Another Misguided Response to the Manchester Attack from Ariana Grande

Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher W. Holton, May 28, 2017:

This week, pop singer Ariana Grande vowed to return to Manchester in the wake of the deadly Jihadist attack that killed 22 innocent victims, many of them teen age girls.

Grande posted a letter on Twitter with a message to her fans. While the letter may have been heartfelt, its message demonstrates how so many among us are clueless as to the threat from Islamic jihad. Here are some quotes from the letter, with our commentary after each quote.

“We will never be able to understand why events like this take place…”

Actually, it isn’t difficult to understand at all. Jihadists routinely justify their actions with Islamic scripture. As Bill Warner, PhD of the Center for the Study of Political Islam pointed out not long after the Manchester attack, there is a particular passage from Islamic doctrine that Jihadists use to justify killing civilians, especially women and children. It comes from the foremost Hadith authority in Islam, Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Hadith 256 (the Hadith are sayings, stories and traditions from the life of the Prophet Mohammed):

The Prophet… was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, “They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans).

In this command, Mohammad established that it is permissible to kill non-combatants in the process of killing a perceived enemy. This has repeatedly provided justification for many Islamic terror attacks.

We may find this hard to accept, but we certainly must come to terms with it and understand what motivates Jihadists.

“We won’t let this divide us. We won’t let hate win.”

This is certainly an admirable sentiment. It’s also symptomatic of a misunderstanding of the nature of our enemy in this war.

In the terrorism of the 1970s and 1980s, carried out by political groups such as the Red Brigades, the Weather Underground, the Baader-Meinhoff gang, the Japanese Red Army, the Irish Republican Army and even the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, there was a mantra: “Kill 10 to scare 10 million.”

The terror attacks of that era had a different aim and a different nature. They were literally meant to terrorize. Each of the groups named above had a specific goal in mind. They were evil and demented to be sure, but they weren’t looking to subjugate the entire world. So, the proper response in those days was to “not let them win” by changing our way of life. The terrorists of the 70s and 80s lived to terrorize, so by not acting scared, we could deny them victory.

Islamic jihad is completely different. It is not meant merely to terrorize us. It is meant to ultimately subjugate us to Islamic rule under a caliphate operated according to the Sharia. Every Jihadist organization has this as its identical goal: the formation of an Islamic State ruled by Sharia.

They don’t just want to scare us. They want to kill enough of us and surround us with enough of them, to achieve victory over us. They aren’t looking just for publicity to spread terror. They want to kill enough of us to make us quit fighting, not just to make us frightened.

This is true apocalyptic terrorism and it represents an existential threat to Western civilization. If you don’t believe that, I suggest you take a much closer look at conditions in Western Europe today and then think back to how life was just 30 years ago in Western Europe. It’s not the same place. Not even close. What will Western Europe look like 30 years from now?

And they couple their military campaign of violent Jihad with a political, cultural, economic and legal campaign of civilizational Jihad. This is a vital point to understand. So, when we say we won’t let “hate” win, we are wide of the mark. This isn’t about mere hate. The enemy loves what they are doing. It is their devotion to their love of Allah and the prophet Mohammed that drives them. We can certainly consider it hate, but that doesn’t bring us to a better understanding of the enemy.

“Hate” isn’t trying to win. Islamic jihadists like the Abedi family are trying to win. Instead of saying “we won’t let hate win,” Grande would have been much more helpful and correct if she had said, “we won’t let the Jihadis win.”

We can’t be sure of what Grande means when she says, “We won’t let this divide us.”

Divide who? The victims themselves? The victims from the perpetrators? The host society from the alien culture that has invaded, chosen not to assimilate and become an incubator for an internal, existential, deadly threat in the form of Islamic jihad?

I’d say the enemy has already drawn the dividing line. How can that not be completely obvious already? How many deadly attacks do we have to endure before our pop culture-dominated society in the West wakes up to reality?

“Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder, and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.”

Again, these are certainly admirable sentiments that shouldn’t ever be opposed. We should all endeavor to live our lives this way. In the Judeo-Christian West, these are the kinds of values that we have been taught and must always strive to achieve.

But they cannot be our only response to “this violence.” The enemy is on a mission. There is a reason why he chose to attack a music concert attended largely by young girls. The enemy wanted to show us that there are no lengths to which he won’t go to fight and kill us. He wanted to show us that we are powerless to defend our most innocent and precious. They attacked that concert because they have disdain for us. It was a form of lethal ridicule. They want us to continue to hold and attend such concerts. And we can be sure they will seek to attack those events.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t hold concerts and celebrations. But those concerts and celebrations do not represent, even in a small way, defiance in the face of evil. More concerts will not phase the Jihadists in the slightest.

No, we need a real response to these attacks–and it starts with the realization that we are in a war, a war that most of us in the West deny even exists.

So, by all means let’s love and sing and come closer together, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that is the path to victory over the dark forces of Jihad spread now around the globe. Moreover, make no mistake: victory is essential in this fight, even if victory just means denying victory to the Jihadists.

“Music is something that everyone on Earth can share. Music is meant to heal us, to bring us together, to make us happy.”

All this is well and good, but excuse me if I point out that our Jihadist enemies don’t feel the same way about music, particularly Western music (and by Western I don’t mean Marty Robbins ballads). This presents us with a  teaching moment. In areas where the Jihadists have achieved their goal of forming an Islamic state, it is customary that music and art are often banished. We saw that when the Ayatollahs seized power in Iran. We saw that when the Taliban took control for a brief time in Afghanistan. When the Islamic State seized significant territory in Iraq and Syria, music and forms of artistic expression were banned and destroyed.

As a female, try driving a car down the street in Saudi Arabia with the windows rolled down with your stereo blaring the latest Ariana Grande tune.

Music doesn’t heal our enemy. It doesn’t bring him closer to us and it doesn’t make him happy. We need to start to understand a mindset, ideology and religious doctrine that is as alien to us in the West as anything from another solar system. Especially since that mindset, ideology and doctrine have as a goal subjecting us, or else…

“We will continue in honor of the ones we lost, their loved ones, my fans and all affected by this tragedy” (Emphasis added)

The attack on the concert goers in Manchester was NOT a “tragedy.” To say so is to dishonor the memory of those lost. A tragedy is an unavoidable event, such as an act of nature or an accident. A tragedy is a tornado or earthquake or tsunami. A tragedy is when a truck driver has a heart attack and careens into oncoming traffic, resulting in death and destruction.

A tragedy is not when a Jihadi steals a truck and purposely runs down innocent victims at a celebration or market.

And what happened in Manchester was not a tragedy.

It was an atrocity. It was an act of war. We better come to terms as a society with the fact that we are at war and, as people, demand that our leaders recognize that fact. We need to quit waiting on our so-called leaders to come around to the reality that we already know. We are at war. The enemy knows it and has about a 20-year head start on us.

Statements like this one from Ariana Grande aren’t helpful toward that end.

Open Letter to National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ is Accurate and ‘Helpful’

Gatestone Institute, by A. Z. Mohamed, April 25, 2017:

  • In other words, as al-Kalbani has confirmed — and contrary to what McMaster has been telling his staff and his commander-in-chief, President Trump — Muslim terrorists are Islamic, and the term “radical Islamic terrorism” is apt, accurate and extremely “helpful.”

During his first “all hands” staff meeting on February 23, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, called terrorism “un-Islamic” and the term “radical Islamic terrorism” not helpful.

Prior to the meeting, retired U.S. Army Col. Peter Mansoor told Fox News that McMaster, with whom he served in Iraq during the 2007 surge of American troops, “absolutely does not view Islam as the enemy… and will present a degree of pushback against the theories being propounded in the White House that this is a clash of civilizations and needs to be treated as such.”

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s National Security Adviser. (Image source: Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Let us put McMaster’s premise — which is antithetical not only to that of his predecessor, Michael Flynn, but to Trump himself and many of his senior advisers — to the test.

Less than three years ago, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh — a grandchild of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th-century founder of the Saudi school of Islam called Wahhabism — said, in an August 19, 2014 statement, that Islamic State (ISIS), and al-Qaeda, are Islam’s “enemy number one.”

This would be a good sign, if not for the fact that four days earlier, Sheikh Adil al-Kalbani, a former imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and a Salafi (a strict sect of Sunni Islam advocating a return to the early Islam of the Quran), tweeted: “ISIS is a true product of Salafism and we must deal with it with full transparency.”

Later that month, al-Kalbani published two pieces in the Saudi government-aligned daily Al Riyadh — on August 24 and 31 — criticizing elements “in the Salafi stream for appropriating the truth and Islam and for permitting the killing of their opponents, and… clerics and society that dared not come out against them.”

This was a bold assertion on the part of al-Kalbani: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on Wahhabism, a form of Salafism embraced by the monarchy.

In January 2016, al-Kalbani gave an interview to the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based network, MBC, in which he acknowledged with regret, “We follow the same thought [as ISIS], but apply it in a refined way.” He added that ISIS “draws its ideas from what is written in our own books, from our own principles.” (Author’s emphasis)

McMaster should have been listening.

In the BBC World Service podcast “The Inquiry” (December 2015) — on a program called “Is Saudi Arabia to blame for IS?” — Professor Bernard Haykel, director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University, said: “The Islamic State’s religious genealogy comes from ‘Jihadi Salafism,’ a theological current that is very old in Islam that is quite literalist.” Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s well-known short books, he added, “are used by ISIS today.”

Indeed, until ISIS began producing its own textbooks in 2014, the terrorist organization relied on official Saudi ones.

In addition, many fatwas (Islamic legal decrees) issued by senior Saudi clerics are markedly similar to those issued by ISIS and other terrorist organizations. As recently as February 2017, in fact — in a lesson aired on Saudi regime-aligned Ahwaz TV — Sheikh Ayman Al-Anqari cited various hadiths (a collection of the Prophet Mohamed’s sayings) supporting his fatwa that “coexistence in the sense of freedom of religion… is null and void.” He also advocated offensive jihad and death as a punishment for apostates.

It should be noted that Al-Anqari is a professor in the Aqidah (Islamic Faith) and Current Doctrines department in the College of Sharia and Islamic Studies at Al-Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh.

In other words, as al-Kalbani has confirmed — and contrary to what McMaster has been telling his staff and his commander-in-chief, President Trump — Muslim terrorists are Islamic, and the term “radical Islamic terrorism” is apt, accurate and extremely “helpful.”

A. Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.

***

 

Interview with Angelo M. Codevilla on ‘Romancing the Sunni: A US Policy Tragedy’

Published on Jan 1, 2016 by Asia Times

Angelo M. Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, and a member of the Hoover Institution’s working group on military history, answers Asia Times questions on how the US government’s foreign policy mess has created a monster like the ISIS. Today, the Daesh/ISIS — a sub-sect of Sunni Islam — murders and encourages murdering Americans.

READ THE THREE-PART SERIES HERE:

PART 1: http://atimes.com/2015/12/romancing-t…

PART 2: http://atimes.com/2015/12/romancing-t…

PART 3: http://atimes.com/2015/12/romancing-t…

Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, and a member of the Hoover Institution’s working group on military history. He is the author of fourteen books, including  Informing Statecraft, War, ends And Means, The Character of Nations, Advice to War Presidents, and To Make and Keep Peace.  He served on President Ronald Reagan’s transition teams for the Department of State and the Intelligence agencies. He was a US naval officer and a US foreign service officer. As a staff member of the US Senate Intelligence committee, he supervised the intelligence agencies’ budgets with emphasis on collection systems and counterintelligence. He was instrumental in developing technologies for modern anti-missile defense. Codevilla has taught ancient and modern political thought and international affairs at major universities.

CIA Awards Saudi Crown Prince Counter-Terrorism Medal

Saudi air force personnel at the King Salman air base. (Photo: © Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi air force personnel at the King Salman air base. (Photo: © Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia’s state sponsorship of the hardline Wahhabi ideology exacerbates global extremism, medal or not.

Clarion Project, by Elliot Friedland, February 12, 2017:

The CIA awarded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, deputy prime minister and minister of Interior, with a medal for his services to “counter-terrorism.”

CIA Director Michael Pompeo presented the George Tenet medal to Prince bin Nayef during a trip to Riyadh in the presence of other senior members of the Saudi government.

Accepting the medal, bin Nayef told media that religion was completely separate from the actions of extremist groups, who misuse religion for their own purposes.

“We, God willing, continue to confront terrorism and extremism everywhere, and with thanks to God we have managed to thwart many terrorist plots from occurring,” he said. Bin Nayef and Pompeo also discussed many issues of mutual concern to the United States and Saudi Arabia, including but not limited to the fight against terrorism.

Clarion Project cannot comment on the specifics of this award to Prince bin Nayef, since we are not privy to the details of security cooperation against terrorism between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

However, Saudi Arabia has certainly been instrumental in spreading an ideology which gives rise to Islamist terrorism.

Here are three things you need to know.

1. The State Sponsored Religion of Saudi Arabia Is Very Similar to the Creed of ISIS

Saudi Arabia as described by Algerian writer Kamel Daoud in The New York Times as “an ISIS that has made it.”

The Gulf kingdom is a theocratic absolute monarchy governed in accordance with the puritanical version of Islam known as Wahhabism. This arrangement has been in place since 1744, before the creation of the state, when the Muhammed ibn Saud, the progenitor of the House of Saud, made a deal with the founder of Wahhabism, Muhammed ibn abd al-Wahhab, that the descendants of Ibn Saud would rule the political sphere, while the descendants of al-Wahhab would control theology. That deal remains in place today, with the Ash-Shaikh family controlling Saudi theology. The two families are closely intermarried.

This state sponsored form of Islam mandates the death penalty for blasphemy, homosexuality, sorcery and several other crimes. It prohibits women from going outside unless covered head to toe, prohibits women from driving, as well as a host of other activities such as working or getting a passport without permission from their male guardian. It also mandates the brutal hudud punishments, which include chopping off hands for stealing and lashes for crimes such as adultery.

Wahhabism preaches loyalty to the Saudi state. Jihadists differ in that they regard the Saudi state as a corrupt Western stooge. They adopt the puritanical ideology of Wahhabism, but merge it with a political revolutionary bent.

This synthesis is identified by scholars as salafi-jihadism. Groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS share this ideology.

2. Saudi Arabia Has Spent Billions Exporting Wahhabism Globally

Last year, German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel warned Saudi Arabia was funding mosques in Germany linked to extremism.

Since the 1960s, Saudi Arabia has spent an estimated $100 billion on exporting the ideology of Wahhabism. It has funded mosques, madrassas and academic fellowships and chairs in universities across the world.

These include grants of $10 million to top American universities such as Harvard and Yale.

This money has been used to smother local pluralistic forms of Islam and has fueled a global upswing in religious puritanism and conservatism. This money has created and continues to create the milieu in which extremism can thrive and grow.

3. Saudi Arabia’s Regional Power Struggle With Iran Is Fueling Terrorism

Sunni jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq refer to Shia Muslims (among other pejorative terms) as “safawi,” referring to the Iranian Safavid dynasty which once ruled the region. The confluence of Sunni-Shia sectarianism with a geopolitical struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran has seen both countries fund opposing sides in wars throughout the region.

Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a war in Yemen against the Shiite Houthi rebels in support of a Sunni president. Although the war is more complicated than that, it is being used by Saudi Arabia and Iran as an opportunity to fight against each other’s’ interests.

Saudi Arabia also supported Sunni Islamist rebel groups against Iranian-backed President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

This power struggle is fueling armed conflict across the region which creates a fertile breeding ground for more, rather than less, terrorism and empowers extremist groups.

In the light of these three things, whatever the personal and strategic merits of Prince bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s long-term commitment to countering Islamist terrorism should be questioned.

Also see:

Special Ops Command to Pentagon: Stop Ignoring Jihad

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

CounterJihad, Sept. 26, 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terrorism’s Victims Include Freedom of Speech

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

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

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

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

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

It Would Be Difficult to Prosecute Choudary in America

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

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

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

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

Prisons Aren’t a Great Place for Islamists, Either

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Muslim refugee brought to Maine by Catholic Charities dies waging jihad for the Islamic State

Jihad Watch, by Robert Spencer, Aug. 16, 2016:

Catholic Charities is criminally irresponsible and suicidally short-sighted. They are endangering people in Maine and all over the United States by bringing these jihadis into American communities that are unprepared for them, all the while lying to them and telling them that there is no jihad threat related to the refugees, and that anyone who says otherwise is a racist and a bigot and a dissenter from the magisterium.

Adnan Fazeli went to the Islamic State to wage his jihad. What if he had decided to wage it right there in Portland, Maine? What’s to stop the next jihadi refugee that Catholic Charities brings to Portland from deciding to do just that?

Islamic-State

“Documents: Freeport man died fighting for Islamic State,” by Scott Dolan and Megan Doyle, Portland Press Herald, August 16, 2016:

An Iranian man who came to Maine as a refugee in 2009 became radicalized in his Islamic faith while living here and was fighting for the Islamic State when he was killed last year in Lebanon, according to newly unsealed federal court documents.

Adnan Fazeli, 38, most recently of Freeport, came under investigation by the FBI for his connection to the terrorist group shortly after he left his job at Dubai Auto in Portland to fly to Turkey on Aug. 13, 2013, and never returned.

Fazeli, who also went by the names Abu Nawaf and Abu Abdullah Al-Ahwazi, was killed on Jan. 23, 2015, in a battle near Ras Baalbek in Lebanon as part of an Islamic State attack force of about 150 that was thwarted by the Lebanese army.

Those details, which were never revealed publicly before, were contained in an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland last Oct. 27 by Maine State Police Detective George Loder, who was acting as a member of an FBI task force investigating whether other people were aware of Fazeli’s plans to fight for the Islamic State, helped him travel to the Iraq-Syria-Lebanon area or supported his efforts there. The affidavit remained under seal during the investigation, which ended with no criminal charges.

The affidavit gives the accounts of four anonymous informants for the FBI who described how Fazeli’s behavior began to change about a year after he came to the Portland area through Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services. They told the FBI that Fazeli frequently watched hours of Islamic videos online, grew a beard and began making anti-American remarks while at an Iraqi market in Portland.

While the informants are not named in the affidavit, Fazeli’s nephew, Ebrahim Fazeli, told the Portland Press Herald on Monday that he informed the FBI about his uncle after Adnan Fazeli called the family from Turkey. The affidavit describes one of the informants as a close relative of Fazeli’s.

“Fazeli’s change in behavior alienated him from many of his Shia and moderate Sunni friends in the area. However, there were a few local Sunnis who supported his fervor and treated him with a great deal of respect. Fazeli started holding occasional religious meetings at his home in Freeport,” Loder said in the affidavit, describing what one informant had said.

Ebrahim Fazeli, 25, said the family was unaware of his uncle’s plans to leave the United States. His uncle had become more religious and grew a substantial beard, but the nephew said no one realized he had become radicalized.

“That wasn’t enough for me to think an educated, smart guy has it in him to join an insane group of people,” said Ebrahim Fazeli, who lives in the Greater Portland area….

Fazeli initially came to the United States as a refugee in 2009, but did not adapt well. He told one informant that he hated Iran because the government was anti-Sunni and felt the United States had done nothing to help. Although Fazeli was raised a Shia Muslim, his family was not devout, one of the informants said. His behavior began to change while in the U.S., and he converted to Wahhabism, an austere form of Sunni Islam….

While Fazeli was abroad, he continued to communicate by Skype chats with at least one of the informants, who later shared videos of the chats with FBI investigators. In one video, Fazeli said that he and his Islamic State allies could kill 1,000 enemies for every 10 of their own killed. In another video, he wore a khaki camouflage military uniform and inquired whether any U.S. government authorities had begun asking questions about him….

Fazeli’s relative called the FBI on Jan. 26, 2015, to report that Fazeli had been killed, according to the affidavit. The same relative emailed a copy of a news article in Arabic from the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar to the FBI on Jan. 28, 2015, that describes how “tens” of ISIS fighters were killed in a clash in Ras Baalbek, a Lebanese Christian town near the Syrian border threatened by both the Islamic State and al-Qaida in Syria. The article listed one of the dead as Abu Abdullah Al-Ahwazi, Fazeli’s other name….

Jalali said Fazeli self-identified as Arab, not Iranian, because he came from the southern and western part of Iran. In Maine, he mingled primarily with Iraqis.

“He talked about enjoying religious freedom here. That’s why I am so shocked,” Jalali said. “He praised this society for its openness.

“How he could go through that transformation, that’s a mystery. That’s quite heartbreaking. It reminds us of the power of social media, brainwashing bright, educated men and turn them into fighters or killers.”…

The medium is not the problem. The message is the problem. This is not a story about the power of social media. It is a story about the power of Islam’s call to jihad.

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