Winning Afghanistan: Support Trump’s Strategy

A US soldier holds the national flag ahead of a handover ceremony at Leatherneck Camp in Lashkar Gah in the Afghan province of Helmand on April 29, 2017. (Photo: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Aug. 22, 2017:

President Trump is pledging to “win” in Afghanistan by defeating the terrorist “losers.” He is correct about the disaster ahead if the U.S. retreats from Afghanistan, but his speech doesn’t seem to have addressed the concerns of those who believe that the campaign there is a lost cause.

Trump rightly pointed out that there are 20 groups designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the U.S. State Department operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the U.S. abandons Afghanistan, these groups will use the country as a launching pad to target the U.S. and destabilize the region, including nuclear-armed Pakistan.

From this base, they will likely be able to roll back progress we’ve made against terror havens in Iraq, Syria and Libya. And, of course, each success breeds a multitude of new members for the victorious terrorist group as momentum is interpreted as Allah’s blessing.

Yet, these realities do not address the core skepticism of those who oppose the war in Afghanistan — that there’s simply nothing more we can do. President Trump needed to confront this head on.

It’s extremely important that the American public understand that the war in Afghanistan is not like a videotape on loop. We have made progress, but the American public rarely heard about it because President Obama did not wish to bring attention to the war and its political liabilities. The progress was then lost due to the rapid withdrawal based on an arbitrary timeline.

“We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistakes our leaders made in Iraq,” Trump said.

Addressing the need to make a long-term commitment to Afghanistan to defeat the terror forces there, Secretary of Defense Mattis said it best when he told President Trump, “Mr. President, we haven’t fought a 16-year war so much as we have fought a one-year war 16 times.”

In 2014, 95% of all operations were being done by the Afghans and they were taking 95% of all casualties, according to Michael O’Hanlon. Foreign forces were only 15% of coalition manpower. The Taliban and other jihadists had a growing presence in the areas where foreign forces decreased, but this territory only encompassed about 10% of the Afghan population.

The Defense Department’s April 2014 report said that U.S. casualties had “dropped significantly” over the previous year and the Afghan forces conduct “virtually all of these operations independently.” The Afghan economy was lunging forward and the Defense Department reported a “dramatic increase in basic education.”

The mantra we always hear in the media is that the Afghans won’t fight the Taliban and other terrorists. They did.

There was also major economic, educational and political progress.

That year, Afghanistan held a hotly-contested presidential election where all of the major candidates agreed that the U.S. military should be asked to stay. The election was a big success, as U.S.-backed Afghan forces made the Taliban and other Islamist terrorists fail miserably in achieving their stated goal of wreaking havoc during the voting.

Despite the extremely high risk, voter turnout was about 58%, matching that of America’s 2012 presidential election. One in three voters were women and a record number of women were running for office, including two for vice president.

After the vote was held, accusations of fraud came from both sides. Sectarian tension was high as each candidate represented different constituencies. Amazingly, despite all these pressures, the parties then reached a power-sharing agreement and had Afghanistan’s first peaceful transfer of the presidency through elections.

It is absolutely essential for President Trump to mention this progress to the skeptical American public so that they can know we haven’t been simply running in circles in Afghanistan. It is also important for the U.S. military that sacrifices so much to hear that their gains are known and appreciated.

Any progress that this new strategy makes will be limited by the assistance that the Taliban and other terrorists are receiving from Pakistan, Iran and Russia.

President Trump put Pakistan on notice like never before. The Pakistani government is going to be held accountable for harboring and materially supporting the terrorist network that sustains the jihad in Afghanistan. It is probable that we’ll see an increase in cross-border operations.

Trump’s praise for India as a strategic partner is a powerful lever to pull to pressure Pakistan. The State Department’s recent designation of Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization shows that the Trump Administration is serious about this. Hizbul Mujahideen is a terror group that primarily targets India and is backed by Pakistan.

It was strange that Iran’s role in assisting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda went unmentioned in Trump’s speech. Iran is actively murdering U.S. and Afghan troops. However, Secretary of Defense Mattis’ desire to deliver some payback to the Iranian regime for targeting the U.S. military is well-known. You can bet he has plans in mind for that.

All of the talk about the war in Afghanistan inevitably brings up the experience of the Vietnam War. Although there is much to criticize about National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster, he wrote a critically-acclaimed book about the Vietnam War.

There should be no doubt that the lessons of Vietnam are in the mind of McMaster and have been discussed within the Trump Administration every step of the way towards crafting the U.S.’ strategy in Afghanistan.

As Trump acknowledged, Americans are understandably frustrated and sick of being at war in Afghanistan. But there is reason to believe we can be successful. Moreover, advocates of a withdrawal have yet to explain how we can withdraw and still stop Afghanistan from becoming an extremely dangerous terrorist base.

If we would withdraw from Afghanistan now, how would we feel seeing images on our TV screens of the Taliban coming back to power, carrying out massacres and once again stopping girls from going to school, knowing that we could have stopped it.

We’ve sacrificed too much already to hand Afghanistan back to the Taliban and regressive forces. The consequences of retreat are so dire that it’s worth giving Trump and his team a chance for their strategy to work.

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Clare Lopez: What is core US national security interest in Afghanistan?

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Also see:

Target the Nurseries of Terror Indoctrination

Gatestone Institute, by Khadija Khan, August 21, 2017

  • The gutless response of world leaders to so many terrorist attacks suggest that the world has apparently bought into the “victim narrative” of these extremists, who first set their own countries on fire and then entered Europe with the baggage of their totalitarian ideology, aiming to enslave the masses here too.
  • The free world, if it would like to win this war, will first have to give up its duplicity. It will have to target the nurseries of terror indoctrination without cherry-picking and keeping favorites. If not, the global security organizations will find themselves exhausted running after the individual suspects, but each time looking just at the “minnows”, never the pond they swim in.

Europe bleeds again as terrorists in Spain plowed their vehicles into crowds of pedestrians in tourist areas in Barcelona and Cambrils. The men killed 14 people and injured more than 100.

Spanish police are currently investigating a local imam for possibly having radicalized the terrorists. The imam had apparently been preaching at a mosque in the town of Ripoll for two years, but stopped just a few months ago. The question has arisen if the mosque administration may have found out something about the imam and fired him, but never bothered to report the information to the local police and to clear the mosque of blame.

The day after the attacks in Spain, two people in Finland were hacked to death in another Islamist terrorist attack, leaving some eight injured.

We hear yet again the promises to root out the terrorism, with a warning from security agencies that they cannot stop each and every terrorist attack — words that translate into the admission that terror has gone beyond the control of European governments.

Yes, there were candlelight vigils for the victims; flags of Spain and Finland on social media profiles; there might even be a “Je Suis Barcelona” campaign — and then the long silence as if we are all in a loop, waiting for another terrorist attack..

We have seen — and these are just the recent ones — Islamist-inspired attacks in LondonManchesterParisBrusselsNiceBerlin and Stockholm, all of the violence leaving scores of women, children and men dead, and even more injured and possibly disabled for life.

It does not take much common sense to understand that individuals cannot commit mass murder without any training, support and most importantly, indoctrination.

The gutless response of world leaders to so many terrorist attacks suggest that the world has apparently bought into the “victim narrative” of these extremists, who first set their own countries on fire and then entered Europe with the baggage of their totalitarian ideology, aiming to enslave the masses here too.

One can measure the effect of sympathetic propaganda towards these extremists across the globe by looking at the two very different responses towards Charlottesville attack and what followed in Barcelona and Turku, Finland.

For the Charlottesville attacker, the whole world wanted the toughest crackdown against the organizations and supporters of right-wing marchers. CEOs of giant multinational companies abandoned the US government for not immediately having provided moral clarity by denouncing reprehensible organizations by name.

The critics of the US right-wing wanted their government to tear down each and every group that showed sympathy towards right-wing ideology, while they criticized President Trump for not being specific enough; unfortunately, they seemed to prefer overlooking similarly unattractive speech on the left, such as “Pigs in a blanket; fry ’em like bacon,” accompanied by a rash of just-as-real murders of equally innocent people.

They also seem to overlook a call to blow up the White House; a display of the president’s severed bloody head and “hope” from a sitting state senator that the president is assassinated.

The media get exercised when President Trump does not parrot their scripts, but they never minded that Barack Obama would not call out leftist rioters and violent leftist organizations by name. As inner cities would burn, with innocents watching their life savings go aflame as mobs burned down their stores in cities from Baltimore to Ferguson, the Obama Administration avoided planting blame or naming hate groups. When a jihadist murdered Americans serving our nation faithfully at Fort Hood, Obama attributed the murders to “workplace violence.” Obama never could articulate the term “radical Islamist terrorist,” as though he were Lou Costello fearing what would happen to him if he said “Niagara Falls.”

Many of these people, however, would probably rush to defend extremist Islamist organizations — whether Hamas, the Council on American-Islamic Relation (CAIR), Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and so on — by stating that these poor people had nothing to do with the criminals who carried out the terror attacks in the name of their religion.

No global CEO would resign, and many of the same people would probably be very tough on President Trump for being “too tough” on Islamists in his tweets and public statements, as they were when he announced that people who applied to move to the US should first be vetted.

Moreover, the so-called “political wing” of the notorious organization Hezbollah, was allowed to join the so-called Al-Quds Day march in the streets of London just a few weeks back, on June 18.

If a terrorist organization has a political wing, does that make it less of a terrorist organization or does just legitimize its terrorism? What about inventing “political wings” for al-Qaeda and ISIS?

On Al-Quds Day, the marchers chanted slogans such as “boycott Israel” and “Zionism = Racism” but the local authorities choose to keep their eyes shut despite appeals by thousands of concerned citizens to Mayor Sadiq Khan to cancel the event. Perhaps officials thought it was not harmful for Britain if somebody spews venom against “other people” on their soil.

Former commander of British forces in Afghanistan Col. Richard Kemp tweeted Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May:

“If Enough is Enough, why does the government continue to appease Jihadists by allowing the so-called ‘Al-Quds Day’ march through London?”

The march even tried to incite the public against Jews by falsely accusing Zionist people and supporters of Israel for the Grenfell Tower apartment building fire, which left 58 people dead. One speaker was reportedsaying:

“Many innocents were murdered by Theresa May’s cronies – many of which are supporters of Zionist ideologies. Some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.”

It was a shock to see people from other faiths joining a rally with these Islamists, and so-called human rights activists who were joining with the members of a terrorist organization, Hezbollah.

At the recent Al Quds Day march in London, it was a shock to see people from other faiths joining a rally with Islamists, and so-called human rights activists who were joining with the members of a terrorist organization, Hezbollah. Pictured: The 2014 Al Quds Day march through central London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

In a separate event in Australia, one television anchorman asked Wassim Doureihi, the local spokesman of an Islamist organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir, to condemn ISIS, but Doureihi simply kept juggling the debate around and avoided condemning the group. He even went on indirectly to endorse ISIS by stating, as Palestinian terrorists do, that organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda consider themselves a “resistance” force:

“Groups like ISIS or al-Qaeda don’t exist in vacuum. They exist as a reaction to Western interference in Islamic lands. And they view themselves, rightfully or wrongfully, irrespective of my opinion or otherwise, as a resistance effort to what they regard as an unjust occupation.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir is an extremist organization that believes in imposing an Islamist caliphate on the world using all available means. It is declared a terrorist organization by countries such as Germany and Pakistan, but ostensibly in the name of “freedom of expression”, allowed to grow across the West.

The same is true for organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots, which manage to survive in West despite being loathed by enough Egyptians to have gathered 22 million signatures to overthrow its rule there in 2013.

The demand to end support for the Muslim Brotherhood is also the issue at the heart of current standoffbetween Qatar and many other Middle Eastern states known as the “Saudi coalition,” presumably for its potential of overthrowing their governments.

It is in the atmosphere of this openly-stated wish for global political hegemony that Islamic hardliners successfully operate and indoctrinate local Muslim youths to further anti-democratic agendas.

The world cannot win this war by trying to catch only the minnows. As we have seen, if government agencies try to stop terrorists from bombing, they pick up machetes and knives or plow down the public with vehicles.

The terrorists are already doing their job by striking the fear in civilians. They appear determined first to establish their dominance in the minds of people through terror, probably in the hope that the public, scared and tired, will, as the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the psychologist James Mitchell, “eventually expose her neck for us to slaughter”

The free world, if it would like to win this war, will first have to give up its duplicity. It will have to target the nurseries of terror indoctrination without cherry-picking and keeping its favorites. If it does not, global security organizations will find themselves exhausted running after individual suspects, but each time looking just at the “minnows”, never the pond they swim in.

Khadija Khan is a Pakistani journalist and commentator, currently based in Germany.

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Top 10: Terrorist in Finland targeted women; Italian illegals protest free food

The Rebel, by Victor Lazlo Aug. 20, 2017:

1. Finnish police say jihadi “targeted women”

2. Russia knife attacker wounds seven in Surgut

The man, who apparently stabbed passers-by on the street at random, was shot dead by police.

The injured have been taken to hospital, where two are in a critical condition, the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reports.

The Islamic State militant group (IS) said on its official news channel that it was behind the attack.

3. Interview with German man sentenced to six months in jail for posting historically accurate photo and article about Hitler’s Islamic allies on Facebook:

4. Illegals in Italy protest the free food and shelter, demand documents

5. Duo convicted of Holsworthy army base terror plot accused of radicalizing other prisoners

TWO jihadi prisoners convicted of plotting to launch a suicide attack on the Holsworthy army barracks have been accused of radicalising other inmates behind bars.

Nayef El Sayad and Saney Aweys, who are former associates of Brighton gunman Yacqub Khayre, are serving 18 years in jail for an evil plot to go on a shooting rampage at the army base in 2009.

A source has told the Sunday Herald Sun that El Sayad and Aweys are radicalising prisoners at the medium-security Karreenga prison in Lara.”

‘This has been done under the watch of prison staff,’ the source said. ‘These extremists have been organising prayer sessions and have built a huge following.

‘They also arrange meetings of Islamic prisoners for talk sessions and to change ideas of mind.’

El Sayad and Aweys, along with Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, were sentenced in December 2011 for their roles in the plot.

Justice Betty King, at the Victorian Supreme Court, said she had to take into account the fact that they had shown no sign of retreating from their extremist beliefs and remained a danger to the community.

6. Source: Early assessment finds TATP at Barcelona attackers’ bomb factory

According to an initial assessment, traces of the powerful explosive TATP were found at the ruins of the suspected bomb factory used by the Barcelona attack cell, a source briefed on the investigation told CNN.

The source stressed the assessment was preliminary.

TATP is made by adding an acid to a mixture of acetone and hydrogen peroxide solution and can easily result in accidental detonation if mistakes are made in preparation.

It is a high explosive that is much more powerful than that used in the April 2013 Boston bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 250 others.

TATP was used in the November 2015 Paris attacks, the March 2016 Brussels bombings, the May Manchester bombing and a failed bomb attempt by an Islamist extremist at the Gare Centrale in Brussels in June.

7. 100 gas tanks: Extremists in Spain planned massive attack

[…] Another police official did confirm that three vans tied to the investigation were rented with Abouyaaquoub’s credit card: The one used in the Las Ramblas carnage, another found in the northeastern town of Ripoll, where all the main attack suspects lived, and a third found in Vic, on the road between the two.

Police believe the cell members had planned to fill the vans with explosives and create a massive attack in the Catalan capital. Trapero confirmed that more than 100 tanks of butane gas were found at the Alcanar house that exploded, as well as ingredients of the explosive TATP, which was used by the Islamic State group in attacks in Paris and Brussels.

“Our thesis is that the group had planned one or more attacks with explosives in the city of Barcelona,” he said. That plot was foiled, however, when the house in Alcanar blew up Wednesday night.

8. The Islamic State’s Claim to Spain

The video also claims that it was a Christian conquest that ended Muslim rule, but in fact it was a Spanish reconquest that took back control of their own lands, people, culture, and religion, which was Catholic. Hence the proper historical name for that period, “La Reconquista.”

9. Refugee reality: Germany admits 75 per cent face long-term unemployment and life on benefits

Aydan Özoğuz, commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration, told the Financial Times that only a quarter to a third of the newcomers would enter the labour market over the next five years, and “for many others we will need up to 10”.

The Institute for Employment Research (IAB) found only 45 per cent of Syrian refugees in Germany have a school-leaving certificate and 23 per cent a college degree.

Statistics from the Federal Labour Agency show the employment rate among refugees stands at just 17 per cent.

It said 484,000 of the refugees are looking for work, up from 322,000 last July — an increase of 50 per cent.

Of those, 178,500 are officially unemployed, meaning they not only have no work but are not enrolled in any training programmes or language courses — up 27 per cent on last July.

The figures will be hard to swallow for Angela Merkel as she seeks a fourth term as chancellor in elections this September.

10. Finland: Five Muslim migrants arrested after fatal knife rampage

Translations from Finnish sources show that the attackers yelled, “Allah is the Greater.”

Five Moroccan citizens have been arrested in connection to the fatal stabbing rampage Friday in the Finnish city of Turku.

Two people were killed and another eight were injured in what police consider a terror attack. One suspect is still at large and an international arrest warrant has been issued.

Witnesses report that the attackers shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is great) during the rampage, according to Finnish broadcaster YLE.

“Due to information received during the night, the Turku stabbings are now being investigated as murders with terrorist intent,” Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Barcelona Terror Cell Originally Planned to Target Sagrada Familia Cathedral With Massive Truck Bomb

(Wikimedia Commons)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Aug. 20, 2017:

The terror cell that struck Barcelona on Thursday originally intended to target the city’s famed Sagrada Familia cathedral with a massive truck bomb, as investigators have revealed they’ve discovered 120 gas canisters that are believed to have been intended for the attack.

Meanwhile, the names and stories of the victims killed in the terror attack continue to be revealed, including confirmation earlier today that 7-year-old Australian boy Julian Cadman was among those murdered.

Investigators are focusing on the role of a Moroccan imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, who is believed to be the brains behind the terror cell and served in the mosque attended by the other terror cell members.

Meanwhile, a manhunt for one of the remaining cell members who may have been behind the wheel of the van that drove through the Las Ramblas shopping district has now spread to France.

Regarding the targeting of the Sagrada Familia, The Local reported:

Police believe that the jihadist cell responsible for the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils that left 14 dead and more than 100 injured were originally planning something much bigger involving Barcelona’s most emblematic tourist sites.

The terrorists planned to inflict as much carnage as possible by driving vans packed with explosives into three of the city’s busiest tourist areas, according to a report in  Spanish online newspaper El Español on Saturday.

The newspaper cites police sources with information that one of the targets was Gaudi’s as yet unfinished masterpiece, the towering basilica of the Sagrada Familia.

As the most visited monument in Spain attracting more than four million visitors last year, the Catholic site is thronged with tourist crowds with queues of dozens of people snaking across the forecourt to gain entry, while thousands more linger outside to admire its spires.

Reports said that Las Ramblas was the second objective and that the busy port area, which each day welcomes hundreds of visitors disembarking from cruise ships, may have been the third target.

The plans of the terror cell were apparently derailed after the explosion Wednesday of the safe house in Alcanar an hour south of Barcelona, where the terrorists were apparently building the vehicle bombs and where they had stored the gas canisters and the explosive TATP.

One of those killed in that blast is believed to be imam Abdelbaki Es Satty, who has become the one of the primary subjects of the investigation.

El Pais reported earlier today:

Two months ago, Abdelbaki told several acquaintances he was giving up his duties as an imam and moving to Morocco. A new imam was not named – all such changes must be communicated to the regional government – and since then worshippers with the Annour community have been leading their own prayers.

The strange disappearance of the imam coincides with the period during which the terrorist cell began to prepare an attack, or a number of attacks, involving a large explosive device in Barcelona. Although the timeline is not firmly established, the head of the Mossos d’Esquadra, Josep Lluís Trapero, explained the group had spent a “certain length of time” on those preparations […]

The role of the religious leader in the attacks is still to be clarified – not just in terms of the radicalization of cell members but also in terms of logistical preparation. “We can’t compromise evidence or leads, or give unreliable information,” said Mossos d’Esquadra spokesperson Albert Oliva on Saturday, adding that police had carried out nine searches in Ripoll alone that day.

Whether the members of the cell were radicalized by Abdelbaki or in another way, they quickly become ready and able to act. None of them had previous convictions for terrorism crimes nor did they feature on police databases. “They are very young,” stressed Catalan regional police chief Trapero.

Es Satty reportedly had contact with members of the terror cell that conducted the March 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 193 — still the largest Islamic terror attack in modern European history.

French authorities are now on alert as they believe that one of the remaining terror cell members still at large may have crossed over into France.

Read more

Also see:

Is a Tolerant Culture Being Replaced by an Intolerant One?

Gatestone Institute, by Saher Fares, August 18, 2017:

  • One need not go back centuries to the Muslim conquest of the Christian late classical world — the medieval Barbary corsair raids, the Ottoman yoke in Central and Eastern Europe or the slave markets of Kaffa in Tatar Muslim Crimea — to understand that this violence clearly predates the European colonial era, the creation of the modern state of Israel, or the issue of climate change.
  • Countries such as China, Nigeria or Kenya that are not Western, not “imperialist”, notwhatever the excuses that Islamists make, are still spectacularly attacked by similar stabbings. Month on month, there seems almost nowhere that Islamic terror did not strike.
  • Volumes of revered Islamic texts establish in great detail the grounds of violence and oppression of non-believers and those deemed heretical. These supposed grounds — made alive daily in madrassas and mosques across the world before being acted upon by religiously-trained terrorists — are childishly dismissed by Western liberals as immaterial.
  • The first step towards a solution is to question the received knowledge tirelessly dished out by media pundits in the West. What is lacking is simply seeing a huge body of evidence of theological justification for Islamist terror.

How thin can excuses wear every time an atrocity is committed in the name of Islam?

When 13 people were killed and scores more injured this week in a vehicle-ramming attack in Barcelona, Spain, and stabbing men shouting “This is for Allah!” on London Bridge and in Borough Market in June, what the victims least cared about was the Western elite pontificating that the latest atrocity “had nothing to do with Islam”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said, “It is time to say enough is enough” and promised a review of her country’s counter-terrorism strategy.

In the absence, however, of an honest and tempered look at the root causes of this terrorism, sacred or not, and a painful soul-searching by Muslims themselves of the grounds in their religion that give rise to such violence, it will never be “enough”.

On June 4, British PM Theresa May said, “It is time to say enough is enough” and promised a review of her country’s counter-terrorism strategy. In the absence, however, of an honest look at the root causes of this terrorism, and a painful soul-searching by Muslims of the grounds in their religion that give rise to such violence, it will never be “enough”. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

One need not go back centuries to the Muslim conquest of the Christian late classical world — the medieval Barbary corsair raids, the Ottoman yoke in Central and Eastern Europe or the slave markets of Kaffa in Tatar Muslim Crimea — to understand that this violence clearly predates the European colonial era, the creation of the modern state of Israel, or the issue of climate change.

Only a fortnight ago, 29 Christian Copts were killed for refusing to say, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet” while on a trip to an Egyptian monastery on May 26. Separately, an unconfirmed number of Christians were killed and taken hostage by a mix of Saudi, Pakistani, Chechen, Moroccan and local jihadists in the southern Philippines during the past few weeks. In addition, 90 people were killed in a bombing in Kabul on May 31, and 26 people were killed at an ice cream parlor in Baghdad during Ramadan. None of these massacres had anything to do with “Bush’s war” in Iraq or U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s proposed “Muslim ban”.

Countries such as China, Nigeria or Kenya that are not Western, not  “imperialist”, not whatever the excuses that Islamists make, are still spectacularly attacked by similar stabbings. Month on month, there seems almost nowhere Islamic terror did not strike. In January 2014, there the kidnapping and forced conversion of Christian Chibok girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria. In March 2014, there were stabbings at China’s Kunming Railway Station in by eight terrorists of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement — male and female attackers pulled out long-bladed knives and stabbed and slashed passengers. In May 2014, there was the shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. In June 2014, there was the murder of 48 people in Mpeketoni in Kenya, and the list goes on for just the first half of 2014 alone.

The slaughter at London’s Parliament Square; the Manchester Arena; the St. Petersburg Metro; Paris’sBataclan Theater and sports stadium; the three bombings targeting travelers in Brussels; last Christmas’s truck-ramming attack on a packed festival market in Berlin, to name but a few of the further incidents — all really had nothing to do with avenging the Congolese from the onerous legacy of King Leopold.

Rather, volumes of revered Islamic texts establish in great detail the grounds of violence and oppression of non-believers and those deemed heretical. These supposed grounds — made alive daily in madrassas and mosques across the world before being acted upon by religiously trained terrorists — are childishly dismissed by Western liberals as immaterial.

Meanwhile, men, women and children are being offered as human sacrifices on the altar of political cynicism. Divine justice will doubtlessly judge not only the murderers and a creed that often seems bloodthirsty, but also those who insist, against all evidence, that this creed has nothing to do with those deaths.

The first step towards a solution is to question the received knowledge tirelessly dished out by media pundits in the West, and confirmed by too many supposed Muslim “moderates” both at home and abroad. What is lacking is simply seeing a huge body of evidence of theological justification for Islamist terror. 

Have the statements by politicians in the 1990s (for example, at the time of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman’s plot against the World Trade Center) changed from those uttered in the wake of 9/11, or again from those repeated after the San Bernardino attack in 2015? Do politicians give their “Islam is a religion of peace” platitudes out of political expediency or even the slightest knowledge of the ideology of Islam? Do they know actually know more about Islam than many of Islam’s learned ulema (scholars), including Ibn Taymiyyah, or the authentic hadith (actions and sayings of Muhammad)? One says:

“Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror.'” (Sahih Al-Bukhari 122)

How does one read verses in the Quran such as:

“I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers. Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them. This is because they contended against Allah and His Messenger. If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment.” (8:12-13)?

When it is said that Islam has nothing to do with verses such as these, is that meant to appease Muslims, comfort the victims of Islamic terror or support the comfort of the non-Muslim community? If it is the first, well, as history teaches, appeasement simply does not work. Besides, it would be an offensive to presume that Muslims, all Muslims, are to be held responsible for a creed that, in their own understanding of it, greatly varies from one individual to another. If the denial is intended to comfort victims, it does not. And as for the comfort of the non-Muslim community, what is being served up has to be based on what is visibly true. Should such arguments not first be pitched to try to convince those who are willing to kill and be killed in the name of Islam, rather than to those out to have a good time on a Saturday evening?

Will the time come when reformers in the Islamic world will have louder voices in scrutinizing Islam — despite the obvious dangers to their lives — than Western elites, who are merely afraid of being falsely accused of being “Islamophobes”? Why should it be “Islamophobic” to want to defend yourself? 

For nearly two years, a prime-time TV program by a young Egyptian reformist, Islam el-Beheiry, has called for an overhaul of the millennium-old compilation of hadithsHe argues that much of it is incompatible with modernity and the best understanding of divinity and prophethood:

“Such tradition has very little good amid a multitude of evil, least of which is the insistence by all the Four Schools of Sunni Islam that Christians can be killed with impunity. A Muslim life is ‘superior’ to that of a non-Muslim. Such is the Ijmaa’ (jurisprudence consensus).”

Beheiry was sentenced in May 2015 to five years in prison with hard labor for “defamation of religion” — thanks to Egypt’s blasphemy law. The sentence was reduced in December 2015 to one year. After serving most of his sentence, he was released on a presidential pardon.

Still, this Ramadan 2017, Beheiry was back again on the screen with a program he calls “The Map”, in which he is trying to build a scientific way of judging what he thinks is divine and what is not in the mass of Islamic literature.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, an army general who in 2014 came to power following vast street protests against the short-lived rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, said it was no longer feasible that the Muslim World would set itself “in enmity against the whole world”.

Now, in Europe, some rightly ask: If one in a thousand is a bad apple, why should we judge all the apples. One also needs to ask: If one in a thousand apple blows up in my yard, how many more violent incidents will Europe get after bringing in a cartload of millions more? Or, what if the problem is not really with the fruit, but with the tree itself?

Why is a desire to preserve one’s own culture deemed racist? I do not believe that I am better because I am or am not a Muslim. Is it “xenophobic” to ask such questions when the violence keeps edging closer and closer to home? Why should it be “Islamophobic” to want to defend yourself? 

I do not fear Muslims, but I fear that a tolerant culture is being replaced by an intolerant, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and supremacist one — espoused, even semi-consciously, by much of the Islamic world today. It is a world that is being assured by its scholars that such intolerant, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and supremacist manifestations are, in all ages, in the best spirit of Islam.

Is it “Islamophobic” to be angry at such atrocities committed every day, or to be angry at politicians who lie about what Islam is and is not, and merely call their challengers names while failing to do anything to stop the atrocities?

Should European courts and parliaments criminalize free speech that criticizes this understanding of Islam among the bulk of Islamic jurists, when those jurists stand at the head of an assembly-line of suicide bombers targeting Western nationals?

Should those who ask questions about Islamic terror be ostracized by the mainstream media and academia, while those institutions themselves give no answers to the jihadist problem of “holy hate” in our midst?

I do not wish the world to turn against Muslims. I only wish the sages would stop and think if all this really has “nothing to do with Islam.” Can we not say, “stop justifying murderers in the name of your religion”? 

Can we not simply say that such creeds will not be allowed here in the West, will not be whitewashed, glossed over, or explained away by Westerners through a mixture of cultural cringe and a misguided sense of guilt? Can we not reject jihad, accept apostasy, and be able freely to ask questions in our public spaces, on our television shows, in our schools and on our streets?

Saher Fares is an Arabic linguist and researcher from the Middle East.

H.R. McMaster-Endorsed Book Calls Jihad Peaceful, Al-Qaida Terrorism ‘Resistance’

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, Aug. 18, 2017:

TEL AVIV — A book on terrorism endorsed and touted by H.R. McMaster, the embattled White House National Security Adviser, calls Hamas an “Islamist political group” while failing to categorize the deadly organization as a terrorist group, and refers to al-Qaida attacks and anti-Israel terrorism as “resistance.”

The work frames jihad as largely peaceful “means to struggle or exert effort,” such as waking up early in the morning to recite prayers. It argues that groups like al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations have hijacked the concept of jihad to wage warfare using such tactics as suicide bombings.

The book, reviewed in full by this reporter, was authored by U.S. military officer Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, and is titled Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat.

McMaster provided a glowing blurb for the book jacket, referring to Aboul-Enein’s book as “an excellent starting point” for understanding terrorist ideology. McMaster also promotedthe book in ARMOR, the journal of the U.S. Army’s Armor Branch, published at Fort Benning, Georgia, where McMaster served as commanding general at the Ft. Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence.

McMaster wrote in his blurb for the book: “Militant Islamist Ideology deserves a wide readership among all those concerned with the problem of transnational terrorism, their ideology, and our efforts to combat those organizations that pose a serious threat to current and future generations of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

In the blurb, McMaster revealed his own views on terrorism, claiming that “terrorist organizations use a narrow and irreligious ideology to recruit undereducated and disenfranchised people to their cause.”

The book may offer a primer into critical national security views held by McMaster, who has claimed that Islamic terrorist organizations are “really un-Islamic” and are “really irreligious organizations” who cloak themselves in the “false legitimacy of Islam.”

In numerous public comments on terrorism, McMaster has seemed to minimize the central religious motivations of radical Islamic terrorist groups who are waging a religious war against Western civilization. McMaster’s comments represent views of Islamic terrorism that are diametrically opposed to those espoused by President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly utilized the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Aboul-Enein is listed as a senior adviser and analyst at the Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism at the Defense Intelligence Agency, a position that he also held under the Obama administration. He is an officer in the Navy Medical Service Corps and Middle East Foreign Officer, and an adjunct military professor and chair of Islamic studies at the National Defense University.

Besides endorsing Militant Islamist Ideology, McMaster also wrote a forward for another Aboul-Enein book, this one titled, Iraq in Turmoil: Historical Perspectives of Dr. Ali al-Wardi, From the Ottoman Empire to King Feisal.

Hamas an ‘Islamist Political Group’

Throughout the McMaster-endorsed Militant Islamist Ideology book, Aboul-Enein struggles to properly categorize Hamas; but at no point does he call Gaza’s murderous Islamist rulers a terrorist organization.

Hamas is a terrorist group responsible for scores of deadly suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians. Hamas’s official charter calls for the obliteration of the Jewish state, and proclaims that there is “no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.” Hamas leaders routinely demand the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews.

Yet Aboul-Enein struggles to properly classify Hamas. At one point, Aboul-Enein differentiates between “militant Islamists” and Hamas, grouping the latter among “Islamist political groups.”

In the book’s introduction, he writes:

Militant Islamists alienate not only the United States but even Islamist political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. It is time for a more nuanced definition of the threat.

At another point, the author calls Hamas an “Islamist” group. He writes (page 131): “For instance, Zawahiri condemns Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas for participating in the electoral process.”

Despite its clear terrorist activities, Aboul-Enein suggests (page 2) that Hamas does not “fit into a neat category.” He asks an open question about whether Hamas “is an Islamist or Militant Islamist group,” but he does not provide an answer.

He writes (page 3):

There are also Islamists who do not fit into a neat category, such as the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. On one hand, Hamas provides social services, won 44 percent of the electorate in 2006, and is the government of the Palestinian territories. On the other hand, it has failed to compromise effectively with other Palestinian rejectionist and secular groups to form a governing coalition, and it has failed to provide social services for a wider Palestinian populace. In addition, it has conducted suicide operations directed against Israeli civilians – though it has not widened its campaign beyond targeting Israel. Further, al-Qaida senior leaders have viciously attacked Hamas for participating in electoral politics. The question for Americans is whether Hamas is an Islamist or Militant Islamist group.

Aboul-Enein fails to note that the U.S. government already answered that so-called question, designating Hamas as a foreign terrorist group.

In another section of the book, Aboul-Enein defines (page 193) Hamas as straddling “the Islamist and Militant Islamist divide, using its proficiency in suicide-bomber operations to strike at Israeli targets, yet it is currently in government.” He also writes (page 215) that Hamas “is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist militant organization and political party.”

Al-Qaida, Palestinian ‘Resistance’

In the book, Aboul-Enein refers to the deadly terrorism of al-Qaida in Iraq as “resistance.” Besides its worldwide mayhem, Al-Qaida has been responsible for countless terrorist attacks across Iraq that have targeted civilians, U.S. troops and Iraqi government institutions.

Aboul-Enein relates a struggle between the goals of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) and those of the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) in terms of “resistance” locally versus a global fight against the West.

Aboul-Enein writes (page 101):

In post-Saddam Iraq, among the Sunni insurgency there are other stressors that undermine al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), such as the tensions between the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) and al-Qaida in Iraq. The IAI struggles with AQI over the concept of this fight being for Iraq’s Sunnis and not a wider pan-Islamist struggle; the IAI has narrower objectives than AQI. It is a tension between Jihad as muqawama (resistance) and Jihad for a wider pan-Islamist objective.

He refers to support for “resistance” against the U.S. presence in Iraq. He does so when documenting the rise of Muslim Brotherhood political parties and public criticism of an al-Qaida hotel bombing in 2005 in Amman, Jordan.

He writes (page 46):

This has split the Muslim Brotherhood, as there is deep hostility toward the U.S. presence in Iraq, support for muqawama (resistance) and for the Muslim Brotherhood concept of wasatiyah (moderation), and recognition of the need for grassroots representation of the Ahl-al-Sunnah (formal term for Sunni Muslims).

Aboul-Enein also categorizes deadly terrorist raids on Jewish settlements in the 1930s as “resistance,” even though those operations targeted and killed civilians.

He states: (page 138)

No study of Militant Islamist ideologues and the cleavages between Militant Islamist and Islamist groups can be complete without delving into the life, actions, theories, and legacy of Abdullah Azzam. Militant Islamist operatives take the nom de guerre“Abu Azzam” in his honor. A witness to increased Jewish immigration into Palestine in World War II, Azzam was reared on the stories of resistance by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, which led guerrilla raids against the British and then Jewish settlers.

The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades is currently the namesake of Hamas’s so-called military wing. Aboul-Enein was referring to deadly attacks carried out by the original Brigade, founded around 1930 by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a Syrian Muslim cleric who popularized the concept of jihad against Jews during the British civil administration of Palestine.

“Islamist” vs. “Militant Islamist”

The core of Aboul-Enein’s endeavor, and one that may help to elucidate McMaster’s views, is to differentiate between what he terms “Islamist” and “Militant Islamist,” and to show that “militant Islamists” present a distorted, dishonest view of Islam. The thesis might clarify McMaster’s aversion to using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

In seeking to differentiate between “Islam,” “Islamist,” and “Militant Islamist,” Aboul-Enein comes up with the following basic definitions:

  • Islam is “the religious faith of Muslims, involving (as defined in Merriam-Webster’s) belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet.”
  • He defines Islamist as “a group or individual advocating Islam as a political as well as a religious system. Chief Islamist objectives include implementing sharia (Islamic) law as the basis of all statutory issues and living as did the earliest adherents to Islam. Many Islamists also assert that implementation of sharia law requires the elimination of all non-Islamic influences in social, political, economic, and military spheres of life.”
  • Militant Islamists, Aboul-Enein claims, consist of a “group or individual advocating Islamist ideological goals, principally by violent means. Militant Islamists call for the strictest possible interpretation of both the Qur’an (Muslim book of divine revelation) and the hadith (the Prophet Muhammad’s actions and deeds). This narrow interpretation opposes the beliefs of Muslims and non-Muslims alike; Militant Islamists stand against Western democracies, Middle Eastern institutions of government, and Islamist political parties that participate nonviolently in elections.”

Defining Jihad

Aboul-Enein frames jihad as a largely peaceful “means to struggle or exert effort,” a term that has been hijacked by “militant Islamists” to wage extremist warfare.

Aboul-Enein posits, for example, that jihad “can be as simple as struggling to get up in the early morning to say your dawn prayers or struggling to learn and improve yourself spiritually or intellectually. It also can mean struggling in the path of God, which does not necessarily mean engaging in warfare but might be making time to teach Islam to children or providing financial support for an Islamic project.”

Jihad, in other words, is a struggle to fulfill one’s obligations to Allah, according to the author.

Islamists, he states, define jihad as a “means to expend every effort fighting against the disbelievers.” However, Aboul-Enein attempts to cloak this violent struggle in the shroud of morality.

He writes (page 34): “Islamists delineate who can fight and when; unlike Militant Islamists, they generally set rules and limits for engaging in fighting in the name of God. … It makes Jihad obligatory upon all Muslims only if the enemy has entered Muslim lands and if the imam calls for Jihad.”

Some Islamists, he relates, “prescribe a protocol of warfare in which a noble Muslim warrior should be free of arrogance and conceit,” and espouse “etiquette” such as “warnings not to kill noncombatant women and children.”

Aboul-Enein describes the seemingly legitimate, moderate jihad as different from the jihadist views advocated by “militant Islamists,” who “use women, children, and the mentally infirm as suicide bombers, who reduce Jihad to fighting or supporting the fighting through financial means, and who make Jihad incumbent upon all Muslims, with no distinction between communal and individual responsibility.”

Islam experts, meanwhile, have pointed out that mainstream Islamic scripture advocates a violent jihad to spread Islam worldwide.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, wrote at Foreign Policy magazine that “anyone seeking support for armed jihad in the name of Allah will find ample support in the passages in the Quran and Hadith that relate to Mohammed’s Medina period.”

Ali pointed to Q4:95 which states, “Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home).” Q8:60 instructs Muslims “to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know.” Q9:29 explicitly tells Muslims: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

Writes Ali:

Mainstream Islamic jurisprudence continues to maintain that the so-called “sword verses” (9:5 and 9:29) have “abrogated, canceled, and replaced” those verses in the Quran that call for “tolerance, compassion, and peace.”

There lies the duality within Islam. It’s possible to claim, following Mohammed’s example in Mecca, that Islam is a religion of peace. But it’s also possible to claim, as the Islamic State does, that a revelation was sent to Mohammed commanding Muslims to wage jihad until every human being on the planet accepts Islam or a state of subservience, on the basis of his legacy in Medina.

The key question is not whether Islam is a religion of peace, but rather, whether Muslims follow the Mohammed of Medina, regardless of whether they are Sunni or Shiite.

Writing for the Hoover Institute, Shmuel Bar, who served as a senior research fellow at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel, assertedthat “few orthodox Islamic scholars would deny” that beliefs “commonly viewed as typical of radical Islamic ideology” are “deeply rooted in Orthodox Islam.”

McMaster’s Troubling Views

McMaster, meanwhile, has espoused controversial views on the topics discussed in Aboul-Enein’s book.

On Monday, Breitbart News unearthed a 2014 speech on the Middle East in which McMaster claimed that Islamic terrorist organizations are “really un-Islamic” and are “really irreligious organizations” who cloak themselves in the “false legitimacy of Islam.”

McMaster, who serves in a critical national security position, seems to be minimizing the central religious motivations of radical Islamic terrorist groups who are waging a religious war against Western civilization.

He has made such remarks in the past. Delivering the keynote address at last April’s Norwich University ROTC Centennial Symposium, McMaster criticized “modern day barbarians like Daeshand Al-Qaeda who cynically use a perverted interpretation of religion to perpetuate ignorance, incite hatred, and commit the most heinous crimes against innocents.”

In February, CNN cited a source inside a National Security Council meeting quoting McMaster as saying that use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” is unhelpful in working with allies to fight terrorism.

In May, McMaster spoke on ABC’s This Week about whether Trump would use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in a speech that the president was about to give in Saudi Arabia.

“The president will call it whatever he wants to call it,” McMaster said. “But I think it’s important that, whatever we call it, we recognize that [extremists] are not religious people. And, in fact, these enemies of all civilizations, what they want to do is to cloak their criminal behavior under this false idea of some kind of religious war.”

In the speech, Trump eventually urged Muslim-majority countries to take the lead in “combating radicalization,” and referred to “Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires.”

Shia and Sunni Islamic terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the Islamic State each openly espouse Islamic motivations, repeatedly cite the Quran, and claim they are fighting a religious war. Some of the Sunni groups are violent offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to create a global Islamic caliphate.

Besides his drive to define terrorist groups as “irreligious,” Breitbart News further unearthed a speech following Israel’s defensive 2014 war against the Hamas terrorist group in which McMaster sidestepped a question about whether the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted itself in an ethical manner, instead providing what McMaster admitted was a “non-answer.”

The IDF is known to go to extreme lengths to operate ethically and protect civilians when fighting Palestinian jihadists who use civilians as human shields, launch rocket attacks from civilian zones and house their terrorist infrastructures in densely populated civilian areas.

Earlier this month, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel group in the country, released an analysis of McMaster’s policies and reported views, concluding that he should be reassigned outside the NSC after it found that McMaster may be undermining Trump’s stated national security agenda.

The analysis states:

We find it hard to understand how someone who clearly has animus toward Israel, who supports the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, who opposes calling out radical Islamist terrorists, who fires Trump loyalists and supporters of Israel and opponents of Iran, who hires those opposed to President Trump’s policies especially on Israel and Iran, who refused to acknowledge that the Western Wall is in Israel, who opposes Israeli counterterrorism measures, and who shuts down joint U.S. counterterrorism programs that are of enormous value to U.S. security, can faithfully serve President Trump as top national security advisor. President Trump made it crystal clear, both before and since his election, that supporting Israel and the U.S.-Israel alliance, abrogating or at least vigorously enforcing the Iran deal while calling out and sanctioning Iran’s violations, confronting radical Islamist terrorism, and draining the Washington swamp were key, distinguishing policies of his administration.

The ZOA’s analysis cited Breitbart News articles from this reporter on McMaster’s background.

Last week, Breitbart News reported that McMaster served at a UK-based think tank financed by a controversial, George Soros-funded group identified by the Obama White House as central in helping to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the public and news media.

From September 2006 to February 2017, McMaster was listed as a member of International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), where he served as consulting senior fellow. The IISS describes itself as a “world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict.”

Breitbart also reported that IISS is bankrolled by multinational corporate firms doing billions of dollars of business in Iran.

And IISS quietly took in about $32.5 million in funding from Bahrain, a country whose constitution explicitly enshrines Sharia Islamic law as its governing doctrine, Breitbart News documented.

The funding from Bahrain, a repressive regime with a dismal human rights track record but also an important regional U.S. ally, reportedly amounted to one quarter of the think tank’s total income.

A significant portion of the Bahraini funding reportedly pays for the think tank’s annual conference in Bahrain, the Mamana Dialogue. The original agreement between IISS and Bahrain to finance the conference contained a clause calling for the memorandum of understanding to remain confidential, according to the document, which was leaked by a watchdog and published by the Guardian newspaper last year.

As a member of IISS, McMaster participated in the Sixth Mamana Dialogue summit in Bahrain from December 11 to December 13, 2009, Breitbart News found. He is listed in IISS literature as being part of the Mamana Dialogue’s four-person panel that year on “military transformation, intelligence and security cooperation.”

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

This article was written with additional research  by Joshua Klein.

Latest Updates on the Barcelona Terror Attack

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Aug. 17, 2017:

Spain has declared three days of national mourning following today’s terror attack in Barcelona that killed 14 and wounded more than 100.

Here are the latest updates:

  • Spanish Prime Minister Marian Rajoy said the attack was “jihadi terrorism.”
  • A few hours ago, Spanish police killed 5 suspected terrorists in Cambrils, 120km south of Barcelona. They were reportedly wearing fake explosives and believed to be plotting a follow-up attack. Six civilians and one police officer were injured.
  • Two suspects are under arrest but neither is believed to be the driver of the van who ran down the pedestrians in the Las Ramblas shopping district popular with tourists. One is from Morocco, the other from Melilla — a Spanish enclave across the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • Reports reveal that victims of the attack come from 34 different countries. At least one fatality has been confirmed to be a Belgian tourist according to Belgium’s Foreign Ministry. The only named victim so far is Italian, Bruno Gulotta.
  • One of the terrorists, Moussa Oukabir, had posted on social media: “Kill all the infidels and leave only Muslims.” Oukabir is believed to be the driver of the van.
  • His brother, Driss Oukabir, claims that Moussa stole his identity to rent the vans and that he wasn’t involved.
  • The explosion at a house yesterday in Alcanar which killed two is believed to be related to the attack. It was originally attributed to a gas line explosion, but police are saying the house was being used as an IED factory. Twenty-plus gas canisters were found at the scene. The premature explosion may have prompted the terror cell to act earlier than planned. Two VBIEDs could have killed considerably more.
  • ISIS’ Amaq news agency claimed its “soldiers” committed the attack. They are encouraging more vehicle attacks via their official social media channels.
  • The CIA had reportedly told Spanish police that Las Ramblas was a likely terror target two months ago.
  • Fog of war: Early reports that the terrorists had taken hostages in a restaurant proved to be false. A driver who drove through a police checkpoint injuring two police officers before being shot and killed is not believed to be involved in the terror attack.