Behind The Khashoggi Disappearance–Let’s Not Throw Out The Baby With The Bath Water

President Donald Trump speaks with Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, during their meeting Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Center for Security Policy, by Clare Lopez, October 17, 2018:

Originally published on The Daily Caller:

While we await clarification of what exactly happened to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2, there are still some important insights that may be gleaned from what is already known.

It is of key importance to note that Khashoggi was not just a Saudi citizen but also a legal permanent resident of the United States. And that makes his disappearance very much an issue for the United States and President Trump to take a direct interest in.

Should it be determined, as expected, that Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible murder was ordered by the top levels of the Saudi government, then the U.S. must impose a severe penalty and do it publicly. If the president fails in doing so, respect for him personally and for the U.S. government as a whole will be diminished with detrimental consequences not just for the U.S.-Saudi relationship, but more broadly in the Arab-Muslim world and beyond.

In the days since Khashoggi’s disappearance, information about him and his connections to the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, as well as his outspoken, public criticism of the Saudi regime, have emerged.

While we of liberal Western civilization cherish and champion the right of individuals to speak freely, for those who govern by the laws of Islam (shariah) — as do the Saudis — publicly insulting fellow Muslims, much less the Saudi royal family, as Khashoggi did amounts to committing the capital crime of “slander” as defined by shariah (“anything that a Muslim would dislike“).

He criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by name, accused him of corruption (another capital crime under shariah — Q 5:32-33) and compared him to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He also condemned the Saudis as “repressive” and “extremist”, a word that carries specific meaning within Islam: to be “extremist” is to “exceed the limits” that Allah himself has set on lawful behavior by Muslims. For the Qur’an itself clearly says, “And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits” (Q 2:191).

For all of these reasons, under a legal code that Western Civilization rightly finds savage, Khashoggi very likely was given a death sentence by a regime whose continued right to existence is defined by its custodial role as Keepers of the Two Holy Places.

Were the Saudis to have failed to defend Islam and shariah, they themselves would be seen as unworthy of the honor and the duty of that role and thereby become vulnerable in ways that directly involve regional stability.

The Turkish regime’s decision to free Pastor Andrew Brunson at just this juncture is not separate from the fact that Khashoggi disappeared inside the Saudi consulate on Turkish territory. That situation greatly exacerbates what was already a contentious relationship between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Saudis.

In short, Erdogan feels vulnerable right now and likely made the gesture to free Brunson as a kind of proffer to the United States. In short, he is looking for help from President Trump to stave off a Saudi offensive against Ankara. This does not mean that there was any kind of “deal” involved in Brunson’s release but rather that Turkey may well be willing to make other concessions going forward.

As the first and foremost of those, President Trump should demand a halt to Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) collaboration with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.

As for the Saudis, if and when facts indicate they were responsible for whatever happened to Khashoggi, Crown Prince MBS and the Saudi regime itself must be held to account and publicly. President Trump must follow through on his threat of “severe punishment”; the Saudis will squawk publicly over this, but privately will understand  —and so will the rest of the Arab/Muslim world, which will be watching closely.

As noted above, because Khashoggi was a U.S. resident, his murder (if that is what it was) must be avenged. All this said, however, it is also of paramount importance that we not “throw out the baby with the bath water.”

The U.S.-Saudi relationship is critical to U.S. national security objectives in the region, most especially vis-à-vis Iran. Those who would disrupt or even destroy that relationship must not be allowed to succeed, even over the murder of a U.S. person by Saudis, whether officially or through a rogue operation.

President Trump must exact a meaningful and public price for the Khashoggi affair but tread a fine line that maintains a commitment to the bilateral relationship.

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research & Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

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The Center’s VP for Government Relations J. Michael Waller appeared on OANN on Oct. 12 and discussed issues pertaining to Jamal Khashoggi.

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Center President Frank Gaffney discusses issues pertaining to Jamal Khashoggi.

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Sebastian Gorka and Dan Hoffman:

 

The Strategic Role of Saudi Arabia

Security Studies Group, by Brad Patty, October 16, 2018:

The editorial boards of newspapers rarely employ strategists, so it should be no surprise when we see both the New York Times and the Washington Post openly wondering what America needs with Saudi Arabia. They have a handle on some of the facts – America is increasingly energy independent, and soon to be an exporter rather than an importer of energy; the Kingdom relies on the United States’ security guarantees for its stability and possibly for its survival. The question they ask is why, then, the United States needs Saudi Arabia (KSA) at all. It is important that the answer to that question be understood.

KSA plays four critical roles in the American-led world order.

Resisting Iranian Domination of Oil Routes.  While it is true that the United States is increasingly independent, the market for oil is worldwide. Major trading partners in Asia depend on oil that comes from the gulf that is variously called “Persian” or “Arabian.” The contest of the name is symbolic of a very real contest for control. The outcome of that contest could leave Iran, and their allies Russia and China, in a position to use oil as a weapon against American allies in Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, and South Korea. Just as Russia already uses energy as a weapon to dominate much of Eastern Europe, and to influence even the heart of Europe, American allies in Asia are at risk if Iran succeeds in gaining control of oil routes.

How likely is it that this will occur? Let’s look at the map.

Notice the two straits that have red ovals around them, and the arrows that indicate flows of oil towards Asia. Iran directly borders one of these, the Strait of Hormuz. Notice how the pipelines of many nations all can be cut off from Asia if that strait is closed to shipping. This can be done with missiles, not only with ships. Contesting Iran’s control of that strait is thus a geostrategic interest of the United States.

The second, southern oval is bordered by Yemen. That is where the war between Iranian proxies and the Saudis is being fought. If the Strait of Hormuz is closed, at least some oil could be re-routed via pipelines to ship through that strait instead. Indeed, a certain amount of oil ships from there already. Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen have already succeeded in using missiles to close this strait to Saudi shipping. Re-opening and maintaining control of this shipping lane is, again, a crucial American interest in defense of our allies in Asia. It is how we keep the Russian/Chinese/Iranian axis from using oil as a weapon against the free nations in Asia.

KSA plays several important roles in this contest. It is the leader of the Gulf States’ naval contributions to keeping the straits open, and is leading the effort in Yemen as well.  The conflict in Yemen has been ugly, but neither America nor the free nations of the world can afford to walk away from it. KSA is also central to American efforts to build a kind of NATO in the region, one that unifies allied states such as Jordan and Egypt with the Gulf states. The aim is to establish forces that are trained and equipped alike, and that have compatible systems of command and control. Such a force would be stabilizing to the region, and an effective counter to Iran.

Even if America’s cutting off of KSA merely caused Saudi Arabia withdraw within itself, there would cease to be an effective counter to Iran’s efforts to dominate the region. If KSA were to collapse, Iran’s domination of the region would be the first step in the authoritarian domination of the Middle East and Asia by Russian and Chinese interests.

Those are the stakes of that ugly little war in Yemen, and the mostly invisible contest in the Straits of Hormuz.

Influence Over a Key Faction of Islam. For more than a century, the Saudi kingdom has nurtured the Wahabi faction of Islam as a means of self-defense and power projection. Schools of this faction exist widespread throughout the world. This is the school that gave rise to Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks, conducted as they were from caves in Afghanistan. It is a crucial interest of the United States and indeed of the whole world that KSA exert its leadership here in ways that lead this school of thought towards reform and co-existence rather than to a sense that war with non-Muslims is desirable.

The Security Studies Group (SSG) believes that reform is possible, and to be encouraged. We aspire to friendship rather than enmity. Even for those who believe otherwise, however, it matters whether a stabilizing authority is working to discourage violence. It matters that the Saudi security apparatus has the ties necessary to keep an eye on this network. In the absence of that leadership, we have already seen what groups like Al Qaeda do. It would be reckless of the United States to disregard the opportunity to use our influence toward the reform of the Wahabi faction by cutting off the KSA leadership.

Restraint of Refugee Flows into Europe. The civil war in Syria has produced massive refugee flows into Europe, as has the ongoing war in Afghanistan. These refugee flows have been large enough to be destabilizing even to core European powers; they may yet bring down the German government. American allies are very much feeling political and social pressure from the instability already existing in the Middle East.

Syria’s population is on the order of half of that of Saudi Arabia. Should KSA collapse into civil war due to an absence of security guarantees from the United States, Europe will see more massive waves of refugees swarming its borders.

Alternatively, should the Trump administration succeed in establishing a kind of Middle Eastern NATO built around KSA, Egypt, and Jordan, the effect will be stabilizing to the region. Many pressures on American allies in Europe will be lessened if the refugee flows decrease, or if the region is stabilized sufficiently that people can consider returning home.

Defense of Israel. There is some debate about whether or not defending Israel is a US interest, but it has been taken to be by successive administrations. Israel is, at least, a regional power that offers significant intelligence assets in support of American goals.

KSA is making moves towards the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world, which is likely a precondition for success in any hope for peace talks to which Israel is a party. Insofar as the attainment of peace is thought to have a role in reducing the incidence of global terrorism, supporting this dynamic is in America’s interests.

KSA’s status as a bulwark against Iranian domination of the region is also very much in the interest of not only America but certainly also Israel, as Iran continues to proclaim – loudly, and to anyone who will listen – that it is devoted to the outright destruction of Israel. Iranian missiles with messages promising destruction written in Hebrew are worth taking seriously as legitimate threats. If America is devoted to the defense of its allies in Israel, then KSA plays a significant role in securing that outcome.

Conclusion

These four strategic interests show that it is necessary for America to continue its relationship with the Saudi leadership. That does not mean that we should not continue to press for social reforms, respect for human rights, and similar improvements within KSA. We certainly should do that, as a modernizing KSA is a better and more natural ally for the United States than one mired in beheadings and the suppression of religious minorities.

It is a commonplace criticism of American foreign policy that it has been insensitive to supporting awful strongmen in the face of even worse things. Perhaps that is true, but the answer is not to give in to the worse things. A clear-eyed assessment of our strategic interests must rule our actions. Using our influence to press allies for social and political reform is proper and wise. Abandoning our allies, and allowing authoritarian powers to dominate the world’s flows of energy, is neither proper nor wise. We must act in wisdom.

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Also see:

10 Key Questions About The Khashoggi Affair To Answer Before Buying The Press Narrative

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

The discipline shown in the messaging campaign against Saudia Arabia suggests Turkis President Recep Erdogan is managing the Khashoggi file directly.

The Federalist, by Lee Smith, October 5,  2018:

On October 2, Saudi national and U.S. green-card holder Jamal Khashoggi reportedly walked into the Saudi consulate to resolve issues related to his marital status. Through anonymous leaks to the press, Turkish sources claim he did not leave the diplomatic facility alive. More anonymous sources claim he was tortured and murdered, allegations repeated in the U.S. press without evidence.

It is possible that the circumstances around Khashoggi’s disappearance will soon come to light. However, it’s equally likely that the passage of time will only further obscure events. To cast some light on the issue, I thought it was worthwhile asking what seem to me the central questions.

1. Is There Evidence Khashoggi Was Murdered?

Turkish sources say there is. The U.S. press has reported that unnamed Turkish officials have told them—or unnamed second-hand Turkish sources had told them—they have evidence, audio and video, that a team of Saudi officials detained, tortured, and killed Khashoggi.

However, no reporters, neither Western nor Turkish, have seen that evidence. If it exists, the Turks have not made it public. In one of the few leaks from the U.S. government, an intelligence official told CNN there is no hard evidence as to whether Khashoggi is dead or alive.

2. Why Has Turkey Asked Saudi Arabia to Join Its Khashoggi Investigative Team?

According to press reports, the government in Ankara has asked Riyadh to help investigate what happened to Khashoggi. The Turkish foreign minister recently complained that the “[Saudis] aren’t cooperating in full extent to uncover the circumstances of Khashoggi’s disappearance. We would like to see a genuine cooperation from them.”

This makes no sense. If Saudi Arabia is suspected of abducting or killing Khashoggi, its involvement in the investigation would compromise the probe, even giving a potential suspect opportunity to tamper with evidence. Further, if there is audio and video evidence that a Saudi team killed Khashoggi, as Turkish and U.S. media report, there is no need for an investigation—the case has already been solved.

The Turks’ two irreconcilable diplomatic tracks—official channels offering Saudi a role in the investigation while unnamed sources accuse it of murder—suggest that Ankara is negotiating with Riyadh. It’s unclear what the terms are.

3. Are Internal Turkish Issues a Factor in the Khashoggi Affair?

Because the Turkish figures and officials leaking to the press are anonymous, it’s not clear if, or to what extent, they represent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Could the sources be hostile to Erdogan?

Two years ago, his opponents attempted to overthrow him, leaving hundreds of Turks dead. Erdogan responded by rounding up followers of the former ally he blames for the coup, Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who has lived in Pennsylvania for nearly two decades. Gulen, like Khashoggi, has a green card, reportedly facilitated by CIA officials.

Presumably, Erdogan has mostly rid his police force of the Gulenists who once dominated it. However, some sources identifying as police are challenging pieces of evidence that the Ankara government is using to illustrate Saudi guilt.

The discipline shown in the messaging campaign—accuse Riyadh through leaks and reveal nothing in public—suggests Erdogan is managing the Khashoggi file directly. However, his overall management of the crisis may make him vulnerable, again, to domestic rivals.

4. What Does the Khashoggi Affair Have to Do with the Gulf Cooperation Council Cold War?

Since spring 2017, the Gulf Cooperation Council has been split, with senior partner Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) pitted against another U.S. ally, Qatar. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi accused Doha of supporting terrorism and getting too close to Iran, and imposed an embargo on their junior partner.

Turkey sided with Qatar, where it has a military base. Erdogan has sought to heal relations with Riyadh but still has problems with the UAE as well as Abu Dhabi’s sprawling client, Egypt.

Qatari media outlets are leading the information campaign, publishing the most garish rumors, like the prospect that Khashoggi was cut into pieces. It’s not known what role Doha may be playing behind the scenes, but it’s clear that Erdogan sees the Khashoggi affair as an opportunity to advance Turkish interests against Qatar’s rivals.

Thus the Khashoggi affair is another battleground in the GCC Cold War.

5. Is the Release of Pastor Brunson Related to the Khashoggi Affair?

Turkish press sources say no. Trump said there was no deal to get back Andrew Brunson. However, the timing of the pastor’s release seems to say otherwise.

There were rumors in July of a deal to free Brunson. The United States helped win the release of a Turkish terror suspect held by Israel, but instead of releasing Brunson, Ankara put him under house arrest. The Trump administration sanctioned Turkish officials, and warned that an already damaged Turkish economy was vulnerable to more sanctions.

After July’s events, Brunson’s lawyer filed a motion, and it was expected the pastor would be released from house arrest, although his passport would not yet be returned. Then Friday, Turkey sentenced and released him with time served.

The fact that Ankara is bargaining with Riyadh suggests that the Turks were looking to improve their position by giving the Trump administration something it wanted. Thus the release of Brunson is almost certainly related to the Khashoggi affair.

6. Did U.S. Intelligence Know the Saudis Were Planning an Operation Targeting Khashoggi?

According to press reports, U.S. intercepts captured Saudi communications about an operation to detain Khashoggi. A CNN story indicates that the United States likely found the information in reviewing its intercepts after Khashoggi went missing. Was U.S. intelligence asleep at the wheel while an ally was planning an operation conducted on the soil of a NATO member that was likely to have regional, and even international consequences?

Should Riyadh have notified its U.S. ally that it was planning an operation against a U.S. person? Saudi intelligence officials have historically enjoyed a close relationship with their U.S. counterparts, especially since 9/11, which raises an important question: Did the Saudis in fact tell the United States they were planning an operation targeting Khashoggi? Did anyone else know the Saudis were going after him?

7. How Did a Man with Extensive Ties to Intelligence Services as Well as Extremist Groups Get a Green Card?

Khashoggi writes a column for the Washington Post and worked at a number of Saudi media organizations, print and broadcast. Broadly speaking, he is a journalist, as the U.S. press is describing him—with the caveat that most Arab journalists primarily serve the political masters who pay and protect them, and often represent the interests of intelligence services.

Khashoggi was an adviser to former Saudi intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal when he was ambassador to London, then Washington. Khashoggi reportedly joined the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and continues to advocate for political Islam. He called the late Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden a friend and mourned his death. It appears that Khasshogi may have been something like Riyadh’s back channel to al-Qaeda, at least prior to 9/11.

So how did a former Saudi official with ties to intelligence services, connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, and a long history with a terrorist responsible for nearly 3,000 deaths on U.S. soil obtain permanent resident status?

Khashoggi must have important American patrons, because even though he reportedly moved to the United States in 2017, he already had a green card. According to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius: “Friends helped Khashoggi obtain a visa that allowed him to stay in the United States as a permanent resident.” So who vouched for him and why?

It might be useful to put these questions to former CIA director John Brennan. He was station chief in Riyadh from 1996-1999, when Khashoggi’s patron Turki al-Faisal was head of Saudi’s general intelligence directorate.

8. How Much of U.S. Press Coverage and Expert Opinion Is Shaped by the Pro-Iran ‘Echo Chamber’?

To market the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration built an echo chamber out of government officials, policy experts, and a supine press corps. But Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative was not only or even primarily an arms control deal. Rather, the JCPOA was purposed to realign U.S. interests in the Middle East, with Iran as the favored partner and traditional American allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia, downgraded.

Obama-era officials rightly saw the Trump administration as a threat to undo Obama’s policies. Trump not only got out of the Iran deal but also underscored the centrality of America’s traditional alliances. He made his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia and moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Khashoggi reportedly joined the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and continues to advocate for political Islam.

Soon after Khashoggi fell out of public view, former Obama aides and other echo chamber associates went into action. To punish Saudi, they named specific policies. In particular, they argued that the administration should withdraw support for Riyadh’s war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

It’s hardly coincidental that Khashoggi himself had made similar points in a September Washington Post column: “Saudi Arabia’s crown prince must restore dignity to his country — by ending Yemen’s cruel war.” In the article, Khashoggi questioned the crown prince’s legitimacy as ruler of Saudi Arabia and custodian of Islam’s two holiest shrines.

The inability, Khashoggi wrote, “of Saudi authorities in preventing Houthi missiles from being fired in the first place serves as an embarrassing reminder that the kingdom’s leadership is unable to restrain their Iranian-backed opponent.” Khashoggi’s criticism of other policies implemented by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS)—like trying to rein in Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri—also synchronized with echo chamber talking points.

It should come as no surprise that the Obama echo chamber used the Khashoggi affair as an opportunity to sound its anti-Saudi talking points. As a Saudi voice critical of MBS, Khashoggi’s work at the Post was integrated into the echo chamber’s anti-Saudi and pro-Iran messaging campaign. How much is U.S. reporting and opinion regarding the Khashoggi affair shaped by the pro-Iran echo chamber? Nearly all of it.

9. Why Are Some DC Public Relations Firms Now Worried about Representing the Saudis?

Washington DC lobbyists and public relations firms, who represent some of the world’s worst, now appear to believe that the Saudis are beyond the pale. Is it because some of their other clients—like African despots, Central Asian oligarchs, and Latin American drug lords—don’t like the odor? No, it’s again a function of the GCC Cold War—and domestic American politics.

Both sides, Saudi Arabia/UAE and Qatar, have spent lavishly in their efforts to win the exclusive love of the American government. Many inside the Beltway have profited handsomely from the GCC conflict. Others, however, paid a price for putting themselves in the middle of warring tribes. For instance, the UAE-allied former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee chairman Elliott Broidy was targeted by the Qataris, who hacked his wife’s emails and leaked them to the New York Times.

Having acquired over the last several years the customs and manners of Arab media outlets, it’s only fitting the U..S press has taken sides against certain Arab regimes, just as it has taken sides against the current White House. Since Trump looks with favor on Saudi and the UAE, the media considers them enemies, too.

That’s why Congress’s hometown paper, the Washington Post, is warning the Saudis’ friends, allies, and employees to abandon Riyadh lest they forfeit their respectability. In other words, as long as publicists and lobbyists work for the Saudis, they can hardly expect the Post to give their other clients a fair hearing. It’s blackmail.

10. Why Are Conservative Policy Analysts and Journalists Advising Trump to Go Hard on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman?

The dynamic public relations blitz waged on behalf of the 30-something heir to the throne appears to have backfired. It raised expectations way too high.

After winning praise from columnists like Thomas Friedman and Washington policy experts impressed by his favorable views toward political reform, Israel, women’s empowerment, and privatizing the economy, MBS stock has tumbled precipitously the last two weeks. Many of his former fans are barking the loudest because after they gave him the seal of approval, MBS embarrassed them in front of their peers.

A meltdown in the Persian Gulf may affect global stability in ways that no one can fathom—including the experts, analysts, and pundits who now counsel punishing MBS.

Prominent GOP policy experts and neoconservative journalists were lured into the anti-MBS campaign led by former Obama hands and “resistance” media. Now, they, too, demand that the Trump administration should punish the crown prince.

They propose, however, no back-up plan should the shaming campaign by Saudi’s American patron weaken MBS’ position, or even remove him from the line of succession. After all, plenty of members of his family have it out for him after he locked down and penalized hundreds of princes last year as part of an anti-corruption campaign.

Most of the foreign policy establishment’s MBS advocates misunderstood his appeal from the start. They liked him because he appeared to be a liberal, and he encouraged that conviction, casting trifles in their path—movie theatres, music concerts, women behind the wheel, etc.

No, what’s most attractive about MBS is that he is young. His youth is important not because it signals a tech-savvy reformer with liberal impulses who will come to turn the kingdom into a democracy. He sees that Saudi Arabia is in a vulnerable position. Oil is not a long-term solution. Nor are there easy fixes found in the freedom agenda slogans chanted by those who now want to hobble him. His youth matters because, with luck, it will afford him time to figure out how to temper, maybe even solve, some of the country’s most daunting issues.

If he doesn’t, Saudi Arabia is in big trouble and so is everyone else. A meltdown in the Persian Gulf may affect global stability in ways that no one can fathom—including the experts, analysts, and pundits who now counsel punishing MBS, even though they, like virtually everyone else, have no idea what is at the bottom of the Khashoggi affair.

Lee Smith is the media columnist at Tablet.
Also see:

Disappearance Of Saudi Dissident Jamal Khashoggi Threatens Trump’s Middle East Strategy

David Barrows, center, with Code Pink, wears a mask of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a protest outside of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Red State, by Streiff, October 11, 2018:

On October 2, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to do some type of administrative activity associated with his marriage and never exited. And now he’s become a cause célèbre among a strange coalition of American media, liberal Democrats, anti-Saudi Arabia proponents, Erdogan supporters, Iranian supports, and think tanks receiving Qatari money.

Khashoggi was an opponent of the new Saudi regime headed by Mohammed bin Salman. He left Saudi Arabia in 2017 and took up residence in Washington, DC, and carved out a niche for himself as the go-to guy in the US for criticism of bin Salman’s rule and the Saudi involvement in Yemen. The Saudi government wasn’t all that enamored with his point of view. According to reports, he was offered bribes to shut up and when that failed a plot was hatched to return him to Saudi Arabia.

The intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong. But, Khashoggi was not some kind of democratic reformer. His opposition comes from his alignment with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The fate of Khashoggi has at least provoked global outrage, but it’s for all the wrong reasons. We are told he was a liberal, Saudi progressive voice fighting for freedom and democracy, and a martyr who paid the ultimate price for telling the truth to power. This is not just wrong, but distracts us from understanding what the incident tells us about the internal power dynamics of a kingdom going through an unprecedented period of upheaval. It is also the story of how one man got entangled in a Saudi ruling family that operates like the Mafia. Once you join, it’s for life, and if you try to leave, you become disposable.

In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post. He championed the ‘moderate’ Islamist opposition in Syria, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of record. Khashoggi frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy. But he never hid that he was in favour of a Muslim Brotherhood arc throughout the Middle East. His recurring plea to bin Salman in his columns was to embrace not western-style democracy, but the rise of political Islam which the Arab Spring had inadvertently given rise to. For Khashoggi, secularism was the enemy.

A former U.S. intelligence official — who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter — noted that the details of the operation, which involved sending two teams totaling 15 men, in two private aircraft arriving and departing Turkey at different times, bore the hallmarks of a “rendition,” in which someone is extra­legally removed from one country and deposited for interrogation in another.

But Turkish officials have concluded that whatever the intent of the operation, Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. Investigators have not found his body, but Turkish officials have released video surveillance footage of Khashoggi entering the consulate on the afternoon of Oct. 2. There is no footage that shows him leaving, they said.

The intelligence about Saudi Arabia’s earlier plans to detain Khashoggi have raised questions about whether the Trump administration should have warned the journalist that he might be in danger.

Intelligence agencies have a “duty to warn” people who might be kidnapped, seriously injured or killed, according to a directive signed in 2015. The obligation applies regardless of whether the person is a U.S. citizen. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident.

Nothing here is as simple as it looks.

  • Turkey and Saudi Arabia are at odds over Turkey’s policy in Syria.
  • Saudi Arabia and the United States are growing much closer as the Saudis react to the threat of Iranian hegemony and Turkey moves closer to Iran and Russia.
  • Saudi Arabia is locked in a nasty little war/humanitarian crisis in Yemen (though, let’s be honest, it’s damned hard to tell a conflict generated humanitarian crisis in Yemen from Yemen’s natural state of affairs on any day ending in “y”) opposing an Iranian led rebel faction and has been vociferously criticized for this by Iran’s friends and by the Turks.
  • Saudi Arabia is putting the screws to Qatar, Iran’s ally in the Arab world and a major funder of Washington think tanks like Brookings Institution.

Into this mix is thrown the TDS of our media. Trump’s criticism of US media is being portrayed as a green light by Trump to kidnap and/or kill Khashoggi.

And the incident is generating calls from people like Rand Paul to cut relations with the Saudis. This is an odd throwback to the Cold War where we often convinced ourselves that our allies in fighting Soviet expansion had to be spotless angels which frequently resulted in our allies being punished for actions that we accepted from Soviet bloc nations. (Full disclosure, I’m pretty much where FDR was in describing Anastasio Somoza, “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”)

This, in turn, has generated a diplomatic kerfuffle in which Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo have all demanded answers from the Saudis about the fate of Khashoggi.

And it is complicated by the fact that the Russia-collusion story has collapsed into a smoking heap of #Fail and a new Puppet-master of Trump is needed. And the Saudis are nominated.

My views, for what they are worth, are pretty much echoed by my long-time acquaintance Jim Hanson:

The outcry over Khashoggi is driven, in my view, by three separate and symbiotic impulses. The United States is making strides toward creating a defense scheme in the Middle East which involves Israel and has Saudi Arabia as the linchpin. Creating a crisis that will result in some kind of formal sanctions being applied against Saudi Arabia will defeat that and hand Iran and its sympathizers, both in the region and in the US, a huge victory. The Turks and the Iranians and their allies are terrified of the implications. This incident is being used to attempt to drive a wedge between the US and Saudi Arabia that prevents military and diplomatic cooperation.

The political forces in the United States that pushed for Obama’s Iran-First policy, are using the incident to take pressure off Iran and to create a counter-narrative that says Saudi Arabia is a much worse violator of human rights than Iran and that we should cut the Saudis free. Into this mix are some isolationists who actually oppose Saudi intervention in Yemen on its merits and a non-trivial number of anti-Israel people and groups who are concerned by the warming ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The third part is strictly tribal. Khashoggi is a journalist and because he’s a journalist his life has greater value to the press corps than that of other people. The fact that Khashoggi’s death can be bootstrapped into a multi-prong attack on Trump (Trump’s dislike of the press led to Khashoggi’s disappearance; Trump is enamored of despots and will do nothing to Saudi Arabia; Trump is financially owned by the RussiansSaudis) is a plus.

On the whole, I’m underwhelmed by this incident and it would be a shame if we let this shape our entire strategy in the Middle East.

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Patrick Poole scoop! Click on the  tweet and read the  thread:

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Also see:

Americans Will Win This War In the Shadows of the Heroes of Flight 93

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, September 10, 2018:

On 9/11/2001, the U.S. Government failed to protect America, and Islamic jihadis flew planes into two World Trade Center buildings in New York (American Airlines flight 11 and United Airlines flight 175) and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia (American Airlines flight 77) killing nearly 3,000 people.

     

But on United Airlines flight 93, average American citizens demonstrated leadership, courage, and initiative and gave the last full measure of devotion to this nation by ensuring that airplane would not be used to do the kind of devastation we saw in New York and Arlington.

And so it is today.  Citizens will win or lose this war at the local level.

It is 2018.  Contrary to U.S. warfighting doctrine, the United States government has still not identified the “enemy” we face in this war.  You cannot hit the bullseye if there is no target.

Since 9/11, 159 Americans have been killed and 502 wounded in 71 jihadi attacks perpetrated by muslims in 24 different states inside America.

Texas leads the nations with eight (8) separate attacks.

Fifteen (15) of the nineteen (19) Islamic jihadis who attacked America on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia.  Evidence exists revealing Saudi intelligence operatives conducted a “dry run” for the 9/11 attacks one year prior to 9/11/01, and the Saudi Ambassador to the United States – Prince Bandar – and his wife passed money to an account used to support 9/11 hijackers.

Yet, the United States government calls Saudi Arabia an “ally” in the “War on Terror.”

Pakistani Intelligence helped move Al Qaeda personnel on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and Osama bin Laden lived for years in Pakistan less than a mile from the Pakistani Military Academy.

Yet, the United States government calls Pakistan and “ally” in the “War on Terror.”

U.S. military generals, State Department officials, National Security advisors, and directors of U.S. intelligence agencies continue to rely upon Islamic “coalition partners” and Islamic advisors to tell them how to fight the war.

We LOST the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it is not because our military soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen failed to do their jobs – it is because our generals/admirals and civilian leaders failed and continue to fail to Understand the Threat and identify the enemy.

Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, Hizbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Abu Sayef, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb u Tahrir, Jamaat e Islami, Tabligi Jamaat, and all Islamic nations on the planet under the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) clearly state they intend to establish an Islamic State (caliphate) under sharia (Islamic law) through all means necessary.

The enemy very clearly makes their intentions known.  The enemy is not the problem.  Our leaders are the problem.

U.S. leadership has failed and continues to fail America and Americans are dead because of it – nearly 700 killed or wounded since 9/11 here at home.

President Trump stands virtually alone in this administration as someone who has some semblance of an understanding Islam is the problem and sharia is the threat doctrine of our enemy.

Because of all of this, this war will be won or lost at the local level.

Here is what citizens must do if America is to win this war:

  1. Know and understand sharia.  Speak truth boldly.
  2. Organize citizens who understand the threat into small teams to focus their efforts on educating and activating:  police; prosecutors and judges; legislators; pastors/rabbis; school officials; business leaders (chamber of commerce); and local politicians.
  3. Give each team simple focused tasks.
  4. POLICE:  Give a copy of the book Raising a Jihadi Generation and the UTT Episode 1 DVD to your local police chief and sheriff.  Encourage your local police chief and sheriff to bring the UTT’s 3-day “Understanding and Investigating the Jihadi Network” course to their jurisdiction.  This is the only program of its kind in the U.S. which gives police tools to map out, investigate and prosecute the jihadi network in your community.
  5. PROSECUTORS/JUDGES:  Share UTT information with prosecutors and judges you know, and encourage them to host a UTT training.  If able, show them examples of the jihadi network in their city/county and how they operate – ie they (suit-wearing jihadis) portray themselves as helpful and friendly yet still have the same objectives as Al Qaeda.
  6. LEGISLATORS:  Work with patriots involved with legislative efforts at your state house to increase the strength of state Racketeering statutes and increase the list of predicate crimes to include “Terrorism.”  Work to make “Conspiring to overthrow the state constitution” a state felony in your state.
  7. PASTORS/RABBIS:  Educate local church leaders, including pastors, about the threat of Islam and encourage them to cease all “Interfaith Outreach” as it is today, since all U.S. interfaith outreach efforts are driven by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood via the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
  8. SCHOOL OFFICIALS:  Firmly ensure Islam is not being taught in your local schools, nor are children compelled to openly state the shahada (Islamic statement of faith).  Work with organizations like TruthinTextbooks.com to ensure social studies and history books are actually teaching historical facts not revisionist history.  Ensure the school board, principles, PTA leaders and others are aware that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a front for the terrorist group Hamas, and has no place in any discussions or activities dealing with American school children.  See “CAIR is Hamas” document here.  DO teach children about America’s founding principles, specifically, “The law of nature and nature’s God” and what that legally means and how it relates to the foundation of U.S. law and government.
  9. BUSINESS LEADERS:  Identify key patriotic business leaders in the community, and educate them on the threat (once you understand it!).  Have team members ready to publicly call for boycotts and participate in public protests outside businesses who support jihadi organizations domestically or overseas.  Work to promote courageous men and women who understand the threat to be a part of your local chamber of commerce.
  10. LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS:  Mayors, city council members, and other local officials who are open-minded and able to hear and receive facts and truth should be engaged and taught about the threat of the Islamic Movement in the United States and your local area.  These officials should be be encouraged to know this threat and act accordingly in the day to day disposition of their duties as community leaders.  They should know they will be held accountable, and the team working with them should consistently be giving them positive or negative feedback based on their actions.

In all of this, local leaders should know your teams will stand with them through all of this if they do the right thing and speak truth.  There does not need to be a public proclamation by all these officials that they understand the threat.  Many will get much more done by quietly shutting the doors to the jihadis that have been open to them for so long.

The most important thing is the know the threat first before you ever decide to act.  When you act you must have a reasonable understanding of how the jihadis will respond so you will be prepared to counter-act them accordingly.

On 9/11/01, American citizens on United Airlines flight 93 took charge and won the day by ensuring a greater tragedy did not take place.  They gave their lives for all of us, as have thousands of American warriors on battlefields across the world.

Will you stand up and do your duty now?

Saudis Threaten Canada With Another 9/11 Amid Diplomatic Crisis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, May 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, August 6, 2018:

An official Twitter account of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia threatened Canada with another 9/11 earlier today, as the two countries square off in an ongoing diplomatic crisis. The account posted a graphic of an Air Canada plane bearing down on Toronto’s CN Tower:

They have since reposted the graphic without the airplane:

It bears mentioning that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.

The current back and forth between Canada and Saudi Arabia began when the Canadian Foreign Ministry called last Friday for the release of human rights activists in the Kingdom:

Yesterday, in response to Canada’s call for the release of the activists, Saudi Arabia announced that it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and suspending any new trade deals:

Earlier today, the Saudis announced they were withdrawing approximately 14,000 Saudi students studying in Canada:

It’s unclear what stakes are at play in the ongoing dispute. Canada, which has the third-largest oil reserves in the world (mostly oil sands), imports only 9 percent of its oil from Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the Saudis have said that Canada’s criticism amounted to interference in the Kingdom’s internal affairs, and threatened that they would respond in kind, according to The Globe and Mail:

In a statement released through the Saudi Press Agency, Riyadh bluntly condemned the criticism from Ms. Freeland and the Department of Global Affairs, calling it “blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols” and a “major, unacceptable affront to the Kingdom’s laws and judicial process, as well as a violation of the Kingdom’s sovereignty.”

The Saudis warned in a statement that any more criticism will be interpreted as licence to meddle in Canadian affairs.

“Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs,” the Saudis said.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Freeland said late Sunday night the Canadian government is trying to make contact with the Saudis.

“We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Marie-Pier Baril said. “Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world. Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy.”

This crisis puts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a difficult position after his government approved a multi-billion dollar controversial arms trade deal involving hundreds of heavy weapons. He defended the deal earlier this year by saying the sale was in line with his country’s foreign and defense priorities.

Conversely, the Saudi over-the-top response to criticism comes as Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman continues to pitch his message of reforms in the Kingdom, including scaling back extremist rhetoric, cracking down on corruption, and allowing women in the country to begin to drive.

Bin Salman’s “reformist” message during a global tour earlier this year has been swallowed up whole by the Western establishment. Western governments have repeatedly pointed to the cosmetic reforms as the basis for increasing support for the Kingdom, and U.S. media and think tanks have tripped over each other fawning over his program.

While Saudi Arabia is not a considerable export partner for Canada, the United States is. How the Trump administration responds to the ongoing crisis could weigh heavily in the ongoing NAFTA renegotiations between the U.S. and Canada.

Certainly, threatening Canada with another 9/11 will not make the Saudis popular with most Americans.

Calling for Violent Jihad in Australia

By Mark Durie, APRIL 11, 2018

There is not a Bible, Jewish or Christian, containing such incendiary commentary as populates page after page of ‘The Noble Qur’an’, which for four years has preached to the faithful in Canberra Airport’s prayer room. The ideology it promotes is violent jihad. It is a book to start a war.


The Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt recently cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions, accusing the Qataris of supporting terrorism. The Saudis have demanded that Qatar close Al-Jazeera and cut all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Islamic State. Qatar’s long-standing and well-known support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which aims to unify Muslim nations under an Islamic caliphate and has networks of supporters across the Middle East, is now perceived as a serious threat its neighbours.

This is the pot calling the kettle black, for Saudi Arabia itself has a long record of exporting Islamic radicalism. Among its most notable exports are millions of Korans in translation, which, through commentary (mainly in footnotes) and accompanying materials, incite Muslims to wage violent jihad to establish an Islamic state.

Among the Saudis’ exported Korans is an English-language edition, TheNoble Qur’an, which can be found in mosques, prayer rooms and meeting places around the world. Anyone who applies to the Saudi embassy in Canberra will be sent a copy gratis.

The Noble Qur’an can be found in the musallah or prayer room of Canberra’s airport. What is apparently the same edition, with “AIRPORT MUSALLAH” written in black marker pen on the page ends, has been sitting there for the past four years, ever since the new airport was built. The Noble Qur’an is also publicly available in other “multi-faith” spaces that have been springing up in institutions across Australia in recent years, in universities, hospitals and other public places.

Canberra airport’s Noble Qur’an was printed by the order of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who ruled from 2005 to 2015. It includes the Arabic text, and, side-by-side, the English translation by Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan. There is also an endorsement by Shaikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Baz, Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia from 1993 to 1999, and a foreword by Shaikh Salih ibn Abdul-Aziz al-Shaikh, the current Saudi Minister for Islamic Affairs. After the Koranic text there are a hundred pages or so of appendices, and under the text there are footnotes, which offer a commentary. There are also frequent interpolations in brackets to help clarify the meaning in translation.

Marked “not for sale”, vast numbers of The Noble Qur’an printed by the Saudis are exported around the world. The King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Medina has printed over one hundred million Korans in thirty-nine languages since it was established in 1985. The handsomely gilded Noble Qur’an is distributed as part of the Saudis’ global da’wa or effort to propagate Islam. It appears to target two kinds of readers.

First, The Noble Qur’an seeks to enlist Muslims in violent jihad against non-Muslims, to establish an Islamic caliphate. Second, it aims to engage with Christians. The longest essay in the appendices is an argument that Jesus was a prophet of Islam, and commentary throughout The Noble Qur’an—in the explanatory footnotes, the interpolations in brackets and the appendices—challenges and “corrects” Christian teachings.

Sometimes it is said that when people use verses from the Koran to justify violence, they have taken them out of context. This criticism cannot be applied to The Noble Qur’an, which follows a traditional Islamic method of interpreting the Koran in the light of Muhammad’s example and teachings, known as the Sunna. In keeping with this tradition, citations from the Sunnasupply the great bulk of the explanatory footnotes.

On non-Muslims
The footnotes in The Noble Qur’an are repeatedly derogatory of non-Muslims. 

For example, a note to Sura 10:19 (p. 272, fn1) quotes Muhammad to say that human beings are born Muslims, and are “converted” away from Islam by non-Muslim parents. For Jewish or Christian parents to raise their child in their own faith is like mutilating them:

Every child is born on al-Fitrah, but his parents convert him to Judaism or Christianity … An animal gives birth to a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?

The Arabic phrase al-fitrah refers to the doctrine that the innate state of human beings is to be a Muslim.

The Arabic text of the Koran calls non-Muslims unclean (Sura 9:28), using a derogatory word (najas). The footnote to this verse explains about non-Muslims that:

Their impurity is spiritual and physical: spiritual because they don’t believe in Allah’s Oneness and in his Prophet Muhammad … and physical, because they lack personal hygiene (filthy as regards urine, stools and [menstrual] blood). [p. 248, fn 2]

Sura 3:85 states that “whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”. In the footnote commentary on this verse, The Noble Qur’an quotes Muhammad to explain that Christians and Jews who die disbelieving in Muhammad will end up in Hell:

there is none from amongst the Jews and Christians … who hears about me and then dies without believing in the Message with which I have been sent … but he will be from the dwellers of the (Hell) Fire. [p. 84, fn 1]

Sura 4:47 warns Christians and Jews that they should believe in Muhammad, or else their faces will be taken away in hell, to which the translators add, in brackets, “by making them like the back of necks; without nose, mouth, eyes”. The footnote commentary explains further:

This Verse is a severe warning to the Jews and Christians, and an absolute obligation that they must believe in Allah’s Messenger Muhammad … and also in his Message of Islamic Monotheism and in this Qur’an. [p. 115, fn 2]

The Koran has verses which exhort tolerance of Christians and Jews. Yet The Noble Qur’an takes pains to emphasise that such verses have been cancelled by later verses, following the Islamic contextual principle of abrogation (naskh). Here are two examples:

First, Sura 2:62 states that a Christian or Jew who “believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve”. This could be taken to imply that Christians and Jews will be accepted by God if they follow their faith properly. However, the commentary on this verse clarifies that:

This Verse (and Verse 5:69) … should not be misinterpreted by the reader … the provision of this Verse was abrogated by Verse 3:85 “And whosoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter, he will be one of the losers” (i.e. after the coming of Prophet Muhammad … on the earth, no other religion except Islam, will be accepted from anyone). [p. 13, fn 2]

What this footnote is actually asserting is that Christians and Jews will go to Hell unless they accept Islam, because earlier verses which seemed to counsel tolerance have been superseded and cancelled by later verses.

Second, Sura 2:109 states that Muslims should “forgive and overlook” the Christians and Jews, “till Allah brings His Command”.Yet the footnote makes clear that “the provision of this verse has been abrogated” (p. 21, fn 1) by Sura 9:29. The later verse commands Muslims to fight (that is, kill) Christians and Jews unless or until they surrender to Muslims and pay tribute:

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad …) 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. [Sura 9:29, p. 248]

Here again, a more tolerant verse is claimed to have been abrogated by a later verse which commands violence against non-Muslims.

The meaning of jihad
Some Muslims have proposed that the basic meaning of jihad is peaceful struggle. In contrast, The Noble Qur’an defines jihad as waging war against non-Muslims to make Islam dominant in the world. This jihad is obligatory for all Muslims, and rejecting this obligation will lead to hellfire.
This interpretation is made clear in the glossary, where the entry for jihad is:

Holy fighting in the Cause of Allah or any other kind of effort to make Allah’s Word (i.e. Islam) superior. Jihad is regarded as one of the fundamentals of Islam. See the footnote of (V.2:190) [p. 873]

The footnote referred to is a comment on Sura 2:190, “And fight in the Way of Allahthose who fight you …” This footnote reads:

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 illallah 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. [p. 39, fn 1]

Here The Noble Qur’an is saying that the purpose of jihad is to make Muslims dominant over non-Muslims, and Islam dominant over other religions; Islamic warfare against non-Muslims is a kind of missionary enterprise to spread the faith, and any Muslim who does not fulfil this obligatory duty is a “hypocrite”.

What is bad about being a “hypocrite” is made clear by The Noble Qur’an on page 906 of the appendices: a hypocrite will end up in the lowest depths of Hell, the place of worst punishment. The Noble Qur’an is teaching here that any Muslim who does not engage in and support warfare to establish the dominance of Islam is destined to occupy the hottest place in Hell, worse even than that occupied by non-Muslims.

In its footnote on Sura 27:59, The Noble Qur’an quotes a tradition of Muhammad which refers to jihad (p. 512 fn 1). (Here again jihad is defined as “holy fighting”.) The footnote emphasises that fighting non-Muslims is the best possible pious deed for a Muslim, second only to becoming a Muslim.

The caliphate and universal war against non-Muslims
Sura 2:252 (p. 55, fn2, running on to p. 56) refers to Muhammad as a messenger of Allah. The footnote to this verse reports that Muhammad’s prophethood was distinguished by certain characteristics. Three of these are:

(i) Muhammad was victorious through fear or terror for a distance of one month’s journey: “Allah made me victorious by awe (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey.”
(ii) He was the first prophet from Allah given permission to take booty from his enemies: “The booty has been made Halal (lawful) to me yet it was not lawful to anyone else before me.”
(iii) Unlike previous prophets, he was sent to all mankind, not just to a specific group: “Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only, but I have been sent to all mankind.”

The implication of this third point is that everyone, everywhere is obligated to accept Muhammad as their prophet, and the first two points show that he was uniquely commissioned to wage war against disbelievers, by terrorising and looting them. Muhammad is considered to be the best example for Muslims to follow, including, it becomes clear, in these aspects of his prophetic career. The Noble Qur’an emphasises these aspects of Muhammad’s mission to activate them for jihad.

In its footnote on Sura 3:55 (p. 76, fn 1), The Noble Qur’an states that when Jesus returns he will impose Islamic law and break the cross (that is, destroy Christianity). At that time Jesus will do away with toleration of non-Muslims, so that “all people will be required to embrace Islam and there will be no other alternative”. In other words they will be compelled to convert by force if required.
This teaching about Jesus’s return is repeated in a commentary on Sura 8:39 (p. 236, fn 1), and a comment on Sura 61:6 (p. 761, fn 2), which states that this tradition is intended as “a severe warning to Christians who claim to be the followers of ’Isa (Jesus) …” In essence The Noble Qur’an tells its Christian readers that when he returns Jesus will compel them to embrace Islam, and all people on the earth will have to choose between Islam and death.

In its commentary on Sura 9:29 (p. 248, fn 2) The Noble Qur’an cites a tradition of Muhammad about the Jews, which states, “The Hour (i.e. the final hour) will not be established until you fight against the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’” So, at the end, creation itself will cry out for Jewish blood.

In an interpolation in Sura 8:73, The Noble Qur’an states that Muslims of the world must not ally themselves with non-Muslims, but join together “to make victorious Allah’s religion of Islamic monotheism” (p. 242). It is explained in commentary that if Muslims do not do this, there will be terrible disorder and tribulation in the world, with wars and battles and calamitous breakdown of civil society. This is because of the deleterious effects of non-Muslim rule. Moreover, it is also wrong to have “many Muslim rulers”, because Muslims should unite under one ruler, the caliph: “it is a legal obligation … that there shall not be more than one Khalifah for the whole Muslim world …” Furthermore, anyone who works to divide Muslims into different groups under different rulers should be killed, according to Muhammad, who is reported to have said, “When you all [Muslims] are united … and a man comes up to disintegrate you and separate you into different groups, then kill that man” (p. 242, fn 1). This can be taken to imply that anyone who upholds the division of Muslims into distinct nation-states, which is the international order today, stands under a death sentence.

The Noble Qur’an paints a supremacist vision of an ultimate Islamic victory over non-Muslim religions, in which all non-Muslims will be converted to Islam or killed. The text of Sura 3:110 reads:

You (true believers in Islamic monotheism …) are the best of people ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin al-Mahruf (Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief, and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah. [Sura 3:110]

The footnote commentary on this verse explains:

“You … are the best of people ever raised up for mankind” means, the best of the people for the people, as you bring them with chains on their necks till they embrace Islam (and thereby save them from the eternal punishment in the Hell-fire and make them enter paradise in the Hereafter) … The people referred to here may be the prisoners of war who were captured and chained by the Muslims and their imprisonment was the cause of their conversion to Islam. So, it is as if their chains were the means of winning Paradise. [p. 89, fn 1]

This footnote is a reference to a tradition of Muhammad which states that Allah is pleased to see people entering Paradise in chains. This justifies making war on non-Muslims, and forcing them into Islam through enslaving them; enslaving non-Muslims is a kindness to them, because it enables them to attain Paradise.

This interpretation of Sura 3:110 is based on Muhammad’s teaching. Could it have any application in today’s world, or is it just a dead letter?

The very same tradition was cited by the Islamic State in the October 2014 edition of its magazine Dabiq, which included an article titled “The Return of Slavery Before the Hour”:

[Muhammad] said, “Allah marvels at a people who enter Jannah in chains.” The hadith commentators mentioned that this refers to people entering Islam as slaves and then entering Jannah [Paradise]. Abu Hurayrah … said while commenting on Allah’s words, “You are the best nation produced for mankind” … “You are the best people for people. You bring them with chains around their necks, until they enter Islam.”

The same sentiment was also expressed by a Dutch Islamic State fighter, Israfil Yilmaz, who blogged about the correct Islamic motivation for sex slavery:

People [who] think that having a concubine for sexual pleasure only have a very simple mindset about this matter … The biggest and best thing of having concubines is introducing them to Islam in an Islamic environment—showing them and teaching them the religion. Many of the concubines/slaves of the Companions of the Prophet … became Muslim and some even big commanders and leaders in Islamic history and this is if you ask me the true essence of having slaves/concubines.

The translators who crafted the commentary in The Noble Qur’an, and the Saudi leaders who endorsed the text, no doubt desired that readers would take to heart the teachings they had laboured hard to present. The evidence is that many have done so. The investment by the Saudis of billions of dollars to spread the kinds of ideas found in The Noble Qur’an has not been in vain, and the Islamic State provides the proof.

Evidence for their success is found in Israfil Yilmaz’s justification for sex-slavery. This not only aligns with official ISIS propaganda: it also is fully in line with the teachings of The Noble Qur’an. Another sign of the influence of The Noble Qur’an’s ideas has been the river of thousands of ISIS recruits flowing from Western nations to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq.

What does all this mean?
Ahmed Farouk Musa, a graduate of Monash University medical school in Melbourne, told a forum on Muslim extremism in Kuala Lumpur on December 7, 2014, that The Noble Qur’an incites violence against Christians and other non-Muslims: “I believe that propaganda such as the Hilali-Khan translation and other materials coming out of Saudi Arabia are one of the major root causes that feed extremist ideas among Muslims, violence against Christians and other minorities.”

There is not a Bible in print, anywhere in the world, Jewish or Christian, which contains such incendiary commentary as is found on page after page of The Noble Qur’an. This is a book with which to start a war. The ideology it promotes is primed to light the fuse of violent jihad.

Given its contents, it might seem surprising that a copy of The Noble Qur’an has been sitting in the Canberra airport prayer room for the past four years. The theological characteristics of this edition of the Koran are not a secret. Yet it seems no Muslim who used the musallah has objected, or if they did, the Canberra airport authorities paid no attention. Canberra’s politicians and their many advisers also regularly pass along the corridor where the musallah is located, but none of them seems to have thought to check what version of the Koran was being used in their airport’s prayer room.
Earlier this year the Public Health Association of Australia asked the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to reject the “notion” that there is any inherent link between Islam and terrorism. It seems that Public Health Association of Australia officials have also not visited the Canberra airport musallah to read its Koran.

There has been much discussion and sometimes puzzlement about how young Muslim men have become radicalised enough to fight for ISIS. Reading and believing the messages implanted in The Noble Qur’an in the Canberra airport prayer room would be sufficient to convert some people to the key points of the ideology of ISIS.

The message of The Noble Qur’an is no marginal phenomenon. It is not an opinion from the extremities of the Islamic world, but from its heartland, presented as a gilt-edged free gift from the Saudi king, the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques. The political theology of The Noble Qur’an aligns with the official dogma of Saudi Arabia, and it has been endorsed by the Saudi king and the nation’s chief justice, the Grand Mufti.

It is necessary to grasp the authenticity of The Noble Qur’an and its message to the world. Those behind The Noble Qur’an manifestly believe that justice will be served only when Muslims rule the world, and that warfare necessary to achieve this goal is not only justified: it is a divinely instituted, inescapable obligation incumbent on every Muslim, because Muhammad and his Koran are, as Sura 21:107 puts it, “a mercy to the worlds”.

One sometimes hears the view that it is not up to non-Muslims to express opinions about Islam or its canonical texts, such as the Koran. But The Noble Qur’an’s running commentary on the text, because it has so much to say about non-Muslims, especially Jews and Christians, therefore gives non-Muslims, especially Jews and Christians, every right to form their own opinions about it. If a book talks about you, you have a right to make up your own mind about what it has to say.

In 2002 Christopher Hitchens fielded a question from Tony Jones on ABC’s Lateline as to why young, mostly well-educated men committed the 9/11 atrocity. Hitchens’s answer was, “Well, it could be they believe their own propaganda.” We have to assume that those responsible for The Noble Qur’an believe their own propaganda too, and that some who have read it have been influenced to believe it too.

What should Australians make of the fact that the Saudis have been presenting an open and unashamed apology for violent jihad, even commending the practice of enslaving enemies, in our own backyard for years, not to show Islam in a poor light, but to glorify it?
The fact that The Noble Qur’an is in the Canberra airport musallah is no accident. This edition of the Koran and the teachings it promotes can be found in Islamic bookshops, public libraries, prayer rooms and Sunni mosques all over the English-speaking world.

The British historian Tom Holland recently produced a documentary on ISIS called The Origins of Violence. A scathing review by the English journalist Peter Oborne was published in the Middle East Eye. Oborne excoriated Holland for suggesting that the problem with ISIS lies with Islam. Oborne found it repugnant to suggest that there is anything about Islam that might be considered a “threat”, and he railed against Holland’s suggestion that there could be anything in the example and teaching of Muhammad (whom Oborne respectfully calls “The Prophet”) which could have guided the actions of the Islamic State.

Such ignorance is the fruit of religious illiteracy. Or might fear be the issue? Has Muhammad, praised in the pages of the Koran for being “victorious by awe”, now extended his reign of fear, not just for the distance of one month’s journey as Muhammad declared he had achieved in seventh-century Arabia, but across fourteen centuries to Australia and the rest of the world?

Of course many Australian Muslims would, like Ahmed Farouk Musa, find the messages promoted through the footnotes and glosses of The Noble Qur’anutterly repugnant. It is disappointing that these well-meaning Muslims have not been able to determine which version of their own scriptures is to be placed in a public prayer room designated for their use. They could have lobbied Canberra airport to have this version of the Koran replaced by another, but if they have done so, their attempts must have failed.

The message contained in The Noble Qur’an and its widespread public distribution are matters Australians have every right to be concerned about. Its message has been promoted in public for years with hardly a whisper of objection coming from those who should know better.

It would be inappropriate, and indeed irrelevant if our leaders were to respond to the message of The Noble Qur’an with statements like “True Islam does not promote terrorism” or “No true religion supports violence”. For Australian officials to dare to instruct the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia or the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques on what is true Islam would be ludicrous and offensive. But the leaders of our nation, against whose non-Muslim citizens The Noble Qur’an incites such undisguised enmity, have every right to say, “Not in our backyard!”

Dr. Mark Durie is an academic, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

This article was first published by the Quadrant in November 2017. 

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