Special Ops Command to Pentagon: Stop Ignoring Jihad


But the Pentagon’s orders are to ignore the jihad come from on high.

CounterJihad, Sept. 26, 2016:

Staff officers of United States Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are stonewalling demands by the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to add Salafi Jihad to the description of our enemies.  The Washington Times reports:

U.S. Special Operations Command has privately pressed the staff of the nation’s highest-ranking military officer to include in his upcoming National Military Strategy a discussion of the Sunni Muslim ideology underpinning the brutality of the Islamic State group and al Qaeda…  The 2015 public version does not mention Islamic ideology. It lists terrorists under the ambiguous category of “violent extremist organizations” and singles out al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

…Special Operations Command wants the National Military Strategy to specifically name Salafi jihadism as the doctrine that inspires violent Muslim extremists. Salafi jihadism is a branch within Sunni Islam. It is embraced by the Islamic State and used to justify its mass killings of nonbelievers, including Shiite Muslims, Sunnis and Kurds, as well as Christians.  People knowledgeable about the discussion toldThe Washington Times that SoCom has not been able to persuade Gen. Dunford’s staff to include Salafi jihadism in any strategy draft.

The National Military Strategy (NMS) will be a classified document that will spell out the nation’s strategic goals and means of attaining those goals.  It occupies a middle position in a cycle of obtaining the right means to the nation’s strategic ends.  The NMS follows the production of the National Security Strategy (NSS), which is issued by the President of the United States.  The NSS is more general, as the President occupies the higher position of Commander in Chief, and lays out what the President takes to be the important goals of the nation globally.  The NMS is then prepared by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and lays out in much greater specificity military means to supporting the ends identified by the President in the NSS.  The NMS then serves both as guidance for combatant commanders, such as the commander of USSOCOM, and also for helping Congress to identify military budget priorities.

It is a crucial document, in other words, but one over which the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has only limited control.  The NSS sets limits on what the NMS can say.  Combatant commands like USSOCOM are deeply interested in the content of the document, as the NMS will set similar limits on what they are allowed to direct subordinate units to say and do.  SOCOM is encountering resistance at the Pentagon because they are asking the NMS to push out into territory that the author of the NSS does not want to enter.  The Pentagon’s orders come from the highest levels on this matter, indeed from the President of the United States himself.

For that reason it is no surprise that SOCOM’s pushback has not yet created any effect on the forthcoming strategy.  Nevertheless, they are manifestly correct about the importance of recognizing that the Islamic State (ISIS) is in fact Islamic.  As the classic text on war by Sun Tzu counsels, a nation can only be confident at war if its leaders understand not only themselves but also their enemy.  Refusing to understand your enemy is a crippling defect.

However, the identification of the problem as Salafi theology is only a partial fix.  Certainly within the context of the question of ISIS and al Qaeda, whom SOCOM have been instructed to treat as enemies, Salafi and Wahhabi Islam are the correct subsets of Islam to consider.  Yet there is another “brand” of Islamic theology that is just as radical, which is the velayat-e faqih model of Shia Islam pushed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.  SOCOM has not been ordered to treat Iran as an enemy.  Rather, the US military has been ordered to avoid conflict with Iran, and to operate alongside Iranian-backed irregulars in Iraq as if they were allies instead.  The result has been that our fighting forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria, as well as our naval forces in the Persian Gulf, have been exposed to huge risks that they are forbidden to combat.

Meanwhile Iran continues to develop long-range nuclear-capable missiles for warheads it currently swears it will never produce.  Iran installs advanced new anti-aircraft missiles to help fortify its Fordow nuclear site, which President Obama’s deal supposedly put beyond use.  Why fortify it against air attack, then?  Why develop missiles if you never intend to have a payload that would make them a useful option?

It is clear that our military is being forbidden from even thinking clearly, or speaking clearly, about the threats we face and where they originate.  The next President will need to reverse course, and quickly, if we are to avoid a disaster that costs American lives, America’s position in the world, and America’s national strategic goals.

French Scholar of Islam Gilles Kepel: Prepare for War

sislam-will-dominate1Expect the jihad to worsen across Europe, to the point that many states fall into civil war over what to do about the terror.

CounterJihad, Sept. 13, 2016:

How much worse will Islamist terrorism in Europe get?  According to French scholar Gilles Kepel of the Sciences Po institute, it is likely to get so much worse that European states fall into civil war over government inability to stop it.

Professor Gilles Kepel, from the Sciences Po in Paris, France, said a growing ‘Jihad Generation’ is likely to continue to carry out terror acts in European cities.  The aim of their terror activity is to both incite hatred towards Muslims and, in doing so, cause further radicalisation among young people, the professor of political science said.

He told the German newspaper Die Welt that this in turn could lead to the point where Europe enters into civil war.


Specifically, Kepel is concerned that this continual wave of terror attacks cannot be effectively stopped by traditional policing methods.  The French government seems to agree, as French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said this week that there would definitely be more successful attacks even though his government is stopping attacks “every day.”

Partially this is because police do not have anything like the resources they would need.  The numbers of Muslims on terrorism watch lists in France alone tops 15,000, having tripled in recent months.  It takes many police officers to establish a full-time watch on one particular suspect.  The French have far less capacity to watch these suspects than does the American FBI, and even they have only “a few dozen” surveillance teams — far too few to watch the thousand-plus suspected Islamic terrorists here.  There is simply no way for police work alone to deal with so large a problem.

Thus, terrorist acts on the scale of the recent Paris attacks are likely to continue, and the European populations will eventually find it intolerable.  They will then move to expel Islam from Europe by endorsing right wing parties, Kepel says, and that will lead to the civil wars he fears.

Nor will that be the end of the violence.  The Islamist radicals will not be satisfied with destabilizing Europe, in Kepel’s view.  They will want to build an Islamic society from the wreckage:

The long-term goal of the Jihad Generation is to destroy Europe through civil war and then build an Islamic society from the ashes, Prof. Kepel said. The strategy is similar to the expansion of Islamic State in Syria, Iraq, and Libya where the terrorist organisation was able to use the chaos of civil war to slowly build its forces, grow in power, and rapidly seize territory.

There are things that can be done to lessen the danger, according to Professor Kepel.  One of the main ones is that Islamic leaders should reject Salafism, a form of Islam that requires a kind of disconnection from the secular states characteristic of contemporary Europe.  Kepel proposes that Islamic scholars have a “duty” to reject Salafism, and that most are failing this duty by remaining silent in the face of a rising tide of this ideological movement.

The young are particular persuaded by Salafi ideas, according to Breitbart, as also are thought to be the recent immigrant wave from the crises in the Middle East.  They point out that Germany has begun to raid Salafi preachers, targeting some 45,000 in recent months.  But of course that returns our attention to the scale of the problem.  Raiding 45,000 homes is possible.  Monitoring 45,000 preachers full time is probably quite beyond the resources of any European state, and possibly beyond even the United States.

Why It’s So Hard To Prosecute Islamists And Keep A Free Society


Anjem Choudary’s case exemplifies the difficulties we in the West face in dealing with homegrown Islamic radicalism.

The Federalist, by M. G. Oprea, Aug. 23, 2016:

The British Muslim “hate preacher” Anjem Choudary has finally been convicted after 20 years of preaching fundamentalist Islam aimed at radicalizing young Muslims and encouraging them to engage in terrorist activities. Last week, he, along with Mohammed Rahman, was found guilty of inviting support for ISIS in speeches and lessons posted online. Choudary’s case, and his long history of Salafist extremism, exemplifies the difficulties that we in the West face in dealing with homegrown Islamic radicalism.

Choudary, a British citizen born to Pakistani parents, has spent two decades working toward global Islamic domination. These are his words. He wants Islamic law to spread throughout the world, and told the Washington Post in 2014 “We believe there will be complete domination of the world by Islam.” He has also said that “Britain belongs to Allah.”

Choudary founded multiple Islamist and Wahhabist organizations in England, all of which were eventually banned. He has connections with numerous other Salafist and Islamist groups and is a known leader of “dark networks” that stretch across Europe and seek to radicalize young Muslims. He has praised terrorists, including the 9/11 attackers, and proclaimed they are in paradise. He has been friendly with a top ISIS figure and executioner, who at the time was part of the terrorist group Sharia4Belgium, and is connected to more than 100 British terrorists, and many terror plots.

Terrorism’s Victims Include Freedom of Speech

But somehow Choudary has managed to skirt the law all these years. A lawyer until 2002, he knew how to step up to the line of criminality without crossing it. Although his influence on European Muslims is well-known and -documented, he managed to skate by on technicalities of the law, because he hadn’t engaged in terrorist activities himself, nor was it proven he had directly sent people to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS.

What finally allowed authorities to arrest him last year and convict him this month was an oath he signed to ISIS’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in conjunction with speeches posted online that called on Muslims to join ISIS. As a prohibited organization, membership in ISIS is considered a criminal offence. British authorities convicted him of “inviting support for a proscribed organization,” under Terrorism Act 2000.

Choudary’s case raises questions of how far freedom of speech extends, and what ought to be done with terrorists once convicted. Although freedom of speech in Britain is a long-established common law right, in recent years it has suffered many setbacks. A Reason magazine article from last year highlighted the policing and punishment of Twitter users and journalists, as well as advertisers (a notable case was an ad banned in London for supposedly body-shaming women by depicting a fit woman in a bikini).

But what about here in the United States? People often ask what we should be doing at home to protect our country from Islamist terrorism. While presidential candidate Donald Trump would point solely to immigration, this misses the glaring fact that many Islamist terrorists were born in America or came as young children. This list includes Omar Mateen (Orlando), Faisal Mohammed (University of California-Merced), the Tsarnaev brothers (Boston Marathon), Syed Farook (San Bernardino), Nadir Soofi (Garland, Texas), and Nidal Hassan (Fort Hood).

Terrorists like these are drawn to Salafist Islam either in their communities and mosques or on the Internet. It isn’t always clear what the authorities can legally do beyond monitoring radical clerics and mosques and looking for connections between radicalized individuals and groups. How far can they go in policing what Islamists are preaching?

It Would Be Difficult to Prosecute Choudary in America

Freedom of speech is perhaps the most crucial right in a free society. There’s a reason it was the first right enshrined in the Bill of Rights: it’s meant to protect citizens from government attempts to silence dissent and regulate ideas and messages. In America, a country with arguably the most robust free speech protections, there are only a few exceptions to this First Amendment right. These include speech others own, child pornography, commercial speech, obscenity, and fighting words. None of these, however, are applicable to combatting Islamists, who are essentially supporting terrorism without providing terrorists with direct material support like guns, bombs, or money.

The one type of unprotected speech that would be applicable in a case like Choudary’s is incitement to violence. Speech that advocates force is unprotected, but only if its intention is to produce “imminent lawless action” and is likely to succeed. This could potentially apply to the sermons of Salafist imams, which, if encouraging people to fight with ISIS, are promoting lawless action. However, proving that they’re likely to lead to imminent action is more difficult.

Expressing even the most reprehensible views is protected by the First Amendment, including having a Ku Klux Klan parade or arguing for the overthrow of the government. So an Islamist imam could preach beliefs whose natural conclusion might be violence, but so long as he isn’t calling on a crowd to go out right away and commit terrorism, his speech is protected. This is why we may not have been able to prosecute a man like Choudary here in America.

Another way unprotected free speech comes into play is “true threats.” This recently made news when a Missouri woman was arrested for retweeting Twitter posts calling for the murder of U.S. law enforcement officials. The tweet contained names, addresses and phone numbers. Federal prosecutors argue that her retweets are tantamount to active support of ISIS, and charged the woman with conspiracy and transmitting a threat across state lines. Her defense, based on First Amendment grounds, argues the charges are unconstitutionally vague, once again illustrating the tension between free speech and national security.

Prisons Aren’t a Great Place for Islamists, Either

Once a conviction is made, as with Choudary, the problems don’t end there. Choudary faces up to ten years in prison. But what will he do once behind bars? Prison systems have become notorious in Europe and America for breeding radical Muslims, so a man like Choudary poses a threat inside as well as outside of prison.

Islamists in prison are treated like “aristocracy,” according to an audit of French prisons. When Salah Abdeslam, one of the Paris attackers, was arrested and sent to the Fleury-Mérogis prison he was “welcomed as the messiah,” according to one guard there. That same audit also found jihadi inmates can easily communicate with the outside world, including Syria.

So officials face a difficult decision between keeping Islamists like Choudary in the general population, where they can influence and indoctrinate other men, or concentrating Choudary and others like him in cell blocks so they don’t have access to non-radicalized inmates. This, of course, has its own dangers, namely that these men may plan future attacks and terrorist operations together. The third option, total isolation, is widely unpopular in places like Britain and France, where it is, perhaps correctly, seen as inhumane and cruel.

Choudary’s stay in prison will last a maximum of ten years. Then what? Does he get out in a few years after having been active in prison, and go on as he did before? Perhaps this time he’ll be more careful so as not to get caught. Some countries are working on de-radicalization programs, but their success has been dubious.

Choudary’s case typifies the difficulties the Western world faces in combatting radicalization. As a country that is fundamentally based on concepts of liberty and freedom of speech and of association, our principles and constitutionally protected rights sometimes run up against threats to national security. This is the great challenge we will face in the fight against Islamist ideology and homegrown radicalization in the years ahead. For a sense of the challenges to come, we need only look to Europe, where that fight is well underway.

M. G. Oprea is a writer based in Austin, Texas. She holds a PhD in French linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Also see:

Confirmed: Islam, Not ‘Grievances,’ Fuels Muslim Hate for the West

isis (3)ISIS settles the debate—but will Western leaders still disseminate lies?

Front Page Magazine, by Raymond Ibrahim, Aug. 19, 2016:

An old (and tiresome) debate appears to have been settled by those best positioned to settle it.  According to Andrew Gripp, a former political science professor:

Since 9/11, one of the defining fault lines in American and Western politics has concerned whether jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS are motivated by their religion or by politics – or more specifically, by grievances against Western foreign policy. Some insist that Islamic doctrine is the basis of their violence, while others insist that such groups are not truly Islamic, but are instead using the guise of religion to lash out against Western influence and intervention.

After indicating how “jihadist groups’ political behavior is consistently traceable to their beliefs about what the Quran, hadith, and respected commentaries say they have a divine injunction to do,” Gripp writes:

For years, however, making this case has been a challenge. This is in part because al-Qaeda was intentionally speaking to both sides in this debate. As the scholar Raymond Ibrahim demonstrates in The Al Qaeda Reader, the terrorist group would regularly frame its grievances in political terms when broadcasting its message to the West (so as to insinuate that once the West withdrew, peace would come). Yet when speaking to the Muslim world, the group would make highly sophisticated religious arguments, explaining why its actions, however reprehensible on their face, were in fact justified by a close reading of the holy texts.

This was indeed the main reason I sought to translate and publish al-Qaeda’s internal communiques to fellow Muslims side-by-side with al-Qaeda’s communiques to the West: to show the stark differences in tone and purpose.  As I wrote in the book’s preface ten years ago:

This volume of translations [The Al Qaeda Reader], taken as a whole, proves once and for all that, despite the propaganda of al-Qaeda and its sympathizers, radical Islam’s war with the West is not finite and limited to political grievances—real or imagined—but is existential, transcending time and space and deeply rooted in faith.

Now, however, the world need not rely on my translations and can get it straight from the horse’s mouth:  In a recent article titled “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You,” the Islamic State gives six reasons.   Reason number one says it all:

We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son [Christ], you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices. It is for this reason that we were commanded to openly declare our hatred for you and our enmity towards you. “There has already been for you an excellent example in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone’” (Al-Mumtahanah 4 [i.e., Koran 60:4]). Furthermore, just as your disbelief is the primary reason we hate you, your disbelief is the primary reason we fight you, as we have been commanded to fight the disbelievers until they submit to the authority of Islam, either by becoming Muslims, or by paying jizyah – for those afforded this option [“People of the Book”] – and living in humiliation under the rule of the Muslims [per Koran 9:29].

This is as plain as it gets, not to mention wholly grounded in Islam’s traditional worldview.  As has been repeatedly pointed out, if Muslims are persecuting their fellow country men and women—people who share their nationality, ethnicity, culture, and language—on the simple basis that they are Christians, why should there be any surprise, or excuses of “grievances,” when Muslims terrorize the “infidels” of the West?

Reasons two and three of why ISIS hates and fights the West are essentially the same as reason one: Western secularists and atheists are hated and attacked for disbelieving in and living against Allah.  Although reason four cites “crimes against Islam,” this is a reference to the “crime” of refusing to submit to Islam’s authority and sensibilities, also known as “Islam’s How Dare You?!” phenomenon.

It is only in reasons five and six that ISIS finally mentions “grievances” against Western foreign policies—only to quickly explain:

What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list. […]  The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you [emphasis added].

It is this unrelenting hatred that Westerners cannot comprehend; a hate that compels Muslim husbands to hate their non-Muslim wives, and compels America’s great “friends and allies” Saudi Arabia and Qatar to publish government sanctioned decrees proclaiming their hate for America.

And it was always this hate that fueled al-Qaeda’s jihad—not grievances.  All of the Koran verses that call for hate against non-Muslims have been repeatedly cited by al-Qaeda in its Arabic writings to Muslims.  (Ayman Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s current leader, wrote a 60 page treatise devoted to delineating how Islam commands Muslims to hate non-Muslims, see “Loyalty and Enmity,” The Al Qaeda Readerp. 63-115.)

Osama bin Laden once wrote

As to the relationship between Muslims and infidels, this is summarized by the Most High’s Word: “We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us—till you believe in Allah alone” [Qur’an 60:4 referenced above in ISIS’s recent publication]. So there is an enmity, evidenced by fierce hostility from the heart. And this fierce hostility—that is, battle—ceases only if the infidel submits to the authority of Islam, or if his blood is forbidden from being shed [i.e., a dhimmi], or if Muslims are at that point in time weak and incapable [in which case, bin Laden later clarifies, they should dissemble (taqiyya) before the infidels by, say, insisting the conflict is about “foreign policy,” nothing more]. But if the hate at any time extinguishes from the heart, this is great apostasy!… Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity, and hatred—directed from the Muslim to the infidel—is the foundation of our religion.  (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 43).

Yet, in every communique he issued to the West, bin Laden stressed that al-Qaeda’s war was entirely based on Western foreign policies detrimental to Islam: eliminate these and terrorism would cease.  This rhetoric was accepted at face value by many so-called “experts” (such as ex-CIA agent Michael Scheuer, author of Imperial Hubris) and became the default answer to the tired question, “why do they hate us?”  As late as 2014 U.S. President Obama invoked the “grievance” meme concerning ISIS.

Of course, it was one thing for Western leaders to accept and disseminate al-Qaeda’s lies concerning “grievances,” and another thing for them to continue doing so now, in light of ISIS’ recent and open confessions concerning the true nature of the jihad.  Any Western leader, analyst, or “expert” who at this late hour continues peddling the “grievance” narrative falls within the ever growing ranks of fools and liars.

Also see:

Schizophrenic – President Obama’s Two Faces on Radical Islam

ob_1By Brian Fairchild, August 3, 2016

President Obama is renowned for his insistence that there is nothing Islamic about the Islamic State, and for his refusal to utter any Islamic religious references when discussing international terrorism. He drove this point home recently when he angrily refused to describe the war against jihadis as a war against “radical Islamic terrorism”. Few realize, however, that the president has definitively and repeatedly contradicted his own statements, and has actually profiled the terrorist enemy with the same words he has criticized others for using – that the enemy attacking the United States is a “violent, radical…interpretation of Islam” and that there is a need for Islam as a whole to challenge that interpretation.

The president has often defended his policy of denying a connection between terrorism and Islam by stating that to do so would bestow legitimacy on the terrorists, insult Islam, and alienate Muslims, but he himself has precisely made this connection in speeches that appear to have been missed by the media and counter terrorism officials and analysts.

In two public statements: one before his Countering Violent Extremism conference, and one before a Muslim audience at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, as well as in statements he made to a journalist from The Atlantic magazine, the president directly contradicted his own statements and actually profiled the enemy as followers of a violent radical interpretation of Islam, an interpretation so ingrained in Islam that there is a need for the whole of Islam to challenge it. Indeed, his description was so accurate, that had it become the foundation of official US counter terrorism policy, the nation’s national security agencies would have been adequately armed to confront the threat.

Note: This paper will use the intelligence analysis format of establishing the relevant facts, in this case, by using only direct quotes from the president that will lead to general findings based on those facts that will lead to a logical conclusion and forecast of future action.

All of the entries in the “FACTS” section are direct quotes from the president taken from two official White House documents: Statement from the President in his closing from the summit on Countering Violent Extremism, February 18, 2015, and Statements by the President at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, February 3, 2016, as well as from his April 2016 one-on-one interviews with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic magazine. As a reference aide, each quote will be highlighted and linked to the proper document by the initials CVE, to denote the Countering Violent Extremism document, ISB, to denote the Islamic Society of Baltimore document, or The Atlantic, to denote the president’s interview with Jeffery Goldberg.


The enemy:

• The Atlantic: “It is very clear what I mean, which is that there is a violent, radical, fanatical, nihilistic interpretation of Islam by a faction—a tiny faction—within the Muslim community that is our enemy, and that has to be defeated. There is also the need for Islam as a whole to challenge that interpretation of Islam, to isolate it, and to undergo a vigorous discussion within their community about how Islam works as part of a peaceful, modern society…”

• ISB: “…it is undeniable that a small fraction of Muslims propagate a perverted interpretation of Islam. This is the truth…We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

The enemy’s justification for its actions and its worldwide acceptance:

• CVE: “Al Qaeda and ISIL do draw, selectively, from the Islamic texts. They do depend upon the misperception around the world that they speak in some fashion for people of the Muslim faith, that Islam is somehow inherently violent, that there is some sort of clash of civilizations.”

How the enemy radicalizes and recruits young Muslims:

• CVE: “Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people.”

The enemy’s success in the United States:

• ISB: “But, right now, there is a organized extremist element that draws selectively from Islamic texts, twists them in an attempt to justify their killing and their terror. They combine it with false claims that America and the West are at war with Islam. And this warped thinking that has found adherents around the world — including, as we saw, tragically, in Boston and Chattanooga and San Bernardino — is real. It’s there.”

The enemy’s focus for radicalization and recruitment:

• CVE: “We have to be honest with ourselves. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIL deliberately target their propaganda in the hopes of reaching and brainwashing young Muslims, especially those who may be disillusioned or wrestling with their identity. That’s the truth.”

The Muslim Community’s responsibility:

• CVE: “…we’ve got to discredit these ideologies. We have to tackle them head on. And we can’t shy away from these discussions. And too often, folks are, understandably, sensitive about addressing some of these root issues, but we have to talk about them, honestly and clearly.”

• ISB: “Muslims around the world have a responsibility to reject extremist ideologies that are trying to penetrate within Muslim communities…Muslim political leaders have to push back on the lie that the West oppresses Muslims, and against conspiracy theories that says America is the cause of every ill in the Middle East.”

• CVE: “Faith leaders may notice that someone is beginning to espouse violent interpretations of religion, and that’s a moment for possible intervention
Anti-American elements with the Muslim Community:

• CVE: But if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we’re going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people, if we’re going to lift up the voices of tolerance and pluralism within the Muslim community, then we’ve got to acknowledge that their job is made harder by a broader narrative that does exist in many Muslim communities around the world that suggests the West is at odds with Islam in some fashion. The reality…is that there’s a strain of thought that doesn’t embrace ISIL’s tactics, doesn’t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim world has suffered historical grievances…does buy into the belief that so many of the ills in the Middle East flow from a history of colonialism or conspiracy; does buy into the idea that Islam is incompatible with modernity or tolerance, or that it’s been polluted by Western values…So those beliefs exist. In some communities around the world they are widespread. And so it makes individuals — especially young people who already may be disaffected or alienated — more ripe for radicalization.


Based on the facts above, it is clear that that:

• Despite his years-long insistence that Islamist terrorism is not Islamic, the president’s statements demonstrate, quite to the contrary, that he full-well understands that the ideology of the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and other jihad groups is inextricably connected to Islam. This is nowhere more apparent than when he stated that this violent and radical interpretation requires intervention by the entire religion. Such a requirement reveals just how extensively it permeates the religion, which quite different from the notion the president espouses that describes the Islamic State and other jihad groups as illegitimate Islamic impostors who “portray” themselves as religious leaders. Similarly, when the president told the audience at the Islamic Society of Baltimore that “a small fraction of Muslims propagate” this interpretation, he was admitting to a Muslim audience that the followers of these movements are not outsiders or impostors, but are legitimate followers of Islam – Muslims.

• The president did not name the particular “interpretation of Islam” he described, but it is likely he was referring to Salafi-jihadism, which is how all Sunni jihad groups self-identify. Salafism is a legitimate ultraconservative strain of Sunni Islam. It is not a creation of any Islamist terrorist organization. Quite the opposite is true. Al Qaeda and all Sunni Islamist terrorist organizations emerged from a Salafi religious foundation. Salafis insist that the only sources of Islamic authority are a literal acceptance of Allah’s commands in the Qur’an, and a strict literal acceptance and emulation of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Compared to the world population of 1.6 billion Muslims, Salafism is comprised a small percentage of the total number of Muslims, but this minority is estimated to be in the millions.

• The president’s statements definitively contradict the Countering Violent Extremism initiative because he profiles the enemy as belonging to one particular group – Muslims – and not as separate individuals who for unforeseeable reasons become radicalized and commit random acts of violence. Moreover, he places the responsibility for discrediting and countering this radical Islamist ideology squarely on the shoulders of Muslim communities.

• The president’s admission that there is an anti-American “strain of thought” widespread in many Muslim communities around the world that proselytizes that Islam is incompatible with modernism and tolerance and “makes individuals — especially young people who already may be disaffected or alienated — more ripe for radicalization”, contradicts his general message that young Muslims are primarily radicalized over the Internet, and brings to the fore the role that radical imams, mosques, organizations, and radical speakers play in supporting radical Islamist networks. Again, this places the Muslim community front and center as a locus for Islamist behavior. Although he did not name this anti-American “strain of thought”, it is likely he was referring to the ideology of the worldwide Islamist movement propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood.


The president’s two-faced stance regarding radical Islam is hypocritical at best, and schizophrenic at worst and is best understood by viewing two of the president’s quotes back-to-back.

In the first statement given on June 14, 2016, the president is reacting angrily to Donald Trump’s call for him to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism”. In response, he rhetorically asked the following questions in order to deride Trump’s demand:

• “What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try and kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?

The second statement appeared in The Atlantic interview in April 2016, two months prior to his rhetorical derision of Trump, so while the president rhetorically lambasted Trump for his naïve and outlandish demands, he knew Trump was correct. In fact, in his April statement he had described the enemy by using the exact adjective Trump had demanded – “radical”, and he had already answered his own question as to whether there was a strategy that would benefit by using the term “radical Islamic terrorism”:

• “…there is a violent, radical, fanatical, nihilistic interpretation of Islam by a faction—a tiny faction—within the Muslim community that is our enemy, and that has to be defeated. There is also the need for Islam as a whole to challenge that interpretation of Islam, to isolate it, and to undergo a vigorous discussion within their community about how Islam works as part of a peaceful, modern society…”

For reasons yet unclear and beyond the scope of this analysis, the president ignored all the facts that he marshaled above and created the generic Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative to deal with terrorism instead. The program assiduously avoids all of the issues so far discussed, and is the antithesis and a negation of all of the president’s personal beliefs and his understanding of the jihadi threat as elucidated above. Here, the president, once again demonstrating schizophrenic tendencies, explains why all he has said above should be discounted:

• “We all know there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist, so there’s no way to predict who will become radicalized. Around the world, and here in the United States, inexcusable acts of violence have been committed against people of different faiths, by people of different faiths — which is, of course, a betrayal of all our faiths. It’s not unique to one group, or to one geography, or one period of time.”

This self-defeating initiative, based on no sound research or intelligence, and with no foundation in reality, has undermined the national security and safety of the country.
The most likely forecast based on all of the above is that with roughly four months to go until the end of his administration, is that the president will not reverse himself and inaugurate a new counter terrorism policy targeted against the very ideology and threats he says must be discredited and defeated.

Brian Fairchild was a career officer in CIA’s Clandestine Service. He has served in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Afghanistan. Mr. Fairchild writes periodic intelligence analyses on topics of strategic importance.

Saudi Arabia’s religious police stripped of authority to arrest Sharia violators

Saudi women journalists raise their hands to ask questions at a press conference held by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir at King Salman Regional Air Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Saudi women journalists raise their hands to ask questions at a press conference held by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir at King Salman Regional Air Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Saudi  government issued new regulations for the religious police operating in the state Tuesday, taking away the organization’s authority to arrest and persecute citizens for not adhering to Sharia law in their daily lives.

The unprecedented Saudi move came as a result of growing local criticism of the police and the way it performs its role as the defender of Sharia law in the state.

According to a statement explaining the new regulations, the religious police is “an independent body, which has organizational relations with the prime minister.”

The government emphasized that the religious police should notify the police or the Anti-Drug Authority of drug use crimes, adding that “neither the members nor the heads of the religious police are allowed to arrest and persecute citizens for such crimes, or even to ask suspected people for their IDs. Only the police and the Anti-Drug Authority are allowed to take these measures.”

In light of previous violent incidents that involved religious police members who attacked citizens, the governmental statement also included a prohibition on people who were charged with criminal offenses from joining the religious police.

The Saudi move aroused contradictory responses on social media networks. While opponents of extremist Islam in the country hailed the government’s decision, stating that “it’s better late than never,” others initiated a social media campaign under the hashtag, “The people against abolishing the role of the religious police.”

The Saudi government’s controversial decision comes amid an ongoing conflict between liberal Saudis and Salafi Saudis over the religious character of the Kingdom. Salafis view the recent move as evidence that the government is tilting toward the latter camp.

Saddam’s Former Loyalists Are Leading ISIS — as True Believers

isis-run-by-true-believers-rNational Review, by Kyle Orton, July 20, 2015:

After long neglect, the media has finally recognized the role of the FREs — former (Saddam) regime elements — within the Islamic State (ISIS). But the pendulum has now swung too far: Some reports are now claiming that the FREs have transformed the leader of the terror army, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, into nothing more than a front man for the Baathists.

These suppositions are mistaken. Most FREs within ISIS have not been ideologically Baathists for a long time.

Let’s consider some specifics.

First, the ISIS-as-front-for-Baathists storyline relies on a misreading of ISIS’s revival after the 2007 Surge. It is true that after ISIS’s former leader was killed in April 2010, ISIS intensified its “Iraqization” process. (This began with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s effort in 2006 to reverse ISIS’s negative image as a foreign imposition on Iraqi Sunnis.) Within three months between April and June 2010, Iraqi and American forces picked off 34 of 42 senior ISIS operatives in the region. But the rise to predominance of the FREs was an internal shift in ISIS — not an external coup. It came about because ISIS — at its nadir and with a decreased flow of foreign-fighters — turned to its most militarily skilled members.

Second, the ISIS-as-front-for-Baathists storyline has a very serious timeline problem. One of the infamous FREs within ISIS was Haji Bakr (real name: Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi), a former colonel in Saddam’s army, who masterminded ISIS’s expansion into Syria; he was killed by Syrian rebels when they rose against ISIS in January 2014. What is noteworthy is that al-Khlifawi had joined ISIS in 2003 when it was a foreign-led organization with Zarqawi — the patron saint of the takfiriyeen (those who regard only Salafi-purists as Muslims) — as its emir. A “socialist infidel” — as ISIS refers to Baathists — was not going to pass muster in ISIS at that time.

Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi (real name: Adnan Ismail Najem al-Bilawi), a former captain in Saddam’s army and until his death in June 2014 the head of ISIS’s military council (believed to be the most important ISIS military institution), also joined ISIS in 2003. Abu Ali al-Anbari, the overseer of ISIS-held territory in Syria, joined ISIS in 2003 as well.

It’s no surprise that al-Khlifawi, al-Bilawi, and al-Anbari were already Islamic militants in 2003. From the mid 1980s, and with added intensity after the formal onset of Saddam’s “Faith Campaign” in June 1993, Saddam’s regime Islamized. This was “most likely a cynical step” on the part of Saddam, wrote Amatzia Baram, an expert on Iraqi Islam with the University of Haifa, but it gave Iraq “an extra push in the direction of an authentic Islamization process.” In other words, it took on a life of its own.

Saddam feared the Muslim Brotherhood, so he chose Salafism as a counterweight. With significant resources devoted to producing this regime-loyal Saddamist-Salafism, the Faith Campaign produced a more sectarian, Salafized population, with its focal points on clerics and mosques. Without this campaign, Zarqawi’s project could never have gotten off the ground in Iraq.

“[Zarqawi] thought that the Sunni in Iraq . . . had been ruined by Saddam and that a long period of dawa (proselytization) would be needed,” Craig Whiteside, a professor at the Naval War College who has worked extensively with internal ISIS documents, told me. “He was pleasantly surprised instead by the underground Salafist movement that existed in Iraq and produced so many early local Iraqi supporters.” Whiteside added: “[Saddam’s] regime was really tottering at the end, and people were looking for more successful ideologies.”

Many of ​Saddam’​s officers who encountered Salafi teachings became more loyal to Salafism than to Saddam.

Indeed, the Faith Campaign worked almost too well. Saddam sent military and intelligence members of the Baath Party to mosques with the dual task of religious instruction and keeping tabs. “Most of the officers who were sent to the mosques were not deeply committed to Baathism by that point,” writes Joel Rayburn, a former U.S. military intelligence analyst in Iraq, inIraq After America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance. “And as they encountered Salafi teachings, many became more loyal to Salafism than to Saddam.” The empowerment of long-standing anti-regime “pure” Salafists, alongside the Baathist-Salafists the regime wanted, led to some acts of terrorism, for which some Salafists were executed by Saddam. But the Faith Campaign went on, not least because the dictator himself had a kind of “born-again” experience.

Additionally, Saddam had instrumentalized the Islamists in his foreign policy from as early as 1983 — and, as with the Faith Campaign, stuck with it despite significant internal opposition from the party. A most significant connection was with a Salafi-jihadist group, formed by Zarqawi loyalists with al-Qaeda seed money, in northern Iraq between 1998 and early 2000 that became Ansar al-Islam in late 2001. Ansar al-Islam received money and weapons from Saddam, and it seems that the actual decision-maker in the group was an agent of Saddam’s intelligence. Ansar, by then led directly by Zarqawi, fled to Iran during the invasion and then returned to Iraq with the help of the senior members of Saddam’s regime. Ansar is now formally part of ISIS.

The Faith Campaign was implemented by Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri, Saddam’s deputy. Douri was tasked with setting up what was effectively an organized-crime network whose goal was to evade the sanctions by smuggling across Iraq’s borders, and to provide for an internal patronage network that would give the regime some pillars of support. Patronage went especially to the Sunni tribes of western Iraq, and the removal of this income after the U.S.-led invasion was chief among the many reasons the tribes tactically sided with the Zarqawi’ists in an attempt to restore Sunni hegemony. Not just among the tribes, these networks largely passed to ISIS. This began early: In 2003, for instance, the stolen cars Douri imported through Jordan were put at the service of ISIS’s suicide bombers.

It is also notable that ISIS’s Syria strategy was not made up on the fly after the uprising began in March 2011. Haji Bakr was appointed to oversee operations in Aleppo in late 2010, and ISIS’s presence in Syria dates from 2002 and 2003 when Assad invited them in to wage war against the Americans and the constitutional government in Iraq. ISIS already had deeply embedded logistics networks in Syria that were easily “flipped” when ISIS wanted to move from Iraq into Syria, and ISIS already saw the potential of Syria, having run a low-level insurgency against Assad between 2007 and 2010. ISIS did send further agents into Syria in the summer of 2011 to form Jabhat an-Nusra, which would split from ISIS in April 2013 when ISIS tried to bring its covert subordinates under its command. By that time, however, ISIS had established itself well enough to weather the Nusra defection.

The FREs matter because they highlight the hybrid nature of ISIS — its fusion of elements of Baathism with Salafism — and also how difficult ISIS will be defeat. The REs are the products of a military-intelligence service trained by the KGB. They have brought to ISIS unique military and counterintelligence skills, directly in battle and in propaganda. Their skills are aiding ISIS’s military effort, bringing in fanatical foreigners to use as shock troops, and helping ISIS restructure the identities of local populations who have joined ISIS only out of necessity or convenience (as a means to restore order or against Iran’s proxies, for example).

The Iraqi nativism some detect within ISIS is probably a confusion borne of the fact that ISIS is also a hybrid of a locally and internationally focused organization. ISIS has more depth in Iraq because it has been there for decades in one way or another, and it has more popularity there because it is the vanguard of an attempt to restore Sunni dominion.

Even if ISIS was led by cynics, it has taken on a life of its own now, just like the Faith Campaign; there are too many true believers for the cynics to sideline. But, precisely because of the Faith Campaign, there is every reason to think that ISIS’s leaders mean what they say.

Kyle Orton is a Middle East analyst. Follow him on Twitter @KyleWOrton. 

French PM: West Must Fight Muslim Brotherhood Ideology

Muslims praying in the middle of a public street in France.

Muslims praying in the middle of a public street in France.

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Feb. 16, 2015:

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has stated that the West must “fight the discourse of the Muslim Brotherhood in our country” and scrutinize foreign funding of mosques, a sharp break from U.S. policy that views the Brotherhood as a moderate competitor to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS).

Prime Minister Valls said the country needs to enact policies to combat the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, making the point that Islamist terrorism is a product of radical preaching. He announced that the Interior Minister will lead a study on the foreign financing of mosques in France and the training of French imams.

“We seek to establish a model of Islam that is fully integrated, fully compatible with the values of the Republic,” Valls said.

France has a serious problem with growing Islamism that is hostile to nationalism, secular-democracy and integration. A 2011 intelligence report warned that “self-appointed” imams in Muslim-majority areas, specifically the city of Marseille, were spreading Islamism. It said only a “relatively low” percentage of the 250,000 Muslims in that city support violent jihad, but “Islamic fundamentalism has progressed to the point where it has won over the majority of the Muslim population.”

France recognizes that the problem is not just the act of terrorism, but the Islamist ideology that drives violence and is also detrimental to the West in many non-violent ways. The Prime Minister said after the attacks in Paris that the country is at war with radical Islam; a stark difference from the vague terminology of “violent extremism” used by the U.S.

Valls’ use of “radical Islam” wasn’t a slip of the tongue. It signaled a major shift in strategy and was repeated by the French ambassador to America afterwards.

“We are at war with radical Islam. It means that right now… Islam is breeding radicalism which is quite dangerous for everybody. So I think in the coming weeks or the coming months, we have to define the global strategy. Part of the strategy is to work with the Muslim countries,” the ambassador said.

The Prime Minister even said that Europe needs to recognize that Islamists slander opponents as “Islamophobes” to stop scrutiny of their ideology and leaders.

“I refuse to use this term ‘Islamophobia,’ because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology. The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is used to silence people,” he says.

The Prime Minister’s bold statements come as Egypt has agreed to become the first country to buy French Rafale fighter jets. The Egyptian government will sign a $5.93 billion contract to acquire 24 aircraft.

The coinciding of Prime Minister Valls’ statement with the deal suggests that France wants to wage an ideological war against Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood and sees Egypt as a major ally in that campaign. President El-Sisi banned the Muslim Brotherhood and forcefully called for a reformation of Islamic interpretations that denounce any violence.

French President Hollande said that the deal was made because his country desires for Egypt to act as a stabilizing regional power.

“I believe that, given the current context, it’s very important that Egypt is able to act to uphold stability and to be in security, not only stability on its own territory, but stability in the region,” he said.

The word usage is important. Hollande means that the sale is not just an endorsement of Egypt’s fight against the ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, but of Egypt leadership role in the Middle East. A central post of that role is crushing the Muslim Brotherhood and undermining Islamism, including airstrikes on Islamist militias in Libya.

The deal is seen as a subtle rebuke of the U.S. over its criticism of Egypt’s handling of the Brotherhood. The U.S. says it is “not concerned” about the deal, but observers recognize that Egypt is reducing its reliance on the U.S. for arms. Egypt immediately reacted to U.S. criticism by embracing Russia and signing a major arms deal, as well as a recent agreement for Russia to build Egypt’s first nuclear reactor.

The French government’s stance is also important because the President and Prime Minister are from the Socialist Party, heralding a political consensus between the right-wing and left-wing parties that Islamism is the threat and a strategy against that ideology and its proponents including the Muslim Brotherhood is necessary.

Current French President Hollande defeated his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy of the Union for a Popular Movement party, but they are both now on the same page in regards to this issue.

This is especially significant because Hollande emphasized his friendliness with the French Muslim community during the campaign. Soeren Kern wrote that Hollande’s victory was “the first time that Muslims have determined the outcome of a presidential election in a major Western European country; it is a preview of things to come.”

Sarkozy was warning about the lack of assimilation for years prior to the Paris attacks. He said policy adjustments were needed to integrate immigrants and to prevent “a society where communities coexist side by side.”

“Our Muslim compatriots should be able to live and practice their religion like anyone else…but it can only be a French Islam and not just an Islam in France,” Sarkozy said in 2011.

France and Egypt get it. They understand that Islamism is the problem due to the former’s experiencing of the Paris attacks by the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda and the latter’s experience of Muslim Brotherhood governance. If the U.S. still doesn’t get it after 9/11, the Fort Hood shooting, the Boston bombings and countless other acts of Islamist violence, then what will it take?

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 engagement.


ISIL-Militant-TriumphantBreitbart, By Katie Gorka:

As the war with ISIS heats up, so too does the debate over what it will take to win.  Immediately following Obama’s announcement of air strikes against ISIS, the debate centered on whether air power was enough or whether the United States also needed to commit boots on the ground.

However, in recent days the focus has shifted to the war of ideas.  The now infamous verbal brawl between Ben Affleck and Sam Harris on the Bill Maher show is just one sign that more and more people are identifying the ideology of jihad as the main front in this war.

General Jonathan Shaw, former Assistant Chief of the UK Defence Staff, said in a recent interview with The Telegraph that the war against ISIS will not be won militarily.  This battle must be fought ideologically and politically.  He said the heart of the problem is Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s funding of militant Salafism.  Saudi Arabia has long funded radical mosques and Islamic cultural centers across the globe, and Qatar supports Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, considered the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Al Jazeera, the pro-Muslim Brotherhood news outlet.  But these efforts have now backfired.  According to General Shaw: “This is a time bomb that, under the guise of education, Wahhabi Salafism is igniting under the world really.  And it is funded by Saudi and Qatari money and that must stop.  And the question then is ‘does bombing people over there really tackle that?’ I don’t think so. I’d far rather see a much stronger handle on the ideological battle than the physical battle.”

Even President Obama, who spends much of his energy insisting that Islam is a religion of peace and that ISIS has nothing to do with real Islam, acknowledged that ideology might have some role here. In his September 24 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, he said, “It is time for the world — especially Muslim communities — to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of organizations like al Qaeda and ISIL.”  But as Bill Gertz points out in a recent article, in fact the Obama administration is not engaging in the ideological war. They simply refuse to engage the Islamists on the battlefield of ideas.  Gertz quotes Quintan Wiktorowicz, an architect of U.S. counter-extremism strategy, who blames this failure on Constitutional constraints:

While the government has tried to counter terrorist propaganda, it cannot directly address the warped religious interpretations of groups like ISIL because of the constitutional separation of church and state…U.S. officials are prohibited from engaging in debates about Islam, and as a result will need to rely on partners in the Muslim world for this part of the ideological struggle.

But this is disingenuous.  Wiktorowicz is on record in numerous places asserting the need for the United States to tread softly with Salafists in order to avoid pushing them toward violence, even while he acknowledges that in the long run they do endorse violent jihad.

President Obama himself has repeatedly engaged in discussions about Islam, stating, for example, as he did on September 10th when he announced his plan to fight the Islamic State, “ISIL is not Islamic.”  John Kerry has likewise entered the fray, insisting that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, an assertion that has formed the basis of U.S. counter-terrorism policy and training under the Obama administration.  So to say that U.S. leaders cannot talk about Islam is simply untrue.  It is how they talk about that it is the problem.  The bottom line is that they do not see the fundamental clash between Islamism and the principles of the American founding, and as a result, they are fighting this as a purely tactical war.

As Robert Reilly, former director of the Voice of America, has written, “In fact, the U.S. side has failed to show up for the war of ideas. Strategic communication or public diplomacy, the purpose of which is to win such wars, is the single weakest area of U.S. government performance since 9/11.”

Refusing to engage in the war of ideas, whatever the reason may be, is a disservice both to Americans and to the world’s Muslims.  It is a disservice to Americans because unless the United States engages in the ideological war against ISIS, the battlefield will simply keep repopulating itself.  For every fallen jihadist, there will be ten ready to take his place, another hundred willing to fund and support them, and another thousand to silently cheer them on.  So it is not Al Qaeda or even ISIS who are the real enemies, but the ideology that inspires them, and it is this ideology that the United States must oppose, among both its violent as well as its non-violent adherents.

Obama and many others have said this is not our debate, the Muslim world must work this out for itself.  But this is not true.  The ideas of the American founding are as relevant for the Muslim world as they are to the West.  America’s forebears learned over centuries that when religion is allowed to drive politics, it leads to tyranny, oppression and endless conflict.  This is no less true for the Muslim world.  As Ahmad Mustafa writes in today’sGulf News, “Whether we like it or not, we all helped in the rise of this terrorism by manipulating religion. And here comes the simple conclusion: Religion in politics leads only to ills.”  He goes on to say, “The fight for Islam will not be won unless the current alliance partners, and the rest of regional and international powers, come to an agreement on freeing politics from religion.”

As the war of ideas heats up, the good news is that Americans are throwing off the strictures against talking about Islam.  People like Ben Affleck and Bill Maher and Sam Harris are engaging in substantive debate about the nature of Islam and what is at stake. The bad news is that our own leaders so far are not exercising – or permitting – the same freedom.  And until they do, the ideas driving our enemies will continue to thrive.

Katie Gorka is president of the Council on Global Security.  Follow her on twitter @katharinegorka.

White House’s ‘Attempt to Miniaturize the Enemy’ Ignores Dangerous Ideological Link Between Islamic State, Al Qaeda

TheBlaze TV’s For the Record spoke to counterterrorism experts who said the Islamic State beheaded American journalist James Foley in part as a commitment to its Salafi-jihadist end goals, the underlying ideology that bonds dozens of terror groups across the region. (AP)

TheBlaze TV’s For the Record spoke to counterterrorism experts who said the Islamic State beheaded American journalist James Foley in part as a commitment to its Salafi-jihadist end goals, the underlying ideology that bonds dozens of terror groups across the region. (AP)

The Blaze, by Elizabeth Kreft, Sep. 24, 2014:

You may not have heard the terms ISIS, ISIL, the Islamic State or caliphate in the mainstream media until this summer, but that doesn’t mean the violent Islamic jihadist organization is a completely new entity.

A Salafi-jihadi by any other name still beheads their victims.

The headline-grabbing introduction of the Islamic State in the last several months was a calculated rebranding by the Al Qaeda offshoot, with its specific, deadly strain of Islamic ideology dubbed Salafist jihadism. This ultra-strict ideology suggests the Koran must be followed word-for-word and may not be interpreted by anyone else. Rather than the violent uprising of a new breed of terrorist, the Islamic State is simply embracing the strictest ideology associated with the first three decades of Islam.

This is the ideology that connects all terror groups — the Islamic State and Al Qaeda alike — and it’s the brutal mindset they hope to impress upon the hearts of jihadi sympathizers susceptible to radicalization.

It’s an important connection to grasp, since President Barack Obama declared on multiple occasions that “Al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead,” indicating the primary Al Qaeda threat to the U.S. — the ability to attack the United States within its borders — was removed. But one former federal prosecutor says the commander in chief downplayed the enemy in his descriptions, creating a gap in understanding about the Al Qaeda-spawned organizations that have actually increased in number by 58 percent since 2010.

“What the Obama administration in particular has done … since the president took office in 2009, in claiming to have decimated Al Qaeda, in claiming to have rolled back the terrorist threat, in claiming that we are a safer place than we were before he took office, has been a real purposeful attempt to miniaturize the enemy,” said Andrew McCarthy, who led the prosecution of the ”Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. McCarthy spoke to TheBlaze TV’s For the Record for Wednesday’s new episode, “Total Confrontation” (8 p.m. ET).

That might be the one thing the Islamic State and the Obama administration have in common: They’ve both attempted to minimize Al Qaeda, but for very different reasons. Obama thinks Al Qaeda is “decimated”; Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current leader of the Islamic State, thinks Al Qaeda moves too slowly.

In this way, the Islamic State likely sees Al Qaeda as its unwelcome anchor rather than as a supporting parent organization. But the two organizations are inextricably linked, even though the Islamic State is attempting to prove daily that it is willing and able to take its tactics in more brutal directions, and is pushing a more aggressive timeline for a full establishment of a caliphate.

Al-Baghdadi’s calculated rebranding of his terror branch this year — first as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant before the condensed “Islamic State” — is a purposeful honing of that vision and message.

“IS was formerly constituted as Al Qaeda in Iraq, but was disowned by ‘core’ al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in February 2014. This fracture resulted in all-out war between the two groups for the leadership of the international jihad movement,” said Brian Fairchild, a former CIA operations officer. “Some describe it as Al Qaeda 6.0.”

The significant differences between Al Qaeda and the Islamic State could almost be seen as an upgrade for millennial jihadis: they embrace a newer, social-media friendly recruiting pattern and a penchant for self-promotion while focused on immediate results.

But the most important connection between the younger-seeming Islamic State and old-school Al Qaeda is the identifier the Obama administration has vehemently suppressed, both in narrative and in function: the underlying Salafi-jihadist ideology.

“The game-changing rise of the Islamic State and the phenomenal flood of radicalized foreign fighters flowing to the new ‘caliphate’ make political correctness and willful ignorance … of the jihad a recipe for national disaster,” Fairchild wrote in an analysis post on his website.

This means several organizations with different names and leadership charisma remain linked by their underlying mission and jihadist vision. Core Al Qaeda in Pakistan; formal affiliates that have sworn allegiance to core Al Qaeda (located in Syria, Somalia, Yemen and North Africa); the panoply of Salafi-jihadist groups that have not sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda; and inspired individuals and networks all have their own terrifying tactics — the common bond between these various terror networks is their relentless commitment to establishing an extremist Islamic emirate and returning Islam to its purest form.

The Islamic State group is often described as the most fearsome jihadi outfit of all: a global menace outweighing Al Qaeda, but experts interviewed by For the Record argue it’s the underlying Salafi-jihad mindset that fuels the brutal group, and this mindset is the foundational connection between multiple terror networks. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)

The Islamic State group is often described as the most fearsome jihadi outfit of all: a global menace outweighing Al Qaeda, but experts interviewed by For the Record argue it’s the underlying Salafi-jihad mindset that fuels the brutal group, and this mindset is the foundational connection between multiple terror networks. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)

“Government recognition of the Islamic religious foundation of jihad is essential for two specific national security reasons. The Muslim dilemma can never be successfully addressed until this fact is acknowledged, and official recognition of the religious nature of jihad would provide American counterterrorism officers with an investigative direction,” Fairchild wrote.

The ongoing feud between the Islamic State and Al Qaeda has only added to the confusion for average citizens trying to understand the connections between the violent groups.

Fairchild said the rivalry between the Salafi-jihadist organizations boils down to a single point: it means more violence will be directed at anyone who disagrees with a strict interpretation of the Koran.

Some experts say the Islamic State’s intense, regional focus to push for the caliphate proves the group is less a threat to the United States than core Al Qaeda, but as experts told For the Record, the end goal of all the Salafi-jihadist organizations remains the same: convert or kill.

“I don’t pretend that ISIS doesn’t see itself now as different from some of the other Al Qaeda groups, but an awful lot of the labeling that’s gone on has been the West trying to miniaturize Al Qaeda into a bunch of little regional and parochial branches that don’t really glue together because then you’d have to acknowledge the ideology that does bring all the stuff together,” McCarthy said, “and more of that has been labeling by us than self-identification by the jihad.”

Fairchild put it bluntly: It doesn’t matter how the U.S. classifies the Islamic State or other Al Qaeda affiliates; if a terror network self-identifies as Salafi-jihadist, they are embracing literal interpretation of the Koran’s commands to wipe out both Muslim “apostates” who disagree with violent jihad tactics, and nonbelievers in other countries.

No matter how the West defines the groups, Fairchild notes, if ideology that links them is ignored or minimized, intelligence groups have missed the point.

“And the enemy always gets a vote,” he said.

For The Record: Total Confrontation


TheBlaze TV’s For the Record will take an in-depth look at the Islamic State in the new episode “Total Confrontation,” Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Also see:

The Muslim Dilemma: Allah’s Commands to Wage Jihad

Quran_coverBlind Eagle, by Brian Fairchild, Sep. 18, 2014:

The most important strategic counter terrorist challenge to the United States today is to defeat the ideology of the international jihad movement.  The organizations and individuals that spread this virulent ideology constitute a giant international production line that creates more Salafi-jihadis than the United States can kill or capture.  On September 16, 2014, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who recently stepped down as the nation’s senior military intelligence officer, stated this fact when he responded to a question during a speech at Fort Benning, Georgia:

  • “What this audience wants (to hear) is, ‘kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out, get the t-shirt, go down to Ranger Joe’s [a local military clothing store],…we can kill all day long, but until we understand why there are [such large] numbers of [fundamentalist] believers globally, [groups like the Islamic State] will not be defeated”.

The rabid ideology of the international jihad movement is comprised of two elements:  a Salafi religious belief, melded with the revolutionary Islamist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Much has been written about the Muslim Brotherhood and its infrastructure globally and in the United States, so this report will focus on Salafism.

Within Islam, Salafism is considered a legitimate Islamic orientation.  It traces its roots to the 13th Century Islamic scholar ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328) and his students ibn al-Qayyim, and ibn Kathir, as well as to the 18th Century Islamic scholar Muhammad ibn Abd-al Wahhab who revived the writings of ibn Taymiyya in the area that would become the Salafi Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Salafism is an ultraconservative form of Sunni Islam.  It is not a creation of al Qaeda or any Islamist terrorist organization.  Quite the opposite is true.  Al Qaeda and all Sunni Islamist terrorist organizations emerged from a Salafi religious foundation.  Salafism is practiced by a minority of Muslims, but that minority numbers over a hundred million.

Salafis proclaim that it is impossible for any man to understand the mind of God, so they regard any interpretation of the Qur’an as illegitimate, and they label any Muslim who dares to question Allah’s commands as an apostate.  They regard the four schools of Sunni Islam as illegal innovations, and insist that the only sources of Islamic authority are a literal acceptance of Allah’s commands in the Qur’an, and a strict literal acceptance and emulation of the life experiences of the Prophet Muhammad.  They call themselves “Salafis” to commemorate the first three generations of Muslims, described in Arabic as “as-Salaf as-Salih” – the “pious predecessors”, who practiced Islam only according to these two sources.  As explained by al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in the following linked video, the key concept in Salafism is the Islamic doctrine of Tawheed that, according to Zawahiri:  “must be the ruling authority in every system, constitution and law”; it demands that man be ruled by Sharia law alone because all man-made laws, political ideologies, and government systems are an affront to God.

In intelligence analysis, analysts are required to use primary sources and rigid tradecraft to support their findings and forecasts.  The Qur’an is a primary source, and this report will base its findings on an inspection and understanding of it.

The first point of importance is to understand what the Qur’an represents.  People say “the Qur’an says this, or the Qur’an says that”, but this is incorrect, the Qur’an says nothing.  Allah is the speaker, and the Qur’an is just the medium to report his commands.  The Qur’an is not comprised of stories about Allah, or stories recounting the life of Muhammad, or stories of any kind.  Rather, Islam regards the Qur’an as a compilation of over 6,000 verses revealed directly by Allah to the prophet Muhammad through the archangel Gabriel, in Arabic, over a 23 year period.  Muslims believe that the verses in the Qur’an are in Allah’s active voice – it is not a summation, description, or interpretation by man of what Allah said, it is Allah’s direct word as revealed to Muhammad.

Herein lies the Muslim dilemma.  Because all the jihad verses in the Qur’an come directly from God with no interpretation or intercession by man, jihadis use them to justify their violent campaigns, while non-jihadis cannot question them without being labeled as apostates who must be killed.  Much is made of the fact that jihadis kill other Muslims, but the jihadis state that they are killing apostates as commanded by Allah in revealed verses such as Chapter 4, verse 89 below (4:89).

When it comes to jihad, or killing apostates, Allah is very specific.  There is no interpretation needed, and he never qualifies any of his commands by putting a time limit or geographical limitation on them.  In Allah’s revealed verses below you will recognize many of the atrocities committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), from Islamic supremacism, killing other Muslims, waging jihad, beheadings, crucifixions, taking and ransoming prisoners, and waging jihad against Christians and Jews.  All are commanded by Allah as the following verses concretely demonstrate.

Note:  None of the Qur’anic citations below have been altered in any way; they are all copied verbatim exactly as they appear in The Noble Qur’an:  English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary, published by the King Fahd Complex of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  It is distributed free around the world.  Despite the fact that Salafis believe that nobody can understand the mind of God, the Saudi publisher ironically inserted comments in parentheses within the verses to ensure that Muslims clearly understand what Allah meant when he revealed them to Muhammad.  Again, in order to understand the power of these verses, Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the word of God verbally revealed to Muhammad, in Arabic, through the angel Gabriel.  All of the verses in the Qur’an (which, in aggregate, constitute Sharia law) are considered direct commands in God’s voice.  To ensure that Muslims understand exactly what God meant when he commanded Muslims to “fight in the way of Allah”, the Saudi publishers included the following extensive footnote which leaves nothing to the imagination.  The footnote appears on page 39 in reference to Qur’an Chapter 2, verse 190.  It is copied verbatim, including incorrect spelling and grammar: 


  • (V: 2:190)  Al-Jihad (holy fighting) in Allah’s Cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars (on which it stands).  By Jihad Islam is established.  Allah’s Word is made superior, (His Word being La ilaha illaliah which means none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and His Religion (Islam) is propagated.  By abandoning Jihad (may Allah protect us from that) Islam is destroyed and the Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honour is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish.  Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim, and he who tries to escape from this duty, or does not in his innermost heart wish to fulfil this duty, dies with one of the qualities of a hypocrite. 

Jihad Chapters and Verses:

  • 8:39 – And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism, i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone (in the whole world).  But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do. 
  • 8:60 – And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know.  And whatever you shall spend in the Cause of Allah shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly. 
  • 47:4 – So, when you meet (in fight – Jihad in Allah’s Cause) those who disbelieve, smite (their) necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives).  Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden.  Thus (you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out Jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam and are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire or at least come under your protection), but if it had been Allah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you), But (He lets you fight) in order to test some of you with others.  But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost. 
  • 4:89 – They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another).  So take not Auliya (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad).  But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them. 
  • 5:33 – The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hand and their feet be cut off from opposite sides, or be exiled from the land.  That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter. 
  • 9:14 – Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of believing people. 
  • 9:29 – Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad) (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

The majority of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world are not Salafis and do not live their lives according to a strict adherence to Sharia law and Allah’s commands to wage jihad.  It is precisely this fact, however, that Salafi-jihadis cite to justify their jihad to bring all Muslims and everyone else in the world to “true Islam”, and as the above verses demonstrate, the fact that Allah has commanded them to do so is irrefutable.  As a result, it is grossly incorrect to say that Salafi-jihadis are not Islamic.  According to the above jihad verses, it is evident that they are quite literally practicing Islam as Allah commanded.

Government recognition of the Islamic religious foundation of jihad is essential for two specific national security reasons.  The Muslim dilemma can never be successfully addressed until this fact is acknowledged, and official recognition of the religious nature of jihad would provide American counter-terrorism officers with an investigative direction.  This is especially vital at present to stem the flow of American foreign fighters to the Islamic State.  At present, official policy states that Islamic terrorists have nothing to do with Islam, but are simply “violent extremists”.  But, where does a counter-terrorism officer go to investigate violent extremists?  The answer is, nowhere.

Current American policy ties the hands of counter-terrorism officers and relegates them to investigating already developed plots where individual “violent extremists” are in the process of carrying out a violent act.  This effectively rules out all proactive investigations that would prevent such plots.

If the religious aspects of jihad were acknowledged, however, counter terrorism officers would have numerous options.  They could identify and neutralize Salafi-jihadi mosques as well as Salafi-jihadi imams and Salafi guest speakers from abroad.  They could investigate Salafi organizations that raise funds and distribute Islamist training material and manifestos, and they could identify and counter Muslim Brotherhood organizations and the training programs they employ to instill Salafi beliefs in the next generation of young Muslims.

The game-changing rise of the Islamic State and the phenomenal flood of radicalized foreign fighters flowing to the new “caliphate” make political correctness and willful ignorance of the Islamic religious foundation of the jihad a recipe for national disaster.

Brian Fairchild Bio


Salafis Return to Egypt’s Mosques and Media

by Raymond Ibrahim:

In a move that has many anti-Islamist Egyptians concerned, the government has again allowed the Salafis to return to preaching in mosques and on television.

They’re back

They’re back

Soon after the June 2013 revolution in Egypt, which saw the ousting (and subsequent imprisonment) of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic supremacist groups—chief among them the Salafis—were banned from preaching.Salafis are Muslims who profess to follow as literally as possible the teachings and habits of Islam’s prophet and his companions.

The logic was that they were the primary actors responsible for inciting the nation’s more zealous Muslims to attack government targets, Coptic Christian churches, etc.

Accordingly, their access to mosques and other outlets were severely curtailed.

According to Nabil Zaki, the former spokesman for Assembly Party of Egypt, this new  move allowing the Salafis, particularly the Nour party, to make a comeback

is a major setback that will make it that much harder for the government to combat reactionary thinking—and this, after the Egyptian public had made great strides against such thinking….  Permitting the Salafi sheikhs to ascend to the pulpits again revives the bitter experiences of confronting this form of thinking, bringing us back to square one.

Zaki and others also warned that this decision coincides with parliamentarian elections, meaning that the Salafi clerics will again use their influence and religious rhetoric to sway voters towards a more “reactionary,” that is, Islamic, agenda.

Germany’s “Sharia Police”

by Soeren Kern:

According to Burkhard Freier, the director of domestic intelligence for North Rhine-Westphalia, German Salafists are increasingly inclined to use violence to achieve their aims, and many have travelled to Iraq or Syria to obtain combat training.

“The intention of these people is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology upon others. We will not permit this.” — Wuppertal Mayor Peter Jung.

“In Germany, German law is determinative, not Sharia law.” — Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Volker Kauder.

Salafist ideology posits that Sharia law is superior to all secular laws because it emanates from Allah, the only legitimate lawgiver, and thus is legally binding for all of humanity. According to the Salafist worldview, democracy is an effort to elevate the will of human beings above the will of Allah.

Muslim radicals have begun enforcing Islamic Sharia law on the streets of Wuppertal, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state with the largest Muslim population in Germany.

In what government officials say is a blatant challenge to the rule of law and the democratic order in Germany, groups of young bearded Islamists — some wearing orange traffic safety vests emblazoned with the words “Sharia Police” — have declared parts of downtown Wuppertal to be a “Sharia Controlled Zone.”

The self-appointed guardians of public morals have been distributing yellow leaflets that explain the Islamist code of conduct in the city’s Sharia zones. They have urged both Muslim and non-Muslim passersby to listen to Salafist sermons and to refrain from alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, gambling, listening to music, pornography or prostitution.

A seven-minute propaganda video in German, entitled “Sharia Police: Coming Soon to Your City,” shows a group of men led by a German convert to Islam, Sven Lau, roaming the streets of Wuppertal at night and pressing wayward youth to embrace radical Islam. In some instances, the men physically attempted to prevent young people from entering bars, casinos and discotheques; those who resisted were pursued and intimidated.

Sven Lau chats on the street with locals in Wuppertal, in “Sharia Police: Coming Soon to Your City”.

After local residents alerted German authorities, police stepped up their presence in downtown Wuppertal and also established a telephone hotline to enable citizens to report any possible criminal activity.

Local authorities, however, appear uncertain about how to proceed.

Wuppertal Police Chief Birgitta Radermacher said the “pseudo police” represent a threat to the rule of law and that only police appointed and employed by the state have the legitimate right to act as police in Germany. Sheadded:

“The monopoly of power lies exclusively with the State. Behavior that intimidates, threatens or provokes will not be tolerated. These ‘Sharia Police’ are not legitimate. Call 110 [police] when you meet these people.”

Wuppertal Mayor Peter Jung said he hoped the police would take a hard line against the Islamists. “The intention of these people is to provoke and intimidate and force their ideology upon others,” Jung said. “We will not permit this.”

More than a dozen Islamists between the ages of 19 and 30 are now being investigated on charges of illegal assembly. But the men have not been arrested and police say they have no legal authority to confiscate the orange vests, even though impersonating a police officer is a crime. Wuppertal’s Public Prosecutor, Wolf-Tilman Baumert, says it remains unclear whether the men have done anything illegal. “The mere explaining of religious rules is not a crime,” he said.

The vigilantes are followers of Salafism, a radically anti-Western ideology that openly seeks to replace democracy in Germany (and the rest of the world) with an Islamic government based on Sharia law.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

n-WAHHABISM-large570By Alastair Crooke, Fmr. MI-6 agent; Author, ‘Resistance: The Essence of Islamic Revolution’:

BEIRUT — The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”

It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.

Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.

Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse.


Saudi Arabia’s internal discord and tensions over ISIS can only be understood by grasping the inherent (and persisting) duality that lies at the core of the Kingdom’s doctrinal makeup and its historical origins.

One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader — amongst many — of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)

The second strand to this perplexing duality, relates precisely to King Abd-al Aziz’s subsequent shift towards statehood in the 1920s: his curbing of Ikhwani violence (in order to have diplomatic standing as a nation-state with Britain and America); his institutionalization of the original Wahhabist impulse — and the subsequent seizing of the opportunely surging petrodollar spigot in the 1970s, to channel the volatile Ikhwani current away from home towards export — by diffusing a cultural revolution, rather than violent revolution throughout the Muslim world.

But this “cultural revolution” was no docile reformism. It was a revolution based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived all about him — hence his call to purge Islam of all its heresies and idolatries.

Read more at The Huffington Post


Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism

1534157424 (1)ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate

New York Times, By

ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.

Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.

Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.

Most Sunni Muslims around the world, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim population, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too literalist, too detached from mainstream Islam. While Shiite and other denominations account for 10 percent of the total, Salafi adherents and other fundamentalists represent 3 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their “purer” form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultraconservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.

M_Id_364974_beheadingWe are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates.

I lived in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jidda, in 2005. That year, in an effort to open closed Saudi Salafi minds, King Abdullah supported dialogue with people of other religions. In my mosque, the cleric used his Friday Prayer sermon to prohibit such dialogue on grounds that it put Islam on a par with “false religions.” It was a slippery slope to freedom, democracy and gender equality, he argued — corrupt practices of the infidel West.

This tension between the king and Salafi clerics is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s inability to reform. The king is a modernizer, but he and his advisers do not wish to disturb the 270-year-old tribal pact between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam close to Salafism). That 1744 desert treaty must now be nullified.

The influence that clerics wield is unrivaled. Even Saudis’ Twitter heroes are religious figures: An extremist cleric like Muhammad al-Arifi, who was banned last year from the European Union for advocating wife-beating and hatred of Jews, commands a following of 9. 4 million. The kingdom is also patrolled by a religious police force that enforces the veil for women, prohibits young lovers from meeting and ensures that shops do not display “indecent” magazine covers. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious police beat women with sticks if they stray into male-only areas, or if their dress is considered immodest by Salafi standards. This is not an Islam that the Prophet Muhammad would recognize.

Salafi intolerance has led to the destruction of Islamic heritage in Mecca and Medina. If ISIS is detonating shrines, it learned to do so from the precedent set in 1925 by the House of Saud with the Wahhabi-inspired demolition of 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat Al Baqi cemetery in Medina. In the last two years, violent Salafis have carried out similar sectarian vandalism, blowing up shrines from Libya to Pakistan, from Mali to Iraq. Fighters from Hezbollah have even entered Syria to protect holy sites.

Textbooks in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities teach this brand of Islam. The University of Medina recruits students from around the world, trains them in the bigotry of Salafism and sends them to Muslim communities in places like the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt, where these Saudi-trained hard-liners work to eradicate the local, harmonious forms of Islam.

What is religious extremism but this aim to apply Shariah as state law? This is exactly what ISIS (Islamic State) is attempting do with its caliphate. Unless we challenge this un-Islamic, impractical and flawed concept of trying to govern by a rigid interpretation of Shariah, no amount of work by a United Nations agency can unravel Islamist terrorism.

Saudi Arabia created the monster that is Salafi terrorism. It cannot now outsource the slaying of this beast to the United Nations. It must address the theological and ideological roots of extremism at home, starting in Mecca and Medina. Reforming the home of Islam would be a giant step toward winning against extremism in this global battle of ideas.