge USA attacked Dr. Jonathan Matusitz by publicly calling him unsubstantiated vile epithets hoping to derail his academic career and personal reputation as a source expert in Terrorism and Communication.  All CAIR and Emerge USA succeeded in doing was bringing shame and dishonor on themselves, their organizations, and their families.

CAIR and Emerge USA became the laughing stock of the Civil Rights movement in their   anger filled emotional response to the facts presented in this video.

How Culture Shapes Terrorism – Dr. Jonathan Matusitz & Rep. Sandy Adams

jonathan-matustiz-340x161Meet Dr. Jonathan Matusitz

Dr. Jonathan Matusitz (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 2006) is currently a tenured associate professor in the Nicholson School of Communication at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He studies globalization, culture, terrorism and health communication.

On top of having 95 academic publications and over 100 conference presentations, he taught at a NATO-affiliated military base in Belgium in 2010. Originally from Belgium himself, he moved to the United States in 2000. In 2012, he was honored with a prestigious teaching award by the College of Sciences at UCF.

Dr. Matusitz’s research was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court (2011), Governor’s Office State of Florida, and the United States Congress (2005). His most recent book, Terrorism & Communication: A Critical Introduction, was published in 2012 by SAGE. His research methodologies include qualitative interviewing, content analysis, semiotics and theoretical analysis.

Terrorism and Communication Lecture Series

Dr. Matusitz in 2012-2013 hosted a Terrorism and Communication lecture series that was heavily advertised,  free, and open to the public. By their own admission, no one from CAIR or Emerge USA attended this lecture series in person or by proxy.

The UCF  Muslim Students Association (MSA) or the UCF Shia Muslim Ahlul Bayt Society have spoken one unfavorable word publicly about Dr. Matusitz, his terrorism classes, or the lecture series in question.  No one from the Central Florida Muslim community has had a negative word to say about Dr. Matusitz or his academic work.

Dr. Matusitz’s Exemplary Reputation As An Academic And Teacher

Dr. Matusitz’s is a subject matter expert on Terrorism and Communication.  As a subject matter expert his work has been referenced by the Supreme Court of the United States, US Congress, US Military, Law Enforcement, UCF fellow academics, and the one hundred plus academic journals who publish his work.

Dr. Matusitz’s student evaluations are exemplary from both his Muslim and non-Muslim students.  Dr. Matusitz’s positive student evaluations expose CAIR National spokesman, Ibrahim ‘Doug’ Hooper’s lie about Dr. Matusitz teaching ‘hateful views’ when the facts don’t support his false claim.

Soviet propaganda specialists would call Hooper’s amateurish character assassination tactic a ‘big lie’.  Ibrahim Hooper is disgraceful and may be one of the reasons the Washington Times reports that CAIR’s membership has dropped 90% since 2001.

Only the best and brightest academics get tenured early in their careers,  Dr. Matusitz is one of those fast track tenured professors who is not intimidated when terrorist supporters attack him for teaching the truth about Terrorism and Communication.

Why CAIR Is Scared Of Dr. Matusitz

Among the 1400 footnotes in Dr. Matusitz’s textbook is a statistic by the respected RAND Corporation that has Islamic Intimidation Corporations like CAIR and Emerge USA cowering and afraid. They are afraid the statistic below will be common knowledge to all Americas.

FactRAND Corporation determined that 96% of deadly terrorist attacks in Europe and the U.S. between 2000-2010 were committed by Muslims.

CAIR and Emerge state they are upset because, “His blatant disregard for distinguishing between terrorists and the Muslim population as a whole is disturbing.”

The RAND Corporation Fact that 96% of the terrorist attacks were committed by Muslims exposes CAIR and Emerge USA’s duplicity in trying to separate all the followers of Islam (Muslims) from Islamic terrorism.  CAIR’s reputation is determined by how effective they are at making themselves victims, while never condemning the Islamic doctrine terrorists use to justify violent Jihad.  Anyone who does not go lock step with the CAIR Islamist Party Line is labeled a threat and must be marginalized.

Groups like CAIR and Emerge USA exist to protect Islamic Doctrine and theology from those who publicly challenge their Islam.  CAIR is the public relations firm for modern day Islamist terrorists.

Read more: Family Security Matters