May 31, 2007
The Doctrine of Mahdism
This latest from MEMRI fits in well with many of my postings regarding the Hojjatieh Society and the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (see links at bottom). While some of what follows might seem esoteric or irrelevant, that fact is that in order to formulate a proper policy towards Iran we need to understand what motivates their leaders. We need to understand that the Iranians (more accurately "Khumenists") do not follow the dictates of Western geopolitical thinking. Following are some excerpts from the MEMRI report:
The Doctrine of Mahdism: In the Ideological and Political Philosophy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi
According to Shi’ite tradition, the Twelve Imams, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali Ibn Abi Talib, were endowed with divine qualities that enabled them to lead the Shi’ite believers and to function as Allah’s emissaries on earth. However, when the Twelfth Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi  disappeared in 941 CE, his connection with the Shi’ite believers was severed, and since then, the Shi’ites are commanded to await his return at any time.
In the meantime, Shi’ite senior clerics are considered to be the representatives of the Imams, and thus have the authority to handle the affairs of the Shi’ite community, mainly in the religious and judicial spheres, until the Hidden Imam returns to lead the Shi’ite community and deliver it from its suffering.
According to Shi’ite belief, during the period of the Mahdi’s absence (termed ghaibat or “occultation”), no one but God knows the hour of the Mahdi’s return, and no man can presume to foresee when this hour will come. Upon the Mahdi’s reappearance, all wrongs will be righted, divine justice will be instated, and the truth of Shi’ite Islam will be acknowledged by the entire world. (Mahdism) 
Mahdism and the Islamic Regime in Iran
From the establishment of the Islamic Regime in 1979 to Ahmadinejad’s rise to power in August 2005, Mahdism had been a religious doctrine and a tradition that had no political manifestation. The political system operated independently of this messianic belief and of the anticipation of the return of the Mahdi. It was only with Ahmadinejad’s presidency that this religious doctrine has become a political philosophy and taken a central place in politics.
Ahmadinejad’s Messianic Policy - Main Characteristics
Immediately upon assuming the presidency, Ahmadinejad began to assert his belief in the imminent return of the Mahdi as the basis for his political activities. Despite the traditional belief that no one can foresee the hour of the Mahdi’s return, Ahmadinejad frequently stated that his coming was nigh, and even gave a more specific prediction. During a meeting with the foreign minister of an Islamic country, he said that the crisis in Iran “presaged the coming of the Hidden Imam, who would appear within the next two years.”  In a December 2006 speech in Kermanshah, Ahmadinejad wished the Christians a merry Christmas and said: “I hereby announce that, with God’s help, the day is not far off when Jesus will return at the side of the Hidden Imam.” 
Not only has Ahmadinejad wished to proclaim the imminent coming of the Mahdi, and thereby to legitimize his policy and actions by associating them with Hidden Imam - but he has also presented himself as being directly connected to God.
Ahmadinejad has also presented himself as being privy to God’s intentions and actions, as reflected in his statement that “God has appointed the Hidden Imam to be our supporter.”  His claim of having a direct relationship with God was also evident in the speech he made upon his return to Iran after addressing the U.N. General Assembly in 2005. Ahmadinejad claimed that, as he was delivering his U.N. address, he felt himself “surrounded by a halo of light” symbolizing the messianic nature of his message to the nations of the world. 
Messianism in Iranian Foreign Policy
The messianic doctrine of Mahdism is also manifest in Iranian foreign policy, especially in its attitude towards the Western superpowers and towards the nuclear program. Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi, mentor to Ahmadinejad, expressed this approach in an October 11, 2006 speech: “The greatest obligation of those awaiting the appearance of the Mahdi is fighting heresy and global arrogance [i.e. the West, primarily the U.S.].” 
These characteristics are also evident in Ahmadinejad’s nuclear policy: In contrast to Khatami’s government, which endeavored to soften the position of the West on the nuclear issue via ongoing dialogue, Ahmadinejad and his close circle do not avoid confronting the West, since they consider this struggle to be one of the ways to prepare the ground for the return of the Mahdi.
According to the Internet daily Rooz, “Some of those close to Ahmadinejad, who frequently speak [of the need] to prepare the ground for the Mahdi’s return, explicitly link the [fate of] the Iranian nuclear dossier to this need... According to reliable information, they stressed, in various private meetings, that the [Iranian] opposition to global pressure [on the Iranian nuclear program] and its insistence on the right to utilize nuclear power are among the ways to prepare the ground for the return of the [Hidden] Imam.” 
Mahdism in the Ideology of Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi
The address given at this year’s International Seminar on the Doctrine of Mahdism by Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi shows that he too regards belief in the Mahdi as a concept that transcends the religious or theoretical realm. Ayatollah Yazdi gave this belief a tangible political-ideological dimension when he explained that the Mahdi’s return would lead to the establishment of a single rule over the entire world, and that the present battle against the infidels and against “the global arrogance” is preparing the ground for, and hastening, the coming of the Mahdi: 
Clerics Criticize Ahmadinejad’s Messianic Policies
Ahmadinejad’s messianic policies have drawn growing criticism from ayatollahs and senior religious figures in the religious seminaries in Qom who oppose the politicization of the messianic doctrine.
Reformist Intellectuals Criticize the Politicization of Mahdism
Intellectual Mohsen Kadivar: “Hasn’t the Time Come for [the Ayatollahs] and the Clerics to Clarify Their Position on These Claims?”
The intellectual and cleric Mohsen Kadivar pointed to the danger posed to Islam by Ahmadinejad’s messianic leanings. In a speech on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, Kadivar criticized the incorporation of the Mahdist doctrine in Ahmadinejad’s political platform. The report was originally published by the ILNA news agency, and is cited on Kadivar’s website:
Sources of footnotes can be found on the MEMRI article linked to at top. I don't have time to set them all up here.
Unfortunately we in the West have a bad habit of "mirror imaging" our concept of reason and logic and how international relations should work onto other countries, regardless of their internal idiology or religion. If we insist on using policies appropriate for 19th or 20th century Europe, we will fail in our approach to Iran.
As bad as the Soviets were, at the end of the day they wanted to live. In retrospect there was a saving grace in the communist idiology in that it's adherents had to be alive in order to implement it. The Soviets didn't want millions of their citizens to die.
The Khumeinists are another matter. Their radical version of Islam tells them that if a Muslim "innocent bystander" is killed during a jihad, then he goes to heaven, so what's the problem? The doctrine of Mahdism outlined above only complicates matters, but if we understand them we can at least begin to formulate a policy that takes their motivations into account.
You can also download the report from MEMRI as a pdf document
May 30, 2007
Terror in the Skies - Confirmed
Remember Annie Jacobsen?
She's the lady who wrote "Terror in the Skies, Again?", published in the Womens Wall Street Journal on July 13, 2004. In it she related her experiences on June 29, 2004, Northwest Airlines flight #327 from Detroit to Los Angeles. Briefly, she and other passengers said that 12 Syrian and one Lebanese men acted so suspiciously that she was convinced that a hijacking was about to take place. When the plane landed safely at Los Angeles, her conclusion was that it was a dry run.
She was, predictably, derided by many on the left.
Guess what? It turns out that Jacobsen was right and that it was most probably a dry run for a terrorist hijacking. The lesson?
From today's Washington Times
A newly released inspector general report backs eyewitness accounts of suspicious behavior by 13 Middle Eastern men on a Northwest Airlines flight in 2004 and reveals several missteps by government officials, including failure to file an incident report until a month after the matter became public.
According to the Homeland Security report, the "suspicious passengers," 12 Syrians and their Lebanese-born promoter, were traveling on Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on expired visas. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services extended the visas one week after the June 29, 2004, incident. (emphasis added)
The report also says that a background check in the FBI's National Crime Information Center database, which was performed June 18 as part of a visa-extension application, produced "positive hits" for past criminal records or suspicious behavior for eight of the 12 Syrians, who were traveling in the U.S. as a musical group.
In addition, the band's promoter was listed in a separate FBI database on case investigations for acting suspiciously aboard a flight months earlier. He was detained a third time in September on a return trip to the U.S. from Istanbul, the details of which were redacted.
Homeland Security officials initially denied the complaints and blamed passengers who reported the incident to the press as behaving hysterically. However, the inspector general report shows that air marshals had the group of men under surveillance before they boarded the plane.
"Prior to boarding, one of the air marshals noticed what he later characterized as 'unusual behavior' by about six Middle Eastern males, who arrived at the gate together, then separated, and acted as if they did not know each other," the report said.
"According to the air marshals, these men were sweaty, appeared nervous and arrived after the boarding announcement. The air marshals made eye contact with one another to ensure they were aware of this behavior," the report said.
According to the report, Flight 327 was "delayed for five minutes because one of the 13 suspicious passengers, who appeared not to understand English and walked with a limp, was seated in the emergency exit row. The flight attendant determined he was unable to operate the emergency procedures and delayed the flight while having him exchange seats."
"On the flight, 13 Middle Eastern men behaved in a suspicious manner that aroused the attention and concern of the flight attendants, passengers, air marshals and pilots," the report said. The men "walked in the aisle, appearing to count passengers," and "several men spent excessive time in the lavatories."
"One man rushed to the front of the plane appearing to head for the cockpit. At the last moment, he veered into the first-class lavatory, remaining in it for about 20 minutes," according to the report. One man carried a McDonald's bag into the lavatory, and "another man, upon returning from the lavatory, reeked strongly of what smelled like toilet bowl chemicals."
"Some men hand signaled each other. The passenger who entered the lavatory with the McDonald's bag made a thumbs-up signal to another man upon returning from the lavatory. Another man made a slashing motion across his throat, appearing to say 'No.'"
As the flight descended into Los Angeles, the report said, "four of the suspicious individuals stood up and made their way to the back of the plane," where "the individuals used the rear lavatory, and one of the men was doing stretching exercises/knee bends by the exit door."
Annie Jacobsen saw something suspicious. She said something.
Despite the many attacks leveled against her and the apathy of her own government, she held firm. It turns out that she was right.
Last November we first heard about the 6 "flying Imams", who acted so suspiciously before a US Airways flight at Minneapolis- St. Paul International Airport that they were removed from the airplane before takeoff. US Airways and individual passengers who complained have since been sued by, you guessed it, CAIR.
The individual passengers are named in the lawsuit as "John Doe". They had the courage to speak out but now there is an attempt to intimidate them and anyone else who would speak out into silence.
Michelle Malkin drafted the John Doe Manifesto in response.
Winning the war against the jihadists, will take vigilance by citizens at home as well as action abroad. Don't be intimidated by either radical groups like CAIR, the PC leftists, or the apathy of our own government.
The Inspector General's Report
Download the inspector general's report and judge for yourself. I've read it, and it's pretty damning.
Although those who attacked Jacobsen are surely part of the problem for ignoring what at the time seemed an obvious dry run by terrorists, worse was the performance of our own government. The air marshalls who interviewed the Syrians afterwards failed to notice that they were traveling on expired visas. It was only weeks later, after Jacobsen published her article and the outcry in the press, that the FBI and the Federal Air Marshall Service opened (separate) investigations.
As the report itself says,
The Department's (Homeland Security) internal system for communicating and coordinating information on suspicious passengers, activitied, and incidents in the gate area and aboard aircraft needs improvement. Presently, air marshalls generally lack and effective means to communicate with the flight crew. ...
Further, key Departmental components were either not notified or not notified timely of the suspicious activities that occurred before and during the flight. In addition, botht he FAMS and the FBI have statutory authority to investigate in-flight incidents, thereby causing confusion, duplication, and the potential for compromising investigative causes.
The good news is that the report outlines steps that are or have been taken to address these issues. The bad news is that this flight took place almost three years after 9/11.
Other good news is that the report does make clear that the air marshalls were well aware of what was going on. Flight attendants also alerted the pilots. Had the Syrians actually attempted a hijacking, at the very least they would have had a fight on their hands.
The big question, of course, is why we haven't had another actual attack. As with the story I told last week about Judith Coplon, we likely won't know for many decades.
However, in the meantime,
Don't miss Michelle Malkin's analysis of the report.
Watch this video (h/t HotAir) of Annie Jacobsen and a TSA spokesperson. Amazingly, she claims that the "suspicious behaviour" was not a dry run.
If it wasn't a dry run, then what was it? Obviously it was a probe of some sort. Someone with connections to serious terrorist groups was testing our security. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.
Audrey Hudson, who wrote the Washington Times story cited above, also weighs in (h/t again to HotAir)
Nevertheless, I'm sure that we'll hear the same sad story from both those on the left who are lost in the fever swamps of political correctness, and Muslim apologist organizations like CAIR. They'll both tell us that we're overreacting and only calling a dry run because they men in question were Middle Eastern. The cry of "Islamophobia!" will go out in an attempt to intimidate us into silence.
But Annie Jacobsen did the right thing by speaking out, just as those who demanded tha tthe 6 "flying Imams" be taken off the plane did the right thing. So remember:
Book Review: My Year Inside Radical Islam
"At twenty-tree, I was a devout believer in radical Islam. I worked for a Saudi-funded charity in Ashland, Oregon, that was accused of funding al Qaeda. Funny thing, I was born Jewish. At the time, it all seemed pretty normal."
Fortunately for Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, author of My Year Inside Radical Islam, he eventually recognised the truth about the radical Islam that he had come to believe in.
For almost a year, however, he was a devout follower of Salafism, that form of Islam that encompases Saudi Wahabism. While at the Al Haramain "charity", more experienced Salafist Muslims instructed him on the rules of their faith, which included how to perform the most minute details of daily life. He was told that he must eat with his right hand only and wipe with only the left after using the restroom. His pants must be above his ankles but also below his knees. Neither dogs nor women not your wife were to be touched (which forbade handshakes). All music was forbidden. You must neither pay nor receive interest payments. All men must grow a full-length beard (sorry, no goatees, he was told). If you sneeze you must say "Alhamdulillah", and Muslims who hear you say this must respond with "Yarhamukallah". Strict segregation of the sexes was enforced, so that when he visited the home of a fellow Muslim all women were relegated to the basement and communicated with the men upstairs through an intercom. If this was not possible, sheets were hung inbetween rooms to prevent even accidental sightings. Games of any sort were haram (forbidden) because there is (according to the Salafists) a prohibition in Islam against spending time in "idle activities". On and on the rules went. Believing that if they were the will of God who was he to question them, he obeyed, however reluctantly.
Islam did not start out this way for Gartenstein-Ross.
His first experience with Islam was at a Sufi Mosque in Venice, Italy, while studying there as a student.
It was only after getting a job at the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation in Ashland Oregon, sold to him as work at a Muslim charity, that he conversion to Salafism began.
As indictated at top, Gartenstein-Ross was born to non-practicing Jewish parents in liberal Ashland, Oregon. They rejected traditional Judaism and joined a movement known as the "Infinite Way", which had been founded by one Joel Goldsmith. The Infinite Way is a sort of "disorganized religion", that encourages followers to seek their own path. There is no enforced doctrine, but rather followers are encouraged to seek "their own unlimited potential that could only be harnessed through spiritual conscionsness" (quote from Gartenstein-Ross's book. I could find no definition of the faith on the Infinite Way website.
With such a vague religion at home, Daveed was not provided any foundation, and thus his search for spiritual truth was something he would have to explore on his own. He did not come to Islam all-of-a-sudden; there was no "thunderclap" moment. Rather, it was a series of experiences that led him to the faith.
One of those was was discussions about faith with his Christian friends. They tried to convert him in a somewhat heavy-handed manner, offering arguments that he did not find satisfactory. So when he left high-school to attend college, he was looking for answers, and so far Christianity had not fit the bill.
A freshman at Wake Forest University in 1979, he quickly became a campus activist, involved in liberal "social justice" causes. He met up with al-Husein Madhany, a Kenyan-born Muslim who would remain his friend up to and including the present day. it was at Wake Forest that he converted to Islam, first attending a moderate Sufi Mosque. It was also there that he began dating Amy, the woman who would eventually become his wife.
After graduating from Wake Forest, he returned home to Oregon and went to work for the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation. It was there that his coworkers pushed him towards Salafism. Their primary argument was simply that this is what the Quran demanded, and it is not the place of any person to question the will of Allah. Not knowing enough about the Quran to counter their arguments, it all seemed to make sense to him.
As all of this was occuring, Gartenstein-Ross discovered some alarming things about his coworkers. They were virulently anti-semetic (despite knowing his Jewish background), admired the Taliban, and sought ways to support the Islamist army in Chechnya that was fighting the Russians; and trying to set up it's own state modeled on the Taliban. Members of the foundation visited local schools and organizations to "explain" Islam, but Gartenstein-Ross saw that these visits served to hide more than to reveal the nature of Salafism. Despite all this, he went along. It was, after all, the will of Allah.
After about a year at this foundation he moved to New York to attend law school, and it was here that he began what would become a journey away from Islam entirely and into Christianity. I won't spoil your read by going into details, you'll want to get the book yourself.
Suffice it to say that Al-Haramain was raided by the FBI, and several principles were indicted on tax and fraud charges, including smuggling $150,000 out of the country to Saudi Arabia, where, it is believed, it was funneled to al Qaeda and Chechnyan rebels. The organization was exposed as a front for al Qaeda and is now banned worldwide. Gartenstein-Ross contacted the FBI after his break with the organization (when he called they already knew who he was) and told them all that he knew about them. Two of the principles at Al Haramain, Pete Seda, and Soliman al-But'he were indited but fled the country, the former to Iran and the latter to Saudi Arabia. They are still fugitives. Saudi Arabia has since dissolved Al Haramain.
To show how much those at the Al-Haramain Foundation in Oregon had fooled the local community, Gartenstein-Ross describes local reaction after the FBI raid:
After Pete was indited, the local press was filled with an outpouring of community support for him. Rabbi David Zaslow had long been Pete's biggest public defender, and was undeterred by the inditctment. After it came down, he was quoted in the Medford Mail Tribune as saying that Pete has "been an outspoken spokesman against violence and terrorism, and he has earned my respect."
In the end, the book is a personal memoir (which is how it is advertised on the cover), not an in-depth analysis of Islam or Salafism. It is perhaps most useful as an insight as to how someone might be drawn toward radicalism.
Michelle Malkin interviewed Gartenstein-Ross and and you can view the videos at Hot Air.
All of my book reviews can be found here.
May 28, 2007
Duty, Honor, Country
This Memorial Day we would all do well to reflect on the words of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur in his speech to the cadets at the U.S. Military Academy on May 12, 1962. The occasion was his acceptance of the Sylvanus Thayer Award, and it has become known as his "Duty, Honor, Country" address. It is one of the most famous speeches delivered by an American and deserves to be read in it's entirety. You can follow the link above to hear an audio MP3 of the address.
Duty, Honor, Country
General Westmoreland, General Grove, distinguished guests, and gentlemen of the Corps!
As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, "Where are you bound for, General?" And when I replied, "West Point," he remarked, "Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before?"
No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a tribute as this [Thayer Award]. Coming from a profession I have served so long, and a people I have loved so well, it fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But this award is not intended primarily to honor a personality, but to symbolize a great moral code -- the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent. That is the animation of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated in this way with so noble an ideal arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which will be with me always: Duty, Honor, Country.
Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean. The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.
But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.
And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory? Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man-at-arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then as I regard him now -- as one of the world's noblest figures, not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.
He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast. But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements. In 20 campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other he has drained deep the chalice of courage.
As I listened to those songs [of the glee club], in memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs, on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-shocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.
I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death.
They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory.
Always, for them: Duty, Honor, Country; always their blood and sweat and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.
And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts; those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms; the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails; the bitterness of long separation from those they loved and cherished; the deadly pestilence of tropical disease; the horror of stricken areas of war; their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory -- always victory. Always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men reverently following your password of: Duty, Honor, Country.
The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong.
The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training -- sacrifice.
In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him.
However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.
You now face a new world -- a world of change. The thrust into outer space of the satellite, spheres, and missiles mark the beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind. In the five or more billions of years the scientists tell us it has taken to form the earth, in the three or more billion years of development of the human race, there has never been a more abrupt or staggering evolution. We deal now not with things of this world alone, but with the illimitable distances and as yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe. We are reaching out for a new and boundless frontier.
We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the cosmic energy; of making winds and tides work for us; of creating unheard synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old standard basics; to purify sea water for our drink; of mining ocean floors for new fields of wealth and food; of disease preventatives to expand life into the hundreds of years; of controlling the weather for a more equitable distribution of heat and cold, of rain and shine; of space ships to the moon; of the primary target in war, no longer limited to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include his civil populations; of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy; of such dreams and fantasies as to make life the most exciting of all time.
And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to win our wars.
Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment. But you are the ones who are trained to fight. Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be: Duty, Honor, Country.
Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men's minds; but serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation's war-guardian, as its lifeguard from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiator in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended, guarded, and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice.
Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.
You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds. The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.
This does not mean that you are war mongers.
On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."
The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.
But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point.
Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.
Today marks my final roll call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps.
I bid you farewell.
May 27, 2007
John Edwards - Inappropriate Actions for Memorial Day
Of the three front runners for the Democratic party's nomination for president, there are two I can tolerate, and one I cannot.
I like Barak Obama. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy and decent fellow. He's the type of person I can imagine going out for a beer with. If we talked about politics we'd disagree about virtually everything, but it'd be a conversation without acrimony. He might turn out to be an empty suit policy wise, but I can very much understand why people are attracted to him.
Hillary is someone I could never imagine socializing with. Any conversation with her would be stilted and awkward. Her domestic policy is just about socialist. I don't care for her much at all, in fact. But of all the Democrats she is the one who would do the best job fighting the jihadists. I do think that if Iran got seriously out of line she'd have no problem bombing them back to the stone age. I want our enemies to fear our president, and she may well fit that bill.
The final front runner is John Edwards, and at this point I have nothing but contempt for him.
John Edwards, you see, wants his followers to use this Memorial Day to protest the war in Iraq.
Here he is, if you can stand to watch it
He's got this absurdity posted on a website of his called Support the troops. End the War. I kid you not. Here's their message
This Memorial Day weekend, we will all take responsibility for the country we love and the men and women who protect it. We will volunteer, we will pray, and we will speak out. In the days leading up to Memorial Day, we will take action to support our troops, end the war, and bring them home to the heroes' welcome they deserve. And on Memorial Day, we will honor and remember all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Each of us has a responsibility to act, a duty to our troops and to each other. Support the troops. End the war.
Farther down, under the heading "Reclaiming Patriotism", they list "10 Things You Can Do Over Memorial Weekend to Support the Troops and End the War" Among them is this
Gather in public. On Memorial Day weekend, get your friends, kids, co-workers, neighbors, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, grandmothers, and anyone and everyone you know together to publicly support the troops and end the war. If you hold an event on Memorial Day itself, please make sure that everyone you gather knows it is a day for honoring the fallen only. Be sure to check with your local authority for any permits you need for public gatherings. Contact local media to publicize your event. Before you get started, please take a moment of silence to honor the fallen. And during your event, make sure you conduct yourself respectfully—both for those serving in Iraq and the memory of the brave servicemen and women that Memorial Day honors.
If this isn't a recipe for an anti-war protest I don't know what is.
There are appropriate and inappropriate ways to observe Memorial Day. There are many things one might do that are appropriate; gather with friends and family, visit a military cemetary, and attend a local memorial service come to mind.
What would be inappropriate would be to use a day meant to honor military veterans as a day to stage a war protest. Lie and call it a "vigil", "raising awareness", or whatever you want, but a war protest is a war protest, and it is flat out wrong to hold one on Memorial Day.
For John Edwards to encourage war protests on Memorial Day is disgraceful.
Tomorrow I'll have something posted here that's much more appropriate for Memorial Day.
Finally, in case this whole thing doesn't creep you out about Edwards, this story will.
May 26, 2007
"If you really want to fight al Qaeda, you stay in Iraq."
Good for Senator McCain on his sharp rebuttal to Senator Obama. May I add one point, though, that continues to make me nuts?
Senator Obama says: " It is time to end this war so that we can redeploy our forces to focus on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and all those who plan to do us harm."
Senator Obama, are you proposing that we move U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, where you guys keep saying the "real" War on Terror is?
There is also a very good chance that bin Laden and some al Qaeda hierarchy are in Pakistan. When you say "redeploy," are you suggesting that we invade Pakistan?
Folks, let's not let these guys get away with this. By "redeploy," they don't really mean move the troops to where they say al Qaeda is. They don't want to fight al Qaeda. If they wanted to fight al Qaeda, al Qaeda is in Iraq — that is indisputable. Bin Laden has said repeatedly that Iraq is the central battle. You can argue about whether al Qaeda has been in Iraq all along or whether they are there only because we've drawn them there. Reasonable minds differ on that. But however they got there, they're there.
If you really want to fight al Qaeda, you stay in Iraq.
If you really believe al Qaeda is not in Iraq — that the real al Qaeda is only in Afghanistan and its environs — then you're on drugs. But, sure, fine, "redeploy" our troops ... to Afghanistan. But can we please have five seconds of honesty? You guys don't have the slightest intention of doing that. You don't want to go to Afghanistan. You want to go home.
When you say redeploy, you mean withdraw. You don't actually want to "focus on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11." You are content to bring the troops home and leave "the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11" to build a safe-haven in Iraq even as they continue to make mayhem in Afghanistan.
You think Bush is incompetent and "his" war in Iraq is a terrible mistake? Fine. You think the price of that is that we should pull everyone out of Iraq even though we all know that will be a monumental victory for al Qaeda — geometrically abetting its future fundraising and recruiting for future terrorist attacks on America? Fine.
But have the good grace to say so. Don't give us this BS that you want to redeploy to fight al Qaeda, when the truth is that you want to "redeploy" to NOT fight al Qaeda.
May 24, 2007
Edwards Shows His Colors
On the one hand this is really no big surprise, but it's interesting to hear him say so plainly that he doesn't believe that there's any jihadist or Islamist threat to the West (h/t NRO)
The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It's a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world. As a political "frame," it's been used to justify everything from the Iraq War to Guantanamo to illegal spying on the American people. It's even been used by this White House as a partisan weapon to bludgeon their political opponents. Whether by manipulating threat levels leading up to elections, or by deeming opponents "weak on terror," they have shown no hesitation whatsoever about using fear to divide.
But the worst thing about this slogan is that it hasn't worked. The so-called "war" has created even more terrorism—as we have seen so tragically in Iraq. The State Department itself recently released a study showing that worldwide terrorism has increased 25% in 2006, including a 40% surge in civilian fatalities.
By framing this as a "war," we have walked right into the trap that terrorists have set—that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war against Islam.
There are so many things wrong in this it's hard do know where to start.
First, there's the big lie that the Bush Administration is manipulating threat levels for political purposes. Where's the proof, John? None, of course, is offered, because there is none to be had. Just because a threat level is turned up before an election doesn't mean that it was done for political reasons. One of the most basic tenants of logic and statistics is that association is not causation.
One thing that amazes me about the anti-war left is that they tend to assume that all of our intelligence findings about the enemy must be made public, and that anyting that is not public doesn't exist. The have no understanding that so much happens behind the scenes, things that won't and shouldn't be made public for dozens of years. The public actions officials take are but the tip of the iceberg, and the public sees only a bit of what is going on.
One example should suffice.
In 1949 an employee at the Justice Department named Judith Coplon was arrested in the act of handing top-secret documents to a known KGB agent. FBI agents had been following her for some time, and as she was handing the documents to the Russian agent the FBI swooped in and arrested them both. Coplon was caught red handed, as it were.
Newspaper reporters asked FBI officials how it was that they suspected her. They told some story about how they watched everyone in the DOJ records department, and discovered that Coplon was pilfering documents.
Coplon was convicted in two separate trials, but each time an appeals court ruled that certain evidence the government presented was inadmissable, and nullified the convictions. Eventually the government gave up and she was let free.
Fast forward to 1994. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's (D-NY) Commission on Government Secrecy has the job of deciding which old covert programs can safely be made public. There is, after all, no reason to keep things classified forever, and the public should know about the successful efforts of our clandestine services.
One of the programs that Moynihan's commission decides to make public was project Venona. During project Venona, the Signals Intelligence Service (the precursor to today's NSA) intercepted and decrypted hundreds of cables sent from the Soviet embassy in Washington DC to Moscow during 1942-45. They were not able to decrypt all cables, and some were only partially decrypted, but the intelligence haul was monumental nonetheless.
In the cables some 349 American agents working for one or another Soviet intelligence service were identified by code name. Of these, American intelligence was able to identify by name 171, leaving 178 unidentified to this day.
Among those identified in the cables was Judith Coplon.
At Coplon's trial, government prosecutors had a problem. If they revealed the existance of project Venona, the KGB would be alerted to the fact that many of it's agents had been compromised, and the Soviets would redouble their efforts to secure their codes. On the other hand, by not revealing Venona, much of the government evidence that was presented might get thrown out (you'll have to read the details of the trials yourself if you want to know why, because the technicalities would time some time to explain and I'm not a lawyer anyway).
In the end, the prosecution took the only decision they could; they kept Venona secret. Partially as a result of this decision, Coplon's two convictions were overturned and she walked.
Back to Edwards
In case it's not blindingly obvious by the example above, project Venona also revealed that Alger Hiss and Julius Rosenberg were Soviet spys. Yet for decades the far left claimed that they were innocent victims of McCarthyism.
No I am not saying that we should blindly trust whatever the Bush Administration tells us. What I am saying is that people need to be aware that when they turn up the terrorist threat level and only issue vague justifications we need to understand that there is a lot going on that we don't know about, and won't for decades.
So when Edwards talks about the Bush Administration "manipulating threat levels leading up to elections" he sounds like a complete idiot.
War on Terror?
In a way, Edwards is right when he says that there is no War on Terror. Unfortunately, his reason is completely wrong.
The correct answer would have been to say that we're in a War on Terror makes about as much sense as describing World War II as a War on Blitzkreig. It wasn't about fighting a tactic, but rather about fighting an ideology.
As such, as I've said many times, we're really in a "War on Jihadism". Our enemies, in their videos, pamphlets, and communications, call themselves "men of jihad". We ought to do them the favor of taking seriously what they say.
But is it a war? Edwards thinks not. Like most liberals, he distrusts and dislikes military action, and any military action is usually characterized as "an over reliance" on it.
The jihadists have been saying for decades that they are in a war against us. When Osama bin Laden issued his famous 1998 Fatwa declaring war against the United States, neither Republicans nor Democrats took them seriously, to say nothing of the major media. Stunned by this non-reaction, bin Laden took it as a sign from Allah that the United States was ready to be attacked. We paid the deadly consequences on September 11.
Of course we're in a war. Using this term does not, as Edwards supposes, mean that military action is our predominant method of fighting it. For over 40 years we fought what was properly called the "Cold War" against the Soviet Union, yet employed many methods other than military action to win it. Does he want us to rename that time period also?
For that matter President Johnson and other liberals declared a "War on Poverty" in the 1960s. The plain fact is that applying the term "war" to something does not mean that those involved necessarily see military action as the prime or only method of fighting it.
Much else that Edwards says in the speech is silly as well. Consider this passage
We must be clear about when it is appropriate for a commander-in-chief to use force. As president, I will only use offensive force after all other options including diplomacy have been exhausted, and after we have made efforts to bring as many countries as possible to our side. However, there are times when force is justified: to protect our vital national interests... to respond to acts of aggression by other nations and non-state actors... to protect treaty allies and alliance commitments... to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons... and to prevent or stop genocide.
Sorry, but no it isn't clear at all as to when you'd use military force. As Jim Geraghty comments, "Okay, but how would he, or any other President, know that all other options have been exhausted? How do you know with 100 percent certainty that no additional efforts, concessions, negotiations, requests, or efforts at persuasion will bring on additional allies? When is it considered enough?"
Recall that in 1991 a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate voted against the resolution authorizing President George H.W. Bush to eject Saddam from Kuwait. Yet the Bush Administration had garnered worldwide support, and had all of the necessary Security Council resolutions in place. If that wasn't enough, what was?
It would seem, therefore, that Edwards is setting up a series of conditions that he know cannot be met. No matter how much failed negotiation takes place, he can always say that we ought to give it "another chance".
This is nothing new from the Democrats. Some time ago I reflected on all of the little conditions they were setting up and drafted some new rules for going go war Democrat-style.
One of two more points and I'll let this go. Edwards again
But I will also remove any civilian or military officer who stifles debate or simply tells me what I want to hear.
What does this even mean? That he's going to fire anyone who agrees with him? This is the sort of pap that gets applause from the crowd but doesn't really mean anything. I t sounds good in theory but would be hard to actually enforce.
These troops are exhausted and overworked, and we have been forced to dig deeper and deeper to find ground forces for Iraq and Afghanistan. This leaves us ill-prepared for the future. Today, every available combat active-duty Army combat brigade has been to Iraq or Afghanistan for at least one 12-month tour. We are sending some troops back to Iraq with less than a year's rest. To make matters worse, the Secretary of Defense just extended tours from 12 to 15 months, which is unconscionable.
The proper response, of course, would be to rebuild our armed forces, which have fallen disasterously in size since the end of the Cold War.
Last month the editors of National Review provided some facts that shows just how small our military has become compared to the force that ejected Saddam from Kuwait.
From 1974 to 1989, the Army had 770,000 to 780,000 active troops (all of them volunteers). Today, we have around 508,000. The Navy had 568 ships in the late 1980s; today it has 276, and its manpower is so reduced that it often has to helicopter sailors from homebound ships to outbound ones in order to keep them staffed. The Air Force’s number of tactical air wings has shrunk from 37 to 20, and the average age of its aircraft is 24 years (as compared with nine years in 1973).
In addition (sorry but I can't find the link just now to prove it) during most of the Cold War we spent about 8% of GDP on defense. Today it's under 4%. For a time we spent about 50% of the federal budget on defense, today I believe it's under 20%. One of the biggest failures of the Bush Administration has been to not increase the size of our armed forces.
Edwards gives a positively Clintonian response as to whether he'd increase the size of our military
The problem of our force structure is not best dealt with by a numbers game. It is tempting for politicians to try and "out-bid" each other on the number of troops they would add. Some politicians have fallen right in line behind President Bush's recent proposal to add 92,000 troops between now and 2012, with little rationale given for exactly why we need this many troops—particularly with a likely withdrawal from Iraq.
The numbers game only gets us into the same problems as the president's approach. We must be more thoughtful about what the troops will actually be used for. Any troops we add today would take a number of years to recruit and train, and so will not help us today in Iraq.
We might need a substantial increase of troops in the Army, Marine Corps, and Special Forces for four reasons: to rebuild from Iraq; to bolster deterrence; to decrease our heavy reliance on Guard and Reserve members in military operations; and to deploy in Afghanistan and any other trouble spots that could develop.
So does this mean he would or wouldn't increase the size of the military? I can't tell. 5 1/2 years from 9/11 and 4 years after the start of OIF and the best he tell us is that he "might" substantially increase the size of the military?
What he's doing is trying to have it both ways. In the first paragraph of the quoted secrion he's playing to the Kos kids, and in the last to whatever hawks are left in the Democrat party. In coming months he'll point to whichever paragraph suits him depending on his audience.
In short, Edwards gives us no reason to think that he would be a competent commander in chief. He is clueless as to the threat our nation faces, and has no serious plans to defeat the jihadists.
May 22, 2007
Captain Furat Strides Towards a New Life
Two months ago Captain Furat began walking again! A reader send me a news story about his recovery at a hospital in Atlanta.
Every morning, he leaves his Atlanta apartment, gets on a bus, and rides to the Shepherd Center. There, he spends his mornings in the library, teaching himself English, and working on his book, “I Am Iraqi”. In the afternoon, he heads to the gym, where he exercises his upper body. Then, he straps on his leg braces and grabs his walker, and goes for a walk in the rehabilitation center’s gardens.
Furat’s exuberance for recovery is fueled by his desire to re-join the fight in Iraq. "I want to say, for the terrorists, Captain Furat is back. And I want to clean, not just my country but the World of the terrorists,” he said during a stroll at the Shepherd Center.
Furat says he is inspired by the American and Iraqi soldiers who are fighting for his country’s freedom. "I want to say, for any American parents, who have a son or daughter in Iraq, thank you, thank you, thank you from all my heart. And I pray for any son or daughter who has died in Iraq, to give freedom to my country, I pray for them all my life."
From the WRBL New 3 story linked to above:
"Furat (left) on one of his daily walks in the garden at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta "(caption from story)
Be sure and go to the WRBL story for videos of Furat explaining how he came to be called "Rambo" and about the ambush by the terrorists that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
In the last report on Furat I had a year ago he was quite dispirited. But our prayers have been answered, he is in good spirits and getting better!
Furat (his first name, the family name held secret to protect his family) is the Iraqi hero first brought to us by Maya Alleruzzo in a January 2006 Washington Times story which I linked to in a story here on Redhunter.
As you may recall, Furat had been a special forces soldier in Saddam's army, who then joined the new Iraqi Army after OIF. He became somewhat famous for his courage under fire and his ability to lead men in numerous battles against the terrorist insurgents. His fighting prowess was all the more impressive when you consider that he and his soldiers sallied forth in unarmored Nissan pickup trucks.
He was the hope of the new Iraq.
In December 2005 Furat went home to visit his mother, a Christian. On Christmas Day four terrorists attacked Furat in his car. He killed one, but the remaining three hit Furat 12 times with bullets from their AK-47s. One struck his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Probably due at least in part to Alleruzzo's reporting, sevaral Americans took a personal interest in Furat. They raised enough money to bring him to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a rehabilitation hospital which specializes "in the treatment of people with spinal cord injuries".
Furat in Iraq
After Saddam's army dissolved during the invasion of March and April of 2003, Furat found himself out of a job. When the coalition began to recruit soldiers for the new Iraqi Army, Furat joined, becoming part of the "Tiger Battalion" which was stationed in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad.
Alleruzzo accompanied Furat on several missions, including several in which they came under heavy fire from terrorists.
She took some stunning pictures of her time as an inbed with Captain Furat's unit.
In one battle, after one of the trucks in their convoy was hit by an IED, Furat led a counterattack against a group of terrorist insurgents who had attempted to ambush them.
Here are some of Maya's photographs from that fight, via Michael Yon
(captions also via Yon's post)
Shielding the photographer with his body: Captain Furat returns fire after the enemy followed on the IED with a barrage of small arms fire.
Captain Furat taking control.
Returning fire: the enemy broke contact.
What a brave man. Be sure to keep him in your prayers.
May 20, 2007
State of the Surge
Francis J "Bing" West is in Iraq and has filed an report on the status of our efforts there. You can only find it in the May 28 print edition of National Review. To view it in it's entirety you need a digital subscription, so I can't provide a link to the article.
His article is called "Start of the Surge: A report from Iraq", and amoung the many articles I've seen since my April update it is one of the most comprehensive. As such, I thought I'd shart some of it with you.
Bing West was a Marine infantry officer during the Vietnam War, and an assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan Administration, so he has credibility on military matters.
During his month in Iraq West patrolled with "twelve Iraqi and American units in Anbar Province". This is not his first trip there, for he "visited these areas many times since 2003, and it appears to me that, in both Anbar and Baghdad", and for all of our past problems "the war-fighting strategies are now sound and clear."
His report is general upbeat, but not uniformly so. There are big problems that remain to be resolved before Iraq can have a hope of stability. The "surge" strategy (unclassified version of the plan here and here), however, is making progress. Here is his bottom line analysis
The new American military team has infused the effort with energy and strategic clarity, and seized the initiative. In this war, the moral/psychological element outweighs the physical by 20 to 1. And on the two primary battlefields — Anbar and Baghdad — I see a common characteristic: U.S. momentum.
The good news is that Gen Petraeus and his second in command, Lt General Ray Odierno know exactly what they are doing. Ditto that for most of the rest of the US military.
As for the new Iraqi Army, "at the battalion level — and in many police units — it is advancing at an acceptable pace." This is not a big surprise. Most of what I've read elsewhere confirms this. Their problem is that their equipment is terribly substandard compared to ours. It's not the fancy electronics that they lack, it's basic body armor and armored vehicles.
The problem with the Iraqi Army is rather that "the performance at the national level ... is unacceptable. The heart of the problem is that Iraqi society is extraordinarily hierarchical, and the top level is failing." Unfortunately no surprise there, either. The problem in Iraq is at the top, not the bottom. To be sure, there are problems in training the new Iraqi Army, cultural problems that have handicapped Arab armies for decades. But in the end they are more easily resolved or worked around than the ingrained corruption and factional infighting at the top.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is caught on the horns of a dilemna: "The more he purges hardcore Shiites from the ministries, the more he risks a vote of no confidence in the Assembly, or removal from office. If he does little or nothing, President Bush has (allegedly) threatened to remove him." His solution has been to stand aside and let Petraeus and Odierno do the dirty work of putting "the hammer to Shiite as well as Sunni extremists." This must change.
If you don't want to wade through the documents linked to above, here's the plan as outlined by West
In a nutshell, for the U.S. to achieve the goal of relative stability in Iraq, three battlefield conditions must be met by the end of 2007. First, Iraq’s predominantly Shiite army must demonstrate a strategy and a momentum against a resumption of Shiite ethnic cleansing in and around Baghdad. Second, in Anbar, the Iraqi army and the predominantly Sunni police must sustain the momentum for eradicating AQI. Third, in the rest of the Sunni Triangle, the Iraqi army must prevent al-Qaeda from developing sanctuaries.
The strategy itself is clear enough. The allied forces will try to 1) bring security to the population by placing American and Iraqi forces in every neighborhood; 2) peel away the irreconcilables — prominently, AQI and JAM death squads — by shooting or imprisoning them; and 3) reconcile the majority of Sunni insurgents and Shiite militia through government reforms, compromise, and legislation.
The Most Dangerous Enemy
West says that the most dangerous enemy is not factional infighting or the Shiite militias. They're not to be underestimated, and they must be destroyed or disbanded, but in the end they're not the biggest problem, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is.
As for AQI, it must be beaten psychologically. Both JAM and AQI prey on the weak. They don’t fight each other or the Iraqi army. The Iraqis in special-forces units scorn AQI and literally chase them down during night raids. The Iraqi soldiers don’t express any particular fear of them. Yet AQI has a mystique of ferocity among the people, too many of whom believe AQI zealotry will overwhelm the Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi army must break that mystique by picking fights, by venturing into areas like the Zidon south of Fallujah, by publicly mocking and humiliating AQI, and by smashing it. The AQI fighters are mean bastards, but they can be broken. They have to be put away permanently when caught, or put in the earth.
As of this writing, the fourth of five brigades that are part of the "surge" is deploying to Iraq. Critics will scoff over past claims of progress, and to some extent they have a point. The stakes are too high, however, for us to give up while there is a possibility of success. We do have that possibility, and as such we must support and fully fund our troops.
May 15, 2007
Islamberg - Is it a Threat?
If you follow the conservative blogosphere you've probably seen the story in the Canada Free Press by Paul Williams alleging alleging that a "radical Muslim paramilitary compound flourishes in upper New York state". I also heard Williams on the Laura Ingraham show this morning.
The story Williams tells is alarming, but I've no idea how accurate his characterization of the Muslim village, or compound, is. Until or unless more reporters decide to investigate we won't know for certain. But if what he does say is true then I certainly hope that the FBI has informants in there.
Here is the essence of Williams' story
Islamberg is a branch of Muslims of the Americas Inc., a tax-exempt organization formed in 1980 by Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, who refers to himself as "the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr," Gilani, has been directly linked by court documents to Jamaat ul-Fuqra or "community of the impoverished," an organization that seeks to "purify" Islam through violence.
Though primarily based in Lahore, Pakistan, Jamaat ul-Fuqra has operational headquarters in New York and openly recruits through various social service organizations in the U.S., including the prison system. Members live in hamaats or compounds, such as Islamberg, where they agree to abide by the laws of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, which are considered to be above local, state and federal authority. Additional hamaats have been established in Hyattsville, Maryland; Red House, Virginia; Falls Church, Virginia; Macon, Georgia; York, South Carolina; Dover, Tennessee; Buena Vista, Colorado; Talihina, Oklahoma; Tulare Country, California; Commerce, California; and Onalaska, Washington. Others are being built, including an expansive facility in Sherman, Pennsylvania.
Before becoming a citizen of Islamberg or any of the other Fuqra compounds, the recruits - - primarily inner city black men who became converts in prison - - are compelled to sign an oath that reads: "I shall always hear and obey, and whenever given the command, I shall readily fight for Allah's sake."
The Anti-Defamation League confirms most of this with their essay on the Muslims of the Americas. Here is an excerpt
Muslims of the Americas (MOA) is a virulently anti-Semitic, Islamic extremist group with ties to Al-Fuqra, a terrorist organization that has carried out firebombings and murders in the United States. MOA claims to have offices in six U.S. cities and Toronto and maintains secluded residential communities in New York, Virginia and California. The group's Web site and e-mails have featured writings by notorious anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, including Michael Hoffman and former Klansman David Duke.
What goes on in Islamberg? Williams again
It is home to hundreds - - all in Islamic attire, and all African-Americans. Most drive late model SUVs with license plates from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee...
While buzzing with activity during the week, the place becomes a virtual hive on weekends. The guest includes arrivals from the inner cities of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and, occasionally, white-robed dignitaries in Ray-Bans from the Middle East...
Islamberg is not as benign as a Buddhist monastery or a Carmelite convent. Nearly every weekend, neighbors hear sounds of gunfire. Some, including a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, have heard the bang of small explosives.
I haven't been able to find a webpage for the group. I found a mention of them on this website, but all links to the MOA are defunct. If any reader can find their current website please leave it in comments.
There is a webpage for Islamberg; http://islamberg.org and on the homepage their description of Islamberg is pretty sparse
Over twenty years ago the village of Islamberg was established. Islamberg's in the catskills mountains upstate New York. Hundreds of muslims live there. There are over forty homes in the valley, where numerous streams gush forth.
There's only slightly more information elsewhere on their webpage
Over twenty years ago, our Imam, Al Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Jilani Hashimi, inspired our Jamaat to extricate ourselves out of the crime infested cities and pool our resources to purchase land where we could build our own Muslim villages. We in fact made Hijra for ALLAH's sake that we might practice our Deen in letter and spirit. ALLAH the most high knows the sacrifices and loss, the hardship and suffering endured in the move from Dar ul Harb to Dar ul Islam. Now over a generation later, Islamberg is a healthy, struggling Muslim community of over forty families, with it's own newspaper, summer camp for muslim youth, grocery store, laundromat, and bakery.
The bottom line is whether they've got it in their minds to commit acts of terrorism. Williams provides some evidence of past ties to criminal activity.
The criminal charges against the group and the criminal convictions are not things of the past. In 2001, a resident of a California compound was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a sheriff's deputy; another was charged with gun-smuggling' and twenty-four members of the Red House community were convicted of firearms violations.
By 2004 federal investigators uncovered evidence that linked both the DC "sniper killer" John Allen Muhammed and "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid to the group and reports surfaced that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was captured and beheaded in the process of attempting to obtain an interview with Sheikh Gilani in Pakistan.
Even though Jamaat ul-Fuqra has been involved in terror attacks and sundry criminal activities, recruited thousands of members from federal and state penal systems, and appears to be operating paramilitary facilities for militant Muslims, it remains to be placed on the official US Terror Watch List.
So far I'm concerned about Islamberg, but I put them more in the David Koresh category than the Osama bin Laden one. I hope the FBI is watching them, but I don't see any evidence for a Waco-style raid.
Most likely you most of the people who make up the inhabitants of Islamberg are the spiritually lost who are looking for identity. For whatever reason they feel alienated by society and are drawn to this sort of thing. Islam is a powerful religion, and there is a type of personality who, when they can't identify with their own culture, chooses something radical like this group. They're the type who may talk big, might like to run around in the woods with a gun, but when push comes to shove won't really carry out any terrorist acts.
But there is another type of person who is drawn to this type of group, and who will, if pushed by the right leader, become another Richard Reid or Timothy McVeigh. It is certainly possible that Al-Fuqra is using the Muslims of America to look for just such people, using Islamberg as bait.
In 1996 Morris Dees and James Corcoran published Gathering Storm: America's Militia Theat. I picked it up a couple of years ago at the $1 a book booksales that our library system holds every year. If you substitute "right-wing anti-government extremist" for "Islamist" you have the equivalent to Williams' depition of Islamberg above.
The Anti-Defamation League maintains a section of it's website dedicated to these right-wing groups, and it makes for sobering reading if you're under the impression that only jihadists are the only nuts who set up compounds and run around in the woods with guns.
From the ADL website
The number of militia groups declined after 1996, as did militia activity. Patterns of criminal activity, however, remained more or less constant: militia members continued to get themselves in trouble with the law on a regular basis.
In many areas of the country, the militia movement remains as strong, or nearly as strong, as it was at its height. In particular, the Midwest remains a source of active and fairly large militia groups.
All in all, a fair reading of the ADL article is that while it remains dangerous and bears watching, the right-wing militia movement is not what it was even ten years ago.
My point in all this is that I think there is some similarity between Islamberg and the right-wing militias. One thing that we must avoid at all costs are Waco and Ruby Ridge style standoffs. These incidents proved to be powerful recruitment tools for the militias, as would an ill-advised FBI raid of Islamberg.
The best thing we can do is infiltrate Islamberg and similar "Muslim villages", arrest those who are genuinly guilty of things like gun crimes, and watch for real terrorist activity. Otherwise we are best off just monitoring them and leaving them be.
A Bit More You Should Know
Paul Williams is the author of the forthcoming book The Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World. From the book description on Amazon
In two previous books, Osama's Revenge and The Al Qaeda Connection, seasoned investigative reporter Paul Williams revealed the alarming potential for nuclear terrorism on U.S. soil and the sinister connections among organized crime, illegal immigrants, and al Qaeda. Now, Williams broadens his focus beyond al Qaeda to provide readers with newly uncovered information on terrorist activities in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, other Muslim countries--and our neighbor Canada! What emerges is a harrowing picture of international terrorist activities, all aimed at the destruction of the United States and the collapse of the Western world. This cataclysm will usher in "the Day of Islam," the dream of radical Muslims to see all of humankind fall in submission before the throne of Allah. Based on the "forgotten testimony" of the FBI's "Confidential Source One," as well as other sources, Williams first presents evidence of Osama Bin Laden's purchase of highly enriched uranium in Sudan and nuclear devices from the Chechens and the Russian Mafia. He then offers further information on the workings of Pakistani scientists and technicians from the A. Q. Khan Research Facility to maintain and upgrade al Qaeda's "bespoke nukes" (with explosive yields in excess of ten kilotons) for the "American Hiroshima." This information comes with empirical proof that should dispel any doubts that these weapons not only have been developed but have also been forward-deployed from the seaport at Karachi to strategic locations within the Western world.
On the one hand it all seems a bit hyperbolic, on the other it is certainly true that the Sunni jihadists want to reestablish the Caliphate and the Shiite ones an Imamate.
There's a long article on the Muslims of the Americas and other American-made jihadists in this May 2, 2002 US News & World Report article. I don't have time to go through the whole thing tonight but it looks like it's worth a read.
Islamist-Left Alliance Meets in Cairo
"Where else can you sit down in a single evening and listen to senior people from Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, people from the revolutionary left and the antiwar movement from around the globe?"
— British Trotskyite John Rees at the Cairo Anti-War Conference, April 2007
Steven Stalinsky, writing in the New York Sun last week, reported on Rees and the "anti-war" conference he attended.
These meetings, Stalinsky says, are nothing new
Over the past year, multiple international conferences have featured leaders of the anti-global left and Islamist groups working together. Go to any anti-war or anti-globalization demonstration in the West and chances are you will see the flags of Hezbollah and Hamas waved by people wearing Che Guevara T-shirts. And at some of these meetings, members of such radical Islamist groups as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Hezbollah have enjoyed starring roles.
The roster of Islamist-left alliances quietly grows every day: Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguistics professor Noam Chomsky praises Hamas and denounces America on Hezbollah's Al-Manar television. London Mayor Ken Livingstone invites a leading Islamist, Sheikh Yosef Al-Qaradawi, who is known for supporting suicide attacks, to visit his city. Iranian President Ahmadinejad calls for a world without America even as he plays host to a Tehran peace conference attended by American Mennonites, Quakers, Episcopalians, Methodists, and leaders of the National Council of Churches.
If you are a Christian, you might want to follow the link above to the NCC website to find out if your church is a member. I assure you that mine is not, because not a penny of my money is going to that organization.
What went on at the conference?
The key forum at this year's annual Cairo Anti-War Conference was titled "Bridge-building Between the Left and Islam," and focused on practical ways to increase cooperation. The aim of the conference sessions were described in one piece of literature as tackling "the challenges and prospects facing the international anti-war and pro-intifada movements" and planning "strategy and tactics for bridging the gap and uniting Islamist and leftist ranks in the face of U.S. imperialism and Zionism."
The cooperation is between leftist and Islamist groups.
Photographs and a more complete report can be found on the Arabist.net website.
On it's surface, one would think that the left would abhore radical Islam. Even Islam in it's moderate varieties opposes many of the causes that the left holds dear, such as gay marriage. Islam as practiced in many areas of the world is theocratic, misogynistic, and excuses violence.
The short answer as to why the left would ally itself with radical Islam is that they hate the West so much that anything seems preferable to it. America is unjust, therefore any wars she fights are unjust. There is little difference between Democrats and Republicans to the hard left.
The heyday of the Old Left was in the 1930s and 40s, and while the New Left (their terms, btw) made a brief splash in the 1960s and 70s, they were both on a downhill slide until 9-11. The War on Terror has increased their numbers, but despite their ability to influence policy remains limited.
The objective of this hard left is to destroy the West. They want to replace it with some variant of communism. Their problem is that in order to achieve the second goal they need to get past the first one, which remains elusive. They want to use the Islamists/jihadists to destroy the West.
The left believes that they can control the Islamists, just as the Islamists believe that they can manipulate the them. Unfortunately for the left, their numbers remain steady while the number of Muslims in the West and indeed around the world is increasing almost exponentially. It is the left that is being used, and if the jihadists ever do seize control of a Western country, it is the leftists that they'll kill first.
May 13, 2007
When What "Everyone Knows" Is Wrong
Today's Washington Post brings us "What We Got Right In Iraq" by L Paul Bremer, the man who led the Coalition Provisional Authority from May 2003 to June 2004. The Post will also host an online chat with Bremer tomorrow at 3pm, where he will answer reader's questions. Details here.
In today's piece Bremer defends two key programs of his tenure as administrator of Iraq; De-Baathification, and the decision to rebuild the Iraqi army from scratch.
I have not spent much time on this blog pursuing the "blame game" with regard to Iraq or the War on Jihadism. I don't go after President Clinton for his failures, partially because I'm not so sure a Republican would have done much differently, and partially because it's generally so unproductive. With regard to Iraq, I just want to win it. Let's leave postmortems to later.
Every now and then, however, I'll make an exception. Because the performance of the Iraqi Army is vital to our success, it's that part of his article that I want to consider.
Addressing the De-Baathification campaign and decision to rebuild the Iraqi Army from scratch, Bremer addresses his critics
Looking for a neat, simple explanation for our current problems in Iraq, pundits argue that these two steps alienated the formerly ruling Sunnis, created a pool of angry rebels-in-waiting and sparked the insurgency that's raging today. The conventional wisdom is as firm here as it gets. It's also dead wrong.
Readers interested in the De-Baathification program will want to read the article. Here will will only consider what Bremer has to say about the Iraqi Army.
The first question Bremer addresses is the nature of the Iraqi Army under Saddam and what happened to it when we invaded.
The war's critics have also comprehensively misunderstood the "disbanding" of Hussein's army, arguing that we kicked away a vital pillar that kept the country stable and created a pool of unemployed, angry men ripe for rebellion. But this fails to reckon with the true nature of Hussein's killing machine and the situation on the ground.
It's somewhat surprising at this late date to have to remind people of the old army's reign of terror. In the 1980s, it waged a genocidal war against Iraq's minority Kurds, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and more than 5,000 people in a notorious chemical-weapons attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja. After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Iraq's majority Shiites rose up against Hussein, whose army machine-gunned hundreds of thousands of men, women and children and threw their corpses into mass graves. It's no wonder that Shiites and Kurds, who together make up more than 80 percent of Iraq's population, hated Hussein's military.
Bremer is dead on in his description of the Iraqi Army. One thing made clear by the Iraqi Perspectives Project was that the entire purpose of the army under Saddam was to keep him and his cronies in power. Only second on Saddam's list was regional threats, third the United States and other coalition powers.
I think that many of us in the West here the term "army", and just assume that to some degree they're all the same. And, after all, Saddam's army had all the trappings of a Western one. But dig beneath the surface and you find something totally different.
Keeping number 1 in power is not always the prime mission of an army in totalitarian countries. In Nazi Germany the SS served this role, with the army in the role of conquerer foreign lands, for example.
Further, it's not as if the old Iraqi Army was a fine fighting force. In fact, it was rife with internal, structural problems
Before the 2003 war, the army had consisted of about 315,000 miserable draftees, almost all Shiite, serving under a largely Sunni officer corps of about 80,000. The Shiite conscripts were regularly brutalized and abused by their Sunni officers. When the draftees saw which way the war was going, they deserted and, like their officers, went back home. But before the soldiers left, they looted the army's bases right down to the foundations.
The Iraqi Army fell apart as our forces reached Bagdad in April of 2003. The plain fact is that it disintigrated before our eyes. Why, then, did he not try and recall it?
Some in the U.S. military and the CIA's Baghdad station suggested that we try to recall Hussein's army. We refused, for overwhelming practical, political and military reasons.
For starters, the draftees were hardly going to return voluntarily to the army they so loathed; we would have had to send U.S. troops into Shiite villages to force them back at gunpoint. And even if we could have assembled a few all-Sunni units, the looting would have meant they'd have no gear or bases.
Moreover, the political consequences of recalling the army would have been catastrophic. Kurdish leaders made it clear to me that recalling Hussein-era forces would make their region secede, which would have triggered a civil war and tempted Turkey and Iran to invade Iraq to prevent the establishment of an independent Kurdistan. Many Shiite leaders who were cooperating with the U.S.-led forces would have taken up arms against us if we'd called back the perpetrators of the southern killing fields of 1991.
Finally, neither the U.S.-led coalition nor the Iraqis could have relied on the allegiance of a recalled army. This lesson was driven home a year later, when the Marines unilaterally recalled a single brigade of Hussein's former army, without consulting with the Iraqi government or the CPA. This "Fallujah Brigade" quickly proved disloyal and had to be disbanded. Moreover, the Marines' action so rattled the Shiites and Kurds that it very nearly derailed the political process of returning sovereignty over the country to the Iraqi people -- further proof of the extreme danger of relying on Hussein's old army.
So, after full coordination within the U.S. government, including the military, I issued an order to build a new, all-volunteer army.
I haven't studied the issue in detail so I can't say with 100% certainty that everything Bremer is correct. However, I do think that of the problems we did make "disbanding" the old Iraqi Army and building a new one from the ground up isn't one of them.
May 11, 2007
The Jersey Jihadists and Illegal Immigration
It would appear that I underestimated the illegal alien angle of this story. The indomiatable Michelle Malkin explains that three of those arrested came across the Mexican border. How they got across is not certain but the Feds are "checking into it".
More from Fox News about the illegal alien jihadists (h/t Michelle)
Three brothers charged in the alleged Fort Dix terror plot have been living illegally in the U.S. for more than 23 years and were accepted as Americans by neighbors and friends who had no idea they would scheme to attack military bases and slaughter GIs.
A federal law enforcement source confirmed to FOX News that the three — Dritan "Anthony" or "Tony" Duka, 28; Shain Duka, 26; and Eljvir "Elvis" Duka, 23 — also accumulated 19 traffic citations, but because they operated in "sanctuary cites," where law enforcement does not routinely report illegal immigrants to homeland security, none of the tickets raised red flags.
The brothers entered the United States near Brownsville, Texas, in 1984, the source said, which would put their ages at 1 to 6 when they crossed the border.
As I mentioned on Wednesday, it's our lax attitude towards illegals that worries me most. These guys have gotten away with being in our country illegally for almost 20 years.
But there's more. Stanley Kurtz at NRO reports on how the case could "have significant implications for immigration policy". That's legal immigration policy.
Kurtz links to a NY Times story that
Makes it seem pretty likely that the Duka family at the heart of the plot (and what the Times calls the entire "extended Duka dynasty") arrived though a process of chain migration based on the principle of "family unification." Most new legal permanent residents in the United States now enter via family unification.
Chain migration through extended family unification is a potentially huge barrier to assimilation. My recent two-part study of cousin marriage and failed Muslim assimilation in Britain is essentially the story of how the loophole of family reunification was turned by in-marrying extended Muslim clans into an immigration disaster. (See "Assimilation Studies," and "Assimilation Studies, Part II."
Read his whole post. While all the facts aren't in yet, and we need to be cautious, we do need to examine our legal immigration and the whole concept of assimilation of immigrants into American society.
Victor Davis Hanson agrees that it's our lax attitude towards illegals that is sending the wrong message
Apologists (of a de facto open borders policy) miss the point entirely, which is existential in nature. Once the United States accepts as a permanent condition the notion that several million illegal aliens can reside in perpetuity and under immunity from the law, then a sort of insidious message is established:
We in America will ask nothing of our immigrants-not legality, not English, not rudimentary knowledge of our history and values, and not real efforts at assimilation and Americanization.
So, the wannabe jihadist, here illegally, whether as in the Fort Dix case or as was true of a few of the 9/11 murderers—gets two messages: one, they won't dare come for me, since they'd have to come for 12 million others. And, second, this is a pretty easy country where rules don't count and one can operate well enough in a nether world in which it is more likely to be considered criminal, or at least unspeakable, to arrest or report an illegal alien than to be one.
And Another Thing
A male employee who works at Circuit City behind the Moorestown Mall is the unsung hero that first enabled authorities to foil the Fort Dix terror plot.
Circuit City corporate spokesman Jim Babb confirmed this morning that a current employee was asked by one of the alleged terrorists to dub a Jihadist training VHS cassette into a DVD...
...At the office for Rep. Jim Saxton, R-Mount Holly, spokesman Jeff Sagnip Hollendonner said the congressman had not spoken to the clerk but that the office was considering sending a thank you note.
"He is obviously someone who is alert and acted in a very responsible way and he very likely saved lives, there's no question about that," Sagnip Hollendonner said. "So he's a hero because of that."
As Michelle says, if you see something say something.
Now let's get that bill protecting John and Jane Doe from lawsuits through Congress.
May 9, 2007
The Fort Dix "Jersey Jihadists"
Just so we start off on the same page, here's the summary from the Washington Post
A group of would-be terrorists, allegedly undone after attempting to have jihad training videos copied onto a DVD, has been charged with conspiring to attack Fort Dix and kill soldiers there with assault rifles and grenades, authorities said Tuesday.
Five men -- all foreign-born and described as "radical Islamists" by federal authorities -- allegedly trained at a shooting range in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains to kill "as many soldiers as possible" at the historic Army base 25 miles east of Philadelphia. A sixth man was charged with helping them obtain illegal weapons.
FBI and Justice Department officials said the arrests were the result of a 16-month operation to infiltrate and monitor the group. It was portrayed as a leaderless, homegrown cell of immigrants from Jordan, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia who came together because of a shared infatuation with Internet images of jihad, or holy war.
Authorities said the group has no apparent connection to al-Qaeda or other international terrorist organizations aside from ideology, but appears to be an example of the kind of self-directed sympathizers widely predicted -- and feared -- by counterterrorism specialists. The defendants allegedly passed around and copied images of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the martyrdom videos of two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers.
Here are my take-aways from this incident:
1) Yes Islam has a lot to do with their motivation
2) That the jihadists are home-grown and not directly tied to al Qaeda is not good news, as some would have us believe.
3) That they made some dumb mistakes does not mean that we can dismiss the threat from others
4) Our lax attitude towards illegal immigration isn't helping the situation.
5) The apologists will dismiss this as no big deal.
Let's take these on one at a time
The Role of Islam
One defendant, Eljvir Duka, was recorded as saying: "In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone ... attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad." ...
"It doesn't matter to me whether I get locked up, arrested or get taken away," another defendant, Serdar Tatar, was alleged to have said. "Or I die, it doesn't matter. I'm doing it in the name of Allah."
They often watched terror training videos, clips featuring
Osama bin Laden, a tape containing the last will and testament of some of the Sept. 11 hijackers....
Be sure to also read Andrew McCarthy's piece in which he reminds the media that "It’s not about the organization, it’s the ideology." And the ideology is the jihad.
The main theme of Walid Phares' Future Jihad is that our enemy is a lot larger than any one terrorist group. We face a trioka of jihadists; Wahabbists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Khumeinists. It it holds true that the suspects were inspired by OBL, that puts them in the neo-Wahabbist subcategory. Read the book or go to the book review section of this blog for my six-part review of Future Jihad.
To make a long story short, when the Caliphate existed, a jihad could only be authorized by the proper political authority, ie the Caliph or his designate. With the end of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924 jihad was "privatized". Now, any Muslim Imam of proper standing can authorize one. There's a long legal history behind all this, but suffice it to say that, for example, when Osama bin Laden issued his 1998 fatwa declaring war on the United States, he dressed it up with all the proper protocols.
This is not some theory Dr Phares or I cooked up. This May 2006 story in the Washington Post describes the career of one Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, who in January of 2005 posted a treatise called "The Call for a Global Islamic Resistance" under the pen name Abu Musab al-Suri on the Internet (I can't find an exact link for the work, but see another description here). From the Post story
Nasar, 47, outlines a strategy for a truly global conflict on as many fronts as possible and in the form of resistance by small cells or individuals, rather than traditional guerrilla warfare. To avoid penetration and defeat by security services, he says, organizational links should be kept to an absolute minimum.
"The enemy is strong and powerful, we are weak and poor, the war duration is going to be long and the best way to fight it is in a revolutionary jihad way for the sake of Allah," he said in one paper. "The preparations better be deliberate, comprehensive and properly planned, taking into account past experiences and lessons."
While we can't say with certainty - yet anyway - whether the Ft Dix terrorist suspects were motivated by Nasar's work, it would seem that we have a case of independent jihad. Given the evidence it is foolish in the extreme to suppose that to be a terrorist threat we must find a direct link to al Qaeda.
The Ft Dix suspects were caught because they were stupid. The first tip came from an average citizen
The unidentified clerk is being credited with tipping off authorities in January 2006 after one of the suspects asked him to transfer a video to DVD that showed 10 men shooting weapons at a firing range and calling for jihad, prosecutors said.
"If we didn't get that tip," said U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, "I couldn't be sure what would happen." FBI agent J.P. Weis called the clerk the "unsung hero" of the case.
(U.S. Attorney Christopher) Christie called the camera shop owner that alerted federal authorities an American hero. The suspected terrorists had gone to the shop about 16 months ago to transfer training videos from video tape to DVD's.
"The camera store owner saw Muslim men in military garb toting weapons in the woods. He heard them talking about jihad and how Allah was great. He called the FBI and became a hero," Christie said.
The men had trained at a firing range in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania and Christie said they planned to use the DVD's as recruitment tool.
With stories like these it's easy to dismiss these guys as idiots. But not so fast. Remember the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center? The perpetrators were caught when one of them, Mohammed Salameh, went back to the Ryder rental agency to get back his security deposit on the truck they used in the bombing.
Yet 8 years later more determined - and smarter - terrorists knocked the buildings down.
Our enemy makes mistakes, but they learn from them. They are no more stupid than we were in the early days of the Second World War.
Not Here Legally
The indefatigable Michelle Malkin has the lowdown on the suspects. The bottom line: 3 of the 6 are in the country illegally.
I don't want to rehash the whole illegal immigration thing now, but suffice it to say that to me the security problem is not so much on the southern border per se as with our general lax attitude towards illegal aliens. I think that Richard Miniter got it right when he wrote in Disinformation that we don't really face a threat from jihadists coming across from Mexico.
"No Big Deal"
The apologists are out in force. There are two sorts; Muslims who pretend that the way Islam is currently taught and interpreted in all too many places is not the problem, and the left.
The worst offender in the first category is, predictably, CAIR. Here's their press release on this affair (emphasis added)
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/8/07) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today applauded efforts by federal law enforcement authorities that apparently thwarted a planned attack on Fort Dix in New Jersey.
In a statement, the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said:
"Based on the information gathered in this case, it seems clear that a potentially deadly attack has been averted. We applaud the FBI for its efforts and repeat the American Muslim community's condemnation and repudiation of all those who would plan or carry out acts of terror while falsely claiming their actions have religious justification.
"We continue to urge American Muslims to be vigilant in reporting any suspected criminal activities that could harm the safety and security of our nation."
CAIR also requested that media outlets and public officials refrain from linking this case to the faith of Islam. The council asked mosques and Islamic institutions in New Jersey and nationwide to report any incidents of anti-Muslim backlash.
Along with innumerable condemnations of terror, CAIR has in the past launched an online petition drive called "Not in the Name of Islam," initiated a television public service announcement campaign of that same name and coordinated a "fatwa," or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism and religious extremism.
Unfortunately the problem is not isolated to extremist groups like CAIR, which has been pretty well exposed. Get ready to hear the "Islam had nothing to do with it" line again and again. From a Fox News story
"If these people did something, then they deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer who represented scores of detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks. "But when the government says `Islamic militants,' it sends a message to the public that Islam and militancy are synonymous."
"Don't equate actions with religion," he said.
On the left side, go and watch Keith Olbermann dismiss the Jersey jihadists as a bunch of "morons". He sneers at the whole affair, seeminly accusing the FBI of making the whole thing up. Olbermann's a sight to behold - for all the wrong reasons.
The FBI has successfully broken up yet another fiendish terrorist plot on American soil. These brave defenders of freedom have once again ensured that Americans can rest easy, safe from the threat of a couple guys buying some guns and trying to… take over an Army base??? ...
Ok. So, the plot was: six dudes from New Jersey buy some guns and storm Fort Dix. The Fort Dix that is full of lots and lots of Army reservists with way, way more guns. And, like, extensive military training and shit. Yes, thank god these terrorists have been caught and locked up before they could be killed within minutes of deciding to carry out the dumbest fucking terrorist plot we’ve ever heard of.
Be sure to read the comments because the leftards are in rare form.
Gregory McNeal (NRO link above) takes down Wonkette . He points out that on a military base everyone doesn't go around carrying their weapons. Most of them are secured in the armory. Only the guards at the gate are carrying.
I haven't driven by one of the military bases in our area recently (Walter Reed being more of a hospital), but I think the last time I did I didn't see any armored vehicles nearby.
Having the element of surprise, it's easy to imagine the jihadists killing all of the guards and getting into the base. Once there they could break up into teams and wreak a fair amount of havoc before being stopped.
More to the point, imagine how this would have played in the press had they even gotten past the gate.
The Myth of "Good Deeds"
I didn't make this one of my original "take aways", but after reading a piece on the Jersey Jihadists on NRO I decided to add it.
This goes to the jihadist mindset, so is important. Mary Habeck points out that
Most of the men were Muslims (and Albanians) from the former Yugoslavia. While we may see our actions in this war-torn part of the world as one of our “good deeds,” in the jihadist conspiratorial vision of events, the U.S. was only involved in this conflict in order to kill Muslims. The intervention of foreign jihadis decisively turned the tide against the Serbs, not U.S. military action. It is also worth noting that extremist Islamic preachers have remained in Bosnia and Albania, winning converts to radical Islam and to jihadism.
She adds something that I missed
Finally, the reports describe a video showing “ten young men” firing weapons, yet only six were arrested. This is not over.
May 8, 2007
Walter Reed Freep #107 - May 4, 2007 - The Eye With the Purple Heart
The FReep got off to an early start because about a dozen milbloggers attending the Milblog Conference in Arlington VA came at about 5:30. tgslTakoma was good enough to arrive early so as to provide signs, banners, and flags for the milbloggers.
Unfortunantely they were only able to stay for an hour, so when I arrived at my usual time of 6:30 they had to get back to their conference. No matter, because enough of the "regulars" were on the scene to take over their duties. We appreciate their presence and a huge THANK YOU for starting things off that evening.
Honor roll of attendees:
armymarinemom (Mil), Bill from MD, BillF, *Bob from PA, BufordP, cindy-true-supporter, Fraxinus, George & Ethel from MD, HowardLaw, Jean from MI (Mil), Jimmy Valentine’s brother, JoyjoyfromNJ, Judy from VA (Mil), kristinn, Lauren from VA, maica, Sensei Ern, tgslTakoma, TJ (GOE), Tolerance Sucks Rocks, Tom the Redhunter, trooprally (both Mr. & Mrs.),T.J from Gathering of Eagles, and VaFlagwaver
cindy-true-supporter had a 82nd Airborne Division flag that we and the soldiers inside the hospital signed as a THANK YOU to John Mellencamp, who played a charity concert at Walter Reed this past April 27, see story and pictures at DefenseLink.
Here is Kristinn and an unidentified milblogger taken at about the time I arrived
The MOAB looks particularly good, I think, in the evening sunlight. It is directly across from the main entrance to Walter Reed, and most people who exit the base hospital turn left, so they come right past it. I can tell you from over a year and a half of speaking with troopers and their families that it lifts the spirits of everyone there.
On the opposite corner are gathered your author, Tom the Redhunter, Mr Trooprally, Jimmy Valentine’s brother, and BufordP
Shortly thereafter we set up our famous Burma Shave signs so that motorists would know who was who. Before we had them we noticed that many people would honk for us, and then as they passed by Code Pink would also honk for them. Realizing that that wouldn't do, we realized that we needed some way to differentiate the two groups. Some enterprising FReeper came up with the idea of the Burma Shave signs. They also have the added benefit of annoying the pinkos, who from time to time have tried to sneak up and knock them off the cars. Ever since the last such incident we've kept a sharp eye out and no vandalism has occured. For the record we always put them on our own cars.
Speaking of pinkos, I'll splurge and show two photos of them this time. Usually I figure they don't rate more than one, since our FReeps there have long ceased to be about them. To be sure, part of our presence is to keep them away from the entrance, but we're really about a pro-troops message.
At 7:30 they had a whopping 4 people down there, and their number never rose to 10 the entire evening
Later Mrs Trooprally noticed that they had one of their stupid American flags with the peace symbol in place of the stars. She gave me the camera and I went down there to get a shot of them
If you've evern done any counterprotesting of leftist groups or even seen photos of their protests, sooner or later you notice that they almost never have any American flags with them. The few that they do they disgrace by flying upside down, or jazzing it up in some way like in the photo above. But they just can't fly it straight, as it was meant to. On the other hand, at conservative rallies you'll see lots of American flags, and all of them are flown properly.
But of course we are there because it's a hospital, and as such troops are coming in from the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. They fly them into Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, and from there to Walter Reed. Here's one of the buses coming in from Andrews to Walter Reed.
We also had the return of Lauren, whom we hadn't seen in some time. If you're reading this, ,Lauren,, it was good to see you again!
George & Ethel have become regulars and it was good to see them again last night
During the course of the evening a soldier and his girlfriend (or wife?) stopped by in their car. He had lost his eye in combat, and in place had a glass eye. But the one he had in that night had a little purple heart in place of the iris. Mrs Trooprally tried to take a photo of it but I don't know if you can really see it here.
Lastly, here's what it's all about; greeting the troopers as they come back from their Friday evening dinner
If you can't get to D.C. to join us but would like to do something for the wounded, you can find a wealth of ideas by FReepmailing
Come join us every Friday night between the hours of 6:30pm to approx 9:30pm.
* A special Thank You to Mrs Trooprally for taking the photos for this AAR. You can find all of the photos she took for this FReep on her Photobucket site
* Thank you to BufordP for maintaining the BIG LIST of all Walter Reed FReeps.
* Thank you always to Kristinn and tgslTakoma for all the work they do. Kristinn is president of the DC chapter and our chief organizer, and tgslTakoma hauls the MOAB, flags, most of the signs, and our "picnic table" back and forth every week.
* Tom the Redhunter blogs at The Redhunter
This post can also be viewed on Free Republic
May 6, 2007
Book Review: The Truth about Muhammed
This story is apocryphal but I think it's a good way to lead off this book review
A terrorist act is committed by a Muslim group that says it is acting in the name is Islam
The moderate Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but then says that Islam has nothing to do with it, and that the terrorists have "hijacked" their religion.
The reformist Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but admits that the way Islam is interpreted or taught is being used to justify violent terrorist acts.
Islam is a religion badly in need of reform. Moderate Muslims such as the one in our story are in denial. Christianity was reformed hundreds of years ago by movements started by men such as John Wycliffe, Martin Luther and John Calvin. Christianity has it's tensions with the modern world (the theory of evolution) but is largely comfortable with it.
Islam has never adated to the modern world. Indeed, Islam went the other direction in the 14th century, when theologians such as Ibn Taymiya (1263-1328) who with his followers developed the doctrine of takfir, essentially the Muslim equivalent of the inquisition. It was a "back to the Middle Ages" movement that has lasted to this day.
We simply cannot ignore the plain fact that Muslim terrorist groups use Islam to justify their actions. If we are going to change this situation then Islam is going to have to be reformed. Muslims have to change the way their religion is taught. This means going back and reexamining the basic tenants of the religion. And this means a no-holds barred look at Muhammed.
Robert Spencer does just that in The Truth About Muhammed: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion
What Spencer shows is that if reformers are to succeed they cannot skirt the hard facts of Muhammed's life. The must squarely confront the way the religion was founded and spread and reconcile these with the modern world. They have their work cut out for them, for their job will be much more difficult than it was for Luther and Calvin.
Here, then, are some of the facts that reformers have the face as laid out by Spencer:
The new faith of Islam was spread by Muhammed and his followers by warfare. Muhammed was personally involved in much of the fighting, and is renouned for his prowess on the battlefield. This would only be of academic consequence were it not for the fact that Muslims are supposed to look at Muhammed as their inspiration, as a model to emulate.
From Spencer's book, Muhammed the warrior is the single biggest problem that reformers with have to face. There is much killing by the Jewish tribes in the Old Testament, and it's all sanctioned by God. Much of Joshua, Kings, and Chronicles make for very difficult reading. But neither Jews nor Christians developed an equivalent of jihad that we carried to the present day. The Jews tried to live in peace once they got to the promised land (only the existance of powerful neighbors ensured this didn't happen) . In its first few centuries Christianity was spread peacefully. The apostles used persuasion, not violence.
Islam, though rests almost entirely on the actions of one person. While the Quran does contain many stories also found in the Old Testament (albeit quite different versions of them), Muslims pretty much ignore all prophets except for Muhammed. Neither Judiasm not Christianity face this "single prophet" problem. When your single prophet spent much of his time as a warrior, this is something that you either reconcile with the modern world or accept violence as part of your religion.
There are other problems too, that reformers must face. Muhammed took many wives, one who was quite young, and he made it clear that women were to have second class citizenship. The part of sharia law where it takes 4 male witnesses to convice a man of rape comes from an incident with one of his wives, Aisha. As a result, it is virtually impossible to convict a man of rape in Muslim societies. Muhammed also ordered that a man and woman convicted of adultery be stoned to death.
If Islam is to join the modern world, and integrate itself into small "l" liberal Western society, it must give up poligamy, marriage to virtual children, stoning, and must grant equal rights to women. In order to do so reformers are going to have to reinterpret many of Muhammed's actions, or find some way to explain that "that was then, this is now".
There is also the Muslim "poll tax", or jizya Muhammed instituted dhimmi status, required for Christians and Jews (all others were to be killed immediately). Apologists for Islam today who claim that Jews and Christians can leave peacefully in Muslim lands "forget" that this is only possible when the former two accept dhimmi status. Those who see the exponential increase in the number of Muslims in Europe as no big deal need to consider this fact. It is projected that Europe will be majority Muslim before the end of the 21st century. At the rate things are going, they'll try and force some sort of dhimmi status on non-Muslims as soon as they get the chance.
The last thing I'll mention is the incident of the "satanic verses", made famous by Salman Rushdie in his book of the same name. Essentially, Muhammed instructs his followers to worship pagan gods for one year as part of a deal he struck with a tribe called the Quraysh. Muslim tradition says that Satan spoke the words instead of Muhammed. If this is true, than it is certainly odd that God would let Satan speak through His prophet. If Muhammed was speaking of his own volition, then it is odd that he would instruct his followers to worship false gods, regardless of the political circumstances.
In theory I think it should not be terribly hard to do this. After all, Christians and Jews believe in the Old Testament, and none of us (save a few kooks) want to make Leviticas the law of the land. We know that they did things differently back then and why they had the laws they did. But we've learned how to square them with modern concepts. Although the job of Muslim reformers may be more difficult, it is hardly impossible.
Of course what is easy in theory is difficult in practice. Robert Spencer himself lives at an "undisclosed location", according to the book cover. Critics of Islam such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, and Bridget Gabriel have their lives threatened. Theo van Gogh was murdered over a movie he made.
Note that none of the issues that I've brought up are relevant to whether Islam is "correct" or not. I am a Christian, and therefore believe that all other ways of seeing God are false. But here we are concerned with Islam as a political tool, as an inspiration to jihad, terrorism, and world conquest. If people want to take Muhammed as their prophet then my argument with them becomes strictly theological.
There is much more in The Truth About Muhammed that I will not be able to cover here. Of the many criticisms of this book, one that I found most curious was the one that Spencer "cherry picks" quotes from the Quran. When reading the book I found that it was not specific quotes that will be problematic for reformers, but rather the general outline of Muhammed's life. The fact that he spead the faith through the sword, was a poligamist, and considered women second-class citizens is not dependand on this or that quote.
Add this book to your library. It shouldn't be your only book about Islam, but is is a necessary addition.
Raymond Ibrahim takes on Muslim apologist Karen Armstrong over at NRO. Be sure to check it out in order to see what anyone who criticizes Islam is up against.
May 2, 2007
The President Gets it Right
I thought that the President's speach as he vetoed the disgraceful Iraq-war supplemental funding bill were worth reprinting in full
Good evening. Twelve weeks ago, I asked the Congress to pass an emergency war spending bill that would provide our brave men and women in uniform with the funds and flexibility they need.
Instead, members of the House and the Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders. So a few minutes ago, I vetoed this bill.
Tonight I will explain the reasons for this veto — and my desire to work with Congress to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. We can begin tomorrow with a bipartisan meeting with the congressional leaders here at the White House.
Here is why the bill Congress passed is unacceptable. First, the bill would mandate a rigid and artificial deadline for American troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq. That withdrawal could start as early as July 1st. And it would have to start no later than October 1st, regardless of the situation on the ground.
It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing. All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength — and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq. I believe setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East, and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments. Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure — and that would be irresponsible.
Second, the bill would impose impossible conditions on our commanders in combat. After forcing most of our troops to withdraw, the bill would dictate the terms on which the remaining commanders and troops could engage the enemy. That means American commanders in the middle of a combat zone would have to take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in Washington, D.C. This is a prescription for chaos and confusion, and we must not impose it on our troops.
Third, the bill is loaded with billions of dollars in non-emergency spending that has nothing to do with fighting the war on terror. Congress should debate these spending measures on their own merits — and not as part of an emergency funding bill for our troops.
The Democratic leaders know that many in Congress disagree with their approach, and that there are not enough votes to override a veto. I recognize that many Democrats saw this bill as an opportunity to make a political statement about their opposition to the war. They've sent their message. And now it is time to put politics behind us and support our troops with the funds they need.
Our troops are carrying out a new strategy with a new commander — General David Petraeus. The goal of this new strategy is to help the Iraqis secure their capital, so they can make progress toward reconciliation, and build a free nation that respects the rights of its people, upholds the rule of law, and fights extremists and radicals and killers alongside the United States in this war on terror.
In January, General Petraeus was confirmed by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate. In February, we began sending the first of the reinforcements he requested. Not all of these reinforcements have arrived. And as General Petraeus has said, it will be at least the end of summer before we can assess the impact of this operation. Congress ought to give General Petraeus' plan a chance to work.
In the months since our military has been implementing this plan, we've begun to see some important results. For example, Iraqi and coalition forces have closed down an al Qaeda car bomb network, they've captured a Shia militia leader implicated in the kidnapping and killing of American soldiers, they've broken up a death squad that had terrorized hundreds of residents in a Baghdad neighborhood.
Last week, General Petraeus was in Washington to brief me, and he briefed members of Congress on how the operation is unfolding. He noted that one of the most important indicators of progress is the level of sectarian violence in Baghdad. And he reported that since January, the number of sectarian murders has dropped substantially.
Even as sectarian attacks have declined, we continue to see spectacular suicide attacks that have caused great suffering. These attacks are largely the work of al Qaeda — the enemy that everyone agrees we should be fighting. The objective of these al Qaeda attacks is to subvert our efforts by reigniting the sectarian violence in Baghdad — and breaking support for the war here at home. In Washington last week, General Petraeus explained it this way: "Iraq is, in fact, the central front of all al Qaeda's global campaign."
Al Qaeda — al Qaeda's role makes the conflict in Iraq far more complex than a simple fight between Iraqis. It's true that not everyone taking innocent life in Iraq wants to attack America here at home. But many do. Many also belong to the same terrorist network that attacked us on September 11th, 2001 — and wants to attack us here at home again. We saw the death and destruction al Qaeda inflicted on our people when they were permitted a safe haven in Afghanistan. For the security of the American people, we must not allow al Qaeda to establish a new safe haven in Iraq.
We need to give our troops all the equipment and the training and protection they need to prevail. That means that Congress needs to pass an emergency war spending bill quickly. I've invited leaders of both parties to come to the White House tomorrow — and to discuss how we can get these vital funds to our troops. I am confident that with goodwill on both sides, we can agree on a bill that gets our troops the money and flexibility they need as soon as possible.
The need to act is urgent. Without a war funding bill, the military has to take money from some other account or training program so the troops in combat have what they need. Without a war funding bill, the Armed Forces will have to consider cutting back on buying new equipment or repairing existing equipment. Without a war funding bill, we add to the uncertainty felt by our military families. Our troops and their families deserve better — and their elected leaders can do better.
Here in Washington, we have our differences on the way forward in Iraq, and we will debate them openly. Yet whatever our differences, surely we can agree that our troops are worthy of this funding — and that we have a responsibility to get it to them without further delay.
Thank you for listening. May God bless our troops.