May 3, 2011

"Enhanced Interrogations," Waterboarding, and Killing Osama bin Laden

Many Democrats and most liberals have been of two minds with regard to "enhanced interrogations," waterboarding, and the like. Immediately after 9-11 they were all for them. They wanted to show that they, too, were tough on terrorism and threats to the United States.

But the years went by, no more attacks took place, and President Bush's popularity waned, and Democrats had a change of heart. Suddenly it was outrageous that we would "torture" "detainees." Why, Bush and his administration ought to be investigated, and individuals prosecuted if necessary.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi even got into the act, going so far as to claim that she had never been told or approved of waterboarding or "enhanced interrogations." Unfortunately for her, evidence quickly surfaced that proved she was a liar. See previous posts

House Democrats Undermine Their Own at the CIA - July 10, 2009
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - April 24, 2009
Pelosi Knew About the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques - May 10, 2009
Hoist By Her Own Petard - May 14, 2009

But enough fun with history, let's get on with the topic of the day, which is how the use of these techniques eventually led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Breaking Down KSM
National Review
May 3, 2011 9:53 A.M.
By Shannen Coffin

Some reports now claim that KSM gave up the information that led eventually -- and with a lot more legwork -- to the identification of bin Laden's courier though more conventional means of interrogation, not as the direct result of enhanced interrogation techniques. Commenters below claim that this somehow undermines the argument that enhanced interrogation played some role in the eventual identification of bin Laden's compound and his subsequent demise. But this argument is specious. When KSM was captured, he was resistant to any form of interrogation, conventional or otherwise. As our colleague Marc Thiessen learned in writing Courting Disaster, KSM's resistance was "superhuman." It was only after being subjected to waterboarding and other enhanced measures that he became compliant, and from that point forward, cooperated with more conventional techniques. As one of the CIA interrogators told Marc, "If we had not had these techniques, we would have gotten zero from him." So enhanced interrogation methods played an integral role in all of the intelligence collected from him.

As I've said before, I still think the debate over the legality and morality of these measures is the subject of fair debate. Marc makes a compelling case in his book, but I respect those who articulate principled opposition. But the question of effectiveness has been answered, if these reports are correct. (Yes, I recognize these are anonymous sources, but this administration has every reason to deny the effectiveness of these interrogation methods, given the president's firm position against them.) Critics are simply denying the obvious when they claim that the facts as reported render ambiguous claims of effectiveness.

And

Viva Guantanamo
The much-maligned interrogators helped dispatch bin Laden.
The Wall Street Journal
May 2, 2011
by James Taranto

Osama bin Laden never made it to Guantanamo Bay, but his arrival in hell appears to have been hastened by information gathered from the terrorists who are detained there. The Associated Press has the story:

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden's most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

A senior administration official told a White House briefing that "for years, we were unable to identify [the courier's] true name or his location":

Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can't go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. Still we were unable to pinpoint exactly where they lived, due to extensive operational security on their part. The fact that they were being so careful reinforced our belief that we were on the right track.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 2, 2011

Bin Laden is Dead! It's a Good Day for America, A Good Day for Islam, and a Good Day for the World

As readers of this blog have realized, my life has become too busy for regular posts. As such this post will be mostly quotes from other writers as I'm too tired and don't have enough time to write a lot of original stuff myself. This will not change anytime soon, but this is an occasion not to be missed!

It is right and fitting that it happened the way it did; a team of Navy Seals swooping down in helicopters, storming his compound, and shooting Osama bin Laden and his cohorts to death. Much better that it happened this way than for him to have died of kidney failure or some such.

Message to Osama bin Laden and enemies of the United States everywhere; you can run but you can't hide. And don't think that we'll have forgotten after ten or more years. We will get you no matter how remote an outpost you try to make your home.

My hat is off to the Navy Seals, to everyone in the intelligence community who worked so long and hard to find and conform bin Laden's location, to Presidents Bush and Obama for persevering, and for President Obama for giving the order to strike, knowing what a failed mission did to President Carter thirty-odd years ago.

A few details of the operation have come to light. This compiled by Daniel Foster at NRO:

U.S. Joint Special Operations Command Special Mission Unit (SMU) from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU -- formerly known as Seal Team Six) did the shooting. There were other JSOC spotters on the ground, as well as two special operations helicopters and an unmanned drone overhead.

One of the special-ops helicopters reportedly suffered mechanical difficulties and crash landed onsite. It was destroyed by U.S. forces.

Bin Laden was killed along with two al Qaeda couriers and one of Bin Laden's adult sons. A woman who was used as a human shield by one of the couriers was also reportedly killed. Several other women were wounded and are reportedly receiving treatment.

The compound was located in an affluent suburb 35 kilometers north of Islamabad and is being described as huge, with a central building many times larger than other houses in the area and ringed by a 12-15-foot tall security wall. The compound reportedly had no incoming or outgoing electronic communications.

UPDATE: The compound has already been mapped on Google. It's just north of a children's hospital and in spitting distance from the police station.

And according to one commenter, it's also only one mile south-southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy. Sigh. We always knew an element within the Pakistani military/intelligence services was sympathetic to him.

How did we find out where bin Laden was living? Why, those terrible "enhanced interrogation techniques" that the left was so outraged about. The story from Fox News:

Years of intelligence gathering, including details gleaned from controversial interrogations of Al Qaeda members during the Bush administration, ultimately led the Navy SEALs who killed Usama bin Laden to his compound in Pakistan.

The initial threads of intelligence began surfacing in 2003 and came in the form of information about a trusted bin Laden courier, a senior U.S. official told Fox News on condition of anonymity. Bin Laden had cut off all traditional lines of communication with his network by this time because the Al Qaeda leader knew the U.S. intelligence community was monitoring him. It was said that he also didn't even trust his most loyal men to know his whereabouts and instead communicated only through couriers.

But it was four years later, in 2007, that terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay military prison started giving up information about the key courier.

Around this time, the use of enhanced interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, were being denounced as torture by critics of the Bush administration. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney came under intense pressure for supporting rough treatment of prisoners. Critics claimed that any information given under duress simply couldn't be trusted.

It is an argument that Bush and Cheney strongly rejected then, and now.

Yup. I'm not surprised. Obviously we need the strictest controls on these things but yes in the end I say waterboard the terrorists and subject them to enhanced interrogations if that's what it takes to get info we need out of them.

Here's the video and text of President Obama making the announcement:

...And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
...
Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must -- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Yes lots of "I" "me" all that, Obama consumed with himself, no credit to Bush... but what do we expect. Otherwise I'm not going to be so picky on that.

Here are some wise words from Andy McCarthy on NRO:

A recurring question I'm getting today is whether Osama's demise equals Obama's political coup. Duh. Of course the president will get a bump in the polls, and he will deserve it. It will also be very short-lived.

In terms of a presidential election cycle, bin Laden has been killed at a time roughly similar to the point in the '92 cycle when President George H.W. Bush won the Gulf War. (I realize there are a couple of months' difference, but that's immaterial.) The victory gave Bush approval ratings that brushed 90 percent -- i.e., significantly higher than President Obama's are today. Just as now, it was unclear which member of the opposition party would run against Bush (unlike the case with Obama, Bush's sky-rocketing polls actually convinced big-name Dems not to make the race). Bush seemed like a shoo-in -- which Obama does not. But the election turned out to be about the economy . . . which was a dream economy compared to the one we're in.

President Obama deserves kudos for the vigor with which he has attacked al Qaeda leaders and cells in Pakistan. As I argued during the campaign, his position on the need to do this was far better than that of Sen. McCain -- who regarded Pakistan as a valuable ally and portrayed Obama as reckless for threatening to conduct attacks there. Obama is also to be applauded for authorizing yesterday's daring mission. President Carter's failed mission to rescue the hostages in Iran is testament to how much can go wrong and how politically devastating it can be when such a mission fails. And all you need to do is read the pertinent section of the 9/11 Commission report about President Clinton's failure to give clear authorization to kill bin Laden when we had several chances to do so in 1998-99 -- i.e., before bin Laden bombed the Cole bombing and ordered 9/11. That it would have been irresponsible to pass up this latest chance to rid the world of this menace does not mean acting responsibly was without risk for Obama. We should commend him for pulling the trigger.

Still, the operation cannot but underscore the mind-bending inconsistencies in Obama's counterterrorism -- gold-plated due process for some 9/11 terrorists but assassination for others; the haste to close Gitmo even as it continues to serve valuable security purposes; the paralysis of interrogation policies that (as Shannen, Steve, and others point out) were key to obtaining intelligence that not only thwarts attacks but enabled us to find bin Laden; the crackdown against al Qaeda while engaging the Muslim Brotherhood despite its sustenance of Hamas; the avowed commitment to fight terrorism while demonstrating indifference to the promotion of terrorism by Iran, Syria, and other rogue regimes; rhetorically lashing out at the Taliban (as Obama did in yesterday's speech) while seeking a negotiated settlement with the Taliban; and so on.

Obama rarely talks about the war -- indeed, he resists referring to war as "war." This, coupled with his paradoxical approach to it, will limit the political benefit he derives from positive developments in the war, including one as extremely positive as taking out bin Laden. Meanwhile, the urgency of debt, unemployment, and climbing consumer prices will very quickly divert the public's attention from bin Laden. The 2012 election will probably not be any more influenced by yesterday's successful operation than the 1992 election was by victory in the Gulf War.

We ought to take this very good news for what it is -- very good news. Despite the irritating self-absorption of last night's speech that Mark aptly describes, we should praise the president and, especially, our peerless military forces for a job well done. And we should forget about the politics of this. Whatever bump Obama gets will be about as enduring as tomorrow's trip to the station to fill 'er up with $5/gallon gas.

Finally, Victor Davis Hanson wonders about how valuable an "ally" Pakistan really is:

So did we operate with or without Pakistan's help? If the latter, and if it is proven that OBL was hiding in plain sight, I think it could be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back of this Orwellian partnership with Pakistan -- despite the PR to come that we owe, are in debt to, etc. to Pakistan. We will need some honest talk for a change about exactly what is going on. Or is it more likely that we confronted the Pakistanis with the intelligence and they red-faced joined us at the 11th hour?

Finally, this comes at a fortunate time. No one is talking of victory any more in Afghanistan; we seem confused in Libya, so the death of bin Laden reminds us that the U.S. can still take the war to the enemy in his own backyard, and act with confidence and audacity rather than "leading from behind." Let us hope that Dr. Zawahiri is next -- though the al Qaeda generation of 2001 seems almost enfeebled now, and are nearly all scattered, killed, or captured.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 17, 2010

Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 5 - Shariah's Security-Relevant Attributes

This is the fifth in a series of posts summarizing the findings in Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well. Links to parts 1 - 4 are at the bottom of this post.

Before we get going with part 5, let's review the definition of shariah from the report:

Translated as "the path," shariah is a comprehensive legal and political framework. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of shariah as a "religious" code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere - economic, social, military, legal and political.

Let's also deal with the objection that "very few Muslims are radicals"

Too many Muslims, to borrow a metaphor from Mao, provide the sea in which the jihadis swim. By offering little meaningful opposition to the jihadist agenda and by meekly submitting to it, a large number of Muslim communities and nations generally project a tacit agreement with jihadis' ends, if not with their means. At the very least, they exhibit an unwillingness to face the consequences of standing up to shariah's enforcers within Islam. Such consequences include the distinct possibility of being denounced as an apostate, a capital offense under shariah.

Part 5: Shariah's Security-Relevant Attributes

It is important to note that Shariah, then, is not just a code for daily living, but includes instructions on how to deal with non-believers, or infidels. More specifically, on how to subvert their societies.

Treaties and Truces

If they were strong enough, the instructions of Allah are to destroy the countries of the non-believers by violent jihad. But Muhammed was realistic enough to know that was not always possible because at times Muslims would be weaker than the non-believers. As such, shariah contains specific rules for how to achieve their goals when they are militarily weaker. They are instructed to refrain from violent attack during this time, as doing so would be counterproductive. This is called "transgressing the limits," which comes from Quranic verse Q 2:190 "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors."

In face, Osama bin Laden was criticized by some jihadists after his 9-11 attack not because they disagreed with his objective but because they thought the time was premature. Specifically, they were afraid that the American reaction would set their cause back. From the report:

It is important for national security leadership to pay attention when prominent Islamic entities or individuals, especially Salafis, appear to condemn the killing of non-Muslims in non-Muslim lands to determine whether the condemnation was made in an unqualified and outright manner or whether it was in some way associated with downstream acts that merely caused "mischief" to be brought down upon Muslim lands.

In other words, often when Muslims condemn terror they are not condemning it as such, but are rather upset that we would see the light and react in a manner that would hurt the cause of Islam.

As such, the shariah instructs Muslims to strategically use treaties and truces when they are weak to gain time and to lul their enemies into a false sense of complacency.

The report cites an example of just this from recent history:

Yasser Arafat's repeated references to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah following his signature of the Oslo Accords in 1993 on behalf of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is a good example in modern times of Muslim awareness of the Quranic position on entering into truces with the enemy. Arafat was careful to reassure his followers (in Arabic) that his commitment at Camp David was nothing more than a temporary hiatus in jihad (a hudna) at a time of PLO weakness vis-à-vis the Israelis - and entirely in keeping with shariah. Similarly, in 2006, the leadership of Hamas offered Israel a ten-year truce to break the deadlock over its refusal to recognize the Jewish State. At the time, few in the West seemed to realize that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was in perfect accord with the example of Mohammed and would predictably break any such hudna the moment it proved advantageous for the Muslim side to do so.

Sacred Space

The concept of "sacred space" in Islam is pretty simple; lands that Islam once ruled, no matter for how brief a period of time, are permanently Islamic and must never be given up. Thus, the fact that the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) was ruled by Muslims from (roughly) the 8th century to the 15th centuries means that the peninsula still rightfully belongs to Muslims today. Ditto with Chechnya, the entire Indian subcontinent, and, of course, modern Israel.

Stated another way; "what we once ruled is ours, and what you ruled in history we'll also take from you." You don't have to be a security genius to see the implications of this.

To declare their victory, and to make them symbolically important, Muslims immediately construct a Mosque in areas they have conquered, preferably on top of the religious buildings of those they have conquered.

Examples of this practice include:the great Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul (formerly the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Constantinople); the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock Mosque, both built on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, directly above the remnants of the Jewish Second Temple; and the Cordoba mosque complex - the third largest in the world - which transformed a Christian cathedral in the capital city of the Moorish kingdom. The city was conquered in the 8th Century and was the headquarters of what came to be known as the "Cordoba Caliphate" for the next 500 years.

Most recently, plans were announced to construct a $100 million, 13-story Islamic center and mega-mosque complex two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City, the site of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in jihadi attacks on September 11, 2001. The name of the organization leading the Ground Zero mosque project is likewise revealing of Islamic traditions: it is called the "Cordoba Initiative."

Apostasy

The rule in shariah for anyone who leaves the faith is pretty simple; they are to be killed. There are no "other interpretations" or wiggle room.

Where is gets tricky is when when one person or group interprets the faith in a way that is different than another group. How much do they have to stray before they become apostates (heretics)?

In the final analysis, defining elements of shariah are intolerant of any deviation. There is freedom of belief in Islam only to the extent that matters of individual conscience do not threaten the ummah, whose cohesion and public appearance of rigid compliance with shariah is paramount and takes precedence over any individual's personal preferences.

This is what allows the radicals to kill other Muslims that do not share their worldview.

Permissible Lying

While Muslims are generally( there are exceptions) forbidden to lie to or deceive other Muslims, the same rules do not apply when dealing with unbelievers:

It is imperative that national security professionals with responsibility for defending the U.S. Constitution from encroachment by shariah understand that, under Islamic law, lying is not only permissible, but obligatory for Muslims in some situations. This complicates efforts to understand the true nature of the threat - and to have confidence in those Muslims at home and abroad with whom the government hopes to make common cause in countering that threat.

Muslims, then, are allowed to lie and deceive unbelievers when they are are in situations where they must live under their rule and cannot achieve their goals through violent jihad.

All of this reminds me of what Lenin said about the difference between bourgeois and communist morality:

We say that our morality is entirely subordinated to the interests of the proletariat's class struggle. Our morality stems from the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat.

In other words, something is moral if it advances the revolution; it is immoral if it does not.

Taqiyya

Taqiyya is closely related to the concept of permissible lying discussed above. From the report

...taqiyya, which is generally described as lying for the sake of Islam. Taqiyya is a concept in Islamic law that translates as "deceit or dissimulation," particularly towards infidels. It is based on Quran 3:28 and 16:106 as well as hadiths, tafsir literature, and judicial commentaries that permit and encourage precautionar dissimulation as a means for hiding true faith in times of persecution or deception when penetrating the enemy camp.

The difference, if I have it right, between permissible lying and taqiyya is the dual messaging of the latter. A Muslim practicing taqiyya says one thing to unbelievers about a particular subject and another to Muslims on the same subject.

So that when talking about peace between Palestinians and Israelis, Yassir Arafat was all peace, love, and understanding when talking to the Western press. He also spoke to them in English. But when they were gone, he would speak words of fire and brimstone to his fellow Muslims. And he would speak to them in Arabic. Specifically, he would talk in English to Westerners about how he wanted peace with the Israelis, then in Arabic to Muslims he would say that he wanted nothing less than the destruction of Israel.

This practice extends to explaining the nature of Islam as well:

...what Muslim audiences are required to know about Islam is not the same thing as what non-Muslim Western audiences are allowed to know - or encouraged to think - by Islamic authorities. Taqiyya provides the legal basis under shariah for this sort of deceptive dual messaging.

Slander

The Western concept of slander and libel is pretty straightforward; saying or writing false things about someone. They have quite a different meaning under Islam.

In Islam, "Slander (ghiba) means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike." With "that person" being a Muslim.

So that when Muslims accuse others of slandering their religion, they are not saying that they are speaking falsehoods, but rather that they are saying things Muslims just don't like. And they don't like them not because they are false but because they are uncomfortable truths that reveal the true nature of Islam and the goals of the jihad.

Therefore

...it is easy to understand how self-identified "moderate" Muslims can insist that acts of terrorism undertaken by "extremists" had nothing to do with Islam - even in cases where the perpetrators and their supporters explicitly claim Islam as the motivation, often on television broadcasts receiving rapturous applause from other Muslims.

... because the acts of terror make Islam look bad.

Blasphemy

In Islam, it is impermissible for unbelievers to say anything that insults their religion. The Western concept of "free speech" is simply not part of their worldview.

The first and most obvious implication is that directly poking fun at Muhammed or any part of Islam is forbidden. We've all seen a zillion examples of Muslims around the world reacting violently to even the slightest perceived insult. And the reaction of all too many Westerners is to self-censor.

But beyond direct insults is that unbelievers are forbidden to explain the truth about sharia and jihad. It is one thing when newspaper editors refuse to carry stories or editorials critical of Islam, quite another when a government cannot bring itself to accurately describe the ideology of those behind acts of terror.

Such policies are systematically corroding the U.S. government's situational awareness by effectively imposing, via explicit or implicit gag orders, a system of self-censorship. The practical effect is that the truth about shariah and its adherents is suppressed, as is informed deliberation about appropriate responses to the threats it poses. This amounts to a collective act of submission to shariah by the national leadership of the U.S. that emboldens our enemies even as it disables our defenses against them.


Next Up: The Muslim Brotherhood: The Threat Doctrine Operationalized

Previous

Shariah: The Threat to America

IPart 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - Key Findings

Part 3 - The Threat Posed by Shariah

Part 4 - Shariah and Jihad

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November 18, 2010

The Trial of Ahmed Ghailani: The Obama Administration's "Oops" Moment

Guantanamo Bay detainee - read "terrorist" - Ahmed Ghailani was found not guilty of 284 counts and guilty on only one. This after a trial by jury in civilian court.

A Washington Post story tells the tale:

Terror detainee largely acquitted
By Peter Finn
Thursday, November 18, 2010

The first former Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in federal criminal court was found guilty on a single conspiracy charge Wednesday but cleared on 284 other counts. The outcome, a surprise, seriously undermines - and could doom - the Obama administration's plans to put other Guantanamo detainees on trial in U.S. civilian courts.

After deliberating for five days, a jury of six men and six women found Ahmed Ghailani, 36, guilty of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property but acquitted him of multiple murder and attempted-murder charges for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.

The Obama administration had hoped that a conviction on most, if not all, of the charges would help clear the way for federal prosecutions of other Guantanamo detainees - including Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

oops.

This is what happens, folks, when you elect a community activist as president on the basis of "hope and change."

Let's not have an naive talk, either, about how Ghailani is still probably going to jail for the rest of his life so the verdicts don't matter. This will be seen int the Islamic world as a terrible humiliation of the United States and a sign from Allah that he is on their side.

Too bad the judge in this case doesn't understand that we're in a War of Ideas with the radical Islamists:

"You deserve a lot of credit," U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan told the jurors after the verdicts were announced. "You have demonstrated also that American justice can be delivered calmly, deliberately and fairly, by ordinary people - people who are not beholden to any government, including this one."

Can someone really be so stupid? Can anyone actually believe that Muslims around the world are applauding American justice? Put another way, can anyone actually believe they're not rolling on the ground laughing at what idiots we are and how we're ripe for the picking?

via Belmont Club, Jack Smith of the New York Times has the right solution:

The real lesson of the ruling, however, is that prosecution in either criminal court or a tribunal is the wrong approach. The administration should instead embrace what has been the main mechanism for terrorist incapacitation since 9/11: military detention without charge or trial.

Military detention was once legally controversial but now is not. District and appellate judges have repeatedly ruled -- most recently on Thursday -- that Congress, in its September 2001 authorization of force, empowered the president to detain members of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces until the end of the military conflict.

Former assistant U.S. attorney Andy McCarthy has more along these lines.

So what is the administration to do? During the campaign and after, Obama trashed the military tribunals set up during the Bush Administration. His anti-war base will not let him go back on that. But he also cannot proceed with civilian trials. He can't risk having the next Ghailani being found not guilty on all charges. Given that no less a liberal than Senator Chuck Schumer opposes a New York trial for 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (not to mention almost all other New York politicians, Republican or Democrat), it's hard to see that happening too.

The bottom line is that the administration has painted itself into a corner. The political side of me will enjoy watching them squirm, but the patriot in me is saddened for our country.

Saturday Update

It has some to my attention that some on the left are saying that... it's all Bush's fault!

The prosecution was handicapped in the trial when Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to let it's star witness, Hussein Abebe, testify. Adebe is a Tanzanian who sold the dynamite to Ghailani that he used to blow up the U.S. embassy in that country in 1998. The issue is that the government found out about Abebe from Ghailani himself while the latter was undergoing "enhanced interrogation" techniques. All of which occurred during the administration of George W. Bush. These techniques violated Ghailani's constitutional rights, thus anything found out during these techniques was inadmissible in court.

The left is spinning these enhanced interrogation techniques as "torture," which is utter balderdash.

Andy McCarthy explains that no, coercion is not torture:

Commentators are saying that the witness was barred and the confessions were not introduced because Ghailani was "tortured."

This is not true. It is also a slanderous allegation, and I'm surprised to hear normally careful people throw it around so casually. Torture is a crime with a specific definition in law, involving the infliction of severe pain and suffering. We don't know exactly what was done to Ghailani, but we have heard he wasn't waterboarded. Waterboarding was the tactic closest to torture, and it was used on three detainees by the CIA. But under their fastidious guidelines, it clearly did not meet the legal test for torture. That's undoubtedly why the Obama Justice Department has never prosecuted anyone over it, despite ceremoniously reopening torture investigations against the CIA. In any event, while we can stipulate that Ghailani was made very uncomfortable, there is no colorable evidence that he was "tortured" in the legal sense of that term.

Sunday Update

Another point that I forgot to make in my original post: Attorney General Eric Holder said before the trail that we were not going to set Ghailani free even if he was acquitted on all of the charges. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on November 18, 2009 Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Holder the relevant question:

"[Y]ou're not suggesting if, by some one-in-a-million fluke, one of these defendants were acquitted or given a short sentence, that they would be released anywhere, are you?" Graham asked.

"No," Holder responded. And the attorney general explained: "I certainly think that under the regime that we are contemplating, the potential for detaining people under the laws of war, we would retain that ability."

In other words, even if acquitted on all charges we weren't going to let him go anyway. So the entire trial was a sham. A "show trial."

You'd think the left would be outraged.


Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2010

Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 4 - Shariah and Jihad

This is the fourth in a series of posts summarizing the findings in Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well. Go to the bottom of this post for links to the first three parts.

Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, a church I had gone to in the past hosted a talk by a Muslim man and wife in which they were going to explain Islam to interested congregants. Being interested, I went. Among the other things they said was that in the modern world "jihad" had nothing to do with violence or warfare. These things were all in the past. Today, they said, jihad was a "peaceful inner struggle" that Muslims went through so as to purify themselves before God. Even my knowledge of the subject was sketchy, it seemed like fairly obvious that they were not presenting the whole truth.

And indeed my later investigations have shown that they were not. See "Islam," "Jihadism and the War of Ideas" under Categories at right.

With that in mind, in this part we will examine the relationship of Shariah and Jihadism as reported by the authors of t he report.

Shariah and Jihad

So what does "jihad" mean? In order to answer that question, the authors delve into the Quran, Hadith, and other Islamic texts. They stress that quoting individual verses is not useful unless context is provided. That is true of the Bible, so it makes sense that it's true for other religious texts as well. More importantly, perhaps, more contemporary Islamic scholars are quoted. It matters less what Mohammed meant at the time than what current Muslims think he meant.

After reviewing the Quran, the authors conclude that

In the Quran and in later Muslim usage, the word jihad is commonly followed by the expression fi sabil Allah, "in the path of Allah."97 By describing the warfare of jihad as something sanctioned by Allah himself, Islamic authorities set it apart from the common tribal warfare of the time and elevated it to a superior status as something sacred.

The hadith consists of the "words and deeds" of Mohammed as recorded by various Muslims at the ime he was alive. Their conclusion there is pretty straightforward too:

The hadiths are the second source of shariah. Throughout those hadiths considered authoritative, jihad means warfare.

As mentioned above, it's perhaps less important to consider what the Quran and Hadith say in some isolated intellectual sense than it is what modern-day Muslim thinkers say they meant. And among them there is no more important than the chief theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb (1906 - 1966). From his most influential book, Milestones:

The reasons for Jihad which have been described in...verses [from cited sacred texts] are these: to establish God's authority in the earth; to arrange human affairs according to the true guidance provided by God; to abolish all the Satanic forces and Satanic systems of life; to end the lordship of one man over others since all men are creatures of God and no one has the authority to make them his servants or to make arbitrary laws for them. These reasons are sufficient for proclaiming Jihad.

By "Satanic systems of life," Qutb meant Western culture. The "the lordship of
one man over others" means democracy, whereby we elect one person(s) to rule over others. to Qutb, only God can rule.

The theological underpinnings of jihad are somewhat different for Sunnis and Shias, but in the end it all comes out the same; jihad is violence against non-Muslims.

The authors "bottom line" conclusion?

There is no basis in doctrinal Islam for concluding that jihad means anything other than waging holy war for the implementation of shariah and the establishment of the caliphate throughout the world. Indeed, a scholarly consensus on the definition of jihad was achieved over a thousand years ago - because it was impossible not to have consensus on the question: Allah commanded it and Mohammed confirmed it. In both direct and indirect divine revelation, the meaning of jihad as holy war was made clear.

Finally, jihad is generally not obligatory for individual Muslims, but is only a "collective" one. It only becomes obligatory when "Muslim lands" are invaded. Of course, clever people can make just about any situation look like an invasion, and thus claim that jihad is not obligatory.

Stealth or Civilizational Jihad

As discussed in previous segments, jihad need not be violent. There is also a non-violent form of jihad in which they try to undermine Western societies from within. The Muslim Brotherhood calls this a "civilizational jihad," and author Robert Spencer deems it a "stealth jihad."

Because it is not violent, the civilizational jihad often gets a pass, especially from Western liberals. However, it's goal is the same as the terrorists practicing the violent form of jihad; reestablishment of a world-wide caliphate and subjugation of the world to shariah law.

Since we are most attuned to violent jihad, and because the non-violent type so often is excused, it is this form that is the most dangerous, and which will be discussed in more detail in in the report.

Next: Shariah's security-relevant attributes

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Shariah: The Threat to America

An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II

Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - Key Findings

Part 3 - The Threat Posed by Shariah

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October 9, 2010

Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 3 - The Threat Posed by Shariah

In the first two installments of this series I introduced and summarized the key findings of the recently released Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.

Shariah is a totalitarian system of laws that is antithetical to everything we in the West hold dear. Shariah cannot be reconciled with the freedoms and liberties, or our democratic (and republican, if you want to get technical) system of government that we have fought so hard and for so long to achieve.

Yet Shariah is being introduced into the West, slowly but surely. Amazingly, it is the political left, the liberals, who acquiesce in it's introduction. The claim is made that shariah is misunderstood, that it's simply the Muslim version of the early books of the Bible (Deuteronomy and Leviticus are usually cited) and therefore no different, or who are we to impose our values on them, or some such.

In reality Shariah is a huge threat to the West, and in the above mentioned report the authors tell us why.

What is Shariah?

The Arabic word "shariah," according to one modern English- language student textbook on Islam, "literally means a straight path (Quran 45:18) or an endless supply of water. It is the term used to describe the rules of the lifestyle (Deen) ordained for us by Allah. In more practical terms, shariah includes all the do's and dont's of Islam."

In other words, shariah is held by mainstream Islamic authorities - not to be confused with "radical," "extremist" or "political" elements said to operate at the fringes of Islam - to be the perfect expression of divine will and justice and thus is the supreme law that must comprehensively govern all aspects of Muslims' lives, irrespective of when or where they live. Shariah is characterized as a "complete way of life" (social, cultural, military, religious, and political), governed from cradle to grave by Islamic law.

It is certainly true that many Muslims ignore shariah, this does not change the facts about shariah. More, those who say there are multiple ways or practicing shariah or that there are different types of shariah are simply wrong.

Abrogation

The report discusses at some length the Koran, how the books within it are organized, and some concepts like abrogation whereby later passages annul earlier ones. The way abrogation plays out, for example, is that the earlier, "peace love and understanding" verses are annulled by the later violent "kill the infidels" ones. Long story short,

In practice, Quranic abrogation results in a known doctrinal footprint that subordinates the milder, more moderate verses of the Quran from the Meccan period of revelation, to the later and violent verses of the Medina period.
The Application of Shariah

How comprehensive is shariah?

Shariah contains categories and subjects of Islamic law called the branches of fiqh (literally, "understanding"). They include Islamic worship, family relations, inheritance, commerce, property law, civil (tort) law, criminal law, administration, taxation, constitution, international relations, war and ethics, and other categories.

That would include just about everything, then.

The authors survey a number of so-called "moderate," non-radicalized Islamic scholars, all of whom conclude that democracy is incompatible with Islam. The authors put it plainly; "Shariah is wholly at odds with U.S. national sovereignty, the U.S. Constitution, and the liberties it guarantees."

Yup. Now we just have to get more Americans to recognize that.

Next: Shariah and Jihad

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Shariah: The Threat to America

An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II

Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - Key Findings

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October 7, 2010

Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 2 - Key Findings

Yesterday I introduced the recently released Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.

Today we'll take a look at some of the key findings in the report.

What about the moderates?

We constantly hear that "90 percent of Muslims are moderates" and so the threat is being overblown. The authors knock that one down easily:

Too many Muslims, to borrow a metaphor from Mao, provide the sea in which the jihadis swim. By offering little meaningful opposition to the jihadist agenda and by meekly submitting to it, a large number of Muslim communities and nations generally project a tacit agreement with jihadis' ends, if not with their means. At the very least, they exhibit an unwillingness to face the consequences of standing up to shariah's enforcers within Islam. Such consequences include the distinct possibility of being denounced as an apostate, a capital offense under shariah.

Even in cases where the "offense" doesn't merit death, there's simple social ostracization. No one likes to be an outcast.

Violent v Peaceful Jihad

One of the problems we face is that officialdom and the liberal elite have cast the problem as being just violent terrorists, and in some cases, just al Qaeda. The authors warn that the danger is just as great with the peaceful jihadists:

The first thing to understand about the jihadis who operate by stealth is that they have precisely the same dual objectives as the openly violent jihadists (including al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban): global imposition of shariah and reestablishment of the Islamic caliphate to rule in accordance with it. They differ only with respect to timing and tactics.

And indeed even this "peaceful" phase is only tactical; if they could take power violently now they would. More, they only reason they are peaceful is that they do not yet have the ability to take power violently, but when they do they will.

The Organization that is the Biggest Threat

It's not al Qaeda. Sure, they would explode a nuclear weapon in New York City if they could, but I think that danger is somewhat remote. More, it's one that most Americans recognize as a danger so we give our government the tools to deal with it.

No, the biggest danger is the Muslim Brotherhood

The most important entity promoting Islamic supremacism, shariah, and the caliphate through - at least for the moment - non-violent means is the Muslim Brotherhood (MB, or in Arabic, the Ikhwan). The MB defined this form of warfare as "civilization jihad" in its strategic document for North America, entitled the Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group, which was entered into evidence in the 2008 United States v. Holy Land Foundation trial. ...

Specifically, the document explained that the civilization jihadist process involves a "grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that
it is eliminated....

Here is why it is the biggest danger

1. It operates mostly peacefully, and we are mostly on the lookout for violent terrorists
2. It is huge, with hundreds of thousands or millions of members
3. It operates through hundreds or thousands of front groups
4. It's stated goal is the restoration of the caliphate and the imposition of Shariah on the world, including Europe and the United States.
5. It is extremely good at infiltrating "ememy" organizations and governments. The authors spell it out:

Muslim Brotherhood organizations conduct outreach to the government, law enforcement, media, religious community, and others for one reason: to subvert them in furtherance of their objective, which is implementation of Islamic law.

The Muslim Brotherhood(MB), then, is the foremost organization pushing the "civizational jihad" against the West. They are the tip of the spear of the modern jihad, and aim to take us down.

As will be made clear in future posts, the Brotherhood has infiltrated most mosques and Muslim organizations in the United States. They seize control and use them to push their agenda. That they are only peaceful now as a tactic but will turn to violence when the time is right is stated outright in captured MB documents.

Recommendations

First, become educated on the threat; it goes well beyond al Qaeda

Second, stop outreach programs to Muslim Brotherhood front organizations

Three, just as we ban members of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan from government jobs, we should do likewise with appropriate Muslim groups.

Four, prosecute outright sedition.

Five, make sure textbooks and classroom material in Muslim schools does not promote civiliational jihad or hate

Six, allow no shariah-zones or shariah courts in the United States. Nothing in the U.S. must be allowed to become "shariah compliant."

Seven, immigrants to the United States must agree that the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land and not shairiah.

Next: The Threat Posed by Shariah

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Shariah: The Threat to America

An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II

Part 1: Introduction

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October 6, 2010

Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 1 - Introduction

It has long been a theme of mine that while terrorism is certainly a problem, it is not the problem we have with regard to radical Islam. Terrorist attacks can and have hurt us, but as things stand now will not bring us down. This is quite in contrast to the Cold War, whereby a war with the Soviet Union would have devastated at least Europe, perhaps our country as well.

The similarity with the Cold War is that our current conflict is as much ideological as it is military. Walid Phares calls it a "War of Ideas," and he is certainly onto something.

Many will object that "few people actually believe in radical Islam," and we heat things along the lines of "only 10 percent of Muslims are radicals/sympathetic to the radicals," and that "only a miniscule number of Americans/Westerners buy into radical Islam so the danger is overblown."

But history is not made by taking a vote at every important moment. Only 1/3 of the American colonists wanted independence from Great Britain in 1776. The Jacobins were a minority of Frenchmen in 1789, and the Bolsheviks a minority of Russians in 1917. The quota on imported sugar in America today is not there because it has the broad support of Americans but because of the political influence of a small minority of sugar growers in Louisiana. Less than half of Americans even vote in most elections, and the more local the election is the fewer people vote. History and outcomes are made by determined and well-organized minorities.

So it is with radical Islam. It matters not a whit that most Muslims are not radicals. If the average Muslim moderates are not willing to stand up and demand that Muslim Brotherhood influence be purged from Muslim organizations, then the radicals win, no matter how few their numbers. Consider the fate of Molly Norris, the Seattle cartoonist who organized the "Everybody Draw Mohammed" day in 2010 as a protest against censorship. After threats she canceled the contest and apologized. No matter, the threats continued until she has changed her name and gone into hiding on the advice of the FBI. There was and is no support from Muslim groups, or hardly anyone outside of a few conservatives, for that matter, for the concept of free speech.

The danger is rather a sort of "creeping sharia" whereby we suffer the death of a thousand cuts rather than the one by the guillotine. Muslim radicals aim to deceive us as to their true intention, which is to spread their sharia(or "shariah") into the West, replacing our values with their own. In short, their objective is to take us over peacefully over a long period of time, not militarily all at once.

It was bad enough that President Bush called our current conflict a "War on Terror," as if terror was the big problem, but at least he seemed to get the danger from radical Islam. President Obama, obsessed like all liberals with political correctness, misses it entirely. The Administration has banned terms like "Islamic extremism" and "jihad" from national security documents. You can't win a war if you can't even properly identify your enemy.

What needs to be made clear is that while Samuel P. Huntington was certainly correct in that we are in a "Cash of Civilizations", I am most certainly not devolving into a "Christianity good - Islam bad." "Islam" is not evil, and ours is not a theological debate but one of values, or ideas.

Identifying the enemy is just what was done in the recently released Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.

In this series, I will examine the report. Below the fold is my part one.

From the preface of the report:

This study is the result of months of analysis, discussion and drafting by a group of top security policy experts concerned with the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time: the legal-political-military doctrine known within Islam as shariah. It is designed to provide a comprehensive and articulate "second opinion" on the official characterizations and assessments of this threat as put forth by the United States government.

The authors, under the sponsorship of the Center for Security Policy, have modeled this work on an earlier "exercise in competitive analysis" which came to be known as the "Team B" Report. That 1976 document challenged the then-prevailing official U.S. government intelligence ("Team A") estimates of the intentions and offensive capabilities of the Soviet Union and the policy known as détente that such estimates ostensibly justified.

As with all such think-tank reports, this study is based entirely from unclassified sources. Authors include such luminaries as former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Frank Gaffney, former Special Agent, Counter-Terrorism Division, Federal Bureau of
Investigation John Guandolo, Admiral (Ret) James Lyons, and former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey.

From the Introduction

Today, the United States faces what is, if anything, an even more insidious ideological threat: the totalitarian socio-political doctrine that Islam calls shariah. Translated as "the path," shariah is a comprehensive legal and political framework. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of shariah as a "religious" code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere - economic, social, military, legal and political.

Shariah is the crucial fault line of Islam's internecine struggle....

Shariah is not a private matter of personal conscience. It is not a guide to daily living. Nor is is it a matter of debate among Muslims, as far as the radicals or fundamentalists are concerned. All of society and government is to be ordered as per shariah. The U.S. Constitution, and indeed all laws outside of shariah are rendered invalid. Non-Muslims will be allowed to survive if they accept dhimmi status.

As such, Muslims are not to assimilate into the West or adopt our values. There is to be none of the "give and take" of values, language, and culture, that the United States has seen with our successive waves of immigrants. Muslims are to force us to adopt their ways in totality and that is that.

The authors make the point that

...regardless of what percentage of the global Islamic population adheres or otherwise defers to shariah (and some persuasive polling indicates that percentage is high in many Islamic countries1), that segment is punching well above its weight. For that reason, proponents of an expansionist shariah present a serious threat to the United States even if we assume, for argument's sake, that hopeful pundits are correct in claiming that shariah adherent Islam is not the preponderant Muslim ideology.

This said, they also stress the vital necessity of engaging Muslim reformers. We must "do what we can to empower Islam's authentic moderates and reformers." But "that cannot be done by following the failed strategy of fictionalizing the state of Islam in the vain hope that reality will, at some point, catch up to the benign fable."

Indeed. Political correctness is our greatest weakness.

Next: Key Findings

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February 17, 2010

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Captured!

As we've all seen in the news, the tactical leader of the Taliban was captured in Pakistan a few weeks ago. This is very good news. On Monday the New York Times reported that:

The Taliban's top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.

he commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban's founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mullah Baradar has been in Pakistani custody for several days, with American and Pakistani intelligence officials both taking part in interrogations, according to the officials.

Another AP story yesterday indicates that he has, in fact, been talking:

Baradar, who also functioned as the link between Mullah Omar and field commanders, has been in detention for more than 10 days and was talking to interrogators, two Pakistani intelligence officials said Tuesday. One said several other suspects were also captured in the raid. He said Baradar had provided "useful information" to them and that Pakistan had shared it with their U.S. counterparts.

All in all this is very good news in that we have neutralized the top Taliban commander just after the launch of Operation Moshtarak, which I covered on Monday. Their propaganda to the contrary, Taliban and other insurgent leaders must not be happy.

Of course, there's more to it than just this. As always with the Obama Administration, the capture and treatment of Baradar illustrates the contradictions inherent in their policies. The New York Times story quoted above goes on to highlight one of them:

The officials said that Pakistan was leading the interrogation of Mullah Baradar, but that Americans were also involved. The conditions of the questioning are unclear. In its first week in office, the Obama administration banned harsh interrogations like waterboarding by Americans, but the Pakistanis have long been known to subject prisoners to brutal questioning.

Liberals complain to high heaven that Bush "tortured" captured "suspects" but we'll see if they complain about the treatment of Baradar, who I guarantee you was not read his Miranda rights and does not have ACLU lawyers by his side.

Did we deliberatly allow the Pakistani's to capture Baradar, or hand him over to them after we caught him, simply to avoid these legal issues of so much concern to the left? How long will this de facto "rendition" last?

In fact, I would imagine it's pretty clear the Pakistanis are using all sorts of unpleasant methods to get information out of Baradar. In the months and years to come they'll dig strategic information out of him, but in the short term they're looking for tactical details that are actionable on the battlefield.

Further, AG Eric Holder, and by implication President Obama, plan on trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellows in New York City, even though he too was captured in Pakistan in 2003. Of course, as we all know, bringing KSM to New York City was all about appeasing the left wing of the Democrat party and little else.

Conclusion: It's OK if Obama does it, but it was torture and violation of international law when Bush-Cheney did it.

Who is Abdul Ghani Baradar?

In The Taliban Explained I quoted at length a backgrounder report published by Kimberly Kagan's Institute for the Study of War. Read the whole thing, but here is the relevant section

Although Mullah Mohammad Omar remains the figurehead atop the QST (Quetta Shura Taliban) organization, he no longer directs day-to-day operations. His reputation and admiration among rank-and-file Taliban still make him the spiritual leader of the movement,....The QST's day-to-day operations are handled by Omar's top deputy, Mullah Barader (or "Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar")....

Back to Afghanistan

The NYT story makes clear the implications of the capture:

His capture could cripple the Taliban's military operations, at least in the short term, said Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer who last spring led the Obama administration's Afghanistan and Pakistan policy review.

Readers of this website will know that while I lambasted Obama for dithering in making his decision to "surge" troops into Afghanistan, and that I was unhappy that he only gave McChrystal only 30,000 of the 40,000 troops he requested, and that he put a ridiculous timelimit on success, I am generally pleased with his decision. It's certainly better than the alternates he could have chosen.

I'll have more to say about the capture of Baradar and Operation Moshtarak, but I've got to go so for now here is some commentary that I largely agree with.

Cliff May:

The news of his capture in Pakistan is a pretty big deal.

Among the reasons:

Next to Mullah Omar, Mullah Baradar was the biggest fish. It won't be easy to replace him with someone as skilled.

He probably has a lot to tell -- and the Pakistanis will not read him his Miranda rights.

It's significant that the ISI, Pakistani intelligence, decided to cooperate with us and capture him. They've been ambivalent at best about the Afghan Taliban (which they separate from the Pakistani Taliban).

Mullah Baradar may know where Osama bin Laden is or at least have information that could help find him. (I'm assuming the Pakistanis don't know already -- not sure that's true. I don't think Osama is living in a cave. I think he's in a quite comfortable villa.

Also interesting that Baradar was captured in Karachi -- a major Pakistani city (which I visited just a few months ago -- and which is a very dangerous place). But this proves once again that it's not just the wild and wooly tribal areas that are infested with terrorists.

Bill Roggio:

The Afghan Taliban's leadership cadre have long operated from within Pakistan. The Taliban's leadership council, called the Quetta Shura, has operated from the Pakistani city of the same name for years, according to Afghan and US officials.

Last fall, the Quetta Shura, and Mullah Omar himself, were reported to have been relocated to Karachi.

Baradar's arrest, if confirmed, creates problems for the Pakistani government. Numerous Pakistani government, military, and intelligence officials have repeatedly denied the existence of the Quetta Shura and have disputed claims that it had moved to Karachi.

But Baradar's arrest in Karachi would provide the strongest evidence that the Quetta Shura is now in the Pakistani port city.

The Inter-Services Intelligence agency has long been accused of sheltering the Quetta Shura, as it views the Afghan Taliban as its greatest asset in regaining influence in Afghanistan. The terror group would also serve as strategic depth, or a reserve, against India and Indian influence inside Afghanistan.


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February 16, 2010

Obama's Cynical War on Terror

Ever get the impression that our president doesn't have any idea what he's doing in the War on Terror? Victor Davis Hanson summarizes the situation perfectly:

Is there any logic in the confusion of the Obama administration's actions and statements on fighting the war on terror?

On the one hand, we had a two-year campaign (2007-08) of damning the Bush protocols, from renditions and military tribunals to Guantanamo and Predator strikes. Then, the Obama administration unleashed Eric Holder and John Brennan, who in highly partisan fashion attacked the anti-terrorism policies implemented from 2001-08 and reflected the themes voiced by Obama himself in his al-Arabiya interview and Cairo speech, many of which were reified by the Mirandizing of the Christmas Day bomber and the announced civilian trial of KSM in New York.

But all that said, Obama never shut down Guantanamo; has not tried KSM in New York; has kept the wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, and tribunals he once castigated; has escalated the war in Afghanistan; and has kept the status-of-forces agreements that Bush negotiated with the Iraqis -- and Joe Biden now claims that Bush's Iraq agreements were Obama's greatest success!

Most importantly, Obama has vastly increased the Predator assassination missions along the Afghan-Pakistani border. If one were to sort out the politics of all this, one would conclude that Obama's cynical strategy looked something like this:

1) Run against Bush as the candidate of the Democratic party's hard-Left, anti-war, pro-ACLU base.

2) When elected, pacify that same base with soaring multicultural-outreach rhetoric of the Cairo sort and grand gestures, such as promising to close Guantanamo, investigate former CIA interrogators, appoint a Muslim-American liaison to the Islamic world, and end waterboarding.

3) Meanwhile, up the fighting in Afghanistan and the Predator assassination missions to prevent another 9/11-style attack.

Bottom line?

a) Obama really does (privately) believe that radical Islamists wish to kill us, and apparently has decided the only effective means of combating them is to copy the Bush strategy but drop the "smoke 'em out" rhetoric and substitute hope-and-change therapeutic banalities as we blow up suspected killers. The more conservatives rail about the KSM trial, the more Obama gains trust with the Left, and the more he can keep quietly killing suspected terrorists in Waziristan. (Dead men need no Miranda rights.)

b) So at home, Obama's calculation is even more cynical: He assumes that left-wing hatred of Bush's war on terror was never principled, but was always about partisan politics, and that left-wingers were far "angrier" about Bush's waterboarding of three admitted terrorists than they ever will be about Obama's assassinating suspected terrorists along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

c) Conservatives are then supposedly put in a bind: They may be angry that Obama demagogued the issue for two years as a candidate, and they may be upset that he so brazenly reversed course and emulated what he had demonized, and they may be mad about the hypocrisy of the hard Left -- but they are also relieved that Obama is fighting terror and killing terrorists, and might even be impressed that he is doing so as a Nobel Peace laureate immune from the criticism that nearly destroyed Bush, and as someone who quietly executes suspected terrorists by remote control but worries publicly about confessed detainees in Bush's gulag.

I think that sums up the present Obama policy, which is far more cynical than confusing. I have no idea whether it is sustainable.

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January 21, 2010

Marc Thiessen v Christiane Amanpour and Phillippe Sands on CNN

Three days ago I excerpted Marc Thiessen article on National Review in which he summarized part of his new book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack. As expected, the post generated a spirited debate among commenters. A speechwriter for President George W. Bush, to prepare for writing them Thiessen was allowed to speak with two of our top CIA agents who actually conducted interrogations and debriefings (two separate activities) of captured terrorists. Obviously he didn't put the classified information they told him in the speeches, it was rather for background information so he would have an understanding of what we were really doing as opposed to what critics said we were doing.

Unsurprisingly, leftist critics of Bush are aghast that he would dare to write a book defending his administration. Christiane Amanpour had him on her show, and she and Phillippe Sands attacked his positions.

I think that Thiessen made Amanpour look like foolish because she clearly didn't know what she was talking about, and gets the better of Sands on the facts. Both Amanpour and Sands are determined that terrorists should have the protection of the Geneva conventions, which they either do not understand or are misrepresenting (Amanpour probably misunderstands, Sands is probably misrepresenting). See my posts here and here for information on the conventions.

But enough of my opinion. Watch the interview yourself and decide who's right (h/t Powerline)

Part two is below the fold

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January 18, 2010

Sorry Leftists, Our Interrogators Do Not Torture Terrorists

If you are one of those leftists who thinks that our CIA guys do nothing but hook electodes up to innocent Muslim's testicles and howl with delight at the result, the following are excerpts meant to set you straight. If you are one of those people who believes that what you see Jack Bauer do in 24 in any way resembles reality, you've come to the right blog. Not that I expect Michael Moore / Daily Kos types to come around, but here goes anyway:

Meet the Real Jack Bauers
In Courting Disaster, the real CIA interrogators explain why their methods bear no resemblance to what you see on Fox's 24.

By Marc A. Thiessen

his week saw the premiere of a new season of 24, with CTU agent Jack Bauer preparing to leave the world of counterterrorism for a quiet life as a grandfather in Los Angeles. But he is pulled back into the fight to stop the attempted assassination of a Middle Eastern leader in New York. As he questions an informant, he thrusts a gun into the man's neck but then pulls back, telling him, "You're lucky I'm retired." In another time, the man would have suffered far worse.

The public view of interrogations had been shaped by the fictional Bauer, who captures a terrorist and proceeds to torture him -- holding down his head in a bathtub full of water, using a Taser to shock him, lopping off his fingers with a cigar cutter -- while screaming questions until the terrorist finally breaks and gives up the location of the nuclear bomb that is about to go off.
...

Unlike these critics, I have had the chance to actually meet the real Jack Bauers -- the CIA officials who questioned Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other senior terrorist leaders and got them to reveal their plans for new terrorist attacks. They explained to my why their approach has nothing in common with the methods used by Bauer on the fictional 24.

On July 31, 2006, I walked up the winding stairs of the Eisenhower Building to a secure conference room in the offices of the National Security Council's intelligence directorate. I had been assigned to write a speech for President Bush acknowledging the existence of what was then the most highly classified program in the war on terror: the CIA program to detain and question captured terrorists. To write this speech, I was given access to some of the most sensitive intelligence our country possessed on the interrogation of senior al-Qaeda terrorists, as well as to intelligence officers who could explain to me how the program worked and why it had been successful in stopping new terrorist attacks.

Sitting across the table from me were several CIA officials, including two men I will call Harry and Sam (not their real names), I didn't know anything about the individuals before me except that they were with the CIA and knowledgeable about the interrogation program.

As we began our discussion, I told them I believed the key to the success of the speech was to demonstrate the effectiveness of CIA interrogations with real, concrete examples of how the program saved lives. If Americans knew that CIA interrogations were effective, most would have no problem with the techniques the agency had employed. Some might even be shocked at how restrained they had been. Many Americans, I said, imagined that what went on at the CIA "black sites" mirrored what they saw on 24.
...

Most detainees, they told me, did not undergo (interrogation) at all. Two-thirds of those brought into the CIA program did not require the use of any enhanced interrogation techniques. Just the experience of being brought into CIA custody -- the "capture shock," arrival at a sterile location, the isolation, the fact that they did not know where they were, and that no one else knew they were there -- was enough to convince most of them to cooperate.

Others, like KSM, demonstrated extraordinary resistance. But even KSM's interrogation did not take long before he moved into debriefing. He had been captured in early March, they said, and before the end of the month he had already provided information on a plot to fly airplanes into London's Heathrow airport.

As they described the information the CIA had gotten from KSM and others, I slowly realized that these men were not simply describing what others in the agency had done; I was sitting face to face with the individuals who had actually questioned terrorists at the CIA's black sites and gotten the information they were describing to me themselves.

Harry, it turned out, had interrogated KSM. He explained that interrogations involved strict oversight. There was no freelancing allowed -- every technique had to be approved in advance by headquarters, and any deviation from the meticulously developed interrogation plan would lead to the immediate removal of the interrogator.

Harry explained that the interrogations were not violent, as some imagined. He said that the interrogators' credo was to use "the least coercive method necessary" and that "each of us is put through the measures so we can feel it." He added: "It is very respectful. The detainee knows that we are not there to gratuitously inflict pain. He knows what he needs to do to stop. We see each other as professional adversaries in war." (Indeed, Mike Hayden told me years later that KSM referred to Harry as "emir" -- a title of great respect in the jihadist ranks.)
...

In an interview for my book, former national-security adviser Steve Hadley explained to me, "The interrogation techniques were not to elicit information. So the whole argument that people tell you lies under torture misses the point." Hadley said the purpose of the techniques was to "bring them to the point where they are willing to cooperate, and once they are willing to cooperate, then the techniques stop and you do all the things the FBI agents say you ought to do to build trust and all the rest."


Former CIA director Mike Hayden explained to me that, as enhanced techniques are applied, CIA interrogators like Harry would ask detainees questions to which the interrogators already know the answers -- allowing them to judge whether the detainees were being truthful and determine when the terrorists had reached a level of compliance. Hayden said, "They are designed to create a state of cooperation, not to get specific truthful answers to a specific question."

Indeed, the first terrorist to be subjected to enhanced techniques, Zubaydah, told his interrogators something stunning. According to the Justice Department memos released by the Obama administration, Zubaydah explained that "brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their religious ideology to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know.

Several senior officials told me that, after undergoing waterboarding, Zubaydah actually thanked his interrogators and said, "You must do this for all the brothers." The enhanced interrogation techniques were a relief for Zubaydah, they said, because they lifted a moral burden from his shoulders -- the responsibility to continue resisting.

The importance of this revelation cannot be overstated: Zubaydah had given the CIA the secret code for breaking al-Qaeda detainees. CIA officials now understood that the job of the interrogator was to give the captured terrorist something to resist, so he could do his duty to Allah and then feel liberated to speak. So they developed techniques that would allow terrorists to resist safely, without any lasting harm. Indeed, they specifically designed techniques to give the terrorists the false perception that what they were enduring was far worse than what was actually taking place.

Once interrogators like Harry had secured a detainee's cooperation, the enhanced techniques stopped, and the de-briefers entered the picture. Sam was a de-briefer -- a subject matter expert with years of experience studying and tracking al-Qaeda members. His expertise had contributed to the capture of the terrorists he was now questioning -- and now he put that expertise to work to find out what they knew.
...

Harry and Sam told me that the agency believed without the program the terrorists would have succeeded in striking our country again.

Harry put it bluntly: "It is the reason we have not had another 9/11."

God bless our CIA agents. They are doing the hard work of keeping our country safe, and yes they are doing it without torturing terrorists. Such a shame that too many see our guys as the villains when in reality they are the heroes.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 28, 2009

Napolitano Changes Her Tune, More Questions About Security Than Answers

After making a complete fool of herself over the weekend by saying that "the system worked," Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has changed her story. Predictably, she's taking the "out of context" excuse:

Here, clearly, something went awry. We want to fix that problem," Napolitano told Fox News on Monday.

She said officials are doing a complete review to determine what needs to change to prevent such a passenger from clearing security in the future.

"No secretary of homeland security would sit here and say that a system worked prior to this incident which allowed this individual to get on this plane," Napolitano said.

And here on Matt Lauer's show on Sunday she responded to the criticism by saying that

I think the comment is being taken out of context. What I'm saying is once the incident occurred, moving forward we were immediately able to notify the 128 flights in the air on protective measures to take, immediately able to notify law enforcement on the ground, airports domestically, internationally... all of that happening within 60 to 90 minutes...

When directly asked if she conceded that prior to the incident whether the system had failed miserably she responded "it did."

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As for the "out of context," here is her original comment:

What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel. And one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.

So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.

Ok, I get her point that "the system" she was talking about was after the attack, but this misses the point spectacularly. Once the terrorist got on the plane with his bomb, the system had failed. That's the part of "the system" that counts the most. Sure, let's take action to prevent future attacks, but at best Napolitano sounded stupid in her initial remarks, at worst completely out of touch.

The Bush-Era DHS

Yes Bush-era DHS Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Cherthoff left a lot to be desired. The latter, especially, was attacked up one side and down the other by conservatives. So the "well what about George Bush this" and "What about George Bush that" doesn't carry any water with me.

You didn't have to go far on right-wing talk radio to hear Cherthoff in particular ridiculed for various things, in particular his lack of enthusiasm for a fence along the Mexican border to keep out illegals. We weren't happy with his anti-terror policies either, and he came under a fair amount of criticism from the right on that score too.

More, two wrongs don't make a right. It's like the argument that because George Bush drove up the deficit, conservatives and Republicans have no right to criticize Obama for doing the same.

Further, for all those liberals who want to tell me that Obama inherited Bush's security regime, it's been almost a year since our new president has been in office. I thought he was going to "change the world," institute "change" and all that. Heck, from some of the stuff I heard I thought he was going to move the mountains and calm the seas. Turns out he can't even be bothered to tighten up security on our airlines.

Security Failures

Don't take it from me, though, take it from two liberal newspapers. First up is the New York Times. In a story titled Questions on Why Suspect Wasn't Stopped:

When a prominent Nigerian banker and former government official phoned the American Embassy in Abuja in October with a warning that his son had developed radical views, had disappeared and might have traveled to Yemen, embassy officials did not revoke the young man's visa to enter the United States, which was good until June 2010.

Instead, officials said Sunday, they marked the file of the son, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, for a full investigation should he ever reapply for a visa. And when they passed the information on to Washington, Mr. Abdulmutallab's name was added to 550,000 others with some alleged terrorist connections -- but not to the no-fly list. That meant no flags were raised when he used cash to buy a ticket to the United States and boarded a plane, checking no bags.

Now that Mr. Abdulmutallab is charged with trying to blow up a transcontinental airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day, some members of Congress are urgently questioning why, eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks, security measures still cannot keep makeshift bombs off airliners...

Officials in several countries, meanwhile, worked to retrace Mr. Abdulmutallab's path and to look for security holes. In Nigeria, officials said he arrived in Lagos on Christmas Eve, just hours before departing for Amsterdam. American officials were tracking his travels to Yemen, and Scotland Yard investigators were checking on his connections in London, where he studied from 2005 to 2008 at University College London and was president of the Islamic Society.

Obama administration officials scrambled to portray the episode, in which passengers and flight attendants subdued Mr. Abdulmutallab and doused the fire he had started, as a test that the air safety system passed.

"The system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days," Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary said, in an interview on "This Week" on ABC. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, used nearly the same language on "Face the Nation" on CBS, saying that "in many ways, this system has worked."

But counterterrorism experts and members of Congress were hardly willing to praise what they said was a security system that had proved to be not nimble enough to respond to the ever-creative techniques devised by would-be terrorists.

Here again, the idea that "the air safety system passed" it's test is lunacy. As I said above, the system failed the minute Abdulmutallab got on the plane with his bomb. That id didn't destroy the aircraft and kill everyone on board was sheer luck.

Next we have an editorial in the Washington Post titled Unconnected Dots, Yet Again, on a Terror Attempt:

THE THWARTED Christmas Day airplane bombing raises three causes for alarm. First, it illustrates a screening system that remains porous enough to let a suspect board with the same explosive shoe-bomber Richard Reid attempted to use in 2001. Second, it exposes a terrorism bureaucracy too clumsy to catapult the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, at least to a higher level of preflight scrutiny after his father came forward with warnings that he might pose a danger. Third, if it is true that the suspect received explosives training from al-Qaeda in Yemen, the incident underscores the emergence of that troubled nation as a training ground for terrorists. To that initial list, we would add a fourth: the disturbingly defensive reaction of the Obama administration.

No screening system can be foolproof, and every system must balance security against the need to allow an acceptably free flow of travel. But the system apparently failed in the case of Mr. Abdulmutallab in significant part because available technologies were not employed. The explosive PETN, pentaerythritol tetranitrate, that Mr. Abdulmutallab allegedly carried would not be found through normal X-rays or metal detectors. However, it is detectable by bomb-sniffing dogs, by "sniffer" technology that blows particles off travelers, or by swabbing passengers for traces of explosives; full-body imaging might also have been helpful. Mr. Abdulmutallab does not appear to have undergone any such screening in Lagos, where his travel started, or in Amsterdam, where he boarded the Northwest flight for Detroit. Given the continuing threat, it may be necessary to reexamine the need for such intensive screening before flights are cleared for the United States.

More disturbing is the apparent failure of U.S. authorities to respond swiftly and seriously to warnings by Mr. Abdulmutallab's father about his son's "radicalization and associations" with Islamist extremists. As the recently retired chairman of a major Nigerian bank, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab was a credible source; his alert to Nigerian and U.S. Embassy officials in Lagos about his son's increasingly militant views should have been enough to prompt an immediate review of Mr. Mutallab's multiple-entry visa and, at a minimum, to have him flagged for extra security precautions. The notion that there was "insufficient derogatory information available" to do more than add Mr. Abdulmutallab's name to a broad terror watch list, as the administration suggested, is infuriating. This was not an American citizen entitled to due-process protections and the right to enter the country at will. How much more derogatory does information have to be than a father's warning that his son is dabbling in radical Islam?

Ouch.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2009

Christmas Day Terror in the Skies Averted No Thanks to Homeland Security

Since I'm too tired to type it up myself, NRO News provides a summary of the events that took place on Christmas Day:

A Nigerian national and self-described Al Qaeda affiliate is in federal custody after allegedly trying to explode a Northwest Airlines Flight (253) bound for Detroit, according to news reports.

Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, twenty-three, reportedly attempted to set off a chemical incendiary device on the Amsterdam-Detroit flight shortly before it landed, but was foiled when fellow passengers smelled smoke and rushed him.

According to a federal counterterrorism official, Abdulmutallab has told authorities in preliminary interviews that he met with Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen to collect the chemical components for the device and learn how to use it. Authorities also said that Abdulmutallab appears in government records as a terrorism suspect, though he was not on the Transportation Safety Authority's "no-fly" list.

An analysis in the Telegraph asks the obvious questions:

How can a Muslim student, whose name appears on a US law enforcement database, be granted a visa to travel to America, allegedly acquire an explosive device from Yemen, a country awash with al-Qaeda terrorists, and avoid detection from the world's most sophisticated spy agencies?

There's much, much, more in the news that I'm sure you've read and so I won't rehash it. Long story short, this guy should have never made it onto the airplane;

Let's hope that this puts the brakes on attempts to end Bush-era security measures. Yes, Virginia, there is a threat, and it is real. No it is not a police problem best met through a law-enforcement model. And can we please have a real investigation into why in the world we didn't stop this guy before he got on the plane?

Incredibly, Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says that the system worked:

(transcript here, via American Power)

Napoliano: "...And one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked...This was one individual literally of thousands that fly and thousands of flights every year. And he was stopped before any damage could be done... he was on what's called a tied list, which has half-a-million-plus names on it"

Fire this woman now.

Our "system" didn't do squat. We got lucky this time. It was a Dutch film producer that stopped the terrorist, not anyone from Homeland Security. She also insinuates that because he was on a list with a "half-a-million-plus names on it" is somehow an excuse, as if that's too big for modern computers to handle. To her credit, it didn't seem like CNN host Candy Crowley was buying her answers.

Thomas Joscelyn lets her have it with both barrels:

The would-be Christmas Day bomber boarded a plane with an explosive device that may have been capable of destroying an airliner, and yet "the system worked"? One wonders: What would it take for the "system" to fail? And if Abdulmutallab was not "improperly screened," then what is the point to screening anyone at all?

As far as we can tell according to the press accounts thus far, there are two reasons Abdulmutallab failed in his attempt at mass murder. Neither reason has anything to do with the "system."

First, Abdulmutallab's explosive device may have had a faulty detonator. Second, alert passengers pounced on Abdulmutallab, thereby preventing him from trying to rectify the problem, but only after Abdulmutallab had already started a fire on the plane.

Again, neither of these reasons for Mutallab's failure has anything to do with the "system."

In fact, contrary to what Napolitano says, there are an increasing number of "suggestion(s)" that the "system" failed miserably. Abdulmutallab's father says he contacted the U.S. embassy to warn American officials about his son's radicalism weeks ago. If true, and he still wasn't prevented from getting on an American-bound airliner, then this was a "system" failure. According to this account from CBS News, U.S. officials knew about Abdulmutallab for two years and while he was not on the no-fly list (a failure in and of itself), he was "on a list that includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization."

So, how did the "system" work if U.S. officials were warned about Abdulmutallab by his father, after knowing about him for two years, and yet didn't manage to do anything to stop him?

One of the most disappointing outcomes of 9-11 was that almost no one in the Administration was fired. That FDR didn't fire anyone after Pearl Harbor but scapegoated the commanders in Hawaii was no excuse. Heads should roll at DHS, starting with Napolitano's.

To those who think that everything is fine since, hey, we arrested the guy, Andy McCarthy has the perfect rejoinder

In Willful Blindness, I recount the debacle of repeated entries into the United States by, among others, the Blind Sheikh (Omar Abdel Rahman) and al Qaeda operative Ali Mohammed -- the former permitted free entrance, egress and, finally, a green card (as a special religious worker) even though he was one of the world's most famous jihadists and was on the terror watch lists for having authorized the murder of Anwar Sadat; the latter permitted to immigrate from Egypt and join the U.S. army despite having been caught trying to infiltrate the CIA. Now, nearly 20 years later -- after 9/11, the 9/11 Commission, etc. -- we have Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab: He was in the terrorist "database" because we were warned by his own influential father of his radical ties and proclivities, and he was evidently notorious among associates in Africa and Europe for his jihadist leanings; yet, he was issued a multiple-entry visa. And he claims to have been trained in Yemen -- the al Qaeda hub to which the administration has just sent a half-dozen trained jihadists previously detained in Gitmo, and where it hopes to send many more. ...

Hadn't Abdulmutallab heard that we are closing Gitmo? Hadn't he heard that we're phasing out military-commissions so we can show the world that we give even the worst mass-murderers civilian trials with all the rights of American citizens? Hadn't he heard that President Obama has banned torture (yes, yes, I know, actually Congress banned it 15 years ago -- details, details ...)? Hadn't he heard that the president has called for "a new beginning" in America's relationship with the Muslim world? Hadn't he heard that this is our new, smarter strategy to safeguard the nation from man-caused disasters?

I suspect he's heard all those things.

The blind Sheikh as the mastermind behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and McCarthy was the chief prosecutor at his trial.

Finally, let me swat down one thing we're likely to hear from those who will deny that there is a large threat; that because Umar Farouk Abdul Mudalladalone (assuming he did), this was just an isolated incident and it's nothing much to worry about.

I don't have time now to go through the whole thing, but suffice it to say that al Qaeda is not the mafia or Nazi Germany. It is as much a concept, or mindset, as it is a formal organization. al Qaeda doesn't want to terrorize anyone or gain anything for it's own sake, but rather to reestablish the Caliphate by way or destroying Western civilization. The ideology seeks to inspire Muslims to commit acts of violent jihad as a means to this end. Whether they are formally working for the organization or not is irrelevant. In this sense, Walid Phares is right when he says it's all part of a War of Ideas.

As it is, Umar Farouk Abdul Mudallad reportedly "said he received instructions and training from al Qaeda operatives based in Yemen ahead of boarding the Detroit-bound flight Friday," so we shall see.

Whatever else, both we and other countries need to reexamine their security protocols and fast.


Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 22, 2009

See, I Told You So

The Associated Press, via Powerline:

A lawyer for one of five men facing trial for the Sept. 11 attacks says the men plan to plead not guilty and use the trial to express their political views.

Attorney Scott Fenstermaker says his client Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and the others will not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but will tell the jury "why they did it."

He says the men will explain "their assessment of American foreign policy."

Fenstermaker met with Ali last week at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. He says the men, including professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, have discussed the trial among themselves.

See, I told you more than once they were going to use the opportunity to put the United States on trail. Think that what KSM and his fellow jihadists have to say won't be reported with glee in half the world? The hate-America press will be in overdrive.

Giving your enemies a stage on which to express their views is always a bad idea. Only the naive think that "the world will turn against them once they see who they are." The reality is that much of the world either hates the West and/or agrees with the jihadist mindset that we risk turning KSM and his fellow jihadists into heroes for their performance during this trial. And no, they don't hate us because of Israel, the settlements, or George W. Bush. What we are seeing is simply the latest battle in a centuries old war.

Posted by Tom at 9:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 19, 2009

On the Business of Conservatives Being "Afraid" of New York Terror Trials

I don't normally devote a whole blog post to silly liberal arguments, but the huge problems surrounding the decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his fellows in civilian court in New York City have persuaded me otherwise. The issue is too serious, and the fallout too deadly.

It would seem the liberal response to conservative arguments is to simply call us "fraidy cats," "cowards," and "sissies." Really. I am indebted to Sister Toldjah to these first three clips.

First up is Attorney General Eric Holder, defending his decision before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

I have every confidence the nation and the world will see him for the coward he is....I'm not scared of what (Mohammed) will have to say at trial and no one else needs to be either....We need not cower in the face of this enemy. Our institutions are strong, our infrastructure is sturdy, our resolve is firm, and our people are ready.

Next is Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of said committee:

I don't think we should run and hide and cower. Let's use our system.

Uberblogger Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, this time posting at The Hill, in a post called "Conservative Cowards:"

American liberals are tough on terrorists and secure in their knowledge that the Sept. 11 conspirators are guilty of mass murder. American conservatives are timid cowards who fear that the U.S. government can't actually prove that the Sept. 11 killers committed their heinous crimes. Sound weird?

Maybe. But what else can be concluded after watching conservatives collectively lose their heads over President Barack Obama's easy decision to try Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other co-conspirators in U.S. District Court in New York City? Seems that macho conservatives are terrified of shackled terrorists in orange jumpsuits and the United States Constitution.

These are remarkably silly arguments.

More, they miss the point of our objections, perhaps deliberately so. I think it's a way of avoiding debate more than anything else. Technically, it's known as the "straw man" argument.

What is Fear?

Are you afraid of your boss? Of your spouse? Are you or were you afraid of your parents? Lets assume normal relationships here. The answer is yes... and no. You should be afraid of being fired if you don't do your work, of having your spouse divorce you if you cheat on him or her, and of punishment by a parent if you were a bad child. But you don't cower and shrink back when one of them approaches you.

So yes, in a sense we are and should be afraid of KSM and his fellows in a civilian trial. But no, it's silly and stupid to resort to the "macho conservatives are terrified of shackled terrorists" line of attack.

Legitimate Concerns

Running through a few of the issues conservatives have raised, in no particular order, they are

  1. Security concerns. Security is not a matter of beating one's chest and trumpeting that you are not afraid. It will be hard to protect the defendants and citizens of New York. Further, the security concerns are not limited to New York City. Such a public trial will encourage terrorists to strike all over the world "to send the United States a message."
  2. The trial could become a circus. All major trials draw massive media coverage and the tabloids go nuts, but in most of them a firm judge keeps the proceedings under control. Judge Lance Ito famously let the O.J. Simpson criminal trail descend into farce, whereby Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki kept the civil trail quite orderly. In this case we have a unique circumstances that may be beyond the capability of any judge to control. The defendants have a right to represent themselves, and by definition they can grandstand and get away with all manner of things before being restrained or stopped (we could deny them the ability to represent themselves, but this opens up the possibility of a guilty verdict being overturned on Sixth Amendment grounds).
  3. The government on trial. The way the far left will look at this trial is not letting terrorists free, but pronouncing the United States guilty. They will do this because these five have no real defense. They're obviously guilty, and when you're obviously guilty you do one of or both of two things; tie up the court in legalisms, and/or put the government on trial. They will put the Bush Administration on trial for renditions, waterboarding, the whole thing. Liberals may revel in this sort of thing, but it's not the purpose of the trial.
  4. A soapbox for al Qaeda. Partially because the defendants can represent themselves, and partially because very Lynne Stewart-Ramsey Clark type hate-America lawyer will be drawn to this trial like moths to a lamp, they will do their utmost to use the trial as a forum to get out the radical Islamic view of the world, and why the United States is a bad, evil nation. These leftist attorney's do not sympathize with al Qaeda so much as they hate the West in general and United States in particular.
  5. National security secrets could be revealed. There is no way you can hold this trial without revealing national security secrets. As such, it will prove a bonanza for our enemies. They will learn and/or be able to deduce many of our sources and methods. As such, many methods won't work anymore and many sources will face capture, torture, and execution. To those who think that the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) will prevent this from happening, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy says that is not exactly the case.
  6. The law of unintended consequences. President Obama and his followers think he is great because he "dares to do big things." Ok, I get it, this is not in and of itself bad. But he has a habit of not thinking things through, failing to imagine worst case scenarios and ignoring contingency planning.
  7. "The world" isn't impressed. There is no "the world" anyway, and such thinking shows a simplistic view of the world that is almost childlike. There are different peoples with different perspectives on what constitutes truth, justice, reality, and one's purpose for being on this earth. Many or most Muslims accept Sharia law as the only legitimate governing force for humanity. They won't be impressed. Chinese who think a strong authoritarian government necessary for maintaining order and ensuring economic process won't be impressed. Latin American dictators and dictators-wanna-be and their many followers won't be impressed. Europeans are of two minds. Many will be impressed, this is true. But there is and has been an implicit agreement between them and the United States since WWII that we would do their dirty work for them around the world. Norway can be Norway because the United States is the United States.
  8. A propaganda coup for the other side. Following up on the above, ma around the world will use things revealed during the trial to show that the U.S. is indeed a bad, evil nation, and thus proves that they were right all along. They will ignore the obvious hypocrisy in such an argument (if we're so bad,how can we air our own laundry?) but the fact is this how how may people think whether we agree with the logic or not.
  9. "Tainted" evidence tossed out. It's not too hard to imagine a judge throwing out lots of evidence, claiming it was illegally obtained. What does this them do to the government's case?
  10. A prelude to inditing Bush Administration officials. The other day former Secretary of Homeland Defense Tom Ridge said he feared the trial could descend into a big "fishing expedition" with the real goal being to release enough information for the international left to start war crimes trials against George W. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. Again, this may warm the hearts of liberals but it is not the reason why Obama/Holder say we need a civilian trial.
  11. There could be some not-guilty verdicts. Although I don't have time to find the link, I believe AG Holder has said that we'll keep the defendant's in "preventive detention" anyway if any are found not guilty, or if the judge dismisses the trial. Unlikely, to be sure, but not impossible. How will we look then if we keep not-guilty defendants in jail?
  12. The defendants are not "criminals." Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his fellows are not "criminals" as properly understood, but are illegal or unlawful combatants. This differing understanding of the status of KSM and other terrorists goes to the heart of the dispute between right and left on this entire matter.

If you want to disagree with me on any of these please do, and state your case. But Holder, Leahy, and Moulitsas, and many liberal bloggers don't even address these issues seriously. As such, we can dismiss their argument as at best intellectually dishonest, at worst ad hominem.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 16, 2009

The KSM/Terrorist Trial in NYC: Part of Obama's War on The Bush Administration?

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge (h/t American Power):

If we discover later that it's really just a facade to delve into a fishing expedition, I would find that just unacceptable, outrageous and a further distortion of the system...if it's subterfuge for the fishing expedition, that's just wrong and unconscionable.

I don't think the primary objective of President Obama and AG Holder is to put the Bush Administration on trial, but I do think that they're hoping it happens. I think that they will be pleased if or when revelation of alleged "torture," "mistreatment," call-it-what-you-like come out. I don't think they'd even mind too much if national security secrets were revealed such as Patriot Act-wiretaps.

Further, Ridge is wise to worry that the whole thing could turn into a fishing expedition. As I wrote about KSM and his cohorts on Saturday, "They're obviously guilty, and when you're obviously guilty you do one of or both of two things; tie up the court in legalisms, and/or put the government on trial. They will put the Bush Administration on trial for renditions, waterboarding, the whole thing."

The question is whether the Obama Administration balks when the defense demands all sorts of information, or whether they just hand it right over. Given their behavior thus far, I think the latter is the stronger possibility.

Anthony Dick, writing at NRO's The Corner, makes other points along this line:

The strange thing about the Obama administration's decision to hold these civilian al-Qaeda trials is that the project is flawed even based on the premises of its staunchest defenders: They talk about due process and the rule of law, but the trials can't possibly provide anything close to the level of objectivity that applies in an ordinary criminal-law setting. There is no way the defendants will get an impartial jury in New York, and there is no way the government will actually release the terrorists if they are acquitted. Thus the courtroom proceedings in Manhattan will be, in a very real sense, show trials. They are designed purely for PR purposes, so that the Obama administration can pay lip service to the ideal of due process while implicitly rebuking the Bush administration for failing to respect the rule of law.

Meanwhile, it is the Obama administration that is truly making a sham out of the rule of law, by politicizing the trial process and pretending that these enemy combatants will be getting normal, neutral, dispassionate trials, as if the larger strategic context of the War on Terror will not affect the judge, the jury, or the actions of the government, which is sure to retain custody of the defendants in the off chance they are acquitted.

This reflects the fundamental unseriousness of the Obama administration in the face of terrorism. We saw the same thing with the foolish announcement that Gitmo would be closed by January, which was the first iteration of the administration's fantasy-land effort to sidestep one of the core dilemmas of the post-9/11 world: We have a significant number of detainees whom we know with operational certainty to be dangerous terrorists, but, for various reasons, we can't prosecute or convict them according to normal procedures. This is another way of saying that there is no way we can prosecute the War on Terror while providing the full panoply of ordinary due-process protections to enemy combatants. And no amount of hope can change this reality.

"Show trials" indeed is what they'll become, and from all sides. From the Obama Administration, the show will be: To to show the world we respect the rule of law, are a wonderful country, George W. Bush and the neocons were evil, and now that Obama is in charge everybody should love us now.

From the vantage of KSM and his fellow jihadists: To show the world that they are brutally serious about destroying Western civilization and replacing it with a modern-day caliphate governed by Sharia law. They aim to bolster the standing of like-minded Muslims and demoralize moderates and reformers.

The third perspective is that of the left, who will rejoice in every revelation of classified information and anything we did to KSM and his fellows along the lines of enhanced interrogation.

The left, both international and here at home, will jump all over anything that they think makes the U.S. look bad. Any rough treatment, severe questioning, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, bright lights or loud music all will be trumpeted to the heavens in an attempt to show that the U.S. in general and the Bush Administration in particular, is evil.

In their stupendous naivete they'll think that the world will love us because we have the "courage" to face up to our own (alleged) misdeeds, and give these "criminals" a "fair trial."

Every day brings forth a new insult to our nation from the Obama Administration. Just when I think it can't get any worse, it does.

Posted by Tom at 6:45 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 14, 2009

Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Four Other Sept 11 Plotters to be Tried in New York

Yesterday the Obama Administration hit us with this stunner:

The nation's top law enforcement officer announced Friday that he is returning the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and his accomplices to the scene of their alleged crimes -- a decision that drew immediate outrage from some lawmakers and victims' families.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and four others now detained in Guantanamo Bay will be moved to a prison facility near the Brooklyn Bridge and stand trial in a civilian federal courtroom down the street from the World Trade Center buildings that Mohammad takes credit for demolishing on Sept. 11, 2001.

This is madness, and for a whole host of reasons. If you're not sure why, consider the case of this lady:

Judith Coplon

Judith Coplon was the first major figure tried for spying as a result of the Venona project (although, for reasons of security, the Venona information was not revealed at her trial). Her disclosures to the Soviet intelligence agencies were the first information to alert them to the size of the U.S. counter-intelligence operation against them.

She worked in Foreign Agents Registration section of the Department of Justice, where she had access to counter-intelligence information during World War II. She was first brought to the attention of the FBI as a result of a Venona message (she was known in both Soviet intelligence and the Venona files as "SIMA"). An extensive counter-intelligence operation then investigated her, and planted secret documents for her to purloin.

FBI agents detained Coplon in March 1949 as she met with Valentin Gubitchev, a KGB official employed by the United Nations, carrying secret U.S. government documents in her purse. In her trial, FBI Special Agent Robert Lamphere testified that suspicion had fallen on Coplon because of information from a reliable "confidential informant" that was not a wiretap. She was convicted in two separate trials, one for espionage (by herself), and in another for conspiracy (along with Gubithchev).

Her conviction was later over-turned on a technicality relating to the arrest (which been on probable cause, as she was observed meeting her Soviet contact, not as a result of a warrant). Her complicity in espionage was further corroborated by information found within the KGB archives in the 1990s.

Both convictions were overturned, and to this day Coplon is a free woman. She still denies her guilt, despite enormous evidence to the contrary.

Of course the parallel is not exact. Coplon was a spy, and deserved a trial. KSM and the others are illegal combatants, and do not deserve trials.

What the Judith Coplon story illustrates is that even someone caught "red handed" in the act of handing secrets to a known Soviet agent can get off if they have clever attorneys. It also illustrates the dilemma faced by the government; if it revealed the existance of Venona a conviction that could not overturned was assured, but doing so could tell the Soviets that we had (partially) broken their diplomatic code.

For decades the far left used the cases of Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg as soapboxes to attack the United States (not so much Coplon). Although at the time the Rosenberg's seemed guilty to most people, the government and judge behaved badly much of the time with provided them fodder. Again, the parallels are not exact as Hiss and the Rosenbergs deserved trials and the Sept 11 terrorists do not, but bringing them up does illustrate some good points.

My Time as a Juror

Many years ago I was called to be a juror in which a guy had passed a bad check for something like $5,000. The prosecution's case was so airtight I wondered for a time what in the world the guy could possibly say say in his defense. As the case proceeded it became clear that the defense attorney's strategy was to challenge every statement and bit of evidence he could, hoping to get something significant thrown out. He managed to get one or two minor statements by prosecution witnesses retracted, but they were so minor as to be laughable. When the prosecution had finished it's case I waited anxiously for the defense to have it's turn. Much to my surprise, the defense attorney simply said "it's the burden of the government to prove my client guilty...." and then them moved right into closing arguments. The defense argument was to try and confuse the matter. We convicted the guy in nothing flat, but it was a lesson in what defense attorneys do when they have no case.

Back to Khalid Sheik Mohammed

The way the far left will look at this trial is not letting terrorists free, but pronouncing the United States guilty. They will do this because these five have no real defense. They're obviously guilty, and when you're obviously guilty you do one of or both of two things; tie up the court in legalisms, and/or put the government on trial. They will put the Bush Administration on trial for renditions, waterboarding, the whole thing.

Also consider the entire issue of waterboarding and whatever else we did to Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the others. It will be discussed in excruciating detail ad nauseum in court, the objective being to make the Bush Administration, and by extension the United States, look as bad as possible. For our enemies overseas this will be a propaganda bonanza. The international left will use this as a justification to oppose everything else the United States does or wants to do. And the domestic left will salivate over the details, confirming as it will in their minds that the United States in general, and the Bush Administration in particular, is an evil, bad, nation.

The idea that "if we expose these guys the world will rally to our side" is ridiculous. Much of the world hates us and will rejoice in every revelation that embarrasses the U.S. Some of the Muslim world sympathizes with the terrorists. Certainly many Islamic leaders will loudly proclaim their support for them, and as is so often the case they'll intimidate many others into silence. They will use this as a forum to attack the U.S.

Just as when Holder announced the investigation of CIA agents, Obama was conveniently out of the country. The reason is that he wants to distance himself in case the thing explodes in their face. He'll throw Holder under the bus so fast it'll make your head spin.

There is no way you can hold this trial without revealing national security secrets. As such, it will prove a bonanza for our enemies. They will learn our methods and be able to deduce at least some of our sources, who themselves will face capture, torture, and execution.

Andy McCarthy sums it all up in better language than I can muster:

We are now going to have a trial that never had to happen for defendants who have no defense. And when defendants have no defense for their own actions, there is only one thing for their lawyers to do: put the government on trial in hopes of getting the jury (and the media) spun up over government errors, abuses and incompetence. That is what is going to happen in the trial of KSM et al. It will be a soapbox for al-Qaeda's case against America. Since that will be their "defense," the defendants will demand every bit of information they can get about interrogations, renditions, secret prisons, undercover operations targeting Muslims and mosques, etc., and -- depending on what judge catches the case -- they are likely to be given a lot of it. The administration will be able to claim that the judge, not the administration, is responsible for the exposure of our defense secrets. And the circus will be played out for all to see -- in the middle of the war. It will provide endless fodder for the transnational Left to press its case that actions taken in America's defense are violations of international law that must be addressed by foreign courts. And the intelligence bounty will make our enemies more efficient at killing us.

This is a disaster in the making.

Posted by Tom at 1:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 9, 2009

U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan

Last Thursday, November 5, U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 and wounding 30. Reports have it that he used two handguns; a FN Five-seven and a .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson. He was shot and seriously wounded by civilian police officers. Hasan is an American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent. Oddly, he's a psychiatrist.

U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan

Such a pleasant looking fellow, isn't he? You'd never imagine him capable of such a thing.

So what about it? Is this something we should be concerned about?

As this Washington Post story illustrates, officials are busily searching for links to al Qaeda. This is fine and good, but what if we don't find any? Are we then not to worry? Can we lean back and say that the attack was all very terrible, but since there are no links to al Qaeda it was the work of a lone gunman, probably mentally deranged, and let it go at that?

This works if you think that we are simply fighting an organization similar to the Mafia. I don't know for certain if it's happened, but it's easy to imagine an unstable individual acting out a scene from one of the Godfather movies. There is no "Mafia ideology" per se , so while we do need our FBI to keep tabs on them no one is concerned that they'll ever be anything other than a criminal entity.

My take is that we are not up against a criminal entity, or really up against an organization at all, in the truest sense of the term. al Qaeda represents an ideology that already existed, it didn't create one. Ditto for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Khomeninsts. You can read my entire argument, made in a series of posts in the Jihadism and the War of Ideas category of this blog.

So was Major Hasan's a terrorist attack? If not what was it? Jonah Goldberg mused that

Much of the chatter over the weekend was whether or not the Fort Hood shooting can be classified a "terrorist attack." It seems to me this reveals one of the shortcomings of the language of the war on terror. I know there are all sorts of legalistic definitions about what constitutes terrorism and what doesn't. But it seems to me a case could be made that this was, variously, an act of war, an act of treason, or a war crime, but not an act of terrorism.

Terrorism is, by conventional definition, an attack on civilians intended to strike fear in the non-military population in order to advance a political or ideological agenda. Hasan didn't attack civilians, he attacked uniformed members of the U.S. Army in advance of their deployment to the frontlines. It was an evil act, but was it an act of terrorism?

Ultimately, if we're going to call the violent acts of Jihadis "terrorism" wherever and whenever they occur, then I guess I'm fine with calling it terrorism. But I can't help but think this illuminates some blind spots in the way we think about these questions.

Indeed. If we cannot properly define our conflict we can hardly win it. Obama and liberals want to define it as narrowly as possible; just al Qaeda, and we should just fight them in... Waziristan?

Lone Jihad

In May 2006, a story in the Washington Post described 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 a 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."

But wait, there's more.

The Creeping Sharia blog has a long compilation of information on the concept of individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of jihadi violence without any ties to a larger organization. Of particular interest is this

Written by Al-Hakaymah, the "Guide for Individual Jihad" suggests ways to kill the enemy when one is fighting alone...The recommended methods include...assassination with guns...

Can't say if Hasan read either of these works, but if you think that "lone jihad" is an isolated phenomenon, read the entire post over at Creeping Sharia; they list dozens of attacks and attempted attacks. What's the matter, didn't you read about them in the mainstream media?

Now, obviously most Muslims want nothing to do with the jihadi ideology. By the same token, the vast majority of terrorism comes from Islam. More, the problems is less terrorism than a creeping sharia. But all that are subjects of other posts.

What Did We Know and When Did We Know It?

The facts are not all quite in, but it's looking more and more that officials knew that Hasan sympathized with the Jihadists but refused to do anything about it. As Rich Lowry says, it was a case of a "better screwed than rude" thought process among officialdom.

We suspect these things because of what we've learned. First up is our Commander-in-Chief, who lectured us that

"We don't know all the answers yet. And I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts,"

Funny how that didn't stop him when when Henry Louis Gates was arrested at Harvard.

Of course, this has nothing to do with "jumping to conclusions." It has everything to do with political correctness and misunderstanding the Jihadist threat to the West.

Next,ABC News published this shocking story today:
U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.

U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.

According to the officials, the Army was informed of Hasan's contact, but it is unclear what, if anything, the Army did in response...

Investigators want to know if Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a web site that promotes jihad around the world against the U.S.

In a blog posting early Monday titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hasan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."

According to his site, Awlaki served as an imam in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Virginia.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that Major Hasan attended the Falls Church mosque when Awlaki was there.

The Telegraph of London reported that Awlaki had made contact with two of the 9/11 hijackers when he was in San Diego.

He denied any knowledge of the hijacking plot and was never charged with any crime. After an intensive investigation by the FBI , Awlaki moved to Yemen.

People who knew or worked with Hasan say he seemed to have gradually become more radical in his disapproval of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unreal.

Then we have this, courtesy of the Weekly Standard


Pete Hoekstra, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, released a statement this morning calling for the heads of all relevant US intelligence agencies to preserve all intelligence related to the case of Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter. Hoekstra made the request after talking to intelligence community leaders over the weekend.

President Obama said people should not jump to conclusions about what happened at Fort Hood, but the administration is in possession of critical information related to the attack that they are refusing to release to Congress or the American people. I intend to push for intense review of this and other issues related to the performance of the intelligence community and whether or not information necessary for military, state and local officials to provide for the security of the post was provided to them.

I have requested this information be preserved because I believe members of the full committee on a bipartisan basis will want to scrutinize the intelligence relevant to this attack, what the agencies in possession of that intelligence did with it, who was and wasn't informed and why, and what steps America's intelligence agencies are taking in light of what they know. At some point, it becomes necessary for us as a nation to address the uncomfortable threat of homegrown terrorism and radicalism, and Congress has an obligation to review how federal agencies are handling and disseminating information related to the threat.

The horrific shootings at Fort Hood are a tragic reminder of the potential deadly consequences of the threat posed by homegrown jihadism and the failure of the government to adequately respond to it.

If Obama thinks he's got trouble over healthcare he may want to order a few stiff drinks, because this could get ugly real fast.

Victims of Political Correctness?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, let's see how our top officials are responding. First up is U.S. Army Chief of Staff George Casey. By way of introduction, he was commander in Iraq from June 2004 to February 8, 2007. He screwed things up and Generals Petreus and Oderno had to come in and pull his fat out of the fire. But don't let that influence your opinion of what follows:

The U.S. Army's top general expressed concern on Sunday that last week's mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, blamed on a Muslim Army officer, could fuel a backlash in the military against Muslim troops.

General George Casey, U.S. Army chief of staff, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about whether religious beliefs motivated the accused gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim born in the United States of immigrant parents.

"I'm concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers. And I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that," Casey told CNN's "State of the Union."

Yes, yes, wouldn't want to tell them to be on the lookout for radical Muslims who may be infected with Jihadist ideology or anything useful like that.

Let's move on to our Secretary of Homeland Security, and see what she was up to the day after the massacre:

Guantanamo Bay was used as a "recruiting tool" for terrorism more than anything else, US homeland security chief Janet Napolitano said Friday, during a visit to the European parliament.

"Guantanamo has been used more as a recruiting tool than anything else," she told members of the European parliament's civil liberties committee in Brussels.

Therefore "it needs to be closed and the individuals dealt with appropriately," she added.

Napolitano stressed President Barack Obama's commitment to close down the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba in January.

"The president's executive order that it be closed remains in effect . . . we are working through individual by individual," she said.

Yup, glad to see she's got her priorities straight too. We are to be concerned with a backlash against Muslims and closing the prison at Guantanamo, but terrorism? Nothing to see here, folks, move along.


Posted by Tom at 10:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 7, 2009

"Undermining Sri Lanka"

One of the most infuriating things about the modern left is that they spend almost all of their time criticizing democratic governments on their conduct of military action, while letting the most blood-thirsty murderous terrorists and insurgents off scot-free. We've seen it with the recent Israeli wars against Hezbollah and Hamas. The Goldstone Inquiry on Israel's Operation Cast Lead, for example, is an absolute travesty.

Some months ago the forces of the Sri Lankan government finally defeated the Tamil Tigers insurgency. It was difficult and bloody, but they did it. In the end the people of Sri Lanka are much better off. Leave it to idiot leftists in the U.S. Congress to engage in their usual moral equivalence:

Undermining Sri Lanka

America takes the wrong side in anti-terror fight

Sri Lanka is joining Israel as a country facing a war crimes investigation for effectively fighting back against terrorism. America should support the Sri Lankan government or keep its nose out of Colombo's business.

Last week, Stephen Rapp, U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, filed a report to Congress on incidents during the recent conflict in Sri Lanka that "may constitute violations of international humanitarian law or crimes against humanity." The report focuses in particular on January to May 2009 when, after 12 years of conflict, the Sri Lankan military surrounded and destroyed the major armed formations of the Tamil Tigers and killed the terrorist group's leaders.

The report chronicles allegations of war crimes by both Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat whose subcommittee on the State Department and foreign operations requested the report, is calling for "a full and independent investigation" so those responsible can be "held accountable."

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights joined in the call for an investigation of Sri Lanka's war, saying there are "too many questions" left unanswered. U.N. Human Rights Spokesman Rupert Colville drew a direct comparison to the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission overseen by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. Sri Lanka and Israel are both pursuing internal investigations and have rejected the idea of international involvement in the process.

The Rapp report is not comprehensive, more a list of allegations than a fully documented indictment. Most of the offenses listed are either directly attributable to the Tamil Tigers, such as forcibly recruiting children to fight for them, or the consequence of terrorist activities, such as Sri Lanka shelling hospitals being used by the Tigers as command posts.

The tone of moral equivalence in the Rapp and Goldstone reports is most objectionable. War is by its nature violent, complex and tragic. Rules exist to mitigate war's suffering but can never eliminate it. Terrorist groups like the Tamil Tigers, Hamas and al Qaeda do not consider themselves bound by the rules of war and violate them as a matter of doctrine by targeting noncombatants, using civilians as human shields, torturing and executing prisoners, and by using hospitals and religious sites as headquarters and sniper platforms.

Any war against such an enemy will impose a degree of tragedy on people who under other circumstances would be spared war's horrors. But this is part of the terrorist tool kit, and reports such as these play into their hands. By placing the terrorists' systematic offenses against human dignity on par with the unintentional or otherwise regrettable actions of the regime trying to defeat them, such reports level a moral playing field that by rights the terrorists have no right even to set foot on.

Mr. Leahy should control his zeal to pursue what he views as justice in Sri Lanka. Any objective comparison of Sri Lanka's war against the Tamil Tigers or Israel's offensive against Hamas to America's struggle against al Qaeda would cast the United States in the same light, and elevate our enemies to a status they do not deserve. It hands the enemies of freedom unearned victories even as they are being defeated.

Posted by Tom at 10:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 7, 2009

Book Review - The Confrontation: Winning The War Against Future Jihad


The Confrontation

All wars have their center of gravity, that one vital thing that determines victory or defeat. During the American Revolution it was whether the colonists could stop bickering and form a continental army commanded by a competent general. From the North's perspective during the Civil War, it was whether Lincoln could find a general who would fight before anti-war sentiment forced a negotiated peace. After the initial stages of World War II it was mostly just a question of firepower. The Cold War was more complicated, but it and the others all had one thing in common; everyone agreed that we were at war, and they no one had any difficulty identifying the adversary (this excepting domestic anti-American leftist elements during the Cold War).

The situation is different today because so many, including the administration in power in the United States, do not even see their country as being at war. Last month John Brenna, President Obama's top homeland security and counterterrorism official, said that the administration will no longer use the terms "war on terror," "jihadists," or "global war." The only acceptable formulation, he said, was to say that "we are at war with al Qaeda."

It's not just President Obama, either. This has been the position of American liberals and European leftists since 9-11. To their way of thinking, President Bush wildly overreacted to a simple, if large, terrorist incident. They supported the invasion of Afghanistan (though are having second thoughts now), but beyond that think that the problem can be addressed as a criminal matter through the legal system.

Walid Phares says that this is completely wrongheaded. We are in a long term war with a worldwide Jihadist movement that aims to completely destroy us and has the means to do so. In The Confrontation: Winning The War Against Future Jihad, Phares lays out his case in well-organized format and in easy to read prose.

In Phares first book on the subject, Future Jihad (2005), he explained the basics of who the Jiihadist enemy was, where they came from, what they believed, and what their goals were. In his next book, War of Ideas (2007), he explained the competing strategies of the two camps; one dedicated to democracy and the other to global jihad and the reestablishment of the Caliphate. The Confrontation builds on these two and as the title implies adds his ideas on how to fight and win the war against the Jihadists. While it is not an absolute prerequisite to read the first two books before tackling this one, it would be helpful to read Future Jihad so as to have a good grasp on the history and structure of the jihadist movements.

Professor Phares himself has the scholarly background to speak with the authority that few can muster. A native of Lebanon, he obtained a degree in law and political science from St Joseph and the Lebanese Universities of Beirut. Phares emigrated to the United States in 1990 and obtained a Masters degree in International Law from the Université de Lyon in France, and a Ph.D. in international relations and strategic studies from the University of Miami. He has testified before the US Congress, the European Parliament and Commission, and the UN Security Council, and has appeared on most major news outlets around the world, including NN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, C-Span, BBC TV (English-Arabic), Sky News, France 24 (English, Arabic, French), CTV, CBC, Canada Global TV, al Jazeera, al Hurra, Abu Dhabi TV, al Arabiya, LBCI, Russia Today TV, Voice of America TV, as well as local ABC, CBS, PBS, NBC, and others. He has taught at taught at Florida International University and at Saint Joseph University in Beirut, and is currently a Senior Fellow and the director for Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington. He has published numerous books and magazines in Arabic, French and English.

Book Summary

Outline of the Problem

A brief recap for new readers unfamiliar with the situation; Jihad means holy war against infidels, with the objective of reestablishing the Caliphate which lasted from the seventh century to 1923. The two branches of the Sunni Jihad are the Wahabists based in Saudi Arabia, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which started in Egypt but is a broad based movement with branches in many countries. On the Shi'ite side are the Khumeinists, based obviously in Iran but with branches in Syria and Lebanon(Hezbollah). Their objective is to establish a regional Imamate.

The method Jihad is about more than just using terrorism, which to them is a military action. They aim to undermine the West through a variety of means, including massive immigration, disinformation about their religion and goals, and spreading their culture through a sort of "creeping Sharia."

The Goal of the Jihad

One of Phares' most important points is that the essential goal of the Sunni Jihad is not to spread Sharia law internally in existing nations. Rather, they reject the current world order in it's entirety, and want in it's place a worldwide Caliphate. There is simply no room in their world for infidels in other than dhimmi status, let alone our current nation-state system complete with modern concepts of international law and everything that goes with it.

To them, there is no break from ancient or medieval times and today. They see what they are doing today as directly linked to and descended from the seventh century beginnings of the spread of Islam. They don't see themselves as starting anything new but as continuing an ancient battle against the infidels.

This rejection of the modern nation-state system and desire to reestablish the Caliphate is in fact the central difference between the Jihadist Muslims and those who accept the modern world.

As a step along the path of reestablishing the Calphiate, he objective of the Jihad is to force the United States to withdraw from the world politically, economically, and most important, militarily. In short, they wish to weaken our resolve and force us into isolationism. U.S. withdrawal will make it easier for the jihadists to bring down secular governments in the Muslim world.

The Confrontation

Since 9-11 many in the West have started to sense the danger of radical Islam, even if they don't fully understand it. In the Muslim world, most people see the danger and experience the oppression of the radicals full well, but do not understand why, because for all their talk of human rights Westerners do not try to help them.

9-11 also saw the start of the third War of Ideas. Our conflict with the Salafists and Khumeinists is not just on the battlefield of bombs and bullets; it is also in the intellectual world of books, newspapers and the Internet. The side that convinces the next generation that it's ideas are better is winning.

The key to winning the War on Terror is understanding the nature of the threat. If we miss it, we will lose because we will fail to resist. If we grasp it's essence, we stand a chance.

One of the biggest problems facing the West is that most of our own elites and intellectuals misunderstand the nature of the threat. As such, the public at large is misinformed.

Today we are at a crossroads; either the jihadists will undermine and destroy the democracies, or the democracies will defeat the jihadists.

The party that defines a conflict enjoys a huge advantage. Because this is in large extent a war of ideas, propaganda, or the message, is hugely important. The tactics of the jihadists reflect a saying in the Arab world; "They hit me and cried, beat me to court, and sued me." In other words, strike the other guy first, then cry that you're the real victim, and trumpet this in the media. Be the first to define the conflict and paint the other side as the aggressors.

Behind the Jihad

The Jihad requires money, and 90 percent of it comes from the oil revenues of the gulf states. As such, the whole "root causes" of terrorism line is completely manufactured. It is the wealthy elites who are pushing Jihad, not the poor and downtrodden. If these elites really cared about poor Arabs, they would spend their oil wealth on improving their lives, not on promoting the Jihad. Instead of insisting that the money they send to Gaza be spent on weapons, they ought to insist that it be spent on improving infrastructure and building an economy. Instead of providing an eduction that would help young people get practical jobs, , they send them to madrassas where they learn Jihad.

The Effects of Oil Money

The effect of oil money is something Phares calls Economic jihadi Imperialism, or EJI for short. It is, he says, a sort of economic imperialism which starts with a hard core Jihadist idiology and ends with attempting to use that money to influence the West. Rather than spend money improving the lot of their own people, these elites would rather spend it undermining Western liberal democracies.

One effect of oil money has been to prevent the West from coming to that aid of the oppressed peoples of the Middle East. When the Middle East Studies Departments at major Western universities are funded by Saudi Arabia, no one at them is going to criticize the human rights record of their benefactors.

The oil embargo of 1973 sent a huge shock through the West. We realized that our economies were dependent on a steady flow of petroleum, and that our Middle Eastern suppliers had the ability to do significant damage to us when they so choose. The consequence is that we did not wish to examine too closely, let alone criticize, the human rights records of Arab countries.

The problem we face is that as long as oil dollars go to funding jihadist movements, the world will be at risk. Phares identifies several strategies that we should use to break this link. Most involve obtaining oil from other, non-jihadist countries, investigating alternative energy sources, promoting liberalism in their lands, and insisting that they spend their money on humanitarian needs and not on Jihad. The latter can be done through regulation that would prevent companies that do business in the U.S. from, say, building luxury hotels in Muslim country X until said country A) gets out of the business of funding Jihad, and B) spends more of it's own money on the poor and oppressed in Muslim countries.

One of the primary objectives of the jihadi networks is to prevent the West from focusing on human rights abuses in Muslim countries. They do this by constantly attacking our foreign policies and alleged human rights problems and thus manage to keep us on the defensive. One of their tactics is to exploit Western guilt over our colonial days and use that to paralyze us into inaction on the human rights front.

Liberty or Sharia

We do not have the choice of sealing our borders and ignoring the Muslim world, or any other part of the world, for that matter. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Neither in this day and age can we say "that part of the world is none of our business." This might have worked two hundred years ago, but modern travel and economic ties ensure that what happens in other parts of the world will affect us. More, it is simply impossible to "seal the borders" against (legal) immigration and business travel, so Europe and the United States will be influenced by the Middle East whether we like it or not.

Further, the idea that if we just kill or arrest enough terrorists we can make the problem go away is wrongheaded also. There is a "root cause" of jihadi terrorism, but it is not either the economic poverty or "legacy of colonialism" that some imagine. Rather, it is political and religious oppression coupled with the control of propaganda organs by radicals that breeds the extremism that is the danger.

The solution, Phares says, is political and economic liberty for Muslims. As the historian Bernard Lewis said, "bring them freedom or they will destroy you." By "them" Lewis mean the Arab and Iranian victims of the jihadists. By "they" he meant the jihadists themselves. Stated another way, either we bring democracy to the them, or they will bring Jihad to us.

Seen through this lens the American invasion of Afghanistan and especially Iraq make perfect sense. The strategy was at once to bring the war directly into the enemy camp, to contain the terrorists, and plant the seeds of liberty and democracy.

Of all the strategies we adopt to win the war, at the top of the list must be the liberation of the peoples of the Middle East. We must state this forthrightly and purse this goal openly. It would be arrogant and indeed immoral of us to think that only Westerners (and a few select others like the Japanese) are deserving of liberty, when all peoples, including those of the Middle East, are just as deserving.

As mentioned earlier, the two arms of the Sunni Jihad are the Saudi-based Wahabists and the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood (although the latter has branches in many countries). Both, however, share the same goal of reestablishing the Caliphate. They aim to do this by first weakening the Western democracies and our will to intervene in the Middle East. Their greatest fear is that we will start to support domestic democracy movements which threaten existing regimes as well as the Jihad itself.

Russia

Russian foreign policy with regard to the Jihad has been ambiguous. On the one hand they seem to recognize the problem of terrorism and Muslim fundamentalism. On the other they sell weapons to Iran an Syria, two state sponsors of terrorism.

It is in the long-term interests of Russia to work vigorously to defeat Jihadism. Unfortunately, for the most part they are pursuing the short term goal of seeking financial gain by working with Iran. Oddly, they seem to recognize the problem to a greater extent than Europe or America, but are unable to use their intellectual knowledge to see past the short-term economic benefits. Phares believes that we can influence Russia to change their policies, and offers several suggestions.

The jihadists saw the collapse of the Soviet Union as divinely inspired as well as a message from God that He was on their side. It was for this reason that there was a split in the Jihad in the early 90s after a series of meetings in Khartoum, Sudan. The hotheads wanted immediate terrorist action against the United States and secular Arab regimes, while cooler heads argued for a long-term strategy of infiltration. Phares calls the hotheads "Combat Salafists" and the latter "Realist Salafists." They share the same ideology and goals and differ only on methodology. The hotheads went into al Qaeda and the rest, as they say, is history.

The United Nations and Alliances Among Nations

The United Nations is at best useless. Kofi Annan has said that the UN "stands neutral between and those fighting it." The UN criticizes democracies when it believes it sees them doing wrong, but largely ignores human rights abuses in Muslim countries. This must change if progress is to be made.

However, the end the U.S. cannot do it alone. We must use every tool at our disposal to recruit other nations to create a united front against the jihadists. As such, the solutions Phares proposes involve alliances outside of the UN structure.

Phares has several ideas for a diplomatic offensive against the jihadists. One is to hire and put into place a new generation of diplomats who are educated in the ways of our enemies. Second is for Congress to "set the guidelines for a new foreign policy based on suporting human rights, self-determination, pluralism, and democratization on the one hand and a confrontation with the regimes, movements, and ideologies that promote threats to international law, security, peace, and liberty on the other." Third is to use the first to to actively support democracy movements and combat the jihadists.

The Middle East as "Middle East"

Phares calls the Middle East and surrounding areas a "Middle Earth." Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman are constitutional monarchies. They are mostly at peace and are moving, albeit slowly, towards pluralistic societies. Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, and Mauritania are republics moving from authoritarianism to pluralism. Syria and Libya are ruled by nationalist socialist dictators. Saudi Arabia and Iran are Islamist theocracies. Iraq is a fragile democracy. Qatar is a constitutional monarchy but harbors an Islamist al Jazeera. Lebanon is a battlefield. Israel and Palestine are in conflict, with the latter divided between factions with varying ideologies.

In general the region is plagued with extremist ideologies and violent groups. What characterizes all of the countries is that after the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate all failed to liberalize and turned authoritarian to one degree or another. Almost all of the people are oppressed and persecuted, with civil liberties being almost nonexistent.

One often hears the term "the Arab street" with regard the the "righteous anger" that would "spontaneously" erupt in response to this or that action by the United States. In reality, the term was created by Jihadi propagandists with the express purpose of manipulating the West. Scenes of protesting militants are as often as not manufactured. It is, after all, just about impossible to know what the average Arab wants when he or she lives under a dictator.

The Vital Need for Democracy

Before 9/11 Western elites excused the lack of democracy in the Middle East because of our support for authoritarian governments. Western governments were criticized as being hypocritical; we wanted democracy for ourselves but denied it to others. After 9/11 these same people now oppose American attempts to spread democracy, especially in Iraq. The argument is now that we are "imposing" democracy on them and "interfering in their internal affairs."

Democratization will be opposed and moving toward liberty will not be easy. Both Western elites and Jihadist Muslims will create roadblocks.

But all people deserve freedom, and we must develop a more humane policy towards the people who live in these oppressive countries. Middle Easterners are no less deserving of liberty than Europeans, Americans, Asians, or Africans. More, these peoples have a natural right to learn about democracy and liberty.

Certainly we cannot "force democracy on other people," but this is a slogan, not a policy. But by the same token, freedom and liberty must be options before anyone can choose to adopt them. We can and must work to create the conditions where they can grow.

The War of Ideas

Information, or propaganda, is a large part of our fight against the jihadists. They try hard to get out their message, and we must be ready at all times to effectively counter their misinformation. We can start by exposing the lie that Jihad' does not mean "an internal spiritual journey" or "spiritual experience," but rather means conflict and war. Unfortunately, their deceptive messages are spread not only by Muslim jihadists, but by their apologists in the West as well.

The Salafists do not represent the majority of Muslims, and indeed there are many Muslim dissidents. The struggle between the jihadists and the reformers is in it's early stages. The forces of reaction currently favor the status quo.

We in the West must educate our citizens about the dangers of the Jihadist movement. We must confront not only the forces of Jihad, but their Western apologists as well. Finally, we must identify and support Muslim dissidents who are working for reform.

Vast numbers of Muslims live in poverty and are politically oppressed, yet oil money is used for Jihad rather than to relieve their suffering. Education, jobs, scientific advancement, infrastructure, everything is subordinated to the Jihad.

Terrorist Threats

Of the many domestic threats we face, one that Phares discusses that I have not seen elsewhere is that of "Urban Jihad." His study of various sources, including training manuals and other documents is that the Combat Salafists wish to establish "urban armies who, when the signal was given, attack and create widespread chaos. Their objective would be to turn our cities into Beirut in the 1970s/80s or Baghdad in 2006. We have already seen small-scale examples of this attempt with the Virginia "Paintball jihadists" and the Fort Dix cell in New Jersey, as well as at various training camps in places from Oregon to Florida.

Right now, domestic jihadists/terrorist cells must rely on militants who come into the United States legally or otherwise. The "breaking point," Phares speculates, will come when they are able to recruit enough militants from domestic sources, and can from there grow exponentially. At that point they may pull the trigger and launch the "Urban Jihad" scenario.

Europe

The existence and indeed expansion of Jihadism in Europe has been an embarrassment to European leaders. When Phares visited them in the 1980s and 90s they dismissed that such a thing could happen in their countries. After 9/11, and with the extremism of many Muslim leaders in Europe now undeniable, they are taking a second look at the situation and now admit that they too are vulnerable.

The objectives of the jihadists in Europe vary from one part of the continent to another. In the south their claims are mainly territorial, as they wish to reclaim "lost" lands such as the Spain and parts of what was Yugoslavia. In the rest of Europe the initial objective is a change in foreign policy, and following that the establishment of self-governing enclaves. They wish to neutralize and then convert Europe.

Both the Wahabists and Muslim Brotherhood are also spending tremendous resources in trying to spread Islam, not just through immigration into Europe (and to a lesser extent America) but by converting the natives.

Phares describes his travels though out Europe, and concludes that the younger generation "gets it" to a greater extent than older people, and that more people overall "get it" in eastern Europe than in the western part of the continent. The east-west dichotomy is probably do to the former's more recent experience with totalitarianism; they are able to recognize the approaching danger because they just experienced a form of it.

As in America, 9/11 and to a greater extent 3/11 and 7/7 "woke up" many ordinary people and security experts. But elites, particularly those who inhabit the Brussels bureaucracy, still speak the language of political correctness. To them, as with the newly installed Obama administration, words such as "Islamic terrorism," "War on Terror," and "War of Ideas," to say nothing of "Jihad," are completely banned.

The first thing Europeans need to do to defeat the jihadists, Phares says, it to properly describe and label the problem. The second step is to pass legislation that will "equate Jihad with racism because it "calls for a forcible sectoral division of existing democratic societies, and identifies Salafi and Khumeini Jihadism with terrorism on the ground that it calls for violence against segnmemts of these societies."

9-11 And Beyond

The American reaction to 9/11 was unexpected. As Phares explains in Future Jihad, bin Laden thought that the United States would

1) Lash out incoherently, killing tremendous amounts of civilian Muslims
2) Descend into domestic chaos
3) Be paralyzed into inaction

That numbers one and two are somewhat contradictory tells us more about the mindset of the Combat Salafists than anything else.

However, the United States executed a precise strike into Afghanistan which deprived al Qaeda and the Taliban of a base country from which to conduct operations. As such, they have shifted priorities to contain and ultimately reverse U.S. interventions in the Middle East.

While the West was debating our reasons for invading Iraq, the jihadists knew perfectly well what the threat was; the establishment of a democracy within "their" realm. They knew that a successful democracy venture would lead to the overthrow of dictatorial Arab regimes (through slow evolution if not immediate revolution) whether they be secular or theocratic. Thus, the battle for Tehran and Damascus was and is taking place inside Iraq.

Middle East Roots

The Arab League was formed in 1945 and adopted surprisingly democratic goals. It failed to achieve them for the following reasons

1) They put Pan-Arabism ahead of democracy
2) They adopted a frankly racist attitude towards non-Arabs, freezing Kurds, Berbers, Copts, Assyrians and other minorities out of any steps toward progress
3) They focused on destroying Israel, which spawned extremism in and of itself
4) They allowed Jihadism to spread freely

Understanding these will allow us not to make these same mistakes again.

Despite the importance of Europe and the United States, the war against Jihadism will be won or lost in the Greater Middle East. Two factors will determine who wins; one, whether the Western democracies have the willpower to stay the course, and two adopt a strategy of liberation and promoting democracy. Their are numerous battlefields, and sometimes the fighting is military and sometimes in the realm of ideas, but it all depends on whether the Western democracies will stay the course and adopt the appropriate policies.

Other Battlefields

The conflict is a global one, and the most important battleground in the Pacific region is in the Philippines. The separatist movement on the large southern island of Mindanao was not originally Islamist, but was transformed into one by the efforts of Salafi-Wahabists from Saudi Arabia and Libya.

In Central and South America, the key nation is Venezuela. Hugo Chavez has allied his nation with the Khumeinists of Iran. The worrysome part is that this is not just the result of Chavez, but is the culmination of years of Venezuelan ties to radical movements.

State of the Confrontation

Phares ends his book with a summary of the state of the conflict. Following are his main points:

1) We are in a war, not a series of isolated terrorist incidents
2) It is a war with a known entity
3) The enemy, whether Salafist, Wahabi, Takfiri, or Khumeinist, has actively declared war on us.
4) The jihadists are ahead
5) It will be a long war, more along the lines of the Cold War than World War II

Critics will say that the people of the Middle Est "are not ready for democracy." The truth, Phares says, is that they would like to move in this direction but have been prevented from doing so by our own policies of supporting the status quo. Radicalism is something that has grown worse in recent decades, so if we had supported the existing democracy movements when the Middle East came out of colonialism we could already have a relatively free region.

In contrast to obsessing about "finding bin Laden," which Phares likens to "looking for Waldo," we need to understand that we are fighting a movement, not a person or single organization. The emphasis on personalities, while understandable, can only impede progress, because it causes us to focus on the storyteller, not the story. Likewise, Saddam was not the problem in Iraq, Ba'athism was, and Ahmadinejad not the problem in Iran, Khumeinism is.

My Take

Phares hits a home run with this book. It is well written, and does not require specialized background information to read. Light-years from a rant, his prose is calm and dispassionate. The chapters are well organized he lays out his argument in a logical fashion that makes his argument easy to follow.

I am in agreement with Phares in his overall view of the world situation. We are not fighting a limited terrorist network but a war against a global Jihad. It is a restart of the old on-again/off-again war between the Caliphate of old and the West that lasted a millennia. It is a war, not a police action. We have been seriously negligent in pursuing a human rights agenda. Leaving millions to live under tyranny and oppression is counterproductive.

Our war on Jihad is more like the Cold War than any other recent conflict. It will require at least decades to fight, and will run both hot and cold. Actual fighting will be more of what the military calls "low intensity" than World War II style "high intensity." Much of the conflict will be in the realm of ideas and as such will take place in the media. At the center of gravity is the West's ability to recognize and identify the problem, and willpower to stick it out in the face of opposition at home and abroad.

One of the primary things that separates this book from Future Jihad and The War of Ideas is that in this one he offers many concrete proposals to fight the war. The first two books were mostly proscriptive, this one mostly prescriptive.

What most impresses me is Phares' commitment to human rights and insistence that people deserve to live in a pluralistic society. His is the opposite of realpolitik and the m"it's none of our business" isolationism that is found on both the right and left.

We are simply not going to be able to switch to alternative sources of energy as a means to stop buying Middle Eastern oil anytime soon. At best we can slow down the pace, but even so I rather doubt we can do enough to seriously put a financial damper on revenues. As such, we are better off working to influence where and how Muslim regimes spend their money. We need to get them to spend their money to help their own people, and liberalize their societies. How we should go about this can be debated, but the necessity of the goal seems clear.

All of Phares' recommendations should be acted up. Unfortunately few will be. We have an administration in the United States with it's head firmly in the sand regarding this problem. President Obama is pandering to the Europeans' worst instincts. The Jihadists will have at least four years to advance their agenda unencumbered. Let's hope that they do not get much farther during this time before we can turn things around at home.

Posted by Tom at 8:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 8, 2009

Obama Declares Defeat In War on Terror

Ok, he didn't exactly declare defeat. But he may as well have.

From yesterday's Washington Times:

It's official. The U.S. is no longer engaged in a "war on terrorism." Neither is it fighting "jihadists" or in a "global war."

President Obama's top homeland security and counterterrorism official took all three terms off the table of acceptable words inside the White House during a speech Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

"The President does not describe this as a 'war on terrorism,'" said John Brennan, head of the White House homeland security office, who outlined a "new way of seeing" the fight against terrorism.

The only terminology that Mr. Brennan said the administration is using is that the U.S. is "at war with al Qaeda."

"We are at war with al Qaeda," he said. "We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al Qaeda's murderous agenda."

This is insane. We are moving backwards. President Bush got a lot wrong, and even he understood the full nature of the jihadist threat facing the West. But at least he seemed to know that it went beyond al Qaeda. Obama and his minons don't even get that.

And this is why I titled the piece as I did; the jihadists are engaged in a war against us on many levels. If you don't fight back, or even recognize that they're fighting you, you've effectively surrendered.

With all else that's in the news, this story didn't get a whole lot of attention, at least that I saw. Maybe that's because months ago we heard rumors that he had dropped or was going to drop "war on terror," maybe because we just expect this type of thing from him, or maybe because people are burned out on the whole thing. It's some of all three, but mostly the latter, I think.

I've written so much about this before I'm not going to rehash it all here. See Creeping Sharia, Iran, Islam, Jihadism and the War of Ideas, and War on Islamic Fascism under "Categories" at right. For now suffice it to say that at war against us are men who call themselves "men of jihad." The Sunni side consists of Salafists who are divided into Wahhabists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Deobandiists. On the Shiite are the Khomeinists. al-Qaeda is a neo-Wahhabist organization that is at the head of it's own global insurgency. The Sunnis want to recreate the Caliphate, and the Shiites want to establish a regional Imamate.

What's going on is a combined assault against the West, of which bomb throwing is only one tactic. The objective for the Sunnis is the Caliphate. The method by the "realist jihadists" is a sort of creeping sharia by which they take advantage of our traditions of tolerance and diversity to force an intolerant system on us.

On the one hand, Obama's spokesman says that we are "at war with al Qaeda" yet then denies that it is a global war. As mentioned above, al Qaeda sits atop a global insurgency of jihadist organizations, something explained by Lt. Col (Dr) David Kilcullen in his groundbreaking 2004 work Countering Global Insurgency. So even if you wanted to limit the threat to terrorism, it's not just al Qaeda that's after us.

Much of it is what Walid Phares calls a "War of Ideas." Which idea will take hold among more people; that life in a liberal democracy of one sort or another is better, or life under Sharia governed by a Caliph? The victor isn't the one that wins 51% of the vote or poll, it's the one whose cadres are the most clever and determined.

Either way, we can't win if we're not fighting. And Obama doesn't even think we're in a war of ideas. To him and his type it's just a big criminal investigation.

Again, from the story in the Times :

Mr. Brennan said that to say the U.S. is fighting "jihadists" is wrongheaded because it is using "a legitimate term, 'jihad,' meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal" which "risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve."

Mr. Brennan has bought into the jihadist propaganda. The proper definition of jihad is more along the lines of

"Constant effort on behalf of Allah" to spread the faith. "Historically, jihad was a state tool for war mobilization under Arab and Ottoman caliphates and various Muslim dynasties." Although "spiritual jihad" is "theoretically and philisophically possible, jihad throughout history was a state public policy on war and peace, and it was sanctioned by religious edicts."

Mr Brennan has bought into the notion that there is a "good jihad" of spiritual warfare, and a "bad jihad" which is the violent type. It's all a lot of nonsense. Walid Phares explains the propaganda message in the first paragraph and who developed it and why in the second:

The good holy war is when the right religious and political authorities declare it against the correct enemy and at the right time. The bad jihad, called also Hiraba, is the wrong war, declared by bad (and irresponsible) people against the wrong enemy (for the moment), and without an appropriate authorization by the "real" Muslim leadership. According to this thesis, those Muslims who wage a Hiraba, a wrong war, are called Mufsidoon, from the Arabic word for "spoilers." The advocates of this ruse recommend that the United States and its allies stop calling the jihadists by that name and identifying the concept of Jihadism as the problem. In short, they argue that "jihad is good, but the Mufsidoon, the bad guys and the terrorists, spoiled the original legitimate sense."

When researched, it turns out that this theory was produced by clerics of the Wahabi regime in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood as a plan to prevent jihad and Jihadism from being considered by the West and the international community as an illegal and therefore forbidden activity. It was then forwarded to American- and Western-based interest groups to be spread within the Untied States, particularly within the defense and security apparatus. Such a deception further confuses U.S. national security perception of the enemy and plunges democracies back into the "black hole" of the 1990's. This last attempt to blur the vision of democracies can be exposed with knowledge of the jihadi terror strategies and tactics, one of which is known as Taqiya, the doctrine on deception and deflection.

President Obama has done more to set us back in our war against the jihadists in six months than President Carter did against he Soviets in his first two years in office. That's quite a record.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 14, 2009

The Anti-Anti-Jihadist Assault on Cheney and the CIA

In the 1970s and 80s a species of liberal emerged called the "Anti-anticommunist." Although they'd been around before, it wasn't until the Carter Administration that they gained actual power in Washington. Not communists themselves, if you beat them up enough they'd eventually admit that "ok, communism isn't good..." but they saved their real venom for anyone who made it their mission to end the scourge of communism from the planet.

They took as their inspiration Senator Joseph McCarthy. Not to support him, of course, but because they took it as a given that anyone who spoke seriously about the need to end communism must be like him.

During the 1980s they spent their time in the nuclear freeze movement, convinced that American nuclear arms were the real threat to peace. They opposed American support for the "Contras," the rebels fighting the communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Ten such anti-anticommunists, including Speaker of the House Jim Wright, even went so far as to send the now infamous "Dear Comandante" letter to Sandanista leader Daniel Ortega. To them, the real enemy was the Contras, not the Cuban/Soviet supported Sandinistas. As such, anything bad the Contras did or were alleged to have done was trumpeted loudly, while the spread of communist influence went unremarked.

The situation got so bad that in El Salvador not only were we limited to only 55 U.S. advisers, but they could only carry handguns to defend themselves. One time one of them was seem carrying, or allegedly carrying, a rifle, and you'd have thought the Democrats had found their Watergate II. The media went bonkers for a few weeks and the Reagan Administration had to jump through the necessary hoops and assure everyone it wouldn't happen again yada yada yada. Nevermind that our guys were in real danger of being killed, and some of them were. No, to the anti-anti-communists it was much more important to limit our capabilities than limit the spread of communism in our own backyard.

Today we see a similar phenomenon with regards to some on the left. Even though they hold the White House and both houses of Congress, they seem to think that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are the enemies. Most of them don't even see a jihadist threat at all, convinced as they are that it's all just something cooked up by the evil neocon right to make profits for Halliburton and Blackwater.

The latest is the phoney scandal they've cooked up in which they alleged that Vice President Cheney ordered the CIA not to report a program to Congress, and now our democracy is in mortal danger! It's an outrage! We need an investigation and prosecutions! Cheney Lied! Bush Lied!

Er, no. Andy McCarthy explains:

Another Phony Scandal
Of course the CIA was plotting to kill bin Laden.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

With Speaker Pelosi caught in the web of her own deceit over what the CIA told her about "torture," and the Obama administration in the middle of its latest 180-degree reversal over CIA interrogators (Attorney General Holder is now considering prosecutions despite Obama's promise of no prosecutions), Democrats have trumped up a charge that the CIA, on the orders of Vice President Dick Cheney, failed to notify Congress that it was contemplating -- not implementing, but essentially brainstorming about -- plans to kill or capture top al-Qaeda figures.

This is their most ludicrous gambit in a long time -- and that's saying something. Given their eight years of complaints about President Bush's failure to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, and given President Clinton's indignant insistence (against the weight of the evidence) that he absolutely wanted the CIA to kill bin Laden, one is moved to ask: What did Democrats think the CIA was doing for the last eight years?

And if Democrats did not believe the CIA was considering plans to kill or capture bin Laden, why weren't they screaming from the rafters about such a lapse?

Of course the CIA has been trying to figure out how to take out top al-Qaeda leaders. One assumes -- one hopes -- they are also brainstorming about wiping out the Taliban, overthrowing the Iranian regime, undermining Kim Jong Il's nuclear program, disrupting Syrian support of Hezbollah, and tackling all manner of threats to the United States. But there is no law that requires, or could practically require, the CIA to brief Congress every time some agency component considers the feasibility of some security initiative.

Gen. George Washington himself observed that "upon secrecy, success depends in most enterprises . . . and for want of it, they are generally defeated." Washington thought it obvious that secrecy was the heart of good intelligence. That is a big part of why intelligence activities are executive in nature, a core part of what the Supreme Court long ago recognized as the "delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations." Secrecy cannot be preserved in a system of national security by political committee, much less a system in which a sprawling, 17-agency intelligence community is forced to share all of its secrets, in real time, with 535 members of Congress.

Intelligence activities are not reliant on congressional authorization or supervision. Like all executive power under the Constitution, the president is checked in this area by Congress's enumerated powers, particularly the power of the purse. As is its wont, Congress tries to leverage this authority to usurp presidential prerogatives -- to make itself a partner in the actual running of intelligence activities, albeit a partner with no accountability (see Nancy Pelosi, supra).
...

Most Americans assume that the CIA has been trying to get bin Laden and his top lieutenants. Moreover, Democrats have a sorry recent history of turning national security into a war crime -- a pattern seen again in this weekend's coverage, which conjured absurd images of Cheney covering up illegal assassinations even though (a) the ban on assassinations relates to heads of state, not jihadist networks, and (b) during the 2008 campaign, the press considered it a positive demonstration of Barack Obama's toughness that he said he would not shrink from striking vigorously against terrorists who'd attacked Americans. It should thus come as no surprise that the CIA -- at the direction not only of the former vice president but also of George Tenet, the Democrat holdover who was Bush's first CIA director -- decided there was no need to brief congressional leadership on notions that evidently never became concrete plans.

So, to score some political points, Democrats have put themselves in the position of opposing CIA efforts to defeat our enemies. This misbegotten strategy can only remind the public of a few unwelcome facts:

First, when Democrats were in charge in the 1990s, at the time when bin Laden declared war on the United States and then bombed our embassies and the U.S.S. Cole, the Democrats' strategy to protect the country was to file indictments -- with no meaningful effort to capture bin Laden or his top aide, Ayman al-Zawahiri, much less kill them.

Second, when opportunities to kill bin Laden arose, the CIA's hands were tied because President Clinton so muddled the rules of engagement that our special-ops agents could not be sure whether Democrats would indict them for such operations.

Third, after 9/11, even as President Bush's warfare strategy decimated al-Qaeda's top hierarchy, Democrats complained that the Bush administration had failed to kill or capture bin Laden. Now that the political winds have shifted, they have returned to their default position of complaining that government agents were trying to kill or capture bin Laden.

Fourth, this bizarre complaint comes in the form of grousing about a failure to notify Congress, voiced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among others. But consider that back in February, Senator Feinstein publicly revealed that Pakistan's government was allowing the United States to use Pakistani territory as a base for Predator drones being used for controversial targeted assassinations. Unlike Leahy's aforementioned malfeasance, Feinstein's unfortunate revelation was doubtlessly inadvertent. But it underscores the danger of informing Congress about intelligence activities.

The last point is a critical one, showing starkly the difference between Democrats and Republicans on national security. President Obama is clearly conducting a war in Pakistan, a country with which we are formally at peace. The legitimate existence of wartime conditions is crucial: If we are not at war, there is no basis in international law for killing Pakistanis (or non-Pakistanis) in Pakistan. But the Right is not accusing the president of conducting an illegal war, of failing to seek congressional authorization, or of committing war crimes. Nor did Republicans seek to exploit Feinstein's gaffe -- while there might have been political sport in it, doing so would have made it more difficult for Pakistan to cooperate with the Obama administration in an effort that advances American security interests.

Indeed, the real scandal is that we didn't implement a program to kill top al Qaeda leaders. As the Wall Street Journal reports

The goal was to assemble teams of CIA and special-operations forces "and put bullets in [the al Qaeda leaders'] heads," one former intelligence official said.

The plan was never carried out, and Mr. Panetta canceled the effort on the day he learned of it, June 23. The next day, he alerted Congress, which didn't know about the plan.

Well why in the world did he cancel it? If they want to investigate anything, lets find out why Panetta canceled what seems to me a pretty good idea, or at least one worth investigating.

It is pretty obvious to me that the Democrats are just desperately searching for something to take the heat off of Nancy Pelosi. She is the one caught in the real lie when she said that the CIA regularly misled her, and then was confronted with documents proving that, oops, she had in fact been briefed about the enhanced interrogation techniques.

There's no scandal. No laws were broken. Our agents thought about a program but never implemented it. There was no reason to brief Congress.

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July 13, 2009

Obama Releases Known Terrorists

Because I don't have time to do a proper post tonight I'm going to post the most important parts of Andy McCarthy's article today on National Review. This boggles the mind:

Obama Frees Iranian Terror Masters
The release of the Irbil Five is a continuation of a shameful policy.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

There are a few things you need to know about President Obama's shameful release on Thursday of the "Irbil Five" -- Quds Force commanders from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who were coordinating terrorist attacks in Iraq that have killed hundreds -- yes, hundreds -- of American soldiers and Marines.

First, of the 4,322 Americans killed in combat in Iraq since 2003, 10 percent of them (i.e., more than 400) have been murdered by a single type of weapon alone, a weapon that is supplied by Iran for the singular purpose of murdering Americans. As Steve Schippert explains at NRO's military blog, the Tank, the weapon is "the EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator), designed by Iran's IRGC specifically to penetrate the armor of the M1 Abrams main battle tank and, consequently, everything else deployed in the field." Understand: This does not mean Iran has killed only 400 Americans in Iraq. The number killed and wounded at the mullahs' direction is far higher than that -- likely multiples of that -- when factoring in the IRGC's other tactics, such as the mustering of Hezbollah-style Shiite terror cells.

Second, President Bush and our armed forces steadfastly refused demands by Iran and Iraq's Maliki government for the release of the Irbil Five because Iran was continuing to coordinate terrorist operations against American forces in Iraq (and to aid Taliban operations against American forces in Afghanistan). Freeing the Quds operatives obviously would return the most effective, dedicated terrorist trainers to their grisly business.

Third, Obama's decision to release the five terror-masters comes while the Iranian regime (a) is still conducting operations against Americans in Iraq, even as we are in the process of withdrawing, and (b) is clearly working to replicate its Lebanon model in Iraq: establishing a Shiite terror network, loyal to Iran, as added pressure on the pliant Maliki to understand who is boss once the Americans leave. As the New York Times reports, Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, put it this way less than two weeks ago:

Iran is still supporting, funding, training surrogates who operate inside of Iraq -- flat out. . . . They have not stopped. And I don't think they will stop. I think they will continue to do that because they are also concerned, in my opinion, [about] where Iraq is headed. They want to try to gain influence here, and they will continue to do that. I think many of the attacks in Baghdad are from individuals that have been, in fact, funded or trained by the Iranians.

Fourth, President Obama's release of the Quds terrorists is a natural continuation of his administration's stunningly irresponsible policy of bartering terrorist prisoners for hostages. As I detailed here on June 24, Obama has already released a leader of the Iran-backed Asaib al-Haq terror network in Iraq, a jihadist who is among those responsible for the 2007 murders of five American troops in Karbala. While the release was ludicrously portrayed as an effort to further "Iraqi reconciliation" (as if that would be a valid reason to spring a terrorist who had killed Americans), it was in actuality a naïve attempt to secure the reciprocal release of five British hostages -- and a predictably disastrous one: The terror network released only the corpses of two of the hostages, threatening to kill the remaining three (and who knows whether they still are alive?) unless other terror leaders were released.

Michael Ledeen has reported that the release of the Irbil Five is part of the price Iran has demanded for its release in May of the freelance journalist Roxana Saberi. Again, that's only part of the price: Iran also has demanded the release of hundreds of its other terror facilitators in our custody. Expect to see Obama accommodate this demand, too, in the weeks ahead.

Finally, when it comes to Iran, it has become increasingly apparent that President Obama wants the mullahs to win. What you need to know is that Barack Obama is a wolf in "pragmatist" clothing: Beneath the easy smile and above-it-all manner -- the "neutral" doing his best to weigh competing claims -- is a radical leftist wedded to a Manichean vision that depicts American imperialism as the primary evil in the world.

What a disgrace. Read the whole thing

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May 21, 2009

Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and the New York Terror Plot

Former Vice President Dick Cheney delivered an address before the American Enterprise Institute earlier today that is a must watch. At the very least read it in it's entirety, which you can here.

President Obama also gave a a speech today about national security.

The short version is that Cheney gave a responsible address in which he reviewed the issues at hand and reviewed the threat and discussed what the Bush Administration had done to counter it.

Obama acted like a jerk.

First up is our former Vice President

(video h/t American Power)

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Read and watch the entire thing, but here's the money quote:

Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat - what the Congress called "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." From that moment forward, instead of merely preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.

We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We'd just been hit by a foreign enemy - leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.

Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn't know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.

These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass - a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.

Yup. It seemed common sense back then that we'd be hit again, and maybe quite soon. We had been caught with such total surprise, and the devastating nature of the attack was something out of a Tom Clancy novel. Indeed, in his 1995 Debt of Honor, a Japanese airline pilot crashes a 747 into the U.S. Capitol building during a state of the union address, killing the president, vice president, and most members of congress. It was an interesting book, but as I read it I thought "that would make a cool movie but it could never happen." 9-11 dispelled such thoughts.

More on what Cheney said, but before that or we go to President Obama, let's review one of the biggest stories of the week; four Muslims were arrested Wednesday for plotting to blow up two New York Synagogues and shoot down military aircraft with Stinger missiles. The story from Fox News:

(F)our domestic terror suspects -- James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, N.Y. -- were arrested late Wednesday after they allegedly planted a 37-pound device that they believed was a bomb in the trunk of a car outside the Riverdale Temple, a synagogue in the Bronx, and two other mock bombs in the backseat of a car outside the Riverdale Jewish Center, another synagogue a few blocks away. They also allegedly planned to shoot Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles at planes at the Air National Guard base in Newburgh, about 70 miles north of New York City.

FBI investigators had been monitoring the men and, through an informant, provided them with an inactive (Stinger) missile and inert C-4 explosives, according to the federal complaint filed against the suspects.

Don't think that because the FBI supplied a fake missile that they couldn't have gotten it elsewhere. From the same story

"I don't know if you could buy it on Craigslist, but there's certainly a lot of people who engage in this type of contraband," Steve Emerson, executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, said of the anti-aircraft Stinger missile. "They're not that big, either, so they could've been smuggled into the United States."

Emerson said the 5-foot-long weapon, which has a range of 5 miles and weighs 35 pounds fully armed, could have been bought in a number of black arms markets in Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Pakistan, Gaza and Saudi Arabia. The missile system could be purchased for "tens of thousands of dollars," Emerson said.

To be sure, these guys weren't the brightest bulbs. From the AP

The four men were ex-convicts who envisioned themselves as holy warriors, ambitious enough to concoct a plot to blow up synagogues and military planes, authorities said. But they were amateurs every step of the way. They had trouble finding guns and bought cameras at Wal-Mart to photograph their targets. One was a convicted purse snatcher, another smoked marijuana the day the plot was to be carried out.

Muslims fueled by hatred of America and Jews, they spent months scouting targets and securing what they thought was a surface-to-air missile system and powerful explosives -- all under the watch of an FBI informant.

But before we get to cocky, let's remember that after the 1993 world trade center attack we laughed when one of the terrorists went back to the rental place to claim his deposit on the truck that had been blown up in the attack. I think we all know who got the last laugh on that one.

They're still out there, folks, and they're trying to get us. Odds are that sooner or later they'll succeed again. Whether or not they're homegrown or imported from the wilds of Waziristan doesn't matter.

Independent Jihad

Muslim terrorists need not be connected to al Qaeda or any other terrorist network to be part of the global jihad. I say this because you can expect this plot to be dismissed in days to come if no connection is found.


In May 2006 a 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 a 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."

Let's also not forget the 2007 JFK Bomb Plot and the Fort Dix "Jersey Jihadists." If we hadn't caught them would have caused untold havoc. Again, one day they're bound to get through our nets.

On to Obama

So what has our President been up to lately? As usual, he blames the Bush Administration for our troubles. In a speech today on national security he said that he inherited a "mess"

I knew when I ordered Guantanamo closed that it would be difficult and complex. There are 240 people there who have now spent years in legal limbo. In dealing with this situation, we do not have the luxury of starting from scratch. We are cleaning up something that is - quite simply - a mess a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant basis, and that consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country.

He also pontificates that

After 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era - that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law; that our government would need new tools to protect the American people, and that these tools would have to allow us to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.

Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. And I believe that those decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that - too often - our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And in this season of fear, too many of us - Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens - fell silent.

What a jerk.

Throwing out the bone that the decisions "were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people" is a throwaway line that he clearly doesn't mean. Obama has no respect for anyone but himself. He is sooooooo smart that if he had been president at the time he wouldn't have fallen for the "fear" and of course would have calmly and cooly advised that we were all getting excited over nothing and that there would be no further attacks.

Because he is Obama, and the world will bend to his will. I swear the man believes his own propaganda.

Let's go back to someone who can think responsibly about national security, Dick Cheney. Here's what he said about the likes of Obama and his type in his speech at the AEI:

To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks....

(Our strategy) has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations ... the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network ... and the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program. It's required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan - and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive - and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed....

Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn't serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.

In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations....

Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.

I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about "values." Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.

Game, Set and Match; Dick Cheney.

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May 18, 2009

An Insurgency Ends

The war in Sri Lanka between the government and the Tamil Tigers isn't one I've followed. Truth be told that before I started to write this I probably knew about as much about it as I did the one in northwestern Africa between the Polisario Front and Morocco. As such, I'll be careful. Nevertheless, it would seem that given our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq it may hold a few lessons.

Dead: Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels

Velupillai Prabhakaran

A quick summary of the situation from Fox News

Sri Lanka declared Monday it had crushed the final resistance of the Tamil Tigers, killing the rebel group's leader along with his son and other commanders, according to reports.

The death of Velupillai Prabhakaran came as the government claimed to have seized control of the island state for the first time in 26 years, ending Asia's longest-running war...

Sri Lanka's army chief, Lt. Gen. Sareth Fonseka, said on television that his troops routed the last rebels from the northern war zone Monday morning and were working to identify Prabhakaran's body from among the dead.

News reports on Sunday had the Tigers admitting defeat, so this is not just hot air from Fonseka.

A useful timeline is also on the Fox website. Depending on where you date the start of the conflict, it lasted somewhere around 26 years.

What of it, and why should we care?

The most obvious lesson is that defeating even large insurgencies with military force can be done. We therefore should not be demoralized that after 7 1/2 years in Afghanistan we don't seem close to victory. We should also be proud that we were able to mostly defeat the insurgency in Iraq in less than 6 years (though I will be the first to admit that we're not out of the woods just yet).

Richard Fernandez has the scoop at the Belmont Club

...it may be the manner in which Colombo (the largest city and former administrative capital of Sri Lanka) finished the Tigers that is the real news. UN and Western appeals to the Sri Lankan government to halt the fighting were disregarded; it also barred the Western Media from the battlefront and paid scarce attention to 'international world opinion'. The New York Times reported, almost bitterly that Colombo had the temerity to win in violation of all the rules:
Assertions about fighting and casualties in the Sri Lanka war cannot be verified because the government severely restricts access by independent journalists. Several, including two from The New York Times, have been prohibited from entering the country, and one who flew late Sunday to Colombo, the capital, was ordered to leave on a return flight. ... There is no doubt that Mr. Rajapaksa's government appears poised to achieve what none of his predecessors managed in 25 years: to rout the Tamil Tigers, who controlled nearly a fourth of the island, and destroy their ranks as a conventional army. As the war's climax approached, both sides had rebuffed repeated calls from the United Nations and several foreign countries to spare civilians caught in the war zone. The United Nations estimates that at least 7,000 have died since January.

A corollary is that we should not listen to those who insist that insurgencies can only be defeated by political means. In most cases, it takes both military force and political action. While the military can deal fatal blows alone it cannot work. The lesson of Iraq, and as elucidated in Field Manual 3-24 (see below) is that one must first use the military to secure the population, then political and economic action is required to win them over. In this regard, Sri Lanka 's victory over the Tamil Tigers seems something of an aberration. But maybe over the years they were able to divorce the Tigers from their ethnic Tamil base, I don't know.

Contrary to what some would have you believe, it was never our policy in Iraq or Afghanistan to win by military means alone.

Third, it usually takes an awful long time. 26 years is 1/3 of the average lifespan in the West, and no doubt a bit more in Sri Lanka. I know I've quoted this exchange many times (lastly in Afghanistan and the Long War), but it is useful to do so here again.

In a 2007 interview Lt. Col. (Dr) David Kilcullen stunned Charlie Rose:

DAVID KILCULLEN: There has never been a successful counterinsurgency that took less than 10 years.

CHARLIE ROSE: Less than 10 years?

DAVID KILCULLEN: Successful.

It doesn't come across as well in print. Watching it, you see Rose lean forward and in utter amazement say "Less than 10 years?" with special emphasis on "10 years."

He had Kilcullen on for a reason; he's arguably the worlds foremost expert on the subject. A retired Austrailian Army officer, he was a contributor to then Lt. Gen. David Petraeus' U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24, the book that outlined the strategy behind what was popularly called the "surge." In 2007 he served as Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser to Gen. Petraeus. After that he went on to become a special adviser on counterinsurgency to Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. You don't have to agree with him on everything, but he knows what's what.

Meanwhile, the European Union demonstrates its complete irrelevancy by demanding a war crimes investigation:

Foreign ministers from the 27-nation EU said allegations that international humanitarian and human rights laws were violated had to be investigated, but did not say by whom.

"Those accountable must be brought to justice," they said in a statement.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said there have been "very grave allegations" of war crimes on both sides of the conflict and "they should be properly investigated."

Glad these guys weren't around in 1945. The EU moralists dither while the Sri Lankans did what they had to do. The website of the British D-Day Museum says that "Between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed, mainly as a result of Allied bombing." Wonder what they'd have to say about that?

Don't get me wrong; I've no doubt that bad things were done by both sides in Sri Lanka. The casualties are no doubt horrific. Nor do I think we should just wink at everything. It's more that the chattering classes seem positively obsessed with the subject. Can they not also see that not taking harsh action against insurgents might also be a human rights violation? One of the least humanitarian things is to let wars drag out.

But wait, it gets worse. From the Times of London (h/t Belmont Club)

Now that their military hopes are dashed, the fear in western capitals is that the Tamil Tigers will again turn to terrorism. If the Tamil leadership goes ahead with their threats of suicide will there be anyone left to negotiate with?

Folks, you just can't make this stuff up. And to think that these are the folks we're counting on to help us in Afghanistan and the War on Terror er, "Overseas Contingency Operations."

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May 10, 2009

Pelosi Knew About the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

Last week we saw a rash of stories that pretty much proved that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi knew all about the waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques that we were using against terrorists. Both the Washington Post and Washington Times had stories to this effect on Friday. From the Post:

Intelligence officials released documents yesterday saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was briefed in September 2002 about the use of harsh interrogation tactics against al-Qaeda suspects, seeming to contradict her repeated statements that she was never told the techniques were actually being used.

In a 10-page memo outlining an almost seven-year history of classified briefings, intelligence officials said that Pelosi and then-Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) were the first two members of Congress briefed on the tactics. Then the ranking member and chairman of the House intelligence committee, respectively, Pelosi and Goss were briefed Sept. 4, 2002, one week before the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The memo, issued to Capitol Hill by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency, notes that the Pelosi-Goss briefing covered "EITs including the use of EITs" on Abu Zubaida. EIT is an acronym for enhanced interrogation technique, and Abu Zubaida, whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, was one of the earliest valuable al-Qaeda members captured. He also was the first to have the controversial tactic of simulated drowning, or waterboarding, used against him.

She knew. I think most of these Democrats who now act so indignant over our use of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques knew about them all along.

The story in the Times adds that "a classified CIA briefing of Mrs. Pelosi included specific details of the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," or EITs, on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah.

She knew.

Via Jeb Babbin at Human Events, here is the relevant page from the briefing schedule that shows she was briefed on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques:

Pelosi Knew

From the Post article linked to above, Pelosi's defense was issued by her spokesman

"As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002. The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used," said Brendan Daly, Pelosi's spokesman.

From a Friday story on Fox News, Pelosi offers a lame defense that is immediately swatted down:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted Friday that she was briefed only once about the "enhanced" interrogation techniques being used on terrorism suspects and that she was assured by lawyers with the CIA and the Department of Justice that the methods were legal.

Pelosi issued a statement after CIA records released this week showed that Pelosi was briefed in September 2002 on the interrogation methods. The briefings memo appeared to contradict the speaker's claims that she was never told that waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation methods were being used.

"We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used," Pelosi said on April 23.

The emphasis seems to be on "were used," even though she conceded in a statement released Friday that she was told they would be used.

"As I said in my statement of December 9, 2007: 'I was briefed on interrogation techniques the (Bush) administration was considering using in the future. The administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal,'" she said.

But even that statement is at odds with the official record of the briefings recorded in the CIA memo dated to Sept. 4, 2002. That memo says Pelosi received a "briefing on EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques), including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities and a description of particular EITs that had been employed."


Another Washington Post story from Saturday goes farther:

A top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday.

Pelosi has insisted that she was not directly briefed by Bush administration officials that the practice was being actively employed. But Michael Sheehy, a top Pelosi aide, was present for a classified briefing that included Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), then the ranking minority member of the House intelligence committee, at which agency officials discussed the use of waterboarding on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida.

A Democratic source acknowledged yesterday that it is almost certain that Pelosi would have learned about the use of waterboarding from Sheehy. Pelosi herself acknowledged in a December 2007 statement that she was aware that Harman had learned of the waterboarding and had objected in a letter to the CIA's top counsel....

Republicans have accused Pelosi and other Democrats who attended the earliest classified briefings of knowing what CIA operatives were doing and offering their support for the methods, including waterboarding. They argue that Pelosi, who served as the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee until January 2003, objected only after the use of the techniques became public several years later.

Also on Saturday, David Freddoso reported on NRO's The Corner that he

...spoke to a senior Republican aide who feels that the speaker is getting an awfully easy ride on this -- that the briefing of the Speaker's aide clearly demonstrates that she knew what was going on in 2003, even if Pelosi is disputing exactly what was mentioned in the 2002 briefing.

"Look, the claim that a Pelosi staffer was briefed on these techniques but not Pelosi herself is absurd," he said. "That's just not the way the system works. Staff are not briefed on anything a Member wouldn't be briefed on."

She knew. Why does her defense make no sense? Dr Krauthammer nails it:

If you are told about torture that has already occurred, you might justify silence on the grounds that what's done is done and you are simply being used in a post-facto exercise to cover the CIA's rear end. The time to protest torture, if you really are as outraged as you now pretend to be, is when the CIA tells you what it is planning to do "in the future."

What I Think Happened

In the days after 9-11 most Americans thought we would get hit again, and soon. The attack had so taken us by surprise that we realized just how much we didn't know. We can track aircraft and missiles coming at use. With them, you have some idea as to what to expect. Terrorist attacks are not just bolts from the blue, but you don't even know what form it will take. Will the next one be a car bomb? An attempt to breach a dam? A bio-chemical attack? Or another hijacking? There was just no way to tell.

Our political leaders knew that the public would forgive them for one attack, but that would be it. The public never held anyone accountable for 9-11 because they - we - realized that no one could have really predicted it (I'm leaving the 9-11 Truthers whackjobs out of this).

But by the same token political leaders realized that the public would not be forgiving the next time. The would demand to know why stern measures had not been taken to prevent it. And, frankly, in the days after 9-11, any poll would have shown strong support for "enhanced interrogation techniques."

So at the time the Democrats wanted to protect our country and they did what they thought was the right thing to do. They were briefed on and approved the use of stern interrogation techniques. Now, however, they're pretending like they didn't have anything to do with it.

Nancy Pelosi and some of her fellow Democrats are playing the same game with EITs that they did with Iraq; support it when the polls show support for it, oppose it when the polls show support lagging. We're on to the game, though, and aren't going to let them get away with it.

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May 2, 2009

Andy McCarthy Smacks Down Eric Holder

Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy has turned down an offer by Attorney General Eric Holder to participate in a roundtable discussion on detention policy. The AG has invited several current and former prosecutors involved in international terrorism cases to seek their input, McCarthy being one of them.

McCarthy is known primarily as the man who led the team that sent the "Blind Sheikh", Omar Abdel Rahman, and eleven others to prison. Rahman was the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and plot to bomb several other New York City landmarks, including the United Nations building, an FBI office, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge. As such, Rahman was the most dangerous terrorist ever brought to justice in the United States. McCarthy wrote about the trial and his thoughs on our detention policy in his 2008 book Willfull Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad. As such, he is a legitimate expert on terrorism and the legal issues surrounding the issue.

McCarthy's full letter to AG Holder is below the fold, but here is the part where he states his reasons for turning down Holder's offer:

In light of public statements by both you and the President, it is dismayingly clear that, under your leadership, the Justice Department takes the position that a lawyer who in good faith offers legal advice to government policy makers--like the government lawyers who offered good faith advice on interrogation policy--may be subject to investigation and prosecution for the content of that advice, in addition to empty but professionally damaging accusations of ethical misconduct. Given that stance, any prudent lawyer would have to hesitate before offering advice to the government.

Congratulations, Mr. President. This is the result of the atmosphere of intimidation that you created when you let loose the hounds of the left.

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr. Attorney General of the United States United States Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

This letter is respectfully submitted to inform you that I must decline the invitation to participate in the May 4 roundtable meeting the President's Task Force on Detention Policy is convening with current and former prosecutors involved in international terrorism cases. An invitation was extended to me by trial lawyers from the Counterterrorism Section, who are members of the Task Force, which you are leading.

The invitation email (of April 14) indicates that the meeting is part of an ongoing effort to identify lawful policies on the detention and disposition of alien enemy combatants--or what the Department now calls "individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations." I admire the lawyers of the Counterterrorism Division, and I do not question their good faith. Nevertheless, it is quite clear--most recently, from your provocative remarks on Wednesday in Germany--that the Obama administration has already settled on a policy of releasing trained jihadists (including releasing some of them into the United States). Whatever the good intentions of the organizers, the meeting will obviously be used by the administration to claim that its policy was arrived at in consultation with current and former government officials experienced in terrorism cases and national security issues. I deeply disagree with this policy, which I believe is a violation of federal law and a betrayal of the president's first obligation to protect the American people. Under the circumstances, I think the better course is to register my dissent, rather than be used as a prop.

Moreover, in light of public statements by both you and the President, it is dismayingly clear that, under your leadership, the Justice Department takes the position that a lawyer who in good faith offers legal advice to government policy makers--like the government lawyers who offered good faith advice on interrogation policy--may be subject to investigation and prosecution for the content of that advice, in addition to empty but professionally damaging accusations of ethical misconduct. Given that stance, any prudent lawyer would have to hesitate before offering advice to the government.

Beyond that, as elucidated in my writing (including my proposal for a new national security court, which I understand the Task Force has perused), I believe alien enemy combatants should be detained at Guantanamo Bay (or a facility like it) until the conclusion of hostilities. This national defense measure is deeply rooted in the venerable laws of war and was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in the 2004 Hamdi case. Yet, as recently as Wednesday, you asserted that, in your considered judgment, such notions violate America's "commitment to the rule of law." Indeed, you elaborated, "Nothing symbolizes our [adminstration's] new course more than our decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.... President Obama believes, and I strongly agree, that Guantanamo has come to represent a time and an approach that we want to put behind us: a disregard for our centuries-long respect for the rule of law[.]" (Emphasis added.)

Given your policy of conducting ruinous criminal and ethics investigations of lawyers over the advice they offer the government, and your specific position that the wartime detention I would endorse is tantamount to a violation of law, it makes little sense for me to attend the Task Force meeting. After all, my choice would be to remain silent or risk jeopardizing myself.

For what it may be worth, I will say this much. For eight years, we have had a robust debate in the United States about how to handle alien terrorists captured during a defensive war authorized by Congress after nearly 3000 of our fellow Americans were annihilated. Essentially, there have been two camps. One calls for prosecution in the civilian criminal justice system, the strategy used throughout the 1990s. The other calls for a military justice approach of combatant detention and war-crimes prosecutions by military commission. Because each theory has its downsides, many commentators, myself included, have proposed a third way: a hybrid system, designed for the realities of modern international terrorism--a new system that would address the needs to protect our classified defense secrets and to assure Americans, as well as our allies, that we are detaining the right people.

There are differences in these various proposals. But their proponents, and adherents to both the military and civilian justice approaches, have all agreed on at least one thing: Foreign terrorists trained to execute mass-murder attacks cannot simply be released while the war ensues and Americans are still being targeted. We have already released too many jihadists who, as night follows day, have resumed plotting to kill Americans. Indeed, according to recent reports, a released Guantanamo detainee is now leading Taliban combat operations in Afghanistan, where President Obama has just sent additional American forces.

The Obama campaign smeared Guantanamo Bay as a human rights blight. Consistent with that hyperbolic rhetoric, the President began his administration by promising to close the detention camp within a year. The President did this even though he and you (a) agree Gitmo is a top-flight prison facility, (b) acknowledge that our nation is still at war, and (c) concede that many Gitmo detainees are extremely dangerous terrorists who cannot be tried under civilian court rules. Patently, the commitment to close Guantanamo Bay within a year was made without a plan for what to do with these detainees who cannot be tried. Consequently, the Detention Policy Task Force is not an effort to arrive at the best policy. It is an effort to justify a bad policy that has already been adopted: to wit, the Obama administration policy to release trained terrorists outright if that's what it takes to close Gitmo by January.

Obviously, I am powerless to stop the administration from releasing top al Qaeda operatives who planned mass-murder attacks against American cities--like Binyam Mohammed (the accomplice of "Dirty Bomber" Jose Padilla) whom the administration recently transferred to Britain, where he is now at liberty and living on public assistance. I am similarly powerless to stop the administration from admitting into the United States such alien jihadists as the 17 remaining Uighur detainees. According to National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, the Uighurs will apparently live freely, on American taxpayer assistance, despite the facts that they are affiliated with a terrorist organization and have received terrorist paramilitary training. Under federal immigration law (the 2005 REAL ID Act), those facts render them excludable from the United States. The Uighurs' impending release is thus a remarkable development given the Obama administration's propensity to deride its predecessor's purported insensitivity to the rule of law.

I am, in addition, powerless to stop the President, as he takes these reckless steps, from touting his Detention Policy Task Force as a demonstration of his national security seriousness. But I can decline to participate in the charade.

Finally, let me repeat that I respect and admire the dedication of Justice Department lawyers, whom I have tirelessly defended since I retired in 2003 as a chief assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. It was a unique honor to serve for nearly twenty years as a federal prosecutor, under administrations of both parties. It was as proud a day as I have ever had when the trial team I led was awarded the Attorney General's Exceptional Service Award in 1996, after we secured the convictions of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and his underlings for waging a terrorist war against the United States. I particularly appreciated receiving the award from Attorney General Reno--as I recounted in Willful Blindness, my book about the case, without her steadfastness against opposition from short-sighted government officials who wanted to release him, the "blind sheikh" would never have been indicted, much less convicted and so deservedly sentenced to life-imprisonment. In any event, I've always believed defending our nation is a duty of citizenship, not ideology. Thus, my conservative political views aside, I've made myself available to liberal and conservative groups, to Democrats and Republicans, who've thought tapping my experience would be beneficial. It pains me to decline your invitation, but the attendant circumstances leave no other option.

Very truly yours,

/S/

Andrew C. McCarthy

cc: Sylvia T. Kaser and John DePue
National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section

Summarized, McCarthy's reasons for turning down the invitation are that one, the Obama Administration has already settled on a position, so this meeting is just for show, and two, given recent statements by Holder and President Obama, any lawyer who makes good faith recommendations may be prosecuted just for making those recommendations. As such there not only is no point in attending the roundtable, but it might be hazardous to one's legal future.

Say what you will about George W. Bush, but he never went after Clinton Administration officials for anything. Nor did he spend time blaming them for their national security lapses that helped lead to 9-11.

Update

McCarthy has a piece in National Review explaining his reasons behind the letter, as well as a few comments on the Administration's new policies. Money quote:

The second reason for declining the Justice Department's request is that the exercise known as the "President's Detention Policy Task Force" is a farce. The administration has already settled on a detainee policy: It is simply going to release trained jihadists. Holder said as much in his Germany speech. In the irrational world he inhabits, the existence of Guantanamo Bay, where dangerous terrorists cannot harm anyone, is more of a security threat than jihadists roaming free, plotting to menace and murder us. That's why the administration just released Binyam Mohammed, who conspired with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and "Dirty Bomber" Jose Padilla to execute post-9/11 bombings in American cities. That's why Holder will soon announce (perhaps as early as today) that the Chinese Uighur detainees -- who've been affiliated with a designated terrorist organization and who've received paramilitary training at al-Qaeda camps -- will not only be set free in the United States but will, according to National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, subsist on the support of the American taxpayer.

For all their talk about "the rule of law," President Obama and Attorney General Holder have to know this policy is illegal. In 2005, Congress provided in the REAL ID Act that aliens who've been affiliated with a terrorist organization or who've received paramilitary training (which has been a staple of virtually every jihadist plot against the United States) are excludable from the United States. Moreover, even if the administration were not riding roughshod over federal immigration law, it is endangering the American people. The sophistry required to believe that having people who want to kill us locked up is more perilous than loosing them on civilian populations is so absurd it nearly defies description.

What was that about Bush and Cheney running roughshod over the Constitution again?

Posted by Tom at 1:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 30, 2008

The Mumbia Attacks and The Global Jihad

Other have reported the details of the terrorist attacks in Mumbia (the new name for Bombay) India better than I, and as such there's no need for me to repeat them here. What I'll do is try and see how it fits into the big picture.

In brief, then, what we had was 10-25 Islamic terrorists attack 10 targets in the Indian city of Mumbia and kill approximately 172 people and wound 370. The attacks started Wednesday Nov 26 and did not end until Saturday Nov 29. Among other targets, they attacked hotels frequented by wealthy Indians. Mumbia is the financial and entertainment center of India and the most populous city in the world.

A previously unknown group called Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility, though Indian police say that information from a captured terrorist points to the Pakistan-based Muslim terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. It is not clear as to whether other terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, were involved, at least directly.

What made this attack unique is that instead of bombs, suicide or pre-planted, the terrorists simply used automatic weapons and hand grenades, and ran around trying to kill as many people as they could. In some instances they took hostages, but there were no prolonged negotiations.

Last March I offered up four models for understanding the current situation with regards to all this. Here they are:

War of Ideas: Dr Walid Phares says that our enemy are Jihadists of the Wahabbi, Muslim Brotherhood, and Khumeinist variety. While some of the fighting will be by nature military, it is primarily a war of ideology, and the winner will be the side that convinces young people that it's ideas are better than the other. Future Jihad and War of Ideas are his two most important recent books.

World War IV: Norman Podhoretz believes that our struggle is best termed World War IV. While I have not read his book of the same name, there is much about it on the Internet, including this article in Commentary Podhoretz believes that democratization is the best way to defeat the extremists.

The Power of Demographics All of the strategy and ideas in the world may not help us if radical Islam takes over Europe by producing more babies. This is the theme of Mark Steyn's America Alone.

Global Insurgency: Lt Col (Dr) David Kilcullen spent 20 years in the Australian Army. Throughout 2007 he was a senior adviser on counterterrorism to Gen David Petraeus. He is not a senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In his 2004 wor, Countering Global Insurgency, Kilcullen says that our enemy is best thought of as an insurgency, albeit on a global scale instead of just in one country.

In retrospect, I should have added another, and will do so here

Clash of Civilizations: In Samuel P Huntington's 1993 ground-breaking article Foreign Affairs magazine, he proposed that "World politics is entering a new phase, in which the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of international conflict will be cultural. Civilizations-the highest cultural groupings of people-are differentiated from each other by religion, history, language and tradition." Later published as a book by the same name, Huntington warned that we should be worried not so much about Islamic terrorism but about Islam itself.

It is important to note that these five paradigms are not exclusive but compliment each other. All five may be in play at once, each operating on a different level.

So do the attacks in Mumbia fit into any of these models? I think that Kilcullen's idea of a global insurgency, Phares' of a War of Ideas are most apt. We'll start with the colonel.

What Kilcullen saw was a global movement of disparate groups, loosely allied, but all with the same fundamental objective; to destroy Western ideas and implement a sort of global Caliphate, or at least implement Sharia law throughout the world. al-Qaeda was at the center of this spider's web. It's role was not as Moscow's was during the Cold War, issuing orders to subordinates, but more Al Qaeda maintaining links with its affiliated organizations through a variety of links. These links are ideological, linguistic, personal, family relationships, financial, propaganda, operational and planning, and doctrine techniques and procedures. The relationship of the affiliates to al-Qaeda is that of patronage, with al-Qaeda having a patrion-client authority. Kilcullen explains that

What is new about today's environment is that, because of the links described above, a new class of regional, theatre-level actors has emerged. These groups do have links to the global jihad, often act as regional allies or affiliates of al Qaeda, and prey on local groups and issues to further the jihad. They also rely on supporting inputs from global players and might wither if their global sponsors were significantly disrupted.

Sitting above the theatre-level actors are global players like al Qaeda.

As mentioned earlier, the a previously unknown group called Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. This conjures up images of Black September, the previously unknown group that carried out the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic games in Munich, Germany. It was later discovered that the members of Black September that carried out this and other attacks were drawn from known Palestinian terrorist groups such as Yassir Arafat's al Fatah, the PFLP, as-Sa'iqa, and others.

Some media speculation is on whether al Qaeda was involved or behind the attack. To me, this misses the point.

Andrew McCarthy nails it, and I can't do any better

When he guest-hosted Hannity & Colmes last night, Rich had a very edifying couple of segments with Mark Steyn and Richard Miniter. Mark made the excellent point about the reluctance to come to grips with the fact that these attacks on iconic targets, which we're now seeing in Mumbai/Bombay but of course have seen elsewhere, are fueled by an ideology. That's exactly right. The obsession over whether al Qaeda or its endless jumble of affiliates pulled off the operation is a misguided attempt to mimimize the challenge. The bin Laden network is not unimportant, but it is tapping into something that is much bigger than itself.

"fueled by an ideology" is, of course, the key part.

Two and a half years ago The Washington Post published what was or should have been an eye-opening story about Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a prolific writer described as the "architect of new war on the west."

Nasar's theory was that isolated cells could wage jihad without instructions from above. Individuals would form small groups, and would plan and execute their own attacks. However, if groups are not possible, individuals could and should act on their own.

It would all add up to a war, albeit a very decentralized one. Indeed Nasar saw a benefit to this decentraliztion, as it would be hard for counterterrorists to use one captured jihadist to reveal confederates of the details of a larger organization.

McCarthy goes on to say that

In July 2007, our intelligence community released findings of a National Intelligence Estimate that indicated jihadist ideology had become so extensively propagated in the West that the mediating influence of terrorist organizations like al Qaeda was no longer essential in order for radical cells to spring up and interconnect. Naturally, these local operatives are spurred, in part, by local and regional issues. But, though the mainstream press recoils from this reality, such local issues are fitted to an ideological framework that is global, hegemonic, and more about the ultimate triumph of fundamentalist Islam than, say, a Palestinian state, Kashmir, Danish cartoons, economic inequality, or whatever this week's complaint is.

So we see that Kilcullen is on to something, though his 2004 thesis may need qualification. The jihad may have reached the point where al Qaeda's guiding hand is not so necessary.

The ideas of Walid Phares are also relevant, in that we are foolish if we ignore the Islamic aspect. The network of terror is important insofar as counterterrorism is concerned. Follow the link to Kilcullen's work for details on how to fight it. But on another level we must also fight our enemies ideas.

Mark Steyn explains that the links between terrorist groups are important,

But we're in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It's the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK and shoot up a hotel lobby....Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological-front organizations. You've already made landfall.

It's missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the "Deccan Mujahideen" or the ISI or al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That's a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It's not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That's what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the Central Asian stans to Yorkshire, and coopted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.

Give that man a cigar.

Approaching the attacks in Mumbia from a law enforcement aspect is all very fine insofar as rooting out the networks, but at the end of the day we've got to find some way to make Muslims confront the aspects of their own religion that promote the jihad. And from what i can see, we're not doing it now.

Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 17, 2008

Book Review - Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad

On February 26, 1993, Americans were stunned to learn that a bomb exploded in the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring 1,042. Scenes of panic were on our televisions, and for awhile Americans wondered if we weren't going to suffer a wave of terror as what plagued Europe in the 70s and the Middle East to this day.

Within a week, though, our law enforcement scored what seemed like a stunning triumph against what seemed to be stunningly incompetent terrorists. On March 4 one of the terrorists, Mohammad Salameh, was arrested as he attempted to retrieve his security deposit on the Ryder truck they had rented for the attack.

This in turn led to other arrests, and before too long it looked as if law enforcement had the entire thing wrapped up. I myself remember thinking that it we must either have the world's dumbest terrorists or the world's best law enforcement. From what I remember most other Americans thought the same thing.

But what if we had known that the FBI had had an informant inside the organization that carried out the attacks months before they occurred?

And what if we had found out that the informant had warned the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force; FBI and local law enforcement) that this organization was actively training jihadists in guerrilla tactics for a campaign of assassination and bombing? Or that they were actively experimenting with explosives? And was apparently well-funded?

And despite all this, the JTTF ordered the informant to withdraw from the organization?

We'd have been outraged, that's what.

This and more is told by Andrew C. McCarthy in Willfull Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.

McCarthy is in a position to know what he's talking about, because at the time of the bombing he was the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against the masterminds behind it, most notably the "Blind Sheikh", Omar Abdel Rahman, and eleven others.

McCarthy's involvement only came after the 1993 bombing, so he was not a part of the missteps with the confidential informant. Nor did he prosecute the underlings who carried out the attack. His job was to go after the terror masters. He did, and his efforts led to the conviction of all of them. The Blind Sheikh was the most important, and dangerous, terrorist ever tried in the United States.

If McCarthy's book was only about the bombing, investigation, and trial of the accused, it would be an interesting but not a terribly important book. As it is, however, McCarthy goes well beyond a simple narrative of the investigation and trial. Much of the book is a discussion of the nature of the jihadist threat that we face.

The Blind Sheikh

Omar Abdel Rahman was born in Egypt in 1938, and lost his sight as a child to diabetes. Early on recognized as something of a prodigy, impressed his teachers early on by memorizing the entire Quran. He attended the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he obtained a degree in Qur'anic studies. He was recognized as a specialist in Islamic law, authorized to issue fatwas and binding legal opinions. Rahman, by now called the "Blind Sheikh" adopted the most radical views, calling for the imposition of Sharia law wherever possible.

The Blind Sheikh saw America, Israel, and secular Arab governments as his main enemies, and called for the overthrow of all of them. Nothing the United States did on the behalf of Muslims anywhere held any water for him. Mubarak, and Sadat before him were mere puppets of America. As for Israel, well, "Zionist" conspiracies were everywhere.

The Blind Sheikh's entire history is long and complicated, but suffice it to say that he developed ties to seemingly every radical and terrorist group in Egypt. He even led fundraising tours for MAK, or Mektab al-Khidmat, the organization from which al-Qaeda would grow.

While in Egypt he became the spiritual leader of an organization called Gama'at al-Islamia, or simply the Islamic Group. Formed in 1973, it is considered an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is closely tied to al-Qaeda. Their original motivation was to overthrow the secular government of Egypt, but as their ties and size grew, they "branched out" into full-fledged jihad against the West as well.

The Blind Sheikh's method was to issue fiery denunciations of, say the government of Egypt, backed by the relevant Islamic scholarship, but stop short of calling for outright violence. He simply let his followers figure out what he meant. Imprisoned for a time in Egypt, amazingly enough he beat the charges in court by simply quoting Islamic law to the effect that it was every Muslim's duty to engage in jihad against anything anti-Islamic. Since Sadat's government was openly secular, the court was forced to admit that Rahman was right.

He entered the United States on a tourist visa in 1990, this despite his name being on our terrorist watch list. Deciding to stay here, his lawyers successfully fought off deportation orders. He brought his organization with him, and, while continuing to issue orders to his followers in Egypt, also started to pursue jihad against the United States.

The result was the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

Worse than that, his organization was working toward bombing five New York City landmarks: the United Nations building, an FBI office, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge. It was for this conspiracy, as well as the World Trade Center attacks, for which he and his co-defendants were convicted.

Willful Blindness

On Nov 5, 1990, Rabbi Meir David Kahane was shot and killed by El Sayyid Nosair after giving a speech in Manhattan. A subsequent search of Nosair's apartment revealed what would seem to be a treasure a trove of documents. Box after box of notebooks, assassination manuals, handwritten notes, and jihadi literature was removed. Amazingly, the authorities ignored all of it. They had convinced themselves that Nosair was a loner, and no further investigation was required.

It was an act of willful blindness. The reality was that Nosair was part of a jihadist conspiracy led by the Blind Sheikh.

The Informant

Emad Salem, a former Egyptian army officer living in the United States, had infiltrated the Blind Sheikh's organization for the best of motives; he believed that jihadists had perverted the religion and he wanted them exposed and convicted. His undercover activities started in 1991. He'd even met Rahman on several occasions, and had so thoroughly convinced him that he, too, was a jihadist that the conspirators had asked him not only to design their bombs but to help build them also.

Therein lie the problem. The JTTF did not want its informant actually building bombs. "Imagine the liability," they said, if Salem engaged in bomb building, and then the jihadists escaped the FBI's surveillance and were successful in exploding their bombs. After all, even the FBI does not have magical powers, but rather limited resources, and such a thing was eminently possible. Thus the decision to withdraw Salem from the jihadist organization altogether.

In retrospect it was clearly the wrong decision, but given the attitudes at the time, an understandable one.

What outraged McCarthy is not just that the JTTF ordered Salem off the case, but that they dropped the investigation altogether. As he points out, they still could have conducted surveillance and used other investigative techniques.

After the World Trade Center bombing, Salem was allowed to re-infiltrate the terrorist organization. He was so successful in collecting evidence that long story short, eventually the Blind Sheikh and his fellow jihadists were all arrested.

A "Perverted Islam"?

In planning his strategy for prosecuting the Blind Sheikh (as McCarthy calls him throughout the book), McCarthy realized that he would have to present a clear motive to the jury. Jurors, he explains, are hesitant to convict on forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony alone. They want to know why the accused did what he or she did. Without a convincing motive, jurors will tend towards giving the accused the benefit of the doubt.

It was clear that the Blind Sheikh was motivated by jihad. For years he had railed against the secular Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak, and ever since moving to the United States had taken up the cause against us here.

The question to McCarthy was not how to present this to the jury, for that was easy. The danger was how he would cross-examine the Blind Sheikh should he take the stand. He knew he couldn't engage in a wide-ranging debate about Islam with the Blind Sheikh, for the latter was a world renowned scholar on the subject. Rather, he would try to trip him up on a few points of Islamic theology, showing that the Blind Sheikh had twisted the true, peaceful, nature of Islam into something violent and hateful. After all, we've all been assured by "moderates" that Islam is a religion of peace.

But as he studied Islam, he came to realize that it was the Blind Sheikh who had the better understanding of Islam. McCarthy concluded that "Islam is a dangerous creed" that threatens Western values. The way the religion is practiced today, it's hard to disagree.

As it was, the Blind Sheikh never took the stand, so no cross examination occurred. But if it had, McCarthy concluded, neither he nor anyone else would have been able to show that the Blind Sheikh had twisted Islam into something it wasn't.

The Pre-9/11 Mentality

Much of the book details the comedy of errors that our various government bureaucracies made in dealing with terrorist suspects in the 1980s and 90s. Time and again agencies such as the CIA, INS, and FBI didn't communicate with each other, so that while one would list a particular person as a terrorist suspect and flag him as "no entry" to the United States, the others would not get the message and the suspect would be granted a visa. Four times, for example, the Blind Sheikh applied for visas to enter the United States, and on only one occasion was he denied entry, this despite his history of radicalism if not outright support of terrorism.

Astoundingly, the situation did not improve even after the 1993 WTC bombings, when all of the bumbling was revealed. "We caught them; problem solved." was the prevailing attitude. The public perception was that we were on top of our game and no fundamental changes need be made.

Islam and Terror

At some point during the investigation, it became clear to McCarthy that there was nothing "more elemental to Islamic terrorism than the radical Muslim ideology that fuels it." In order to prove motive it simply had to be addressed. From a legal standpoint it was more important to show that a criminal act affected interstate commerce, for example, than to show that a Salafitst interpretation of Islam was behind it all.

The root of modern Islamic terror, and the primary influence on The Blind Sheikh, can be found in the 13th and 14th centuries, most particularly in the writings of Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymayyah (1263-1328). As also explained by Walid Phares in Future Jihad, Ibn Taymayyan (spellings vary), concluded that the reason that the reason the Mongols had been able to sack Baghdad itself and end the Abbasid dynasty in 1258 was that Muslims had ceased to properly follow the dictates of Allah. The solution, then, was to purify Islam and eliminate or purge it of those who in his opinion were not practicing the religion properly.

To carry this out he developed the doctrine of the takfir, which is essentially the Muslim equivalent of the inquisition. This would later develop into the Salafist movement which would in turn spawn Wahhabism, which in turn spawned al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Ibn Taymayyah led what was essentially a "back to the Dark Ages" movement. Gone was enlightened or "progressive" thought. While Europe would go from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance and Enlightenment a few centuries later, the Muslim world did just the opposite. Taymayyah's ideas have dominated radical thinking ever since.

Central to Salafist/Takfiri thinking is the concept of the jihad. Some Westerners have attempted to distinguish between a "greater" and "lesser" Jihad, seeing the first as defensive, or good, and the second as offensive, or bad. The "lesser" jihad, in this thinking, is a vestige of the old days, and is no more. The current, "greater" jihad, is peaceful and used strictly for defensive purposes.

Unfortunately, the idea of a greater and lesser jihad is about as accurate as the portrayal of honor among the Corleone family in the Godfather series. It's good entertainment, but with little or no basis in reality. Even if jihad is strictly defensive, the radicals have been able to twist any and all circumstances into "defense of the faith." This even to the point where resisting the spread of Islam is said to be an attack on the faith and requiring a "defensive" jihad.

Others have tried to portray jihad as a "peaceful inner struggle" one has with oneself in order to purify oneself for God. As with the idea of a "greater" and "lesser" jihad, this is a notion mostly held by Westerners and some Muslims who live in the West. It is not held by many Islamic scholars.

The reality is that jihad is the central tenant that drives Islamic terrorists, and its goal is the worldwide imposition of Islamic law. Issues such as the Palestianian-Israeli conflict are tangential.

The other major influence on the Blind Sheikh was Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual father of modern jihadist thinking and the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood until his death in 1966. Qutb's focus was on replacing secular Arab governments with Islamic ones, which would be governed by Sharia law. As an Egyptian, his main focus was on Gamal Abdul Nasser. After Nasser died in 1970, the Blind Sheikh took up the cause of overthrowing first Anwar Sadat, and then Hosni Mubarak.

Moderate, progressive, Muslims want the entire concept of jihad to just go away. As McCarthy found out while preparing his cross examination of the Blind Sheikh, they have mostly proven themselves unable to debate with the scholars, virtually all of whom see violent jihad as part of the religion.

What attracts followers is the ideology of radical Islam. What keeps them there is success, and what drives them away is lack of success. It's the "strong horse/weak horse" thing, and so each victory fills their ranks, whereby each defeat depletes them. There are lots of fence-sitters who are watching closely.

Not that we should always expect the jihadists to tell us who they are. It has been said that "war is deceit," and the Blind Sheikh followed this to it's fullest. Interviewed by CNN's Bernard Shaw in 1992, he said that "I do not call people for any violence," a known lie even then as he was on record for calling for the murder of Egyptian officials. Caught gloating over his deception by an authorized Federal wiretap of his phone later that same day, Rahman not only admitted to the deception to an associate but found it hard to believe that some of his followers might not "get it."

Although it was clear to McCarthy and the JTTF that the Blind Sheikh and his fellow conspirators were guilty, there was some resistance to charging him at all. Some in the intelligence and foreign service communities thought that doing so would upset Muslims and make it harder for us around the world. They even said that it would be counterproductive; that it might provoke more attacks.

McCarthy rejects such reasoning. Terrorists, he says, thrive on weakness. As noted earlier, fence sitters look for the "strong horse," and join that side. Further, if they didn't prosecute, it would embolden the Blind Sheikh himself who would only order more terrorist attacks.

That he and his fellow conspirators were indited was due, McCarthy says, to the steely determination of two of his bosses; Mary Jo White and Janet Reno. White was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993-2002, and Reno needs no introduction. Both were Clinton appointees. As much grief as Reno has received from those of us on the right, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she did good in this case. My hat is off to them both.

Lessons Learned

McCarthy's experience has caused him to reject a strict law-enforcement model for dealing with jihadists. For standard criminal cases, "the law is our noble, all-purpose abstraction." Time and again he makes sure the reader understands that he and his fellow prosecutors followed such things as discovery procedures to the letter of the law, even when they very much helped the defense.

A problem with the law-enforcement model is that it ignores Islam as the fuel for Islamic terrorism. Prosecutors, as explained above, tend to concentrate only on the technical aspects of proving that the suspect planted or designed the bomb because of the way the law is written. Further, prosecutors are generally not interested in bringing up the overall aim of the terrorists, rogue-state facilitation, or who covertly financed the entire operation. They just want to prove that so-in-so designed or planted the bomb, or recruited the people to do it.

Traditional criminals may want to murder, but only individuals or small groups. They want to steal money or items. They do not want to overthrow any government, just work their evil around it. But terrorists, especially those of the Islamic variety, want to kill large numbers of innocent civilians, and the more the better. They do want to overthrow our government and replace it with an Islamic one. Because the two have different motives and objectives, we cannot use the same means to go after both. It is especially problematic to use standard legal means to pursue terrorism outside of the United States.

The reality is that we are not dealing with a small band of crazies who sometimes hide out in the wilds of Afghanistan or Pakistan. We face hundreds of thousands of jihadists (of one level of commitment or another) around the world.

Further, the means used to identify terrorists on this scale is necessarily different than what is used to gather evidence against criminals. While wiretaps are secret, they are revealed during discovery. We use national intelligence means to gather evidence against terrorists, and we simply cannot reveal "sources and methods" to the public.

Lastly, trials with their associated appeals take years to complete, cost tens of millions of dollars, and end up convicting relatively few people. Given the number of jihadists, it is simply not feasible to try them in criminal courts.

In the end, McCarthy says that it is Islam itself that must be confronted. Here too he and I agree. Far from a "hijacked" religion that is really about peace, Islam as it is and has been practiced for far too long incorporates many disturbing elements and beliefs. These can be changed, just as Martin Luther and John Calvin changed Christianity, but if will never happen if we remain wedded to political correctness.

As McCarthy says at the end; "We can open our eyes and see it. Or not."

Video Interviews of Andrew McCarthy on National Reivew: "Law & Jihad"
Chapter 1 of 5
Chapter 2 of 5
Chapter 3 of 5
Chapter 4 of 5
Chapter 5 of 5

Update

After rewatching the interviews I realize I didn't do justice to McCarthy's recommendations at the end of his book. The terrorists at Guantanamo are neither criminals nor enemy soldiers as properly understood. Therefore, they are due neither the protections of our constitution nor those of the Geneva Conventions (details on the latter here). As such, they fall into a never-never world where the traditional means to deal with them don't apply.

One of McCarthy's suggestions to help resolve this is to establish a National Security Court. President Bush should have established a board of advisers to help set this up immediately after 9-11, but better late than never. The idea is to take the best of both criminal and military court system. The benefit of the military justice system is that it better allows us to protect national intelligence. On the other side, the criminal justice system works much better in that federal judges do a better job of moving cases along to resolution. When the military is fighting a war court cases will by definition be on the back burner (and I would say there's probably a conflict of interest) so the federal court system can better handle the load and move cases forward.

That's the ultra short version. Buy the book and learn the rest.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 11, 2008

"The Inevitability of 9/11"

World_Trade_Center_9_11_2001__gallery_msg_11579208933.jpg

It is good to remember the victims of September 11, 2001

It is also good to remind ourselves of who did it.

But what is al Qaeda and should we have seen it coming?

Let's start with this excerpt from Walid Phares 2005 book Future Jihad:

Consider this: the 9/11 Commission released a tape, recorded a few minutes after the tragedy in Washington, in which a fighter pilot rushing to the scene over the Pentagon exclaims: "Gosh, the Russians got us!" Ten years after the end of the Cold War, the Russians were still being seen as the "strategic enemy," not the jihadists who had been attacking America and Americans for over a decade.

The 9/11 Commission, Phares concludes, got it wrong. There was no failure of imagination. There was, however, a failure of education.

I'm not going to run through the entire run-up to the attacks of Sept 11, 2001, as I've done that elsewhere on this blog. For now I'll excerpt parts of Phares article that appears on Family Security Matters today, which itself is excerpted from Future Jihad, referenced above. Just be sure to follow the link and read the whole thing.

In the weeks preceding September 11, all over the world there were signs that the jihadists were lip to something unusual. A month before, I was observ­ing the proceedings of the Durban conference on racism and imperialism. The speeches of the jihadists demonized the West much more than usual in the less advanced chat rooms of the time - which now are discussed as evidence of pos­sible terrorist attacks - the Salafists had been announcing a great strike to come. I remember reading "America, we're coming, the Ghazwa is ready." I realized later that al Qaeda indeed called the attack "Ghazwa," a word, equivalent to raid, used by Arab historians to describe the fatah. This and other bits made me feel that something had snapped in the minds of the jihadists. Since I was swimming in jihad research at that time, I could not sleep during the last few nights before the attacks and have not slept easily on many nights since. Al­though it was hard to predict what might happen, at the same time it was easy to predict that something would. ...

I have studied every video and audiotape aired on TV by bin Laden since Sep­tember 11 and have been able to review his interviews since 1998 with al Jazeera. I have also reviewed other evidence, primarily in Arabic, that has enabled me to understand how al Qaeda thought. But more important by my own standards, I spent long hours before the tragedy interacting with Salafi activists and also In­ternet chatting with those whom I believe were linked to the organization or at least knew it extremely well. Al Qaeda's strategic thinking did not surprise me at all. Already, some twenty years ago, I had several exchanges in open media with persons Iwould now call intellectual precursors of al Qaeda's thinking process. From these combined sources of knowledge and all the material I have reviewed in the last few years, my assessment is simple: Osama bin Laden did not create al Qaeda. It created him.[iii] By this Ido not mean that bin Laden did not inspire his followers or was not charismatic: Not at all. But I believe that when historians look back and have access to a wider scope of information and testimonies, they will conclude that it was the "rings" that found the "lord," not the other way around. It may be too early to put the story together completely, but one can eas­ily see that not only was Osama naturally inclined to lead a radical movement for jihad, but a Salafi environment in Arabia[iv] readied him for the mission. A deep ji­hadi culture sculpted his personal wish to see the days of the caliphate return. Added to this was his life experience and drama. But first, he had to be immersed in Wahabi Salafi culture. Only in light of that does his contribution make sense.[v]
...

On February 22, 1998, Osama bin Laden appeared on television for about twenty-seven minutes and issued a full-fledged declaration of war against the kuf­far, America, the Crusaders, and the Jews. The text was impeccable, with all the needed religious references to validate a legitimate jihad. The declaration was based on a fatwa signed by a number of Salafi clerics.[xii] It was the most compre­hensive Sunni Islamist edict of total war with the United States, and it was met with total dismissal by Washington. It evoked a few lines in the New York Times, no significant analysis on National Public Radio, and no debating on CSPAN. The Middle East Studies Association had no panels on it, and the leading experts who advised the government downplayed it. During the 9/11 Commission hearings, U.S. officials said they noted it and that plans were designed to deal with it. As one commissioner asked, "This was a declaration of war. Why did not the President or anyone declare war or take it to Congress?" I asked the same question repeatedly from 1998 until September 2001, but my audience was much smaller on my campus in Florida. We must be careful not to miss these messages again.

Here was the leader of international jihad serving the United States and the infidels with a formal declaration of war grounded in ideological texts with reli­gious references: Why did no one answer him? "Expert advice" within the Belt­way ruled against it. Obviously, the Wahabis on the inside did not want to awaken the sleepy nation. If the U.S. government were to question the basis of Osama's jihad it would soon recognize the presence of an "internal jihad." For this reason, the debate about the declaration had to be suppressed and with it the warning about its upcoming threat. AlQaeda must have been stunned. They openly de­clare war on the infidels, and rather than responding, the Americans are busy ad­dressing political scandals instead. Osama must have thought: "Well, that's what the Byzantines did, when the sultan got to their walls centuries ago. They weren't mobilizing against the fatah, they were busy arguing about the sex of angels. This must be another sign from Allah that America is ripe. Let's hit them directly."

And hit us they did.

I realize that hindsight is 20/20 and all that. And for what it's worth, I don't blame either President Clinton or President George W. Bush. For that matter, I don't blame Roosevelt for not seeing Pearl Harbor.

What's important is that we study our enemy so that we know them, the better to defeat them. My take on the whole matter can be found in the category Jihadism and the War of Ideas of this blog.


Posted by Tom at 8:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 27, 2008

Yes We Are Safer

To the left it is an article of faith that we are no safer today than we were on Sept 12 2001. Nothing the Bush Administration has done matters one bit. Their primary argument seems to be that Iraq is a distraction from the "real" war.

John Hinderaker of Power Line has done us all a service by actually researching terrorist attacks against the United States at home and abroad. Here's what he found:

On the stump, Barack Obama usually concludes his comments on Iraq by saying, "and it hasn't made us safer." It is an article of faith on the left that nothing the Bush administration has done has enhanced our security, and, on the contrary, its various alleged blunders have only contributed to the number of jihadists who want to attack us.

Empirically, however, it seems beyond dispute that something has made us safer since 2001. Over the course of the Bush administration, successful attacks on the United States and its interests overseas have dwindled to virtually nothing.

Some perspective here is required. While most Americans may not have been paying attention, a considerable number of terrorist attacks on America and American interests abroad were launched from the 1980s forward, too many of which were successful. What follows is a partial history:

1988 February: Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Higgens, Chief of the U.N. Truce Force, was kidnapped and murdered by Hezbollah.

December: Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York was blown up over Scotland, killing 270 people, including 35 from Syracuse University and a number of American military personnel.

1991
November: American University in Beirut bombed.

1993
January: A Pakistani terrorist opened fire outside CIA headquarters, killing two agents and wounding three.

February: World Trade Center bombed, killing six and injuring more than 1,000.

1995
January: Operation Bojinka, Osama bin Laden's plan to blow up 12 airliners over the Pacific Ocean, discovered.

November: Five Americans killed in attack on a U.S. Army office in Saudi Arabia.

1996
June: Truck bomb at Khobar Towers kills 19 American servicemen and injures 240.

June: Terrorist opens fire at top of Empire State Building, killing one.

1997
February: Palestinian opens fire at top of Empire State Building, killing one and wounding more than a dozen.

November: Terrorists murder four American oil company employees in Pakistan.

1998
January: U.S. Embassy in Peru bombed.

August: Simultaneous bomb attacks on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed more than 300 people and injured over 5,000.

1999
October: Egypt Air flight 990 crashed off the coast of Massachusetts, killing 100 Americans among the more than 200 on board; the pilot yelled "Allahu Akbar!" as he steered the airplane into the ocean.

2000
October: A suicide boat exploded next to the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 39.

2001
September: Terrorists with four hijacked airplanes kill around 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

December: Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," tries to blow up a transatlantic flight, but is stopped by passengers.

The September 11 attack was a propaganda triumph for al Qaeda, celebrated by a dismaying number of Muslims around the world. Everyone expected that it would draw more Muslims to bin Laden's cause and that more such attacks would follow. In fact, though, what happened was quite different: the pace of successful jihadist attacks against the United States slowed, decelerated further after the onset of the Iraq war, and has now dwindled to essentially zero. Here is the record:

2002
October: Diplomat Laurence Foley murdered in Jordan, in an operation planned, directed and financed by Zarqawi in Iraq, perhaps with the complicity of Saddam's government.

2003
May: Suicide bombers killed 10 Americans, and killed and wounded many others, at housing compounds for westerners in Saudi Arabia.

October: More bombings of United States housing compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killed 26 and injured 160.

2004
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2005
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2006
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2007
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2008
So far, there have been no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

I have omitted from the above accounting a few "lone wolf" Islamic terrorist incidents, like the Washington, D.C. snipers, the Egyptian who attacked the El Al counter in Los Angeles, and an incident or two when a Muslim driver steered his vehicle into a crowd. These are, in a sense, exceptions that prove the rule, since the "lone wolves" were not, as far as we know, in contact with international Islamic terrorist groups and therefore could not have been detected by surveillance of terrorist conversations or interrogations of al Qaeda leaders.

It should also be noted that the decline in attacks on the U.S. was not the result of jihadists abandoning the field. Our government stopped a number of incipient attacks and broke up several terrorist cells, while Islamic terrorists continued to carry out successful attacks around the world, in England, Spain, Russia, Pakistan, Israel, Indonesia and elsewhere.

So if we're not safer, where are the terrorist attacks? i

As for Iraq, I can do no better than quote the words of General Petraeus himself as he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 8 and explained why winning in Iraq helps us defeat al Qaeda everywhere, and helps us defeat terrorism in general:

As we combat AQI we must remember that doing so not only reduces a major source of instability in Iraq, it also weakens an organization that Al Qaeda's senior leaders view as a tool to spread its influence and foment regional instability. Osama bin laden and Ayman al- Zawahiri have consistently advocated exploiting the situation in Iraq, and we have also seen Al Qaeda-Iraq involved in destabilizing activities in the wider Mideast region....

...withdrawing too many forces too quickly could jeopardize the progress of the past year; and performing the necessary tasks in Iraq will require sizable conventional forces, as well as special operation forces and adviser teams.

The strategic considerations include recognition that: the strain on the U.S. military, especially on its ground forces, has been considerable; a number of the security challenges inside Iraq are also related to significant regional and global threats; a failed state in Iraq would pose serious consequences for the greater fight against Al Qaeda, for regional stability, for the already existing humanitarian crisis in Iraq, and for the efforts to counter malign Iranian influence.

After weighing these factors, I recommended to my chain of command that we continue the drawdown in the surge to the combat forces and that upon the withdrawal of the last surge brigade combat team in July, we undertake a 45-day period of consolidation and evaluation. At the end of that period, we will commence a process of assessment to examine the conditions on the ground and over time determine when we can make recommendations for further reductions. This process will be continuous, with recommendations for further reductions made as conditions permit.

This approach does not allow establishment of a set withdrawal timetable, however it does provide the flexibility those of us on the ground need to preserve the still-fragile security gains our troopers have fought so far and sacrifice so much to achieve.

With this approach, the security achievements of 2007 and early 2008 can form a foundation for the gradual establishment of sustainable security in Iraq. This is not only important to the 27 million citizens of Iraq, it is also vitally important to those in the Gulf region, to the citizens of the United States, and to the global community.

It clearly is in our national interests to help Iraq prevent the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world, to help Iraq resist Iranian encroachment on its sovereignty, to avoid renewed ethno-sectarian violence that could spill over Iraq's borders and make the existing refugee crisis even worse, and to enable Iraq to expand its role in the regional and global economies."

Posted by Tom at 9:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 4, 2008

"Countering Global Insurgency"

In my effort to understand the nature of our struggle against Islamic extremists, I have investigated many thinkers and ideas, rejecting some and embracing others. Following are the ones that made the cut. Note please that far from being in competition with each other, each compliments the other. Each simply looks at a different aspect of the conflict.

War of Ideas: Dr Walid Phares says that our enemy are Jihadists of the Wahabbi, Muslim Brotherhood, and Khumeinist variety. While some of the fighting will be by nature military, it is primarily a war of ideology, and the winner will be the side that convinces young people that it's ideas are better than the other. Future Jihad and War of Ideas are his two most important recent books.

World War IV: Norman Podhoretz believes that our struggle is best termed World War IV. While I have not read his book of the same name, there is much about it on the Internet, including this article in Commentary Podhoretz believes that democratization is the best way to defeat the extremists.

The Power of Demographics All of the strategy and ideas in the world may not help us if radical Islam takes over Europe by producing more babies. This is the theme of Mark Steyn's America Alone.

Global Insurgency: Lt Col (Dr) David Kilcullen spent 20 years in the Australian Army. Throughout 2007 he was a senior advisor on counterterrorism to Gen David Petraeus. He is not a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In his 2004 wor, Countering Global Insurgency, Kilcullen says that our enemy is best thought of as an insurgency, albeit on a global scale instead of just in one country.

In this post I will summarize and review this final way of looking at our global struggle.

Kilcullen's thesis is pretty straightforward

  • The 'War on Terrorism' is actually a campaign to counter a global Islamist insurgency. So counterinsurgency, not counterterrorism, may provide the best approach to the conflict.
  • But classical counterinsurgency is designed to defeat insurgency in one country. Hence, traditional counterinsurgency theory has limitations in this context. Therefore we need a new paradigm, capable of addressing a globalized insurgency.
  • Classical insurgency uses systems analysis, but traditional reductionist systems analysis cannot handle the complexity of insurgency. However, the emerging science of Complexity provides new tools for systems assessment - hence, complex systems analysis may provide new mental models for globalized counterinsurgency.
  • Complex adaptive systems modeling shows that the more global nature of the present Islamist jihad, and hence its dangerous character, derives from the links in the system - energy pathways that allow disparate groups to function in an aggregated fashion across intercontinental distances - rather than the elements themselves.
  • Therefore, countering global insurgency does not demand the destruction of every Islamist insurgent from the Philippines to Chechnya. Rather, it demands a strategy of disaggregation (de-linking or dismantling) to prevent the dispersed and disparate elements of the jihad movement from functioning as a global system. Applying this approach to the War generates a new and different range of policy options and strategic choices.

Kilcullen devotes a chapter of his paper to each of these topics, and each flows from the other. If one insists that we are simply fighting terrorists, for example, the rest of the paper makes no sense. Because of the importance of understanding the nature of our conflict, it is good that we spend some time here.

Al Qaeda, in the person of OBL's deputy Ayman al Zawahiri, issued a statement shortly after 9-11 that laid out a two-phase strategy. First, they would focus on the Middle East area. Their objective here was to force the U.S. to leave and then establish a new Caliphate based in Egypt. In phase 2 they would use the power of this new Caliphate as a launch pad for a jihad against the West. The objective here would be to establish Islam as the dominant force in the world.

Al Qaeda has a presence in at least 40 countries around the world. It is a global organization. However, it is not a monolithic or centrally directed organization, but rather functions through "theatres of operation". Organizations in each theatre "follow general ideological or strategic approaches" from the worldwide leadership.

The principle theatres in which al Qaeda and similar organizations are active are The Americas (they try to infiltrate the US from Canada and Mexico, and have a strong presence in the border areas of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil) Western Europe, the Iberian Peninsula (which organizationally separate from Western Europe), Australasia, and the Greater Middle East. East Africa, the Caucuses and European Russia, South and Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Al Qaeda maintains links with it's affiliated organizations through a variety of links. These links are ideological, linguistic, personal, family relationships, financial, propaganda, operational and planning, and doctrine techniques and procedures. Kilcullen ties it all together

What is new about today's environment is that, because of the links described above, a new class of regional, theatre-level actors has emerged. These groups do have links to the global jihad, often act as regional allies or affiliates of al Qaeda, and prey on local groups and issues to further the jihad. They also rely on supporting inputs from global players and might wither if their global sponsors were significantly disrupted.

Sitting above the theatre-level actors are global players like al Qaeda.

The relationship of al Qaeda to it's affiliated organizations, Kilcullen says, is one of patronage, or patrion-client authority. As such, it is similar to traditional Middle Eastern arrangements.

So why is all this best described as an insurgency and not a terrorist movement?

Insurgency can be defined as "a popular movement that seeks to overthrow the status quo through subversion, political activity, insurrection, armed conflict, and terrorism.

Conversely, Terrorism can be defined as "politically motivated violence against civilians, conducted with the intention to coerce through fear", and is in the tactical repertoire of virtually every insurgency. ...Terrorism is a component in almost all insurgencies, and insurgent objectives (that is, a desire to change the status quo through subversion and violence) lie behind almost all non-state terrorism.

By this definition, the global jihad is clearly an insurgency...." Terrorism is a tactic within an insurgency.

The jihad is, therefore, a global insurgency. Al Qaeda and similar groups feed on local grievances, integrate them into broader ideologies..." The objective being the restoration of the Caliphate and to subdue the West.

Terrorist groups of the 1970s; the Japanese Red Army, the IRA, the Baader-Meinhof gang and Red Brigades, were independent groups and there was little link between them and any global movement. Few of them (except the IRA) had any coherent objectives.

Terrorists were therefore thought of as criminals. In our current war, this has been the way many think of it. For example, many people fixate on the failure to find OBL, as if we were fighting a criminal enterprise.

The insurgency paradigm is quite different. Under this approach, insurgents are regarded as representative of deeper issues or grievances within society. Governments seek to defeat insurgents primarily by winning the "hearts and minds" of the broader population, a process that by necessity often involves compromise and negotiation....In this paradigm, insurgency is a whole-of-government problem rather than a military or law-enforcement issue. Based on this, we adopt a strategy-based approach to counterinsurgency, rather than to "apprehend the perpetrators" of specific acts.

How does all this tie into the war in Iraq, as well as the various "rogue states" around the world?

Indeed, current actions in the War on Terrorism appear disparate if viewed through a terrorism paradigm. Some (like international law enforcement cooperation to counter terrorist financing) fit the terrorism paradigm neatly, while others (the Iraq War, counter-proliferation initiatives, building influence in Central Asia, containment of North Korea and Iran) appear unrelated to an anti-terrorism agenda and are thus viewed with suspicion by some. However, if viewed through the lens of counterinsurgency, these actions make perfect sense.

So those who insist that Iraq has nothing to do with 9-11, or that it is a "distraction" from "getting bin Laden" misunderstand the nature of our conflict. We are not fighting terrorists. We are fighting something much more serious and lethel; a global insurgency.

To be sure, it would be nice if we could kill Osama bin Laden. The question, though, is not "should we get him", but "is it worth the resources required to do so?" If ,as seems conventional wisdom, he is in the Waziristan province(s) of Pakistan, it would be very difficult to get him. There are tremendous logistical difficulties in just getting there, and we could roam the countryside for years losing hundreds of Americans to no avail. Oh and it would involve invading Pakistan with not a single country backing us.

Further, if Kilcullen is right, killing bin Laden would have no more effect on defeating the global insurgency than the death of Ho Chi Minh in 1968 had in ending the Vietnam War. We saw in Iraq that the insurgency got worse after we killed AQI leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June of 2006. It was only after surging troops and adopting a true counterinsurgency doctrine that we began to turn the tide. So it would probably be if we killed bin Laden.

In the rest of his paper Kilcullen goes on to discuss how traditional systems analysis might work if the insurgency was confined to one country (though even with Vietnam it broke down), it certainly will not do for one that is global. He then goes into how the "emerging science of Complexity" might hold the key.

It all gets a bit esoteric and above my head. I encourage readers who have gotten this far to download the paper and digest it as best you can. I think that Kilcullen is on the right path here. He correctly identifies the enemy as "jihadists" and not simply terrorists, and recognizes that they are not some small band hiding in the mountains waiting for another opportunity to hijack another airplane. If you don't understand the nature of the enemy, you won't get the nature of the war, and you'll certainly never get the solution right.


Posted by Tom at 8:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 20, 2007

Why We Fight

Via StrategyPage, two instructional videos on why it's ok to beat your wife if you are a Muslim.


Any questions?

Posted by Tom at 9:31 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 13, 2007

Understanding our Strategy in Iraq

Following are two pieces that help in understanding our strategy in Iraq and what is going on over there. The first is an October 5 interview of Lt Col David Kilcullen by Charlie Rose, and the second an article in the Weekly Standard that appeared last month by Frederick Kagan.

Kilcullen is reserve lieutenant colonel in the Australian army and was until recently the senior counterinsurgency advisor (a term he thinks a misnomer) to General Petraeus. He has a doctorate in political anthropology. Kagan is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and has a doctorate in Russian and Soviet military history. In December of 2006 Kagan and retired General Jack Keane wrote Choosing Success: A Plan for Victory in Iraq. Their plan was adoped in large part by the White House and became the basis for what is popularly called "the surge". You'll want to read both in their entirety, but here are some of the most important parts.

First up is the Kilcullen interview

DAVID KILCULLEN: ...Conventional warfare is binary. Right? It has two sides. And its enemy- centric. What you're trying to do is figure out what the enemy is trying to do and defeat the enemy by, you know, outmaneuvering them or removing their war-making power, basically.

Counterinsurgency is not like that. It's not enemy-centric. It's actually population-centric. And I think we have found over the last three or four years of evolution of the conflict in Iraq that the more we focus on the population and protecting them, the easier it is to deal with the enemy. The more we focus on the enemy, the harder it is to actually get anything done with the population.
...

DAVID KILCULLEN: So I don't think I need to go over what he said in detail, but the point is, we have 28,500 extra troops in country. That is a tool. That's not the strategy. Once getting them in, the strategy was to start protecting the population and focusing on marginalizing the enemy from the population.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because the population would eject the insurgents, the Islamists?

DAVID KILCULLEN: It's actually -- yes. It's actually a function of the nature of guerrilla warfare, and it's actually rather independent of whether you are talking about Islamists or communists or, you know, it's a functional thing. And the reason is that in counterinsurgency, the enemy is fluid, but the population is fixed, right? So when you fight a conventional enemy, you have to go in there and sort of attack something that he must defend. And then you use that as a fulcrum around which to maneuver. That's how we do conventional warfare, amongst other -- it's a caricature.

But in counterinsurgency, you can't do that, because there's nothing the enemy has to defend. They can just run away if you push them too hard. And if you get there and you're doing things that are just making it too hard for them, they can just go quiet and stay in the environment.

CHARLIE ROSE: You know that's one of the arguments made against the surge.

DAVID KILCULLEN: Absolutely.

CHARLIE ROSE: That's all you were going to do, is push them somewhere else. They'll go somewhere else and they'll wait.

DAVID KILCULLEN: Right. Making that argument against the surge, this speaks a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of what the surge is trying to do. And let me sort of expand on this issue.

The enemy is fluid, but the population is fixed. OK? That's the key point. The enemy can run away. The population can't. They have houses, relatives, businesses. They live there. They can't move. And so you can't defeat an insurgency by fighting the insurgents, because they'll just run away and you chase the guy around. And it's like looking for a needle in a haystack, but you're actually destroying the haystack to find the needle. So you do this damage to the population, which alienates the population, creates a recruitment base for the insurgents, and it just creates a cycle of destruction.

The way to do it -- and you know, we've been doing this for a long time and there's a very solid body of understanding on how to do it -- is, if you like, to comb the flees out of the dog. OK? So you get in there and you work with the population. You drive the enemy off, and then you focus on the population and you try to restructure the environment so that the insurgent can't come back when you leave.

And that involves things like counterintelligence work, where you look for those little sleeper cells that stayed behind when you left. It involves most importantly partnering in a real partnership with the local community, where they feel their needs are being met. They make choices that they then are required to stick to, in terms of driving out extremism, or -- in the case of Iraq particularly -- and in terms of defending themselves. You make the population self-defending, so that the terrorists can't or the insurgents can't intimidate them.

That's the fundamental activity of counterinsurgency. Because the insurgents require the enemy. The insurgents require the population to act in a certain way -- support, sympathy, intimidation, sometimes just reaction to provocation, you know? And if you can take that reaction of the population away from them, it's extremely difficult for them to achieve anything.

That's why the surge is not only a matter of putting extra troops into the country, it's what they do when they get there. And what they're doing is going into areas and not leaving. And they sit with the population, partner with them, help them defend themselves. Keep the enemy away. Prevent them from coming back. And if you like, restructure the environment to hard-wire the insurgent out of it.
...
DAVID KILCULLEN: . there's two issues. One is a territorial issue. The other one is time. Let me talk time. There has never been a successful counterinsurgency that took less than 10 years.

CHARLIE ROSE: Less than 10 years?

DAVID KILCULLEN: Successful.
...
DAVID KILCULLEN: All counterinsurgency solutions are political.
...
DAVID KILCULLEN: The role of the military in counterinsurgency is to hold the ring and create space that allows the political process to take place. Again, people talk about that with regard to the surge.

Politics is alchemy. It's not an engineering project. You can't build it step by step, through benchmarks to a solution. It takes people to feel comfortable and be able to work together and to build confidence. And we all know this from domestic politics.

And so what the military tries to do is to create, if you like, enough calmness and enough population security to allow political leadership to go forward, and that takes a long time.
...
DAVID KILCULLEN: ...I think it's worth pointing out that just because it's going to take 10 years doesn't mean we're going to be there for 10 years.

DAVID KILCULLEN: I know, I am not trying to -- but let me give you an example. If we were to add 50,000 troops, just hypothetically, that would give us an extra 50,000 people to feed, people to move around, people to support. It would probably give us 10,000 extra bayonets on the ground. So, an advantage of 10,000. If we win 50,000 Iraqis from al Qaeda, it gives us an advantage not of 50,000, but of 100,000, because we get 50 and they lose 50.

... So, it is all about partnering with the population and convincing the population to swing away from the enemy and towards us.

There's a lot more, but you get the gist.

Most reports have it that this strategy is working. al Qaeda has suffered tremendous defeats in recent months, and many of the Sunni tribes that were once against is are now with us, or are at least against AQI. The "surge", then, is working.

Further, those who claimed that all we were doing is putting more troops in-country to "do the same thing" didn't know what they were talking about.

It is also clear, though, that Rumsfeld/Abizaid/Sanchez/Casey had it wrong. Their strategies failed, and had we adhered to them we would not be succeeding now. As President, Bush is untimately responsible. But it is also fair to say that if he was responsible for the failures of 2003-06, he should be given credit for recognizing that things weren't working, and for implimenting the Kagan-Keane plan.

Kilcullen makes clear that even if we are successful, it will take a long time. If you read the entire interview (as you should), you'll see that he and Rose spend some time talking about the Malayan insurgency. The British made every mistake in the book from 1948-52, but finally got things right and by 1960 it was largely over. Even so, the final insurgents did not surrender until 1989, and only then because with the fall of the Berlin Wall they realized that communism was at and end.

Kilcullen's comment that "all counterinsurgency solutions are political" should be taken to heart by both the left and right. The simple fact is that in most successful counterinsurgencies some of the insurgents are brought into the government, and a few of their political demands met.

Frederick Kagan

Next up is Frederick Kagan's article. In the first few parts he discusses the relationship of al Qaeda worldwide with al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and how the two are inexorably tied together. He also discusses their ideology of takfirism, and why it is important to understanding their strategy and why it backfired among the Sunni tribes in Iraq. As with the interview above, I encourage you to read the whole thing. Here, however, are a few key excerpts about AQI's modus operandi and how we are defeating them

AQI uses two primary methods to establish itself in Sunni populations in Iraq. When it finds Sunnis who feel existentially threatened by Shia militias or military forces, or who seek military aid in pursuing an insurgent agenda, it offers help from its zealous and highly trained leaders and fighters. In communities not eager for such help, or that resist AQI's efforts to impose its religious code, AQI uses violence to terrorize Sunnis into participation. Wherever it goes, it seduces the disenchanted young with the promise of participation in a larger movement.

In 2003, the hostility within Iraq's Sunni Arab community to the prospect of a Shia-dominated government sparked an insurgency, of which AQI quickly took advantage. The fanaticism of AQI fighters (who often warn Westerners that they love death more than we love life) recommended itself to Sunni Arabs who faced the daunting task of defeating both American military forces and Iraq's Shia majority.
...

Whereas in Afghanistan al Qaeda remained separate from Afghan society for the most part, interacting with it primarily through the Taliban, AQI directly incorporates Iraqis.
...

As for its local recruits, they undergo extensive training that is designed to brainwash them and prepare them to support and engage in vicious violence. One of the reasons some Iraqi Sunnis have turned against AQI has been this practice of making their sons into monsters. Many Iraqis have come to feel about AQI the way the parents of young gang members tend to feel about gangs.
.,..

One of the first questions Iraqis ask when American forces move into AQI strongholds to fight the takfiris is: Are you going to stay this time? In the past, coalition forces have cleared takfiri centers, often with local help, but have departed soon after, leaving the locals vulnerable to vicious AQI retaliation. This pattern created a legacy of distrust, and a concomitant hesitancy to commit to backing coalition forces.

This cycle was broken first in Anbar, for three reasons: The depth of AQI's control there led the group to commit some of its worst excesses in its attempt to hold on to power; the strength of the tribal structures in the province created the possibility of effective local resistance when the mood swung against the takfiris; and the sustained presence and determination of soldiers and Marines in the province gave the locals hope of assistance once they began to turn against the terrorists.

The movement against the takfiris began as AQI tried to solidify its position in Anbar by marrying some of its senior leaders to the daughters of Anbari tribal leaders, as al Qaeda has done in South Asia. When the sheikhs resisted, AQI began to attack them and their families, assassinating one prominent sheikh, then preventing his relatives from burying him within the 24 hours prescribed by Muslim law. In the tribal society of Anbar, this and related actions led to the rise of numerous blood-feuds between AQI and Anbari families. The viciousness of AQI's retaliation and the relative weakness of the Anbari tribes as a military or police force put the locals in a difficult position, from which they were rescued by the determined work of coalition and Iraqi security forces.
...

The change in U.S. strategy announced in January 2007 and the surge of forces over the ensuing months did not create this shift in Anbar, but accelerated its development. The surge meant that American commanders did not have to shift forces out of Anbar to protect Baghdad, as had happened in previous operations.
...

The increased U.S. presence and the more aggressive operations of American forces--working with Iraqi army units that, although heavily Shia, were able to function effectively with U.S. troops even in Sunni Anbar--allowed the tribal turn against AQI to pick up steam. By late spring 2007, all of the major Anbari tribes had sworn to oppose AQI and had begun sending their sons to volunteer for service in the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police.
...

The battle is by no means over. AQI has made clear its determination to reestablish itself in Anbar or to punish the Anbaris for their betrayal, and AQI cells in rural Anbar and surrounding provinces are still trying to -regenerate. But the takfiri movement that once nearly controlled the province by blending in with its people has lost almost all popular support and has been driven to desperate measures to maintain a precarious foothold. The combination of local disenchantment with takfiri extremism, a -remarkable lack of cultural sensitivity by the takfiris themselves, and effective counterinsurgency operations by coalition forces working to protect the population have turned the tide

Finally, here is Kagan's outlook

AQI--and therefore the larger al Qaeda movement--has suffered a stunning defeat in Iraq over the past six months. It has lost all of its urban strongholds and is engaged in a desperate attempt to reestablish a foothold even in the countryside. The movement is unlikely to accept this defeat tamely. ...

If...coalition forces complete the work they have begun by finishing off the last pockets of takfiris and continuing to build local Iraqi security forces that can sustain the fight against the terrorists after American troops pull back, then success against the terrorists in Iraq is likely.
...

It is too soon to declare victory in this struggle, still less in the larger struggle to stabilize Iraq and win the global war on terror. AQI can again become a serious threat if America chooses to let it get up off the mat.
...

...we must break free of a consensus about how to fight the terrorists that has been growing steadily since 9/11 which emphasizes "small footprints," working exclusively through local partners, and avoiding conventional operations to protect populations. In some cases, traditional counterinsurgency operations using conventional forces are the only way to defeat this 21st--century foe. Muslims can dislike al Qaeda, reject takfirism, and desire peace, yet still be unable to defend themselves alone against the terrorists. In such cases, our assistance, suitably adapted to the realities on the ground, can enable Muslims who hate what the takfiris are doing to their religion and their people--the overwhelming majority of Muslims--to succeed. Helping them is the best way to rid the world of this scourge.

In short, we have finally learned how to defeat AQI and are doing so, but if we let up the pressure we'll lose. Hear that, everyone?

Posted by Tom at 8:37 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 26, 2007

An Anti-Salafist We Need

If we are to win the War on Jihadism we need to enlist and encourage as many reform-minded Muslims as possible. Right now it seems that the jihadists have the upper hand, but there are some Muslims trying to change all that. One was profiled by the Washington Times today

Exiled Egyptian cleric Ahmed Subhy Mansour, whose teachings have earned him dozens of death "fatwas" from fellow Muslim clerics, uses the English translation for al Qaeda — meaning "the base" — to describe a plan to defeat Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, who he says have seized control of Islam.

"Suppose you have here [in the United States] a base to counter al Qaeda in the war of ideas?" Sheik Mansour asked during a recent luncheon at The Washington Times.

"You could convince a large number — millions of silent Muslims. We can convince them very easily that the real enemy is not the United States. It is not Israel. The real enemy is the dictators in the Muslim world and the culture of the Wahhabis and Muslim Brotherhood," he said, referring to the dominant arbiters of Islamic orthodoxy in Saudi Arabia and Egypt respectively.

Sounds like my kind of guy.

He certainly says all the right things. First, he he properly identified the enemy as Wahhanism and the Muslim Brotherhood. They make up the first two branches of the jihad, the third being the Khumeinists. Either way, he isn't like so many who only see the enemy as being al Qaeda.

Most interestingly, Dr. Mansour has founded his own branch of Islam

Sheik Mansour is the founder of a small Egyptian sect that is neither Sunni nor Shi"ite. They call themselves Quranists because they believe that the Koran represents the single authentic scripture of Islam. They especially anger Sunni Muslims by rejecting the Hadith and Sunna, purported sayings and traditions of the prophet Muhammad.

Before you laugh and dismiss him as a nut who won't get anywhere, recall that not too many centuries ago they said the same thing about Martin Luther and John Calvin. Recall also that they did not succeed overnight, but that their efforts took tens of years, even centuries, to pay off. If they and others could reform Christianity, I see no reason why men like Dr. Mansour can't reform Islam.

Long story short, Dr. Mansour was a former professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He was dismissed in 1987 on charges of being a heretic, and eventually fled to the U.S. in late 2001 where he was granted political asylum.

His organization is called the International Quranic Center. From their website, their goals are to

1) To advocate peaceful reform in the Muslim world based on democracy and human rights and to offer practical strategies for such change;

2) To mobilize on the web and convene in person open-minded scholars of the Quran to share research demonstrating the consistency of Islam with democracy;

3) To communicate the value of ecumenical democracy to Muslims of all denominations;

4) To initiate a real inter-religious dialogue among Muslims, Christians, Jews, and members of all religions who believe in creating societies based upon tolerance and justice.

5) To educate Muslims in America to understand and interpret Islam as consistent with American democracy.

Works for me.

No Moderates Wanted

I am not interested in Muslims who claim to be moderates.

I am interested in Muslims who want to reform their religion.

If you're not clear on the difference between Muslim moderates and Muslim reformers, here it is, and why the former are part of the problem:

An act of terror is committed by a group which says it is acting in the name of Islam

- The moderate Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but then says that Islam has nothing do do with it. He says that the terrorist group hijacked Islam or misinterpreted it.

- The reformist Muslim condemns the act in no uncertain terms but then says that Islam as it is interpreted and practiced today is part of the problem. He says that Islam needs to undergo a reform in the same way Christianity was reformed by Martin Luther et all 500 years ago.

This is a tough thing to say but the fact is that Islam has a problem with violence and the theory of the jihad and needs to be reformed. Christianity underwent this reformation hundreds of years ago, but Islam never did. Until this occurs we will have problems.

It is also why I champion people like Irshad Manji and Dr Mansour.

Where In The World...

So why did I find out about Dr Mansour and his organization from the Washington Times? Why are he and others not like him like Irshad Manji not invited to the White House every week?

For that matter, why do I not see any other politicians from either party inviting him to their events? If they were I think I would have heard about it by now.

Part of the reason why such reformers are ignored is that the Saudi govnerment tells soothing lies that too many in our government, and especially in the State Department, believe. They urge us to shun true reformers and insist that Wahhabism is peaceful. The purpose of the Saudi government is to act as a "cover" for their Wahhabists, to pull the wool over our eyes, as it were. They are all to successful.

One of the biggest failures of the Bush Administration has been it's utter failure to use our country's vast reservour of "soft power" to influence world events. As part of this, one of the things they should have is a program to encourage reformers like Dr Mansour. Instead, President Bush is locked into only dealing with traditional Muslim groups, many of which end up having suspicious links to the radicals.

For that matter, where are groups like the National Organization of Women (NOW)? From what I can tell their excuse is that they're only concerned with women in the US, hence the "National". Ok, but can't they help a little bit?

To be sure, it would be nice of someone at the White House or in the Democrat party would think to try and enlist them. Sure, I'm miles apart from NOW on just about every domestic issue, but surely they would be great allies in fighing the horrible abuse of women in most of the Muslim world.

I was listening to Glenn Beck today and one of his ideas was to hae Dianne Sawyer and Oprah Winfrey highlight the plight of women under Islam in most of the Muslim world. I've long thought that one way to undermine the Salafists is to highlight their abuse of women through a human rights campaign.

I'm straying from my topic a bit, but it's really all part of the "soft power" I mentioned earlier. Islam needs to be reformed, and the reformers need our help. Some of it can come from the government, and some from private individuals and institutions.

Can we please get started?

Posted by Tom at 8:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad at Columbia

I was able to tune into Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about halfway through his address at Columbia University earlier today. What struck me was what a poor speech it was. He rambled and seemed not to be able to stay on any one topic for long. I was unimpressed.

Much more interesting was the question and answer period which followed. He is the master of evasion, able to take just about any question and turn it into a soliquoly on "justice" for the Palestinians. When asked whether Iran was building nuclear weapons he engaged in moral equivalence; "you have them and you tell others they can't have them?" Sadly though unsurprisingly, many in the audience applauded him.

Playing to Western leftists, he tried to portray Iran as the a victim; of terrorism, Western imperialism, of economic sanctions for no reason, and of Iraqi chemical weapons.
The last is at least true, although no doubt many leftists will simply use this as an excuse to attack the United States. All we want is justice and freedom, he insisted.

Many students were having none of it, there being many reports of anti Ahmadinejad demonstrations outside of the lecture hall. And many in the United States who haven't paid much attention to him will rightly be offended by his insistence that more "research" is needed to determine whether the holocaust occured or not.

Also President Bollinger (whom I heard later on the Sean Hannity show) did attack Ahmadinejad pretty good during his introduction, and to their credit many students applauded him. On the flip side, they should have just boycotted the whole thing.

Here's how I think it will play out from a public perception standpoint

This is win for Ahmadinejad in Iran and in Muslim countries, as they will only show him at his best. They won't show Bollinger's introduction. They'll also show the students applauding Ahmadinejad. The mere fact that he spoke at a major American university give him legitimacy and standing.

Further, this invite and his speaking at Columbia feeds into the fantasies of the jihadists. The Khumeinists believe that they can declare jihad and create a regional Imamate. They believe that they can pull the wool over our eyes as to their true intentions. This event today encourages that belief.

On the other side, some in Muslim countries will hear Bollinger's introduction (from one source or another), and this will be damaging. Also, more people in the United States will now realize what a dangerous man this guy is.

The real shame here is on Columbia University for inviting him in the first place. I don't buy their excuse that everyone should be given a forum. Dean Coatsworth even said that they would have invited Hitler if he had been willing to debate. This is absurd. There are some people so extreme we need not listen to them. Grand Wizards of the KKK are an example. Anyone who denies the holocaust and has repeatedly said that Israel should be wiped off the map is another.

Unfortunately, this is the same university that allowed Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minutemen, was literally chased off stage by leftist idiots in October 2006. According to his website, he was supposed to return this year but the deal was nixed. It's unclear why, but Gilchrist said that the Columbia Political Union succumbed "to pressure from anti-freedom-of-speech gangsters." It wouldn't surprise me.

While I'm sure Ahmadinejad had great security, I'm sure he had nothing to fear from any students at Columbia. Conservatives don't storm stages or disrupt speakers, and leftists will tolerate anyone who hates the U.S.

And anyone who wonders where the faculty of Columbia's sympathies lie need only consider that this is a university that has banned ROTC and military recruiters, yet has no problem inviting a man like Ahmadinejad.

Rather, I think the Editors of National Review have figured out why Columbia invited Ahmadinejad

Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Rather, it is one more capitulation in series of victories for anti-Israel sentiment at the university. Columbia has long had problems with professors’ intimidating students who disagree with them about Israel’s right to exist, and its Middle East–studies department is a hotbed of anti-Israel hysteria. The sad reality is that there isn’t much daylight between Ahmadinejad’s positions on the legitimacy of the founding of Israel and those of Columbia professors Joseph Massad and Gil Anidjar.

I think they have it about right. Bollinger and other academics prattle about "free speech", but the experience of conservative speakers at universities over the past 30 years has put the lie to this. Recall also that these academics are the same ones who pushed onerous speech codes (most of which have fortunately been overturned by the courts).

In the end, sometime in the next year or so we'll have to face the Iranian quest for nuclear weapons and their sponsorship of terrorism. Hitler had no shortage of apologists in France and Britain in the mid-30s. After he took Czechoslovakia (and certainly after Poland) most people came around, though it was nearly too late. Let's hope it's not so close this time.

Posted by Tom at 9:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 15, 2007

Consequences of Failure

What would happen if we left Iraq as soon as possible, as many now want? What if we just immediately halted offensive operations, returned to our bases, and began packing?

Austin Bay has come up with seven scenarios. Summarized, they are

1) Three new countries are formed; Kurdistan, Southern Iraq dominated by the Shia, and Anbar, controlled by the Sunni. The latter two fight over Baghdad, but the rest of the country is relatively peaceful.

2) Full-scale civil war between Sunnis and Shias breaks out. Sunni Arab states aid the former, and Iran the latter. Iran sees this as an opportunity to expand its border. The Kurdish north remains relatively peaceful.

3) Turkey invades the Kurdish north. This scenario can be combined with others.

4) The Iraqi state quickly becomes a Shia dictatorship. Sunnis are either massacred or flee (or a little of both). The Kurds throw in their lot with the Shia in return for limited autonomy.

5) Chaos. This differes from #2 in that the country devolves into many factions, instead of two or more large warring parties. More than in any of the other scenarios, in this al Qaeda is able to use the situation to build up a series of terrorist training camps in the country.

6) The Shia tribes "gang up" and expel virtually all Sunnis from the country (note; I am not clear on how this differs from #4)

7) The democratic government holds, and ultimately proves popular. After several months, the Iraqi Army defeats all major rivals.

As Bay accurately concludes, only numbers 1 and 7 benefit all Iraqis, the US, and the civilized world.

At this point there's no way I'm going to try and predict which would happen if we withdraw.

Ralph Peters, along with Austin Bay a retired Army colonel, thinks that the result will be a massacre along the lines of what happened in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge took over.

I'll tell you what happens: massacres. And while I have nothing against Shia militiamen and Sunni insurgents killing each other 24/7, the overwhelming number of victims will be innocent women, children and the elderly

Bosnia? That was just rough-necking at recess compared to what Islamist fanatics and ethnic beasts will do. Given that Senate Majority Misleader Harry Reid and Commissar of the House Nancy Pelosi won't tell us what they foresee after we quit, let me lay it out:

* After suffering a strategic defeat, al-Qaeda-in-Iraq comes back from the dead (those zombies again . . .) and gets to declare a strategic victory over the Great Satan.

* Iran establishes hegemony over Iraq's southern oil fields and menaces the other Persian Gulf producers. (Sorry, Comrade Gore, even that Toyota Prius needs some gasoline . . . )

* Our troops will have died in vain. Of course, that doesn't really matter to much of anyone in Washington, Democrat or Republican. So we'll just write off those young Americans stupid enough to join the military when they could've ducked out the way most members of Congress did.

* A slaughter of the innocents - so many dead, the bodies will never be counted.

Obviously Peters does not subscribe to Bay's scenario numbers 1 or 7.

Assuming neither 1 or 7 occur, we should not think that repercussions will be limited to Iraq. As Michael Rubin points out

The idea floating around Washington that Iraq can be separated from Afghanistan is naive. The Iranians, who interfere in both, have the same objectives in both. Iraq is a laboratory. If strategies applied there cause the U.S. Congress to embrace defeat, then those same strategies will be applied in Afghanistan.

And how long before those who tell us we need to "redeploy" so as to better fight al Qaeda will decide that Afghanistan isn't worth it after all? Not too long, I'll wager.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 12, 2007

Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Al-Qaeda in Waziristan

If you're not watching the Pentagon Channel, you should be. Here's the Iraq Briefing 11 July 2007, conducted by Brigadier General Kevin Bergner spokesman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq. This one is about 48 minutes long, with most of the time devoted to Q & A with reporters. If you're used to watching the press conferences in Washington, you're in for a nice surprise here. The briefing is better, and the questions from the journalists a lot smarter. In addition, instead of just the usual CNN/Fox/WaPo bunch, you've got journalists there from around the world, so you get an international perspective from their questions.

You can read the transcript if you prefer that. Here's what I think was the most interesting exchange:

Q From your presentation, it would seem that if al Qaeda in Iraq were defeated, then it seems like most of the problems would go away. The sectarian strife would dissipate. You know, the Shi'ite militias would not be an issue. The Sunni insurgency would not be an issue. Are you saying, that it's al Qaeda and they're causing this and these other -- they're just facilitating these other problems?

GEN. BERGNER: Really what we're saying is that they are the principal threat within a complex security environment that involves al Qaeda. It involves other extremist organizations. It involves extremist militants and different militia organizations. They are clearly one of the principal -- they are clearly the main accelerant in sectarian violence and the greatest source of these spectacular attacks that are killing innocent Iraqis in such large numbers.

Q Despite the fact that their numbers are so small?

GEN. BERGNER: That's right. It's interesting, because there are -- if you looked at the number of foreign fighters that I have mentioned come into Iraq, their numbers are relatively small, but their effect is very, very devastating to the Iraqi people, because they're employed frequently as these suicide bombers. And so this isn't a monolithic security problem, but it is one where it is quite clear that al Qaeda is the principal threat and the principal destabilizing factor that is targeting the government of Iraq and their security forces.

Watch or read the whole thing, because earlier General Bergner addresses another question about al-Qaeda in which Jamie Tarabay of NPR asked "al Qaeda the main near-term threat, how about -- how do you classify, you know, the Shi'a militia groups, the Sunni insurgent groups? "

Bergner danced a bit around the issue of the militias, only saying that it was a "complex security environment", but in the end said that AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq) "the principal near-term threat in Iraq" because they committed the "largest number of suicide attacks and spectacular attacks and (were)deliberately fueling sectarian violence" and that they had as as their "main purpose destabilizing the government of Iraq and implementing an Islamic state."

This issue of al-Qaeda is important not just because of what is going on in Iraq, but because of the larger War on Jihadism. We learned this week that U.S. intelligence sources have confirmed that the organization has rebuilt and is at least as strong if not stronger today than it was on September 11.

I can't find the actual report on the Internet but it's titled "Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West." According to the Breitbart story

John Kringen, who heads the CIA's analysis directorate, echoed the concerns about al-Qaida's resurgence during testimony and conversations with reporters at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday.

"They seem to be fairly well settled into the safe haven and the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan," Kringen testified. "We see more training. We see more money. We see more communications. We see that activity rising."

On the other hand, the invaluable Michael Yon reports from Iraq that al-Qaida is on the run. He says that they are losing in both the Anbar and Diyala provinces.

So what of it?

On the one hand I hate refighting the past. What's happened has happened. We are where we are in Iraq. If it pleases people to say that Iraq is a distraction from fighting al-Qaeda suit yeah whatever. True, al-Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to the commencement of OIF like they are today. However, I think that people who say that there was no connection between the Saddam Hussein regime and al-Qeada are wrong, and you can check out this blog for starters. But again, refighting the past is largely a waste of time.

The bottom line to Iraq is that al-Qaeda is there, and so if you are truely interested in fighting them you'll want to continue the fight in Iraq. If we can defeat them there we become the "strong horse". If we lose then we become the "weak horse."

No one in the Middle East or elsewhere will want to be allied with the weak horse. Those who talk about "redeployment" are deluding themselves. Leaving Iraq prematurely will be touted as a defeat by al-Qaeda and all jihadists and they will be right. Governments around the world will...make their own accomodations with the jihadists. They'll relearn an old lesson, that it's dangerous to be a friend of the U.S., but often profitable to be it's enemy (Speaker Pelosi's trip to Damascus, for example).

Obviously it isn't good if it's true that al-Qaeda is stronger. It's not clear from the report, though, that not having gone into Iraq would have changed anything. The report says that al-Qaeda has set up base in Pakistan.

P A K I S T A N.

A sovereign country.

Armed with nuclear weapons.

Most of the al-Qaeda are in the Warziristan province of Pakistan, a virtual no-mans land that the government has never really controlled. Last September we learned that the government signed something that has become known as the Warziristan Accords, which effectively ceded the province to local tribesmen, who harbor the al-Qaeda.

So... on the one hand we might attack Warziristan, but how? It's not exactly accessable. Air power will destroy known al-Qaeda camps, but will hardly defeat the organization. This will take ground troops, and the logistical barriers to getting any number of troops in there are formidable, even if we had them to send.

And we're not going to get any international support if we do. If you want to amuse youself by blaming this on President Bush and the invasion of Iraq go ahead and entertain yourself, but I don't think any serious person would conclude that any world body would "authorize" a U.S. attack on Pakistan.

Then there's the fact that any incursion into Pakistan would give the Islamists an excuse to try and seize power. Musharraf might be overthrown by them or opponents within the military, and heaven knows who might come into power. At any rate, it would seriously destabilize the country with quite unpredicable results. Did I mention that they have nuclear weapons?

I'm not saying the situation is insoluable. I am saying it defines an easy solution. Anyone with serious ideas on how to deal with al-Qaeda in Waziristan is invited to leave them in comments.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 8, 2007

Lessons of the JFK Bomb Plot

While some on the left attempt to make light of the arrest by police of three men who were allegedly plotting to blow up fuel storage tanks at JFK International Airport in NYC, Walid Phares thinks otherwise. In an editorial a few days ago he wrote that there are eight lessons that we should learn from the plot.

1) This is an operation (successful or not) that implicated at least three countries in three subcontinents: The United States (North America), Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean) and Guyana (South America). It means that the terrorists (jihadi ideologically) have staged their activities out of three different countries (including the United States) to launch an attack against America. Hence, the first lesson to draw is that indeed the war with jihadism is a global war on terror, and thus this is an invitation to the U.S. congressional panel and the European Commission, which asked to drop the concept of "global war" with terrorism, to review their statement on the matter....

Phares is being polite here. As he said in Future Jihad, the President and Congress ought to declare that jihadism is out enemy. Until we understand that we are not just fighting al Qaeda we cannot even begin to win this thing.

2) The second lesson is that the Caribbean and South America have indeed became staging grounds for jihadi groups (al Qaeda, other Salafists and Iranian-led groups) to organize, recruit and act. Which necessitates a specific focus by Washington and other Latin American and Caribbean allies on jihadi activities in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere. The fact that members of the JFK International Airport plot were from and used Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana as areas of activities signals, along with the known activities in the region, Venezuela, the tri-border zone and other spots, the surge of a continental threat.

While at first glance it would seem too risky for Hugo Chavez to provide aid to al Qaeda or any terrorist who might strike at the U.S. he does seem quite the megalomanic, and as such may miscalculate. He might see Bush's current political weakness as a sign that he can get away with a lot more than is prudent. One would think that the Caribbean and South America would be one area where we could use our "soft power".

3) More specifically, attention must be placed on understanding the jihadi roots across the three states known as the Guyanas. Back in the 1980s, the Gadhafi regime of Libya has invested in networks in the area, particularly in Suriname with influences across the borders. In addition, the Wahhabi powers from Arabia have been funding institutions and groups also since the end of the 1980s. The growth of Salafism and linked radical groups is the direct result of oil-producing regimes' ideological thrust in these areas.

The root causes of potential terror acts in New York or Toronto in this decade have been triggered by a war of ideological indoctrination waged decades ago through this hemisphere....

At the risk of sounding condescending, it is just this ideological battle that most Americans are completely unaware of. During the Cold War everyone had at least a basic understanding of Soviet Communism. During World War II everyone knew about Nazism. Salafism, however, is a term that I daresay very few Americans are familiar with. The fault for this must lie squarely with the Bush Administration. While it is distressing that many Democrats have no understanding of who we are up against, the least the President could have done is to try and educate the public.

As Phares said in Future Jihad, the 9-11 Commission got it wrong. It was not a failure of imagination that allowed the terrorists to catch us by surprise, it was a failure of education.

If you're not familiar with these terms yourself, I summarized them in a review of Phares book.

4) A fourth lesson is to realize that while this operation was thankfully thwarted by U.S. authorities, the projection is that other similar operations are theoretically either contemplated or underway by the jihadists. For a jihadi war against democracies (the United States in this case) should not be perceived as one separate act after the other, but dispersed acts connected by one ideology, hence the war-like dimension of the conflict.

Knowledge of history is paramount in understanding our enemy. To make a long story very short, some time after Muhammed died in 632 AD the new Muslim world consolidated itself politically. An absolute ruler emerged called the Caliph, essentially a combination king and pope. Family dynasties emerged, each of which ruled from a particular city for a few hundred years before being supplanted by the next. The Umayyads, for example, ruled out of Damascus from 661 - 750 AD. The Abbasids ruled from Baghdad from 750 until 1258. The whole thing ended with the Ottomans ruling from Istanbul from 1299 - 1923. The last Caliph was overthrown by Musafa Kemal in that year and a secular Turkey emerged.

Once the Ottoman caliphate fell, and the ability to call for a jihad went private, al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood were inevitable. Jihadists see the present as the continuation of this narrative. What we in the West consider ancient history may as well happened last Thursday to them.

The goal of those who believe in a "fundamentalist" version of Islam is that the faith must be spread thoughout the world, by violence and forced conversion if necessary. The Sunni Salafists want a worldwide Caliphate, and the Shiite Khumeinists a regional Imamate.

5) A fifth lesson has to do with the layers of penetration of the systems in the United States and overseas. The various types of jihadi cells, individuals and other self declared groups on all levels of civil society and government is an indicator of the thrust. It also tells us that the counter-terrorism strategies, while spending time and energy on protecting the area under attack (buildings, trains, airports) must dedicate significant time and efforts on tracking the roots of indoctrination. We should not follow the terrorist threat but actually precede it.

Protecting "things" is fine. But we would be remiss if we didn't also attack the indoctrination process as well.

6) The so-called link to al Qaeda should not be the measurement of counter-terrorism strategies. Al Qaeda is in the center of the jihadi war against the Free World but doesn't encompass the entire jihadi web. Hence, linked or not to Osama bin laden, the Salafi networks are on the offensive before and most likely after the transformation of al Qaeda. We have seen enough evidence of the growth and development of what some call "homegrown" terror entities. Their travel into the grapevine to reach al Qaeda or not isn't the essence of the campaign; it is the travel by the jihadi ideologues and monies to these elements that needs countering.

Whether or not the JFK or the Fort Dix plotters had ties to al Qaeda is irrelevant. A May 2006 Washington Post story 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). In the treatise, Nasar essentially calls for Muslims to take matters into their own hands, either as individuals or in small cells, without waiting to be contacted by organizations such as al Qaeda.


7) In this age of cyberspeed and globalization, the dominant assumption in tracking the link, is that efforts to communicate have already been spent between the "homegrown" and the "mothership." For if jihadists from all over the world meet in chat rooms and travel to each other's battlefields, the standing presumption is that an effort was made to establish the link, either from the top toward the bottom, or otherwise. But even if the link was not formalized, the action flows in the same direction. The JFK airport plot at least shows that direction.

8) The Trinidad member of parliament, Abdel Kadir, who is also involved in this operation, is an example of infiltration by the jihadists of governments abroad, and ultimately of governmental institutions at home. It shows the fact that terrorists aren't exclusively outsiders but could also be insiders to governments and their agencies. It further shows one of the jihadists' main goals that is to "place" their cadres inside the layers of government, legislative, executive and potentially judicial.

More about Islamist infiltration tactics here.

While fighting al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan is certainly part of what should be called the War on Jihadism, it is not all of it. Surveilance (yes, of the domestic as well as foreign) and covert operations must play a large part also. We need to do a lot better at "soft power" of the sort mentioned above (follow the link for details).

The bottom line though is that it would be a mistake to dismiss the JFK Airport plot because the jihadists were still in the planning stages. Even the 9-11 terrorists had a planning stage. I tend to think that we would have dismissed their plans as fanciful had we caught them early on. Let's not make that mistake here.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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?

If You See Something Say Something

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,

If You See Something Say Something

Previous

July 20, 2004 Terror in the Skies Part II
July 22, 2004 Terror in the Skies, Again? continued....
July 23, 2004 "Terror in the Skies": Analysis

Update

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:

If You See Something Say Something

Posted by Tom at 7:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2007

"If you really want to fight al Qaeda, you stay in Iraq."

Andy McCarthy nails it yesterday over at The Corner (h/t TigerHawk)

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.

Ditto that.

Posted by Tom at 7:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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.

My Take

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.

However,

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.

Update

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.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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.

David Horowitz reported on this alliance over two years ago in his book Unholy Alliance. Melanie Phillips documented the same nexus in the UK in her eye-opening book Londonistan.

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.

Posted by Tom at 8:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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

The John Doe who reported the suspicious behaviour to authorities works at Circuit City (h/t Michelle Malkin)

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.

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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

Let's see what the suspects themselves had to say. From an AP story carried by Yahoo News (via LGF)

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.

Independent 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.

Foolish Terrorists

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.

Another tip came from a camera store owner (via Michelle Malkin)

(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.

Blech.

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.

Sure.

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.

Wonkette (via NRO) is her usual snotty self

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.

Perhaps not.

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April 19, 2007

April 19 is Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day

Today, the Terrorism Awareness Project is holding it's first Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day at colleges and universities across the country.

The Terrorism Awareness Project is the brainchild of the indefatigable David Horowitz, who also runs FrontPage Magazine and Discover The Networks.

The main event is the showing of the film Obsession: Radical Islam's War against the West at participating college campuses.

From the Terrorism Awareness Project website

The Terrorism Awareness Project is a new program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center dedicated to waking up Americans—and particularly American college students--to the threat of militant Islam. ...
Obsession is a wake up call. It offers a direct and chilling profile of what is brewing in the world of jihad right now—the plans for the mass murder of Americans and other Westerners and the justification that rationalizes radical Islam’s blueprints for genocide.

We anticipate a great deal of opposition from the radical left that refuses to recognize that the War on Terror was not started by Washington, but has been declared on us by a global confederacy of Islamists dedicated to the subjugation and murder of us and other "infidels".
...

Campuses Participating in Islamo-Fascism Awareness Day

Drew University
Arizona State University
Azusa Pacific
Ball State
Bates University
Bloomsburg
Boise State University
Boston College
Bowdoin College
Bradley University
Bryant University
BYU-Idaho
Clemson University
Colby College
Columbia University
Columbus State Community College
Dartmouth College
Dickinson College
Drexel University
Drury University
Duke
Evangel University
Florida State University
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Furman University
Gardner-Webb University
George Mason University
Georgia Tech
Hanover College
Hillsdale College
Holloman Air Force Base
Huntington University
Indiana State University
Indiana University Southeast
Ithaca College
Johnson and Wales University
Kansas Wesleyan University
Kansas Wesleyan University
Kingwood College
Lawrence University
Liberty
Loras College
Messiah College
Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Missouri State University
Missouri Western State University
Mountain Home AFB
New Mexico State
North Carolina State
Northeastern University
Northern Arizona University
Pace University
Palisades Charter High School
Purdue University
Regent University
Rhodes State College
Rice University
Roger Williams University
Rollins College
Saint Anselm College
Saint Francis University
Santa Ana College
Santa Barbara City College
Shippensburg University
SUNY New Paltz
Temple University
The College of New Jersey
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University
The University of Arizona
U of Alabama
U of Maryland, Baltimore County
U of Wisconsin - La Crosse
UC Davis
UC Irvine
UC Riverside
UNC - Chapel Hill
UNC Charlotte
UNC Wilmington
Unity College
University of Alabama
University of Colorado
University of Delaware
University of Florida
University of Iowa
University of Memphis
University of Miami
University of New Haven
University of North Carolina Greensboro
University of Notre Dame
University of Rhode Island
University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
University of Texas Austin
University of Toledo
University of Washington - Tacoma
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Washington University in St. Louis
Westmont College


Horowitz is an amazing guy and I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly when he signed his latest book (Indoctrination U)for me at CPAC 2007. I've read several of his books over the years, and never cease to be impressed with his energy and dedication. He correctly recognizes that a key to winning the ideological struggle against Islamo-Fascism will be fought at our universities.

Horowitz is fighting the good fight, and deserves our support.

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February 28, 2007

The Bush Doctrine R.I.P.

This morning we learned that the Bush Administration might just, after all, "talk" with Iran over the future of Iraq. From the Washington Post

The United States agreed yesterday to join high-level talks with Iran and Syria on the future of Iraq, an abrupt shift in policy that opens the door to diplomatic dealings the White House had shunned in recent months despite mounting criticism.

The move was announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in testimony on Capitol Hill, after Iraq said it had invited neighboring states, the United States and other nations to a pair of regional conferences.

The Administration quickly backtracked, however. At 4:28pm today CNN posted this

U.S. officials won't hold direct talks with Iran or Syria at a Baghdad conference next month despite the Bush administration's complaints that those countries are allowing weapons into Iraq, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Wednesday.

Direct talks would happen only if those countries made changes to their own policies. Iran would have to halt its uranium enrichment work and Syria would have to stop supporting groups Washington considers terrorist organizations, Snow said.

I don't know if this "only if those countries made changed" bit was part of the original plan or not, but there's nothing about it in the Post story and I don't have time to do extensive research. My guess is that they backtracked once they heard the outrage from the right.

Either way, contrast this with the set of policies popularly known as the Bush Doctrine, first outlined in a speech to graduates of West Point in June of 2002, and formalized in this AEI document.

- Military pre-emption
- Unilateral action when necessary
- A policy of "you're with us or against us"
- Bringing democracy, liberty, and security to other parts of the world

It looks like the Administration has bought into the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. Or they're trying to appease the Democrats. Or the editorial page of the New York Times. Or Secretary Rice is unable to resist the influence of the Arabists in the State Department. Or they've gone nuts.

Frank Gaffney outlines at least three reasons why negotiating with Iran is a bad idea

First, such negotiations will legitimate one of the most dangerous regimes on the planet. By acceding to the pressure to accord the mullahocracy in Tehran the status of equal partners and members in good standing of the “community of nations”....

Second, embracing Ahmadinejad and his mullahs in this way can only alienate our natural allies: the people of Iran. They have lately been demonstrating a growing willingness to challenge the Islamofascists who have oppressed them for so long.

Third, the adoption of the negotiating track effectively forecloses other options for dealing with the danger posed by the Iranian regime. In particular, efforts to bring about its downfall will be precluded. Diplomats predictably will insist that nothing be done — for example, through covert operations, more far-reaching and effective economic sanctions, military preparations, or political warfare — that will jeopardize the prospects for successful negotiations.

All three are good reasons not to engage in high-level public negotiations, but the last one strikes me as being particularly important. Several months ago I proposed several actions we ought to take that fall short of military strikes, but do not involve "negotiations" either. They include a human rights campaign, support for democratic movements inside Iran, propaganda, and giving them their own insurgency to worry about.

But Gaffney is right; diplomats will put a brake on any covert or overt actions. They won't even want a public human rights campaign for fear that it would "disrupt sensitive negotiations".

The Administration used to insist that it would never negotiate with states which sponsored terrorism. Iran is supposed to be part of the "axis of evil." What has changed? Andy McCarthy asks the same question

Other than the fact that we have now caught the Iranians red-handed killing Americans in Iraq and that the Iranians have made plain that they have no intention of foregoing their nuclear ambitions, what has changed in the last six months to suddenly transform these uncompromising, murdering extremists into negotiation material?

The only answer I can think of is what I stated above, that the administration is in full pander mode.

Talking vs Negotiating

Let's get one thing out of the way right now; there's a difference between "talking" and "negotiating". We "talk" with everyone. This is something you do in the back room of the a third party embassy somewhere in a rarely-traveled corner of the world. I'm certain we're "talking" with Iran right now, using the back room of the Canadian embassy in Madrid or something like that. Secret trips also count, such as when Kissinger's secret trip to China in 1971.

But when people say "negotiate" they mean the public stuff that occurs when high-ranking diplomats disappear behind closed doors and come out to a throng of journalists eagerly snapping photos and pushing microphones in their faces. This is a whole 'nother matter.

Defined this way, you simply don't enter into negotiations unless you're pretty sure of what the result is going to be. So when President Nixon made his public trip to China in 1972, he knew what was going to happen because Kissinger had laid the groundwork the year before.

But walking into high-level negotiations without this groundwork is like walking onto a minefield. This is what happened in 1986 when Reagan and Gorbachev got together at Reykjavik Iceland. The whole thing essentially blew up, and each came home to bad press. In the long run I think it became clear that Reagan got the better of Gorbachev, but my point is the danger in entering into high-level negotiations when the groundwork has not been properly laid.

What Do You Even Say To Them?

For those who say that we should negotiate with Iran I have one simple question; what exactly are we supposed to say to them?

I ask honestly, because for the life of me I don't know. "Please stop sending weapons into Iran"? "Please stop your nuclear weapons program"?

Negotiations can only succeed when there is the possibility of reaching common ground. Each side gives a little, and in the end the end you meet somewhere inbetween. But the US and Iran have diametrically opposed views on the future of the Middle East. The US wants a pluralistic Iraq, the better which to spread liberty around the region and thus combat jihadism. Yes, we also want a steady supply of oil but we'd pretty much get that in any event (they've got to sell it to someone. An embargo hurts them in the long run too). Iran wants to create a Khumeinist superstate that can compete the Sunni jihadists. I do not see the possibility of meaningful agreement.

If any commenters can enlighten me please do so. I insist, however, that you avoid generalities and tell me exactly what you would say and how you think they'd react.

There's a fierce debate going on right now over at The Corner on just this. Andrew Stuttaford says that we should negotiate with Iran, and the others are beating him up over it. Mark Levin asks essentially the same question that I put to Stuttaford in an email today; "So, Andrew, I'm curious, these discussions you argue for, what what you say and to whom?" Stuttaford hasn't responded yet, and I'll be at CPAC the rest of this week so might not be able to check aback for awhile. However, Andy McCarthy has posted a hilarious parody of how talks might go.

Meanwhile

Iran continues to ship arms to the terrorist insurgents in Iraq. I'm sure the far left is dismissing this evidence because "Bush lied!" on WMD.

Two weeks ago the Financal Times published an internal European Union document in which officials conclude that negotiations with Iran will probably fail and that "at some stage we must expect that Iran will acquire the capacity to enrich uranium on the scale required for a weapons programme."

Just thought you'd like to know.


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February 9, 2007

An Escallation by the Jihadists

While we are spending most of our time debating whether to "escallate" the war in Iraq by sending more troops and/or adopting a new strategy, we seem to have missed what the enemy is doing.

They're escallating too.

But I don't mean in Iraq. I'm talking about the jihadists in Europe.

Walid Phares says that the jihadists are changing tactics and that this represents a "new benchmark" in their war against the West. Last week British police arrested nine suspects for what it says was an "Iraq-style kidnapping" plot. The plan was to seize a British soldier, behead him, and show it on the Internet. The target soldier had served in Afghanistan.

Previously, al Qaeda and other jihadists concentrated their efforts on large-style dramatic attacks. They wanted to emulate 9-11 as much as possible. Now, says Phares, we may be witnessing a change in tactics. Following are excerpts from his article

1) “A factory”: The repetitive arrest in this important city, if anything, tells us that a hub is producing successive waves of Jihadists, ready to strike within Great Britain. ...

2) “Urban pocket:” The concentration of Jihadi Terror activities in this one city (along with other possible sites) could mean that the militants have formed an “urban pocket” out of which they can coordinate activities, and in which they have established one or more safe havens.
...

3) “Urban Battlefield”: The decision to conduct a kidnapping operation against a British soldier, to behead him and to post the criminal scene online presumes that the British Jihadists have chosen the option of “Urban battlefield.”
...

4) “Seizing the community”: One of the most dangerous Terrorist tactics is to apply violence within a particular community, so that the Terrorist leadership would break the ties between the group and the general society. A very risky choice, but from a Jihadi thinking process, it is unstoppable....(S)eizing a community through fear and Terror "within" the West will have unique consequences. In the mind of the Jihadists, eliminating moderate Muslims, starting with the ones who work with Government, particularly in defense and security matters, will spread terror in the hearts of the community, further isolating it.
...

Thus, the Birmingham Jihadi plot is not just “another” Terrorist happening. It is a crossing of a line, a benchmark. Somewhere in a British city, a war room has decided to create an enclave of terror. The arrests are certainly important, but what the Terrorists wanted to achieve is even more important. It is one of these signals, that in Britain and probably in many European cities, a new phase has begun.

Make sure to follow the link above and read the whole thing.

Phares' point, I think, is that the kidnapping and murder of the Muslim British soldier was not meant to be just another attack on the West. We need to give the jihadists credit. As he makes clear in his book Future Jihad, the jihadists have a very sophisticated strategy. They don't just sit around and say "how and where can we stage another big attack?" That's part of it, to be sure, but it's all part of a much larger and more complex plan. More on this when I post my review of his book, which I am reading now.

In the "urban battlefied" section Phares believes that the jihadists think that "they have the necessary numbers to wage successive operations" because they have established a "a “feeder,” that is a continuous flow of new recruits." Melanie Phillips' documented how extensive radical Islam is in her book Londonistan, so Phares' conclusion is supported by a lot of evidence.

We'll see whether Phares is right or not in the weeks and months to come. I've often wondered why the jihadists didn't "scale down" their attacks from big-dramatic ones to lots of smaller ones. Now that I'm half-way through Future Jihad I'm starting to understand why. The short answer is that their strategy is a lot more complex and long-term than I'd imagined. But again, more on this when I post the book review.

But either way, it looks like Britain's toleration of radical Islam is beginning to bear fruit; of the rotten variety. Let's encourage them to take action before it's too late.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 1, 2007

State of the War

The start of a new year is a good time to think about how we are doing in the war. Last August I said that we were losing, and I'm not completely sure now if my opinion has changed.

By "war", I don't mean just what's going on in Iraq or Afghanistan, but the overall war. Call it World War IV, the War Against Islamic Extremism, Islamic Fascism, Islamic Radicalism, or Islamism, just don't call it the War on Terror, because that term obscures more than it reveals the nature of our enemy.

Bill Roggio has just returned from Iraq, and he's posted a "State of the Jihad" on his site, from which I drew much valuable information for this post. As with almost all of his posts, Roggio doesn't present any conclusion of his own. His posts tend to be like newspaper stories (or how they should be written, anyway), where he simply states the facts as he sees them an invites the readers to reach their own conclusions.

The editors at StrategyPage also provide a useful country-by-country summary. Theirs is broader than Roggio's but less in-depth in any one theater.

Bret Stephens, in a piece published in today's Opinion Journal, also has much good material, covering areas that Roggio omits, such as Lebanon.

Iraq

Iraq is the leading front in the war so it makes the most sense to write about it first. Whether it was right for us to invade or not is immaterial at this point. The fact is that if we win there we deal our enemies a setback, and if we lose they win a victory.

We seem to be in a state of stalemate, which I think favors our enemies. Weirdly, we don't have any one enemy, but it seems to be a mix of al Qaeda, various militias, die-hard Ba'athists, and plain old criminals. Their motivations are everything from jihad to ethnic rivalries to old-fashion criminal gain, and sometimes they all seem mixed together. Unlike in Vietnam, the insurgency is hardly united, but that doesn't seem to make it any easier to defeat.

The violence has, of course, risen during the year, which is a very bad thing, even if relatively few of the deaths were Americans.

From what I can tell, the Sunnis started or promoted the insurgency in it's early days as a way of getting the US out of Iraq and themselves back into power. The Shi'ites reacted by forming or building up their militias and going after the Sunnis. The Kurds (Sunni but not Arabs) did their own thing up north, the one part of the country that pretty much works. The Sunni supported al Qaeda-in-Iraq bombed the Golden Dome of the Al-Askaria Mosque in Samarra, and the whole thing escallated. My understanding is that because of Shi'ite retribution many of the Sunnis now regret their earlier actions, and are trying to make peace, but it might be too late. The Shi'ites are not going to give up their militias voluntarily, at least in the short term. What is going on now is little short of Shi'ite ethnic cleansing. Only the presence of US forces prevents it from escallating into a Rwanda or Kosovo-style slaughter.

The Iraqi government doesn't want to go after the Shi'ite militias because many of the ministers, not the least of which is that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki depends on Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army for his own position. The Iraqi Army is getting stronger, but some individual units will not fight against their own sect or clan. The Iraqi Police are riddled with death squad activity and are part of the problem.

A hanging is a terrible thing, but it was right that Saddam was executed, however the method. It won't win the war, but it does deny the die-hard Ba'athists the hope that he may someday return to power.

The reporting on Iraq is often seemingly contradictory. Read one story and you think all is lost. Read another and you believe that no, there is much progress. Christopher Hitchens talks about this phenomenon and concludes that "It isn't so much a matter of deciding who or what to believe, because both (the good and bad) may be simultaneously correct." One wonders if Americans had this problem deciphering the news during the Civil War or World War II.

Our plan to stabilize Baghdad in October (more here) failed, and now President Bush is considering a plan by academic Frederick Kagan and retired general Jack Keane, which is considerably different from what what we've tried over the past few years. With the Democrats now in charge of Congress, Bush's time to win is limited, and whatever he does next may be our last chance.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is arguably the number two front in the war. The defeat of al Qaeda and their Taliban allies dealt a huge blow to the Islamist movement, and they are determined to take the country back. As such, 2006 saw large Taliban-al Qaeda offensives. Unfortunately for them, they also saw large numbers of Taliban and al Qaeda killed. Bill Roggio estimates that 3,500 of 4,000 Taliban fighters have been killed in these offensives. The paradox they face is that if they remain dispersed, it is harder for us to find and kill them, yet if they mass for the attack, we can find and kill them easily.

The Taliban and al Qaeda are using their bases in Pakistan to attack in Afghanistan. Until we find a way to neutralize these bases, these attacks will continue. Our paradox is that if we go after these bases, we neutralize the Taliban/al Qaeda, but run a serious risk of destabilizing Pakistan with potentially disasterous consequences.

Although several NATO countries have sent troops, they have not sent nearly as many as they could have, this despite that Afghanistan is supposed to be the war that everyone agreed was the good one. Further, some NATO governments that have sent troops have placed such serious restrictions on them as to practically remove them from the fight altogether. Some are fighting quite honorably, so this is not meant to tar all Europeans.

As with Iraq, reports are contradictory. Michael Yon is worried and thinks we might lose the country, but other stuff I read makes me think that no, the Taliban and al Qaeda may stage offensives but we're handling them without too much difficulty.

In the end, I think we're winning in Afghanistan but have the potentiol to lose. 2007 will be a violent and possibly decisive year.

Pakistan

2006 saw us experience a serious setback in the war in Pakistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda forced the government to abandon the region called North Waziristan and sign the Waziristan Accord. In this accord the government officially ceded control of the aformentioned territory to the Taliban.

Although this development went largely unmentioned in the media, it was one of the worst setbacks we have suffered in this war. According to Roggio, al Qaeda operates at least 22 camps in this area, and the Taliban have set up their headquarters there. Although not as good as having Afghanistan, it does provide them with a safe-haven, vital for any terrorist group.

The US did nothing when this accord was announced, and from what I can tell have not done anything since. As mentioned earlier, it would be extremely risky for us to attack these bases. Not to do so, though, means that we will face continued attacks into Afghanistan and elsewhere. It is not an easy dilemna to solve, but most disturbing of all is our apparenty unwillingness to want to face the problem at all.

Somalia

Until a few weeks ago this would have gone down as a huge setback in the war. Now we can cautiously put it in the "win" column.

Last summer the Islamic Court Union had taken over the country, or at least the southern part of it. Ethiopia sent in troops to bolster their allies. The ICU, or a part of it, declared a jihad against Ethiopia. After a 5 month standoff, in December Ethiopian forces launched a major offensive, which included air and ground forces. They drove the ICU from the capital, Mogadishu, who have fled to the south. As of this writing Ethiopian forces stand poised to move south in pursuit, and may already be doing so.

2007 will undoubtably see more fighting, as the ICU will likely turn to insurgent warfare.

It is highly probable that the US and our European allies have been deeply engaged in this conflice, albeit at the clandestine-diplomatic level. I would not be surprised if a few aid bills for Ethiopia and Somalia flew threw congress in the next few months.

Iran

Iran remains a problem for three reasons: 1) They are continuing to supply, train, and influence the insurgency and Shi'ite militias in Iraq, the cause of much of the violence, and 2) They are continuing their pursuit of nuclear weapons without much interference from the US or Europe, and lastly, 3) They are the biggest state-sponsor of terrorism in the world, for example being the main supplier to Hezbollah.

As such, we have to put Iran in the "loss" column.

It is unimaginable that we do not have a good idea where Iranian terrorist training and supply depots are. Further, the ones supplying the Iraqi militias etc are likely close to their border with Iraq. No doubt it would be risky to attack them for a variety of reasons. Yet as long as they remain operational it will be difficult to stabilize Iraq.

The administration seems to believe that the situation with regard to Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons will resolve itself, because I cannot imagine that they actually think that their pursuit of Security Council resolutions and never-ending diplomacy will produce results. It is possible that they are right. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did suffer a setback in their recent elections, and other reports have it that Iran could run out of oil in as little as a decade, which would deprive them of the funds necessary to produce nuclear weapons.

It seems to me that while it is possible that the nuclear situation will resolve itself, it is not very likely that this will be the case. As such, Iran remains our greatest long-term threat in the region.

The war between Hezbollah and Israel was inconslusive, and the Bush Administration mishandled the situation badly, urging Israel to accept a toothless Security Council resolution that has proved worthless in disarming Hezbollah. 2007 will likely see a revival of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

Lebanon

The promise of the Cedar Revolution of 2005/6 has been squandered. Bret Stephens, in the Opinion Journal piece cited above, points out that the Bush Administration followed up the revolution "with nothing". We apparently thought that presto, with Syria gone everyting would work out fine.

Lebanon is a mess, with Wikipedia describing it as "highly fragile." The country is a safe haven for Hezbollah, one of the most dangerous Islamic terrorist organizations on the planet. No doubt they are currently being resupplied by Iran through Syria, and in 2007 we can look forward to more attacks by them on Israel, with the possibility of a full-scale war likely.

Lebanon obviously goes in the "loss" side of the ledger.

Syria

Syria was not part of Bush's original "Axis of Evil" but should have been. A state sponsor of terror, Syria has been behind much of the insurgency in Iraq and terrorism perpetrated against Israel.

We have been unable or unwilling to stem either. As with Iran, it is almost certain that we know where the supply and training bases are in Syria. There are rumors that Rumsfeld wanted to attack some of them but was vetoed by Bush. Attacking them would be far less risky than going after similar bases in Iran, and would serve to warn Iran as well. As long as we defer from doing so we will face a continued problem from Syria, as from their perspective supporting terrorism has become largely cost-free.

That Syria is still supplying the insurgency in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon means that we have to put this in the "loss" column. The status quo is not acceptable.

Saudi Arabia

Bill Roggio maintains that wealthy Saudis continue to fund terrorism, and I am certain that he is correct. In addition, it is well known that much jihadist hate is preached from Saudi Arabian mosques. The government is willing to tolerate this behavior in a "deal with the devil"; we'll let you preach as long as you don't touch us. One day these chickens may come home to roost.

In addition, funding for many mosques built in the West comes from Saudi sources. Wahhabism as currently practiced is part of the Islamic extremism problem, and until it is dealt with will continue to be a source of trouble for us and support for movements such as al Qaeda.

On the good side, the kingdom avoided sliding into all-out chaos, as some feared it would in 2005, after a series of al Qaeda attacks. Here as elsewhere, the status quo favors the enemy. At best, we are in stalemate.

Chechnya

We can put Chechnya in our "win" category. Al Qaeda suffered a loss here in 2006.

Russian forces killed the jihadist leader, Shamil Basayev, and later wounded his successor, Doku Umarov. StrategyPage goes so far as to say that "the war against gangsters and Islamic radicals in Chechnya has been won."

This is clearly not a major front for the United States or Europe, at least not in the short run. However, with a declining native birthrate, and increasing Muslim birthrate, Russia needs to control Muslim extremism close to its borders.

The Philippines

In the Philippines 2006 also saw much success by government and US forces battling al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf and Indonesian based Jemaah Islamiyah. We can also put it in our "win" category for the year.

Thailand

Unfortunately, events in Thailand took a turn for the worse in 2006, forcing us to put it in the "loss" category. Muslims from the southern part of the country have increased their attacks, culminating in a series of bombs going off in the capital city of Bangkok New Years Eve.

The problem does not appear to be major as of now, so although we'll put it in the "loss" category it is not something with which we need be overly concerned as of now.

Europe

It will seem strange to some that Europe is even included in this analysis. Certainly there is no fighting there, and few acts of terrorism. But we only exclude it if we take the narrow, and in my view incorrect, view of this war as only being against al Qaeda and maybe Hezbollah. Instead, as I stated at the top, the war is against Islamic extremism in general, and Europe is home to plenty of Islamic extremists.

The year began with the "Cartoon Jihad", and ended with equally manufactured Muslim outrage over some remarks by the Pope. While many European newspapers bravely stuck up for their Danish brethern, the reaction by the elites was less than admirable. Many were unwilling to confront the extremists, and gave the usual excuses as why media outlets should "exercise restraint".

There are plenty more reasons for despair. A low-level intifada continues in Parisian suburbs. While some in Britain seem to have awoken, far too many still blame the US and Israel for their trouble with Islamic extremism, believing that if only the Israel-Palestinian problem were solved and the US got out of Iraq, all would be well. Surveys still show that 40-60% of British muslims want Sharia law in their communities, and I'm sure the figure is 100% among muslim leaders. Attempts to confront Muslims with evidence of their extremism are met with the usual cries of "Islamophobia", and debate usually stops.

There have been a few attempts to control the extremism, and demand accountability. From my perspective, though, they are too few and too feeble. Most importantly, there is no attempt to stop or limit immigration by Muslime.

The situation is getting worse in Europe, and although it is incrimental, we have to put it in the "loss" column as well.

Conclusion

Not a good year. All-in-all, probably an overall loss for the good guys. In the short erm I think the biggest challenge is Iraq, in the medium term Iran, and in the long term Europe itself.

In the end I remain confident that we will win, but at the rate things are going the cost may be quite high. We are currently in a sort of "funk", and our president seemed not to know quite what to do throughout much of the past year. It looks like the elections in November seemed to have shaken off much of the lethargy. I look forward to a much more active, and hopefully more successful, 2007.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 15, 2006

Book Review - "America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It"

Just when I think that the future can't be much darker for us in our war on Islamic Jihadism, Mark Steyn comes along to ruin things for me.

Consider our current situation: Iraq is in the throws of massive sectarian violence and may slide into Rwandan-style slaughter, Afghanistan is not-at-all secure, Musharraf has virtually ceded large parts of his country to the Taliban and their allies, most of Somalia, including it's capital Mogadishu, is controlled by the Supreme Islamic Courts Council, an Islamist militia, and Iran appears to be well on the way towards obtaining nuclear weapons. Did I miss anything?

Actually, as Steyn points out in America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, what I missed was the fact that the United States is now virtually alone in the world. Europe, he explains, is well on the road to being completely lost to the Jihadists.

On the surface, of course, it doesn't seem that way. Their leaders still mouth the traditional pieties, lamenting that "with only proper US leadership" and "less arrogance", why, we would all be together against the terrorists. Traditional institutions such as NATO and a European-dominated Security Council still prevail.

Further, it's tempting to think that of course we can't really lose to the likes of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Isn't Europe the rock of Western Civilization? Surely a continent that survived the Nazis, Communists, and other assorted fascists can take on a bunch of backward Islamic fanatics, right? I mean, maybe they'll get lucky with some terrorist acts, maybe even sneak a nuke into a city, but lose, as in foreign occupation? No way.

"Yes way" is Steyn's response.

Here is Steyn's argument in a nutshell; the populations of native Europeans are headed into steep decline. Not only that, but the radio of young to old people is rapidly declining. Over the past several decades they've set up an enormous welfare state which depends on lots of young people for old-age payments. European leaders, seeing that the young people simply won't be around when needed, have been encouraging massive immigration into their countries. These immigrants are overwhelmingly Muslim, and most have no desire to assimilate into European culture. Not only that, but, most or many of them plan on making Europe a Muslim continent, complete with Sharia law. Native Europeans, infected with leftist multiculturalism and a complete lack of a sense of nationhood, have no will to resist.

America, he says, will be alone in the world before we know it. In many ways we already are.

Combine a powerful argument with his world-famous Mark Steyn wit, and you've got a great book. It is at once deeply sobering and laugh-out-loud funny. Put it on your must-read list.

The Inexorable Power of Demography

In order for a population to maintain its existing numbers, there must be 2.1 live births per woman. More and it's numbers increase, less and they decline. The United States is at almost exactly 2.1. That our numbers are slightly increasing is due, of course, to immigration.

Europe as a whole is 1.38, Western Europe, 1.5 or less. A few country numbers: Germany and Austria 1.3, Italy 1.2, Sweden 1.64, Ireland 1.9, Spain and Greece 1.15. Russia has the lowest at 1.15, and France the highest at 1.89. On the other side of the globe, Japan is at 1.32, and while they'll have a benefits crisis, they don't have to contend with immigrants who want to change the very nature of their society.

All this leads to rapidly declining populations. The populations of Spain, Greece and Russia will start to halve every 35 or 40 years starting sometime mid-century. The population of Yemen will exceed that of Russia.

Besides the fact that the welfare-state will simply come crashing to the ground (it's a mathmatical certainty), no one knows what will happen economically when there are lots and lots of retired people relative to younger workers.

On the other hand, here are the birthrates in Islamic countries: Pakistan 5.03, Saudi Arabia 4.53, Iran 2.33 (though Ahmadinejad is trying to get it up), Afghanistan 6.69 and Yemen at 6.58

Calculators Don't Lie

Into all this come Muslim immigrants. Europeans want(ed?) them because of their labor and ability to fund their welfare states, and Muslims wanted to come because Europe is obviously a better place than, oh, say, Pakistan or Algeria.

Exactly how many Muslims are in Europe now is open to question, and the numbers are probably higher than advertised. However, most sources I checked conclude that about 5% of Western Europe is Muslim, with the total number being at around 23 million.

The Muslim birthrate in Europe is somewhere around 3.5 live births per woman.

The bottom line: Sometime towards the end of this century Western Europe will be majority Muslim. Get the picture?

Islam is Not Just a Religion

This is not the place for a full discussion of Islam, the law, and the nature of society. Suffice it to say that you just haven't been paying attention if you think that the difference between Westerners (whether Christian or not) and Muslims is trivial. We're not talking like the differences between Presbyterians and Mormons, or Jews and Hindus, for that matter.

The reality is that all Westerners, and Hindus too for that matter, live in countries that have been through or deeply influenced by the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment. This is why I'm not worried about the impact of Hispanics on American culture or society; fundamentally they're just like us.

Islam is another matter. There has never been an Islamic Martin Luther, much less a St Augustine or St Aquinas. I'd say Islam was stuck in the Middle Ages, but that would be an insult to Medieval Europe. I believe that Islam is reformable, it's just not on that path right now.

Radical Islam has exported itself to Europe. Melanie Phillips documented how bad the situation in the UK, who's capital was been dubbed "Londonistan" by French police officials. Islamism is an imperial project, says Steyn, and it's coming to a town near you.

It's not just the vast potential for terrorism that is the problem. Surveys show that up to 60% of these Muslims want Sharia law implimented in the European countries where they reside. Many or most of them have no wish to conform to Western standards, they want us to conform to them. Steyn, like any number of authors writing on this subject, provides example after example of demands that radical Muslims are making on their new countries; and time after time native Europe surrenders.

The problem is that the Muslim immigrants see the customs and law of Europe, and reject it. They see women who are free, and it offends them. They see that gays are allowed to live without being stoned to death, and it enrages them. They examine our legal system and believe it unjust because it is not based on Islam. They look at our democracy and seek ways to exploit it. They use our tradion of tolerance against us.

All Muslims? No. But enough Muslims? Yes. If there is a large group of "moderate Muslims" in Europe, it is a well-kept secret.

It's the Identity, Stupid

Population decline in and of itself would only be a economic problem; how to pay for all these benefits? A threat from radical Muslims would not be a problem in a culture and country that firmly believed in itself.

Add the two together, however, and you've got a disaster on your hands.

How Europe lost it's way is no great secret; two world wars, coupled with the threat of complete annihilation during the Cold War, prompted many to distrust or hate nationalism and put their faith in integration and international institutions. And it has, in this respect, worked; the idea of two major European countries going to war with each other is more remote than ever.

Sure, if the Islamists somehow cobbled together a traditional army and hit the beaches in Spain or Italy, Europe would rally to their defense. The problem, as Steyn points out, is that "the dragons are no longer on the edge of the map."

The reasons why Europe is not resisting are several. There is the lack of national identity that I mentioned earlier. There is also it's post-Christian state. Most Americans believe in God whether they go to church or synagogue or not. Most Europeans don't even believe in God. This results first of all in a lack of believing in anything, a lack of identity.

On top of that you've got leftist muliculturalism, which seeks to deny that any one culture or society is superior to any other.

All of this has led to a lack of identity. Islam is not only growing in Europe though immigration, but by conversion. Again, numbers are hard to come by, but there are all too-many news articles about the subject.

What Christian churches are left outside of Catholicism are in full-scale retreat. Most are desperate to retain whatever members they can, and believe that the best way to do so is to become like the society around them. This has led to a milquetoast version of their religion that is utterly unable to resist the threat that is all around them.

The funny part about it all is that if you had to invent an ideology that would be complete anathema to the liberal or leftist mindset, you couldn't do better than radical Islam. It's mysogenic, anti-gay, and theocratic. Yet to most leftists and indeed many liberals, the threat's simply not there. They'll tell you that the Islamists are just upset because we haven't solved the Palestinian-Israeli problem.

In the End

"Jihad can win", is Steyn's message. Although it may seem incredible to us to imagine the sort of changes that would forever change Europe, it is stability that is the illusion. Looking at the broad sweep of history, one realizes that not only do countries come and go, but peoples do to. Meet any Visigoths or Byzantines recently?

So yes, Europe as we know it can disappear. Before it does it will likely catch on as to what is happening, and we'll likely see mass riots or outright warfare, coupled with a rise of fascist parties on the right. We'll also see a mass exodus to the United States, which in my opinion would be a good thing. But in the end the tyranny of demography will prevail unless action is taken now.

What Can Be Done

Steyn doesn't spend much time here, prefering to spend most of the book simply laying out the problem. He does, however have some ideas, most of which are good ones.

First, he lays out our options

1. Submit to Islam
2. Destroy Islam
3. Reform Islam

As Steyn puts it, "because most of us don't take number one as a serious possibility, we're equally unserious about being forced to choose between two and three. But submission to Islam is very possible...."

Because "destroying Islam" is both impractical and immoral, our only option is number three. Ultimately, he says, we can't do this; only Muslims can. However, we can create the conditions for reform.

Some of the things he proposes are supporting women's rights in Islamic countries, rolling back Wahhabi "exports", ie Saudi-funded Mosques. In general, supporting liberty and democracy in Muslim countries is necessary, too. We must think more comprehensively about a ideological strategy as well as a military one. Forget the UN and NATO, they're worse than useless. Changing the government in Tehran must be a priority. Military action when necessary is required, though in general this war will not be won with bombs and bullets.

All of this stuff except ending the military parts are the types of things we don't do very well, but it's quite necessary that we learn.

Trends do not necessarily hold. It is possible that native Europeans will see an increase in their birthrates, or will suddenly come to their senses and enact measures to stop or seriously slow down immigration from Muslim countries. They might rediscover a sense of identity, and maybe even their Christianity. But it seems less than likely to me. Steyn's vision is, if anything, more frightening than even the prospects for defeat in Afghanistan or Iraq. The lights may be going out in Europe once more, and this time I'm not sure we can get them back on.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 26, 2006

Hanson Demolishes the Talkers

From NRO's The Corner today, here's Victor Davis Hanson:

In the last 24 hours I have heard some of the craziest things of this entire war.

The Palestinians are complaining about the Israeli security fence on grounds that it perpetuates "racial segregation" — in a way perhaps suicide bombers do not? Or the state-run Palestinian megaphones with their usual "apes and pigs" rants?

At a meeting the other day with some political scientists, I was lectured by some that there was nothing such as jihadism in the comprehensive sense. That is, that Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. simply have entirely separate agendas, understandable (i.e., Israel, "occupation" of Arab lands) and particularist grievances, etc. rather than a deeply shared anger at the West that originates from a common sense of lost pride and frustration, brought on by recognition of failure when zeal and religious purity do not restore honor or influence in the age of globalization.

I thought these who advocated such nonsense might at any second suggest that because Mussolini's fascists, Hitler's Nazis, and Tojo's militarists all had quite different agendas, separate racial ideologies, and particular aims in WWII, then, they could hardly be lumped together as the Axis that threatened Western republics and needed a generic anti-fascist response. All during the Vietnam War, we were lectured daily about the intricacies of Vietnamese, Russian, and Chinese Communists — their rivalries, hatreds, and quite separate aims-as they combined to defeat the United States, and trumped their own tensions with an all-encompassing hatred of Western democratic capitalism.

There is also an Alice in Wonderland flavor to the current Democratic response to the Korean and Iranian crises. We talked to the Koreans all during the 1990s as they prepared nuclear materials.

And now are told that we have a catastrophe since we have not recently talked to them. We talked all during the 1990s with Syria — and got nothing. Bill Clinton has always praised Iranian democracy; so, we talked to Tehran too, both stealthily and overtly.

So what is this obsession with talk, talk, talk? It reminds me of all those discredited British empty-headed pacifists and aristocrats who wanted to keep talking to Hitler after the fall of Poland, even after the fall of France, right up to the Battle of Britain.

Ditto that.

Posted by Tom at 9:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2006

Lenninist Lynne Gets Lucky

Here's how the AP story on the sentencing of Lynne Stewart, printed in the Washington Times, starts out

A firebrand civil rights lawyer who has defended Black Panthers and anti-war radicals was sentenced yesterday to nearly 2? years in prison -- far less than the 30 years prosecutors wanted -- for helping an imprisoned terrorist sheik communicate with his followers on the outside.

Lynne Stewart, 67, smiled, cried and hugged supporters after U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl pronounced the sentence of 28 months.

The judge said Stewart was guilty of smuggling messages between her client and his followers that could have "potentially lethal consequences." He called the crimes "extraordinarily severe criminal conduct."

But in departing from federal guidelines that called for 30 years behind bars, he cited Stewart's more than three decades of dedication to poor, disadvantaged and unpopular clients.

"Ms. Stewart performed a public service, not only to her clients, but to the nation," Judge Koeltl said.

"firebrand civil rights lawyer"? dedication to "poor, disadvantaged and unpopular clients"? "performed a public service...to the nation"?

What are this AP reporter and judge smoking? Lynne Stewart is a communist and member of the hate-America crowd if there every was one. If you don't believe me read what she herself has said

"We have in Washington a poisonous government that spreads its venom to the body politic in all corners of the globe. We now resume...our quests...like David going forth to meet Goliath, like Beowulf the dragon slayer...like Sir Galahad seeking the holy grail. And modern heroes, dare I mention? Ho and Mao and Lenin, Fidel and Nelson Mandela and John Brown, Che Guevara who reminds us 'At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.'"

How does she view "Muslim fundamentalists"?

"They are basically forces of national liberation. And I think that we, as persons who are committed to the liberation of oppressed people, should fasten on the need for self-determination....My own sense is that, were the Islamists to be empowered, there would be movements within their own countries...to liberate."

As for violence;

"I don't believe in anarchistic violence, but in directed violence. That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism, and sexism, and the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support."

"Civil rights attorney" my foot. She's part of the New Fifth Columnists who take the side of our enemy that's all there is to it.

For Additional Reading

Much more about Stewart's background here.

Powerline dissects the sentencing and says "Not Enough Jail Time". I agree.

Captain Ed says that the light sentencing of Stewart "demonstrates the fecklessness of pursuing terrorists through the civil courts." Ditto that.

Michelle Malkin calls it a "travesty". So do I. She points to an article in the New York Times that is very sympathetic to Stewart. Unbelievable.

Andy McCarthy at NRO provides valuable legal insight. He relates how he spent some time on the phone with a New York Times reporter trying to explain how no, a long sentence would not have a chilling effect on lawyers who defend terrorists if she receives a long sentence.” The reporter didn't get it.

The Wall Street Journal also editoralizes that given her crime she got off light.

Lastly, be sure to check out Michelle Malkin's Hot Air, where she's got a "videoblog" entry about Lennist Lynne.

Posted by Tom at 8:17 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 28, 2006

The Nature of our Enemy Part III An Islamic World

On the one hand, there's a danger in reading too much into any one incident. On the other, sometimes they can be so illustrative.

Take the issue of Steve Centani and Olaf Wiig, the Fox News journalists who were told to convert to Islam or die. In the video, posted here on Michelle Malkin's site (and on YouTube), Centanni reads a statement, which says in part

I have embraced Islam, and say the word Allah. My leader is the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. Islam is not meant for just some people, but it is the true religion for all people in all times. Westerners are not following the wrong path. And I hope they realize that and change their ways,and I hope I can help them to do that. Islam helps people to love mercy, brotherhood, equality and justice....

Disbelievers will be cast into an eternal fire. But Allah is also ever merciful, and the west can change it's ways and turn to the purifying power of Islam....

Islam is not fascism. Words lke that only serve to deepen the chasm between peoples.... The West is seen as waging war on Islam, and these words, "Islamic fascists", only reconfirm that belief among many.... Please, George Bush, please Tony Blair, open your minds to Islam, and bring peace to all people around the world....

Olaf Wiig reads a similar statement. Basically it's all "we are poor persecuted Muslims, please stop killing us with your bombs" stuff.

Prior to all this, however, there is a banner in the video that says


There is no compulsion in Religion. The right path is henceforth distinct from error

Right.

Let's see what we can make of this video

A Global Caliphate

First, as Glenn Reynolds observes, "It's not a religious war to us, but it is to them"

Their definition of victory is converting the whole world to Islam. To the Western mind, a conversion at gunpoint is invalid and pointless. But although it may be politically incorrect to point this out, up until recent centuries, Islam has been spread mainly by warfare and forced conversions. Only since the end of Islamic military power at the end of the 17th century was this ended.

No I am not saying that we should also treat it as a religious war. But as I said in The Nature of our Enemy, Part II: A Problem in Islam, Islam has a problem with violence. Islam itself is not violent, but the way in which it is practiced by a disturbingly high number of people leads to violence. This is ignored both by leftist Westerners and most Muslims alike.


The Nature of Religion

Now a quick note about the nature of religion is in order. If you are a Christian or Muslim, and do not believe that yours is the one and only true and right way to see God, then you don't believe in your own religion. If you are a Christian orMuslim, and do not in your heart want everyone else on the planet to convert to your religion, you do not believe in your own religion.

As for where you're going after you die, if you are a Christian then you know that this is a decision that only God can make. You do not have the right to "judge" people, or say where they are going (bty, this is the true definition of ""Do not judge, or you too will be judged"(Matt 7:1) to a Christian, it does not mean we can't comment on someone else's lifestyle).

The difference, if I need to point it out, is that in our modern world we Christians do not convert at swordpoint. Nor do we fight over religion. Islamic radicals still do. As Christians, we send missionaries out into the world (I've done this) to convert souls. We do not send soldiers to do this.

Now that's out of the way, let's get back to our subject matter

The Propaganda

I'll give the Islamic fascists this, they know what we're saying and what our news media is reporting, and do a good job of trying to turn it against us. I can see where the weak minded at home and abroad would be fooled. I can see in the days to come some leftie saying "see, I told you that 'Islamic fascist' was inflammatory!"

So Much for the "Grievance s" Argument

Fox News anchor Brit Hume nails it

Yes, and what an appealing faith these thugs must believe Islam is, that conversions have to be effected at the point of a gun. And what of the argument that all of the ills and troubles that beset the Palestinian people, that lead them to terrorism, are the cause of what they endlessly refer to as the illegal Israeli occupation.

Consider the latest rounds of trouble in Gaza and Lebanon, two places from which Israel has withdrawn.

It has been noted that not for one day after the Israeli pullout from Gaza did the rocket attacks that came from Gaza ever stop. We’re not dealing here with something that is susceptible to a political resolution of the kind of which the State Department and many a president has dreamed.

We’re dealing here with a lawless enemy whose goal far transcends any side-by-side, two-state solution. That isn’t going to do it. We’re dealing with a terrorist, gangland-style enemy, which I think it’s fair to conclude, and this episode only further illustrates it, must be defeated.

Ditto that.

In Part I of The Nature of Our Enemy I detailed how our enemy is in fact Islamic Fascism, and not "a hundred small grievances."

Get Them

Centanni and Wiig were kidnapped by the Holy Jihad Brigades, a group unknown until this action. Fox News reports that

Senior Palestinian security officials said Sunday the name was a front for local militants, and that Palestinian authorities had known the identity of the kidnappers from the start
.

What we must do is hunt them down and kill them. At the very least, they must be arrested and executed by Palestinian forces. And no this is not simply a "legal matter" that can be handled as in a police action. This should be considered an act of war It is important that we get these terrorists for several reasons.

As Cliff May points out,

I’m glad these guys are safe and free. I wish them well. But I hope there will be some attention paid by Fox and other media to the way in which kidnappings and similar threats coerce and intimidate journalists, and may influence their coverage.

Lastly, and most simply, they are both Westerners, Centanni an American and Wiig a New Zealander. New Zealand has sent special forces to Afghanistan (where they won praise from our guys for their ability to navigate in the mountains). If we do not get the terrorists who committed this act, Islamic fascists the world over will know that this is one more act that they can get away with.

Now let's not all forget about this story in the days and weeks to come, and make sure we get the terrorists who did this.

Posted by Tom at 8:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2006

The Nature of our Enemy, Part I

Who exactly are we fighting in this war, and why is our enemy so upset at us?

By "this war", I refer not to Iraq, but to what is called the "War on Terror."

Generally speaking, there are two schools of thought on the matter. One side says that we are at war with "Islamofascism", or Islamic radicalism, or Islamism, or jihad, call it what you will. The other side says that we are fighting people who are against various US policies. They fight us because they have a specific greviance.

Richard Fernandez has a typically insightful post at The Belmont Club titled "The Elusive War" in which he compares and contrasts the two views. He posts two articles, suggested to him by a reader, each of which typifies one of the sides.

First up is Michael Ledeen of National Review, who lays out his views in "The Real War". The war is not, he says, a series of small battles. If Israel had killed every last Hezbollah terrorist, if we won every battle in Afghanistan and Iraq, "we will only prolong the fighting." Rather, we are at war with Syria and Iran, and the ideologies that drive both of them. Money quote

The terror masters in Syria and Iran are waging a regional war against us, running from Afghanistan and Iraq to, Gaza, Israel, and Lebanon. Alongside the ground war in the Middle East, they are conducting fifth-column operations against us from Europe to India and on to Indonesia, Australia, and the United States; the plot just dismantled in Great Britain provides the latest evidence.

On the other side we have Max Hastings writing in The Guardian a piece titled "Bush's belief in a worldwide Islamist conspiracy is foolish and dangerous." He accepts that "we face a real threat from Muslim fundamentalists", but it is what has caused the threat that separates him from Ledeen. Here, in a nutshell, is his argument.

There is no chance that the west will get anywhere with the Muslim world until the US government is willing to disassemble a spread of grievances in widely diverse societies, examine them as separate components, and treat each on its merits.
I'm going to state my conclusion up front; I agree with Ledeen, and indeed would go even farther than he. While I am glad that Mr Hastings believes that we are threatened (a plus these days), I think he is completely wrong in his analysis. Richard Fernanez points out one obvious flaw in Hastings' argument
Max Hasting's striking phrase "yet we shall defeat them only when our Muslim community at large perceives that its interests are identified with Britain's polity" is as clever a case for surrender as I've ever heard
.

Why I Don't Buy Max Hastings' Argument

First, let me deal with Max Hastings.

One reason why I don't buy the "legitimate greviance" argument is that the terrorism inflicted on us does not always correlate to any known grevience. Just two weeks ago two suitcase bombs were found on trains in Germany. The bombs "may be traceable to the Middle East", big surprise. Thankfully they were found before they went off. But what has Germany done to deserve Islamic terror? They did not participate in the invasion of Iraq, and indeed have opposed US policy at every turn since.

This past June a huge Islamic terrorist plot was foiled in Canada. The plot, which involved both bombs and the kidnapping of the Canadian prime minister, was against soley Canadian targets. Again, Canada did not participate in the invasion of Iraq, and most of it's newspapers, to say nothing of it's leaders, have spent a lot of time denouncing this or that American policy.

Further, if it's not one grievance it's another. Victor Davis Hanson goes through the "excuse after excuse" offered by the Muslims and their apologists. One time it was that we were "stealing their oil", then prices jumped to $75 per barrel. Another day it's American troops in Saudi Arabia. But, er, they're mostly gone now. Then it's aid to Israel. But Europe and the US give considerable amounts aid to the Palestinian Authority. StrategyPage takes a look at the history of Islamic terrorism, and concludes that "ruthless men have been using Islamic radicalism to create terrorists for a long time" and that "historically, a noticeable increase in violence by Islamic radicals occurred every three or four generations."

Lastly, there is is simply too long a history of anti-semitism among prominent Muslim leaders to believe that their grevience against Israel is simply based on land. Jonah Goldberg relates how the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Husseini, made Nazi-like statements in 1942, well before the establishment of Israel or even the post-war influx of Jews into the area.

Also Not the Problem

"Islam" is not the problem. If it were, the war would be unwinnable. You simply cannot, and should not, attempt to destroy an entire religion.

Further, from what I see, the problem is in how the religion is taught in many places, and how it is used to promote violence and hatred. I'm not going to get into an analysis of the Koran, and don't think it necessary.

It is true, I think, that some religions lend themselves to fitting into the modern world better than others. Our Western models of democracy, secularism, and tolerance (true tolerance, not what the left teaches) are unimaginable without Christianity and other Western models of thought. It is very difficult to imagine these things rising out of Islam. But that does not mean that Islam and these things are incompatible. It simply means that they could not have been spawned or developed by the Muslim world. It does not mean that Muslims cannot adopt them.

What is "Islamofascism"?

A much better description of our enemy, and one that also tells us why they hate us, is "Islamofascism". The term, according to Roger Scruton, originated with Maxine Rodinson (1915-2004) "to describe the Iranian Revolution of 1978." President Bush recently referred to our enemy as "Islamic fascists", which caught him as much grief as Ronald Reagan's use of the term "evil empire", which tells me he is on to something.

Stephen Schwartz, writing in The Weekly Standard, offers a helpful definition

In my analysis, as originally put in print directly after the horror of September 11, 2001, Islamofascism refers to use of the faith of Islam as a cover for totalitarian ideology. This radical phenomenon is embodied among Sunni Muslims today by such fundamentalists as the Saudi-financed Wahhabis, the Pakistani jihadists known as Jama'atis, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. In the ranks of Shia Muslims, it is exemplified by Hezbollah in Lebanon and the clique around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

"Fascism", he says, " is distinguished from the broader category of extreme right-wing politics by its willingness to defy public civility and openly violate the law." This is precisely what the terrorists we are fighting do.

This said, "fascism" is still a very elusive term. Jonah Goldberg points out that "there’s still no accepted definition of fascism among students of the phenomenon. " Everyone uses it, but I've read a hundred definitions and still can't tell you exactly what it means.

Be that as it may, since "fascism" is something that everyone is against, it is as good a term as any.

Next up: A Problem In Islam

Posted by Tom at 8:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 15, 2006

Losing the War

If we're not losing the war, then we're certainly not making any progress. I refer not to Iraq in particular, or Lebanon, or even the recent war in Lebanon, but to the entire war. Although the term "War on Terror" is used most often, it's really a war on Islamic fascism, Islamic fanaticism, or jihad, as you prefer. Whatever term we use, we're fighting those people who are motivated by Islam to kill other people, specifically Westerners, but more generally anyone who disagrees with them.

Let's cut to the chase; we're in danger of Iraq becoming a failed state, Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah and we failed Israel by agreeing to a cease-fire. Iran and Syria are emboldened and are encouraged by recent events to spread more terror, and Islamofascists have taken over Somalia. Political correctness at home and in Europe prevents far too many people from seeing the danger from unassimilated Muslim immigrants. The Democrats stand poised to take over the House and maybe the Senate, and if they get the former they'll start impeachment hearings, and if they get the latter may toss the president from office. At the very least they will try and force a withdrawal from Iraq, and will wreck our most valuable internal security and terrorist-finding intelligence operations.

Bad enough for you?

Let's get more specific.

Hezbollah and Lebanon

On the one hand, Israel didn't lose, it simply failed to win. The strategic situation between it and Hezbollah is largely unchanged. Israel destroyed much of Hezbollah at little loss to itself. In that sense, Israel is better off than it was one month ago. Further, no one can now deny that Iran and Syria were behind Hezbollah. For example, IDF forces found Russian-made AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank missiles in Lebanon that had been shipped there by Syria and Iran.

On the other side, Hezbollah's prestige went up, and the mere fact that it survived serves as an recruitment tool for Islamic terrorist groups everywhere. IDF generals believe that they were denied victory by panicked politicians. More importantly, Hezbollah rocket attacks continued until the end, and in any event it is unlikely that the terrorist organization will actually disarm. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's popularity is falling, as may his government.

An Unstable Iraq

No I am not saying that we've lost in Iraq. We can still pull it out. And what's going on there is not "civil war", as James Dunnigan of StrategyPage once again points out. But it is, he says " the prelude to massacre and mass expulsion", which is just as bad.

Althogh we may have gone into Iraq initially because of WMD, it is now and has been for some time part of the war on Islamic fascism, whether anyone likes it or not.

Either way, when Rich Lowry writes in National Review that we stand a very real chance of losing in Iraq, you better pay attention.

Iran and Syria

Iran has been at war with the United States since 1979, a fact that we as a nation refuse to acknowledge. Never once have we struck Iran, for all the times it has attacked us through it's proxies, most recently of course in Iraq and Lebanon. We should not wonder that they consider us to be a paper tiger.

Ahmadinejad is the ever confident leader, convinced that he is winning. Not only doesIran spurn Western demands that they stop nuclear enrichment, their top nuclear negotiator said earlier this month "that Iran will expand — not suspend — uranium enrichment activities".

Yet Western liberals will continue to insist that with the right package of enticements Iran can be made to see reason. Just last week on the Sean Hannity radio show, I listened to a debate between David Horowitz and someone from The Nation who proposed just that. Stanley Kurtz sees a President Hillary trying to buy off the Iranians with a “grand bargain.”

This is madness. We are headed towards a showdown with Iran that will likely end in war, possibly nuclear.

Latin America

Although obviously not Islamic fascists themselves, leaders such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia seem intent on allying themselves with the terrorists. They're currently able to run around making trouble without much intervention on our part.

Although Fidel Castro may die shortly, it is possible through Venezuelan influence, that the communists on Cuba may be able to keep power longer than many here think. Either way, Chavez will seek to complicate our plans to being democracy to the island.

Our "Episodic" Fighting

Rush Limbaugh said today that our fighting in this war is "episodic." He was making the point that we lack strategic vision. The West, specifically the US and Israel, fight piecemeal, one place at a time. We refuse to see that it is a wider war that encompases many areas of the world. For example, we fight hard in Iraq, yet seemingly refuse to recognize that it will be extremely difficult to succedd there unless we get regime change in Iran and Syria.

As I mentioned earlier, we can't even call the war what it is; a war on Islamic fanaticism or fascism. We use "War on Terror" because we know that CAIR and similar groups won't object. Politicians live in fear of being labeled "racist" by the media.

The Democrats

The GOP will most likely lose at least the House in November, possibly the Senate as well. If the Democrats capture the House, impeachment hearings are a certainty. This will put a halt to the war as the administration and country will be distracted.

We have seen how the Democrats couldn't care less about the threat of Islamo-fascism. On domestic policy they are infected with the troika of multiculturalism, tolerance, and diversity, and in foreign affairs they will not adopt any policy unless most European governments agree with it. At the very least this handicaps our war effort with a "lowest common denominator", at worst it means appeasement of terrorist states like Iran and Syria and a complete end to the war.

The Democrats are reverting to the party of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. Far from being a help in the war, they oppose the very policies that made the exposure of the British airline plot possible.

Korea, 1952

By 1952 Korea looked like a war gong bad. After a disasterous start, we regained our composure, and through a daring amphibious attack at Inchon we destroyed the North Korean Army. As we pushed north, it looked like we had won. But then we were caught completely by surprise by massive Chinese forces, which streamed across the border, dealing us a series of severe defeats. Although we managed to stabilize the situation, we seemed trapped in World War I style trench warfare.

President Truman faced severe criticism at home for his conduct of the war. His popularity plummeted, and he decided not to seek another term.

Yet today Truman is considered one of our greatest presidents. My point here is not to speculate on how George W Bush is considered in the future, but rather that we must not let the trees obsure our view of the forest.

The Korean War was the first "hot" conflict in a Cold War that lasted over 40 years. Our ventures in Afganistan and Iraq, as well as Israel's war with Hezbollah, are the "Korean Wars" of today. They are the first battles in what is going to be a long war.

And no, I don't think that promoting democracy is the problem. In this I agree with Steven A. Cook, who wrote an excellent editorial promoting just that view in the Washington Post last week. Rather, I agree with Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester (UK), when he wrote an editorial in the Telegraph titled "multiculturalism is to blame for perverting young Muslims"

Just as with the Cold War, and all other wars too for that matter, there will be ups and downs. We are definately in a "down" time now. Things are likely to get worse before they get better. In retrospect, the Cold War seems so simple.

Posted by Tom at 10:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 10, 2006

The Airline Plot

In all of the news about the plot, revealed earlier today, by Muslims to bomb up to 10 airliners en route from the UK to the United States, this is I think the most interesting. From the Telegraph

Twenty-four terrorist suspects being held last night over an alleged plot to blow up as many as 10 transatlantic jets include middle-class, well-educated young men born in Britain. At least one of them converted to Islam only recently.

As Britain remained on a "critical" level of alert, it emerged that among those arrested were the white son of a former Conservative Party worker, the son of an architect and an accountant and a heavily pregnant woman. Some had studied at university and came from families that owned several properties or ran their own businesses.

What's that now? Not from the slums? Not born and raised in Egypt or Saudi Arabia?

Nope. They were born in Britain.

Here's why this is important. Take a look at this poll of British Muslims taken by Channel 4 in the UK

(hat tip Andrew Stuttaford on NRO). Key Excerpts


- Almost a third of those polled would like to live under sharia law.

- More than one in ten understand why British Muslims might want to carry out suicide missions in this country.

- Nearly a quarter thought that the 7/7 bombings were justified because of Britain's foreign policy.

- Almost one in five respect Osama Bin Laden to some extent.

- Two-thirds think that the poeple who publish the cartoons critical of Mohammed or Islam should be punished

- 45% think that 9/11 was a conspiracy by America and Israel

Yet if you mention these facts you get attacked by the likes of CAIR. Political correctness uber alles.

But there's no problem with Muslim immigrants in Britain or elsewhere. Let's just forget about that little incident with the cartoons.

Michelle Malkin
has more on this. Much more.

The graphs she posts on her site show that by overwhelming margins these people do not believe that Arabs/Muslims committed the 9/11 terrorist attack and that they consider tthemselves Muslims before citizens of their own country.

Note - yes I know that according to her graphs 42 of American Christians answered the question saying that they considered themselves a Christian before an American. But to anyone who wants to make hay out of this; it's not the same thing and you know it. I consider myself a Christian first, but it's not the same as with these folks.

The British are in trouble. Years of multiculturalism and leftist political indoctrination have taken their toll. It is fantastic the police and intelligence services stopped the plot. But it should not have developed in the first place.

Meanwhile, Across the Pond

Our problem is somewhat different than what the Brits face. Ours is not from our Muslim immigrants, but from leftist Democrats who are determined to force our surrender in Iraq and across the Middle East. The far right, typified by Pat Buchanan, is guilty of advocating our defeat also. But it is the left that is dangerous because they can put people into power.

We all know about Ned Lamont and how he defeated Joe Lieberman in the Democrat primary in Connecticut. Whether Lieberman wins in November is not the point. Nor is it whether the "netroots" really had as big a role to play as they think they did (Lamont may have simply been the beneficiary of a "perfect storm").

Take a look at these comments left today at the Daily Kos, as gathered by Jim Geraghty at NRO

"how convenient to release this news the day after Lamont wins the primary. The politicization of "terror" reporting is so obvious."

"We need to wait and see - this could be another case of DOJ-style entrap & hype."

"Blair needs cover right now even more than Bush... Brittish government leaks claim Bush told Blair in advance about invasion of Lebanon. The people arrested were planning this for sometime in the future. Bumping the terror rating over here all the way to red over that seems sketchy. Brittan does have a far more effective anti terror mechanism than we or Israel, and a more reliable media. But don't let the accents fool you, MI5 is every bit as malevolent as the CIA or Mossad, prehaps more so."

"This is the price for close ties to Bush... Has anyone noticed that the planes targeted were all UK - US flights? Pretty clear symbolism there, I think."

"Wait for the backlash in the UK press - this will be laid at the feet of Blair for his unconditional support of US foreign policy."

"There may actually be a terrorist plot here. But given the false alarms and the tendency for the UK police to act stupid and run around bumping into things, I think some hard facts would be useful before we assume that there really is a viable plot to start blowing planes out of the sky."

"The US is now on "red alert," but only for incoming planes from the UK, as far as I can tell. I'm not saying nothing has happened to cause genuine concern, but this UK/US response strikes me as bull****... The report I saw stated that most or all of the 21 arrested were Pakistani; most or all were UK-born Pakistanis. Bushco is openly selling arms to Pakistan, but incoming flights from Islamabad apparently aren't worth a scratch of the head at this red-alert moment. Evil is incoming today on air flights from London and only London, dammit. Be afraid! Be very afraid of England and the evil it spawns!

Or would it make more sense to just lock down the loos on flights from the UK?

Sorry, this story just isn't passing the smell test for me."

"So the war in Iraq and all that profiteering there, all the death, results in making our airspace safer HOW??? Tell us again, Holy Joe Lieberman, how your GOP buddies' tough talk and money-grabbing war profiteering made us safer???""how convenient to release this news the day after Lamont wins the primary. The politicization of "terror" reporting is so obvious."

Now, Lamont was endorsed by Kos. Marcos even appeared in a TV commercial with him. Whether Lamont believes the same thing all the moonbats in these excerpts do is questionable. But he has no problem associating himself with them. And he could be in power come November.

I listened to a remarkable call today on the Glenn Beck show. Beck is a very popluar radio talk show host, and even has a show on CNN (TV Headline News). It was the first call he took today, and it was so incredible that he played it again later. Beck let the guy continue his rant without interruption. The caller spewed all of the "it's all a Bush-Cheney-Blair plot" stuff you could imagine.

Accuse me of turning today's near-tragedy into politics if you will, but all I'm doing is pointing out that until we're all together on at least recognizing there is a threat from many Muslims we're not going to win this war.

Posted by Tom at 9:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 22, 2006

The Consequences of Failure II

Once again I find myself linking to a post at The Neo Con Blogger. I'm going to make this site one of my regular stops and suggest that you do likewise.

A letter is posted there, allegedly from a Major General in the Air Force. I'm not sure about the authenticity, but didn't see anything on snopes or other urban legends websites. It doesn't really matter, though, because regardless of who wrote it, the sentiments expressed are accurate.

The letter is titled This War is Real!, and following are some excerpts.

2.. Why were we attacked?
Envy of our position, our success, and our freedoms. The attacks happened during the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2. We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats as there were no provocations by any of the presidents or their immediate predecessors, Presidents Ford or Carter.

3. Who were the attackers?
In each case, the attacks on the US were carried out by Muslims.

4. What is the Muslim population of the World?
25%.

5. Isn't the Muslim Religion peaceful?
Hopefully, but that is really not material. There is no doubt that the predominately Christian population of Germany was peaceful, but under the dictatorial leadership of Hitler (who was also Christian), that made no difference. You either went along with the administration or you were eliminated. There were 5 to 6 million Christians killed by the Nazis for political reasons (including 7,000 Polish priests). (see http://www.nazis.testimony.co.uk/7-a.htm)
...

6. So who are we at war with? There is no way we can honestly respond that it is anyone other than the Muslim terrorists. Trying to be politically correct and avoid verbalizing this conclusion can well be fatal. There is no way to win if you don't clearly recognize and articulate who you are fighting.

So with that background, now to the two major questions:

1. Can we lose this war?
2. What does losing really mean?

t would appear that a great many of us think that losing the war means hanging our heads, bringing the troops home and going on about our business, like post-Vietnam. This is as far from the truth as one can get.

What losing really means is:

We would no longer be the premier country in the world. The attacks will not subside, but rather will steadily increase. Remember, they want us dead, not just quiet. If they had just wanted us quiet, they would not have produced an increasing series of attacks against us, over the past 18 years. The plan was, clearly, for terrorists to attack us until we were neutered and submissive to them.

We would, of course, have no future support from other nations, for fear of reprisals and for the reason that they would see; we are impotent and cannot help them.

They will pick off the other non-Muslim nations, one at a time. It will be increasingly easier for them. They already hold Spain hostage. It doesn't matter whether it was right or wrong for Spain to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Spain did it because the Muslim terrorists bombed their train and told them to withdraw the troops. Anything else they want Spain to do will be done. Spain is finished.
...

So, how can we lose the war?

Again, the answer is simple. We can lose the war by "imploding." That is, defeating ourselves by refusing to recognize the enemy and their purpose, and really digging in and lending full support to the war effort. If we are united, there is no way that we can lose. If we continue to be divided, there is no way that we can win!

Read the whole thing.

Previous: The Consequences of Failure

Posted by Tom at 9:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2006

Saddam's Links to Terrorists, Part 4 Million

Unless you you are posessed by Bush Derangement Syndrome, you know that Saddam had many links to terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. A partial list of articles that I have collected on this subject include

Saddam’s Terror Ties
Bin Laden uses Iraq to plot new attacks
Case Closed
Iraqi funds, training fuel Islamic terror group
Second 9/11 Hijacker Tied to Abu Nidal, Iraq
Gunning for Saddam
The Saddam-Osama Memo
Saddam Hussein's Philanthropy of Terror
It’s All About 9/11: The president links Iraq and al Qaeda - and the usual suspects moan
Saddam Possessed WMD, Had Extensive Terror Ties
The Mother of All Connections
Iraq & Militant Islam
Saddam's Terror Training Camps

If all that's not enough for you, last week a Fox News series reported on Ray Robison, who's team translated and analyzed a series of articles which once again document Saddam's link to terrorism.

Liberals sometimes dismiss Fox as a right-wing propaganda machine. This is a mistake, as one should never completely dismiss a news outlet. Readers of this site know that I peruse all sorts of media outlets, from Fox News and the Washington Times to CNN and the Washington Post. Foreign sources from the UK Telegraph and Guardian to Reuters and the BBC have all been quoted on this site. Even the most biased outlet gets it right occasionally.

Part I, "Documenting Saddam's Link to Terror" , sets the stage.

"The U.S. government seized thousands of classified Iraqi government papers when Saddam's regime was toppled, and Washington recently released a trove of these documents on the Pentagon's Foreign Military Studies Office Web site."

The documents, many in Arabic and with no accompanying translation, provide multiple insights into events inside pre-war Iraq. The dossier, however, is huge and disorganized. Digging out its secrets is a laborious task — one that the U.S. government decided to leave to others.

One problem with the FMSO site is that the documents appear to all have two numbers, a document number and a .pdf number, making the tracking process more difficult. I've read about this issue elsewhere (I forget where exactly).

Robison is a former infantry officer with the 101st Airborne, he is now a military operations research analyst specializing in aviation and missile research. He gathered a team of linguists to translate, organize, and analyze the documents.

In Part II, "Terror Links to Saddam's Inner Circle", we get to the nitty gritty.

In this part Robison looks at Document ISGP-2003-0001412 (listed at the FMSO site as ISGP-2003-00014127.pdf)


The document "appears to be a notebook kept by an Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) agent, one Khaled Abd El Majid, about which little is known. It was "apparently captured in 2003", and is 76 pages long. It covers events taking place in 1999.

It's all rather complicated, but the document tells of two meetiings. The first one, translated and analyzed in this part of the Fox News report, tells of a meeting between a former vice president of Iraq, and one of Saddam's "enforcers", one Taha Yassin Ramadan, and Maulana Fazlur Rahman, described as an " Al Qaeda/Taliban supporter" from Pakistan and a contender for the office of prime minister.
Here are some excerpts of the analysis provided by Robison and his team. This first meeting took place sometime in 1999.

This document appears to provide evidence that in 1999 the Taliban welcomed "Islamic relations with Iraq" to mediate between the Taliban, the Northern Alliance and Russia. It seems to provide evidence that the Taliban invited Iraqi officials to Afghanistan. According to this notebook, the Taliban did this via Maulana Fazlur Rahman. The notebook later mentions that another man, Fazlur Rahman Khalil, was visiting Iraq as well, although no transcript of that meeting is provided. ...

What is the relationship between Maulana Fazlur Rahman and the Taliban and Al Qaeda? Rahman often is described in news articles as the father or godfather of the Taliban. It seems clear that Rahman was close to Al Qaeda through his friend Mullah Omar, who sheltered Usama bin Laden prior to the allied invasion of Afghanistan. A leading news Web site in India has a 2003 article entitled Beware the Maulana! . It gives an extensive history of Rahman and explains how he helped to organize the men that would later become the Taliban under his friend Mullah Omar. It also describes links to Al Qaeda

And their conclusion:

The strong ties between Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and their joint responsibility for terrorism, are clear and well documented. This translated notebook segment provides possible evidence that the Saddam regime and the Taliban were planning diplomatic and possibly operational ties with each other. Independent research indicates Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Fazlur Rahman Khalil were both close to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Maulana asked the Saddam regime to mediate with the Taliban's enemies to take off some of the pressure. A fair question is what would Saddam have wanted in return? One possible answer is the only thing the Taliban had left to offer: Islamic Jihad and extremists operating for his interests from outside Iraq. Other translations from this notebook appear to expose a commitment between the Saddam regime and the Taliban that goes beyond mediation in order to increase support among Islamic Jihad groups for Iraq via a secret intelligence relationship with the Taliban.

(emphasis added)

In Part III, "Documents Support Saddam-Taliban Connection", Robison and his team, using the same document linked to above, further explore whether the Taliban and Saddam and his inner circle actively courted each other, the purpose of which would be to establish an anti-American alliance.

Here they look at the second meeting described in the document. It took place on Nov. 28, 1999, with the same participants. For a full translation follow the link to the Fox News site.

Here again are excerpts from the analysis provided by Robison and his team:

Note the Iraqi official says, “We hope that they will win and control,” referring to the Taliban. According to this notebook, Iraq has clearly thrown its support to the Taliban, the epicenter of Islamic Jihad. This is a clear indication that Saddam had no problem working with Jihadists outside of Iraq. ...

This excerpt from the notebook indicates that both the Taliban and Saddam Regime agreed to a secret relationship involving intelligence services. We do not know the scope or extent of that operational relationship, but this notebook and other documents give us further clues. It might well be noted that if Saddam Hussein was merely looking for an Islamic voice to take up his cause, there are plenty of Arab and Muslim organizations that do not depend on violence and terrorism directed at the United States.

(emphais added)

The Taliban, of course, harbored Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network. Saddam was seeking a relationship with the Taliban. Therefore.... oh but no amount of evidence will convince some people. You either get it or you don't

Posted by Tom at 8:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 8, 2006

al-Zarqawi Dead!

News outlets are reporting that the must wanted terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musabal-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, has been killled. From an AP story posted on MSNBC

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and kidnappings, has been killed in an air strike, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday, adding that his identity was confirmed by fingerprints and a look at his face. It was a major victory in the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the broader war on terror.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said al-Zarqawi was killed along with seven aides Wednesday evening in a remote area 30 miles northeast of Baghdad in the volatile province of Diyala, just east of the provincial capital of Baqouba, al-Maliki said.

Loud applause broke out among the reporters and soldiers as al-Maliki, flanked by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told a news conference that “al-Zarqawi was eliminated.”

That's what I call good news to wake up to.

What I found most interesting was that we discovered his whereabouts through tips provided by Iraqi citizens

Al-Maliki said the airstrike was the result of intelligence reports provided to Iraqi security forces by residents in the area, and U.S. forces acted on the information. Casey said the hunt for al-Zarqawi began two weeks ago, and his body was identified by fingerprints and facial recognition.

CNN adds that jihadist websites have confirmed his death

A Web site used by Al Qaeda in Iraq confirmed al-Zarqawi's death and urged its followers to continue the insurgent fight.

Another Web site used by the group issued a statement: "People of Islam, God will not let our enemies celebrate and spread corruption in the ground. Expect the right that was stolen to come back to us and destroy the Crusaders" -- an apparent reference to U.S. troops in Iraq.

Here's a quick roundup from the sources I think provide the best analysis

Iraq the Model has some additional information (hat tip Belmont Club)

Bill Roggio, writing on The Counterterrism Blog, attributes his death to Task Force 145

Task Force 145 was very likely the linchpin in the success in killing Zarqawi, Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman, his spiritual adviser, and seven other lieutenants during a high-level meeting. Over the past two months, TF-145 has conducted numerous raids and killed or captured numerous high-level members of Zarqawi's organization in the area directly north and west of Baghdad. ...

The tightening of al-Qaeda's network in and around Baghdad provided Task Force 145 an opportunity to focus on Zarqawi's organization. Task Force 145 systematically began to dismantle al-Qaeda's organization from the bottom up. Cell leaders, financiers, facilitators and military commanders were rolled up in a series of target raids, slowly degrading al-Qaeda's capabilities while opening a window to al-Qaeda's organization and operations. The raids provided intelligence for follow-up strikes, which ultimately led to the attack of Zarqawi's safe house.

I don't need to tell you to read the whole thing.

We get these details of who makes up Task Force 145 from StrategyPage

Currently, TF 145 is divided into four sub units. Task Force West has several dozen commandoes from the U.S. Navy SEAL DevGroup, and a company of U.S. Army Rangers. Task Force Central has several dozen men from U.S. Army Delta Force and a company of Rangers. Task Force North has a about a dozen men from Delta Force, and a company of Rangers. Task Force Black has a few dozen SAS commandoes, with a company of British "Rangers" (the new Special Forces Support Group). TF 145 has a small headquarters element, plus a large intelligence operation, most of which is back in the United States, and connected in real time via satellite. There are also SOCOM helicopters and aircraft present.

Today marks a great victory in the War on Terror, or the War on Islamic Radicalism, if you prefer. No it does not mean that the insurgency is over, or even that final victory in Iraq is assured. No doubt the naysayers, anti-war left, and other assorted cynics will sniff that it "doesn't change anything" or "about time" or whatever. We need not listen to them. This is not a war that will not be one World War II style, as we learned shortly after marching into Baghdad in April of 2003. Defeating an insurgency is more like eating soup with a knife; it's messy and takes a long time, but if you persever you can achieve victory.

Posted by Tom at 7:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 25, 2006

The Anti-Anti-Terrorists

During the Cold War there were three groups of people in the West

1) The pro-communists
2) The anti-communists
3) The anti-anti-communists

Contrary to what some would tell you, yes there really was a communist movement in the United States. While it never stood a chance of overthrowing our government, if given a chance it might have influenced policy more than it did. Fortunately, many communists were exposed, some of the spies, such as Alger Hiss and Julius Rosenberg.

Liberals like to tell us that they participated in helping to defeat the Soviet Union and-how-dare-you-suggest-otherwise. And this is partially true. More precisely, it depends on the timeframe. Prior to the late 1960s we did have a species known as a liberal hawk. They were typified by presidents such as Harry Truman and John F Kennedy Jr, by senators such as Henry "Scoop" Jackson, and by philosophers such as Sidney Hook. During this time, many social liberals were staunch anti-communists.

But all this had changed by the early 1970s. Many liberals spent most of the next two decades opposing US efforts to stop the spread of communism, especially in Central America. They began to oppose every weapons system, from strategic weapons such as the MX and B-1 to theater weapons such as cruise missiles and Pershing IIs. There was never a Soviet proposal they didn't like, and rarely one by Reagan that they did. Some, but not all, became anti-anti-communists, more obsessed with opposing the efforts of anti-communists than anything else. It was at this time that some liberals broke with the Democrat party and became Republicans, calling themselves "neo-conservatives." They retained their (what was considered them) social liberalism, but realized that the Democrat party no longer represented their views on foreign policy.

The New Paradigm

The War on Terror has spawned three groups which closely mirror the ones of the Cold War

1) The pro-terrorists
2) The anti-terrorists
3) The anti-anti-terrorists

Let's go through them one at a time.

The Pro-Terrorists

Fortunately, there aren't very many. Unfortunately, when they do rear their heads they aren't always labeled as such.

One example of a pro-terrorist is Lynne Stewart, who was convicted in February 2005 of providing material support to terrorists, defrauding the government and making false statements.

Examples of pro-terrorist groups would be Code Pink, who in December of 2004 donated $600,000 in medical supplies and cash to the terrorist insurgents who were fighting American troops in Fallujah, Iraq." Another is International ANSWER, which is a front group for the communist Workers World Party. The various groups who participated in the June 2005 "International Tribunal", in which the sanctioned the killing of US troops in Iraq, certainly qualify as pro-terrorist(see section I. 11. in the link).

Although they portray themselves as anti-war, they're not. They're pro-terrorist.

Others are more borderline between pro-terrorist and anti-anti-terrorist. One wonders if the people who make up the Christian Peacemaker Teams are pro-terrorist or just naive "useful idiots."

The Anti-Terrorists

You do not have to believe that invading Iraq was a good idea to be an anti-terrorist, so let's get that out of the way right now.

Nor do you have to be a Republican. Democrats such as Senators Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden qualify as anti-terrorists.

However, you do have to think that since we are there we have to win it to qualify. Iraq is now part of the WOT whether anyone likes it or not. Failure to recognize that is crucial.

More importantly, though, is your answer to questions such as these:

What do you spend the balance of your time thinking about: how to win the War on Terror, or how terrible a person you think President Bush is.

Are most of your ideas on how to better interrogate suspects so that we get the information we need, or are you more concerned with protecting their real and imagined civil liberties?

Do you truely believe that we are in a war, or do you think that "the terrorist thing" is something best handled by international agreements and better police work?

Do you think we brought 9-11 on ourselves?

Do you think that the UN can play a useful war in helping to win the War on Terror?

Do you believe that the spread of democracy (which yes I know involves more than just voting) is crucial to defeating the terrorists?

I don't think I need to spell out which answers make you an anti-terrorist and which make you an anti-anti-terrorist.

The Anti-Anti-Terrorists

No anyone who complains about some aspect of how the Bush Administration is fighting the War on Terror is an anti-anti-terrorist. Yes, it is ok to question some of our intelligence-gathering efforts. But re-read the questions above. What do you spend most of your time thinking about; how to capture or kill terrorists, or whether some aspect of your civil rights are being violated? Yes civil rights are important, but if that's what you spend most of your time worrying about you're not being of help in winning the War on Terror.

Representative Jack Murtha is an anti-anti-terrorist. Cindy Sheehan also qualifies. Groups such as Moveon.org and the ALCU certainly seen to spend most of their time thinking of ways to thwart our efforts. For that matter, most of the "anti-war" groups listed on David Horowitz' DiscoverTheNetwork.org are anti-anti-terrorist, if not outright pro.

Worse, though, is when the national media join in. While Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post is capable of some very good reporting, sometimes I have to wonder which side of the WOT he and his newspaper are on, like when he breathtakingly reported what our military was engaged in a campaign to turn Iraqis against al-Zarqawi.

Sorry, but there is a Fifth Column in this country, and they are making it difficult to win.

Posted by Tom at 9:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2006

The USA Today Story

Note - sorry for my longer than expected absence from blogging. Between losing Bengal and a million other things going on, this is the first day in almost two weeks that I've had to blog)

As everyone knows by now, USA Today tells us that the "NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls"

The whole story smacks of a hit piece. It is less a story than an editorial. If you don't believe me read it yourself.

Once again, the left wants us to be more afraid of our government than the enemy. The reason, of course, that they're afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome, and couldn't care less about winning the War on Terror.

The story might not be true. We're supposed to take their word that USA Today checked out their sources, which are conveniently anonymous. Given the record of much of the msm, their word doesn't count for a whole lot.

The Bush Administration hasn't denied the story, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's true. Contrary to the way the left wants us to run this war, yes it is a good idea to keep the enemy guessing and no it is not a good idea to announce all of our operations in the newspapers.

Suppose It's True?

If true, what the NSA is doing is collecting records regarding calls that were made. The NSA has records of calls, local and long distance, they know who you called. The object is to discover patterns in order to track terrorists. They do not, however, record, the content of those communications. They were not listening in. AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth have cooperated with the NSA in this venture. Qwest declined, citing legal concerns.

For the record I hope the story is true. I certainly hope we're doing stuff like this.

Besides, it's perfectly legal.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross goes through the basics over at NRO.

Two possible laws are at issue, Gartenstein-Ross says, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

FISA first

FISA distinguishes between “electronic surveillance,” which collects the substantive content of electronic communications, and “pen registers,” which collect only the addressing information of electronic communications. Although the language of FISA is somewhat convoluted, information about what calls were being made that doesn’t involve listening in on the discussions themselves should be classified as a pen register rather than electronic surveillance under the statute.

However, the definition of “pen register” in FISA shows that the statute doesn’t regulate the government with respect to the technology at issue here. FISA states that the regulations governing pen registers do not “include any device or process used by a provider or customer of a wire or electronic communication service for billing, or recording as an incident to billing, for communications services provided by such provider.” That is precisely what was alleged in this case: The sources who spoke to USA Today said that the three participating telecommunications companies handed over information that was collected pursuant to their regular billing procedures. FISA does not implicate such action.

Ok, but what about the Fourth Amendment? Gartenstein-Ross points out that in Smith v. Maryland (1978) the Supreme Court held "that government collection of phone numbers called does not violate the Fourth Amendment. The Court reasoned that callers cannot have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in the numbers they dial" From the decision

[W]e doubt that people in general entertain any actual expectation of privacy in the numbers they dial. All telephone users realize that they must “convey” phone numbers to the telephone company, since it is through telephone company switching equipment that their calls are completed. All subscribers realize, moreover, that the phone company has facilities for making permanent records of the numbers they dial, for they see a list of their long-distance (toll) calls on their monthly bills. . . .

[E]ven if [a caller] did harbor some subjective expectation that the phone numbers he dialed would remain private, this expectation is not “one that society is prepared to recognize as ‘reasonable.’” . . . This Court consistently has held that a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties. . . . [W]hen [a caller] used his phone, [he] voluntarily conveyed numerical information to the telephone company and “exposed” that information to its equipment in the ordinary course of business. In so doing, [the caller] assumed the risk that the company would reveal to police the numbers he dialed.

So much for the claim that the program is illegal.

Questions for Congress

Turns out that the NSA isn't the only ones gathering detailed information about your personal life.

Congresscritters are too. Both Republicans and Democrats. Andrew McCarthy describes what they are doing

Collecting your names and addresses. Mapping out your telephone numbers and e-mail address. Making note of your interests. Paying close attention to how you spend your money.

(Congressmen are) folding these bits of information about you and millions upon millions of your fellow Americans, and—you’d better be sitting down for this part—entering it into searchable databases.

Then, worse yet, (Congressmen are) using sophisticated computer programs to develop targeted strategies about how to deal with you in every aspect of your personal life.

"Modern American politics", McCarthy points out, "requires a fair amount of data mining."

While we're discussing Congress, have you noticed the outrage over how Senator Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) aides gathered private credit information about the GOP candidate for governor in Maryland, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele? About the calls for to investigate Schumer, or for him to resign? Neither had I.

History and More History

Abraham Lincoln suspended habius corpus during The Civil War. Easy to say now that it wasn't right, but he had a war to fight, one that makes our WOT look like childs play.

Are you familiar with FDR's domestic survelience program during World War II? Or that he gave what ammounted to secret orders to the US Navy to fight an undeclared war on German U-Boats well before Pearl Harbor?

It's easy to say now that his internment of Japanese-Americans was unjust, but the invaluable Michelle Malkin showed how it was hardly unwise.

Lastly, Mark Levin points out that the NSA program isn't nearly as intrusive as ECHELON, which has been in place for years, and no one in Congress complains about it.

The bottom line is that that their is nothing illegal or wrong with the alleged NSA data mining operation.

Posted by Tom at 7:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 30, 2006

And We Hate Everyone Else, Too

In my last post I wrote about in his latest diatribe Osama bin Laden effectively supports mass-murder by the government of Sudan.

Courtesy of Waled Phares of The CounterTerrorism Blog, here's a summary of Osama's outburst:

* One a long attack on the Cartoons crisis: Blood is needed to cleanse the matter.

* Two, there is a Western war on Muslims and Islam.

*Three, Western policy towards Hamas proves this aggression.

* Four, the United Nations is an infidel and criminal institution.

* Five, there is a Western-infidel aggression against Muslim Sudan. The Black southerners are bandits and the Darfur Blacks are agents of the infidels

* Six, Iraq’s Jihad is to stop future US military bases

* Seven, a cultural invasion is underway: Arab TVs are to be stopped, Muslim liberals to be killed

* Eight, France is to be punished for the female Hijab affair

* Nine, Bosnia’s Muslims were not salvaged by the West

* Ten, The independence of East Timor is a defeat to the Muslims

* Eleven, India and the Hindus are the enemies in Kashmir

* Twelve, Pakistan’s Musharraf is to be killed

* Thirteen, Russia must be punished

* Fourteen: Salman Rushdie is not to be forgotten

* Fifteen: The masses in the infidel lands think like their leaders. Their public (enemies) is responsible

* Sixteen: Calls for Dialogue with the West are to be rejected

* Seventeen: Do not trust the “traitors” including Muftis and moderate clerics

* Eighteen: King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia ignores world realities

* Nineteen: (Western) civilization is attacking ours

* Twenty: It is of the duty of all members of the Umma to offer everything for Jihad, including their lives.

Did he miss anyone?

The serious point, of course, is that he doesn't seem to have any friends. Yes I am sure that millions of Muslims still thrill at his words. Yes I am sure that Muslims volunteer for al Qaeda. And yes, I know that tomorrow I could wake up to another September 11.

But I think you'd be hard pressed to say that al Qaeda is gaining strength, or that we have not put a serious dent in it's ability to operate.

And this is not just an observation about military or secret operations, clandestine cloak-and-dagger stuff either. I'm talking about geopolitical politics as practiced by people at the highest levels of the Bush Administration. Say what you will, they're shutting down al Qaeda, surely but slowly.

Oh, and please, no nonsense about "why can't we capture the tallest guy in Pakistan/Afghanistan?" I dealt with that here.

You just have to realize that it's not all going to be front-page stuff. Richard Miniter's excellent book Shadow War: The Untold Story of How Bush is Winning the War on Terror, is a good place to start if you're not familiar withwhat I'm talking about.

Bottom line: bin Laden's got no friends and presides over a gravely weakened organization. They're still dangerous, just as Germany or Japan were in 1944, but we are winning.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Osama bin Laden Supports Genocide in Sudan

In his latest diatribe, released last week, Osama bin Laden put himself on record as supporting mass-murder of Muslims who live in the Sudan.

Walid Phares has the transcript, and even provides the original Arabic, if you're conversant in that language.

Here's bin Laden on the Sudan

"The West tries to seperate the south, attempts to establish an army there, and is supporting (the south) with money and arms and direct them to call for separation from Sudan."

"The US adopted logistical and moral support to this army (SPLA) through its international tools such as the United Nations and pressured the Khartum Government to sign an unjust agreement that allows the south to separate after 6 years."

"Let Bashir (Sudan's President) and Bush know that this agreement has no value whatsoever and does not engage us. No one has to concede any inch of Islamic land and the south will remain an unseparable piece of Islam's land, by Allah, even if wars will continue for decades to come."
...

(Waled Phares: Bin Laden called on the Mujahideen in Sudan and the Arabia Peninsula to prepare for a long war against the Crusader bandits (in Darfur). Our objective is clear, he said:) "It is in defense of Islam, its people, its land, not defending the Khartum Government. We have a great disagreement with this Government: It failed to apply the Sharia and let the south go."

"The (Jihadists) need to scout the area and get ready for fight on the tribal region of Darfur. The rain season is coming forward, which may obstruct movement. Which is why the occupation (Western-UN) postponed its advance for six months. We should take advantage of factor time to provide huge amounts of land mines, snipers and anti-tank launchers. "



In other words, "I'm going to attack the people who are trying to save impoverished Muslims from being mass murdered."

What a guy.

Austin Bay points out that for a guy who claims to fight in the name of Islam, he sure wants to kill a lot of Muslims:

Muslims, however, remain bin Laden's biggest enemy, perhaps not in theory and propaganda, but certainly in the flesh-and-blood world of murder and human massacre. Bin Laden, al-Qaida and its various affiliates have killed more Muslims than any other religious group, and Darfur is an example.

Since early 2003, nearly 200,000 people have died in the Sudan government's war with Darfur rebels. The Sudan government backs a variety of Islamist militias, many of them operating on horseback or in wheeled "technical vehicles" armed with light machine guns and rocket launchers. Darfur's rebels are a mixed bag of farmers, villagers and pastoralists. The rebels are also an ethnic mishmash, though most of them are black Africans. For the most part, they are Muslims, however, with a leavening of tribal animists.

This reminds of of the class on the French Revolution that I took in college. I remember most clearly the day the professor pointed out that once the monarchy had been overthrown, the revolutionaries quickly turned on each other. The Jacobins went after and murdered their political opponents, mostly the Girondists.

The wolves devour each other.

Ok, so Osama hasn't succeeded in overthrowing anyone. But you get my point.

And, to be sure, he isn't on the side of the government. As he says, "Let Bashir (Sudan's President) and Bush know that this agreement has no value whatsoever and does not engage us." The reason for this is that Osama lived in Sudan for many years, with the approval of it's government, and was expelled by that government in 1996 (after President Clinton turned down an offer by "Bashir" to hand him over to us).

A Bit of Background

The United States and the UK have been trying for several years now to put an end to the near-genocide that has been going on in the Sudan. Simply put, the government in the northern capital city of Khartoum is engaged in it's second mass-murder campaign.

Sudan gained its independence from Great Britain in 1956. The country has been rocked by civil wars. The first, an ethnic conflict between northern Arab Muslims and southern Christians and Animists, lasted from 1956 to 1972. This war ended with the south winning the right to self-government. The second civil war, again between the government backed forces and southern rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), began in 1983. In January of 2005, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the government in Khartoum reached an agreement to end the war and reform the government and structure of the military. The third civil war started in 2003 as a rebellion in the western province of Darfur. As in the first two wars, the fighting is between northern Arab Muslims and southern Christians and Animists, although the government maintains that the Janjaweed, the Arab militias actively involved, are not operating with government aid or approval. The discovery of oil in the south, and property rights and religious and ethnic race-hatred remain primary causes for the oppression of primarily black Christians and traditional Animists in both the southern portions of Sudan and in Darfur.

The government has committed terrible attrocities in all of the above wars. Directly or indirectly, it is engaged in mass-murder.

And Osama is effectively on the side of the murderers.

Posted by Tom at 8:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 28, 2006

The Zarqawi Video

The insane man who is responsible for murdering thousands of Iraqis, Americans, and other coalition troops released a video last Tuesday. From the CENTCOm website

A man identifying himself as Al-Qaeda's Iraq frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi appeared in an Internet video on Tuesday in what would be the first public appearance of one world's most wanted militants in at least three years.

"By God, America will be defeated in Iraq," said the man identified as Zarqawi.

Not so fast, buster.

A complete transcript of the video can be found on the CENTCOM website here. Bty, you really ought to bookmark the site and make it part of your regular reading. You can also sign up to receive their email bulletins, which is how I found out about the video transcript.

I'm not going to try and analyze it myself, as I haven't got the time.

Here's Waled Phares of The Counterterrorism Blog. He makes 7 observations regarding the video. Read the whole thing, but here are two

4. A third assertion is to blast the Sunni politicians who "ventured" into supporting the current Parliament, Government and Armed forces. Those "Sunnis" are the internal enemies of Zarqawi, for they have shifted the community into the Iraqi political process by accepting to integrate the various layers of Government. In his eyes, these politicians, including the speaker of the assembly, a Sunni, are obstructing his plans, and therefore his leadership.

5. A fourth assertion is about the other "insurgents." Few weeks ago, the chat rooms aired a number of releases from the "al Qiyada al Muwahhada lil Muwqawama." The "Unified Leadership of the Resistance" is a federation of other Jihadists and insurgents. They have rejected the extreme behavior of Zarqawi, especially the violence against Shiites and Iraqi civilians. At the time, observers in the West thought this was a rejection of Zarqawi as a leader of al Qaida. In fact this was a move by other Jihadists to distance themselves from the misdeeds of al Qaida-Iraq. The "Leadership" didn't criticize Bin Laden per se, but said Zarqawi is deflecting energies by waging an indiscriminate religious war (takfiri) against the Shiites.

Looks like there's some dissention in the ranks. This is no huge surprise. The letter we intercepted last summer (and released in October) from OBL's deputo Al-Zawahiri's to al-Zarqawi showed dissatisfaction with the way the latter was running the campaign in Iraq.

Bill Roggio analyzes the military and propaganda messages in the video. Roggio has moved to The CounterTerrorism Blog, so reset your bookmarks. Among his points

1) MANPADS. First and foremost, as Evan Kohlmann has noted, some of the terrorists standing guard during the scene in the desert are brandishing shoulder-fired surface to air missiles (MANPADS). While this indicates al-Qaeda in Iraq has this capability, very few Coalition aircraft have been shot down in Iraq. The likelihood here is Zarqawi's 'command element' has top priority in fielding these weapons systems. ...

5) The briefing. Zarqawi goes a long way to show he is the military planner and tactical commander. He pours over maps with four other masked terrorists. In one section of the tape, he appears to be pointing at the region around the city of Kirkuk. But remember that this scene, as all the others, were planned through in advance. Zarqawi knows U.S. intelligence will be thoroughly dissecting this tape, and may want to through the Coalition off of his scent.

Again, it seems as if Zarqawi is worried that he's losing control, or at least the confidence, of his fellow terrorists.

Douglas Farah, on the other hand, believes that it and and the latest bin Laden Tape Show Growing al Qaeda Propaganda Strength

What is interesting about the new bin Laden and Zarqawi tapes, besides some of the analysis done by my colleagues on the Counterterrorism Blog, is the fact that al Qaeda has grown increasingly adept at getting its propaganda videos quickly enough to be relevant to current events. This is new, and shows increased capacity and increased interest in keeping their message out in front, even it it may hint at internal problems.

Andrew Cochran, however, notes that while propaganda is all very fine and good, it is no substitute for battlefield victories. I hate to say it, but the VC and NVA didn't win any substantial victories against us in Vietnam, but they beat us in the end anyway. Victory is determined by achieving your political goals, which may or may not be achieved by tactical battlefield successes.

A story in todays Washington Times quoting an Arizona State University study shows that the jihadists propaganda very seriously as a weapon

The report found that jihadist operations use consistent patterns of outreach that establish them socially and religiously, generate public sympathy and intimidate opponents. Threats, in fact, are part of terrorist "talking points."

"Jihadis pursue these strategies using sophisticated, modern methods of communications and public relations," Mr. Corman said. "There's evidence in the documents that jihadis segment audiences and adapt their message to the audience."

Meanwhile, the always valuable StrategyPage believes that it shows that al Qaeda is on the verge of defeat.

Trends are often difficult to make out in this murky conflict, but the recent release of an audio message from Osama bin Laden on April 23rd, and a few days later, a rare video from Abu Musab al Zarqawi delivered the same message. Both sent out signals that failed to connect. Bin Laden urged his followers to go to Sudan and Israel and support the fight against Jews and Christian "crusaders." In Sudan, bin Laden was offering his services to kill Western peacekeepers that have not yet shown up in western Sudan (Darfur), where northern (largely Arab) Sudanese Moslems are killing southern (largely black African) Sudanese Moslems. Islamic radicals in Palestine (Hamas) and Sudan (the government) promptly and publicly rejected bin Laden's offer. This is a visible, to Western eyes, example of how Bin Laden's vision, of using Islamic terror to accomplish anything, has been discredited in the Islamic world. This shift in opinion was played out in Moslem media over the last three years, as Islamic terrorism was applied to Islamic populations in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The end result was that Islamic terrorism was no longer fashionable. Bin Laden is still something of a folk hero, but in the same iconic way that Che Guevara on a t-shirt or poster is. Ignored, but not forgotten. Bin Laden wannabe Abu Musab al Zarqawi followed with a video, where he urged Iraqi Sunni Arabs to buck up and get on with the war against "foreign occupiers" and the blasphemous (elected) government of Iraq. Zarqawi was basically pleading for the Iraqi Sunni Arabs to stop joining the government. This reflects the shift in Sunni Arab attitudes, against al Qaeda, in the last year. In an attempt to preserve it as a viable movement, Zarqawi has been demoted from commander of al Qaeda in Iraq, to figurehead and pitch man.

Their conclusion is that

No amount of hot air and spin will change the fact that al Qaeda has accomplished none of its goals, and has gotten lots of Moslems killed in the process.

Al Qaeda may not be destroyed, but they are defeated. Bin Laden and Zarqawi just said so.

This is true. The insurgency in Iraq we've been fighting is not the danger anymore. The new danger is these militias, mainly the Sadr and Badr armies. My prediction is the in the next phase we will concentrate on taking them down. This will start once the new government is consolidated. Stay tuned, because I've got a post planned on the phases of the war and where we are now.

Lastly, retired General John Keane has visited Iraq several times and believes that the insurgency is considerably weaker

"I think the insurgency is considerably weaker in one very large respect and its the most important respect. It doesn't enjoy the same support of the people it once had. The people are reaching for democracy and they do not support the insurgents. The majority of the Sunnis is what I'm talking about."

The Key to Success

The key to success has shifted from the military to the political. No great insight there, I realize, but it needs to be said. Last week Iraq achieved a great success with the formation of a new government. Much still needs to be done, such as assigning cabinet posts, resolving constitutional issues left hanging, and getting the resolved constitution approved by the people in a vote. But we can only take it one step at a time.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 23, 2006

Osama bin Laden's Latest Diatribe

Earlier today, Osama bin Laden issued his latest series of threats against the West. it was carried, predictably, on al Jazeera

In the recording, aired on Sunday, the al-Qaeda leader said the isolation and cutting off of aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government reaffirmed that the West was at war with the Islamic nation.

"The blockade which the West is imposing on the government of Hamas proves that there is a Zionist crusaders war on Islam," he said.

"Zionist-Crusaders" again, eh? Time to check out the Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) again, I think.

Anyway.

Waled Phares, writing at the CounterTerrorism Blog summarizes OBL's main points

1. Hamas: Despite the fact that we (including Ayman Zawahiri) warned (Muslim Palestinians) not to take part in elections in general, the victory of Hamas shows that there is a "Crusader Zionist War against Islam." Cutting foreign aid to the Palestinians because of Hamas victory proves that war.

2. The public (in the West and the US), despite our warnings, continues to reelect these Governments, pay taxes to these Governments, and send their children to fight against us. They (civilians) are therefore part of the war against us. They are responsible for any harm that would be caused to them.

3. Sudan: The Bashir Government is failing in stopping the Crusader War in Sudan. The Crusaders (Britain) has pushed the southerners (Blacks) to separate. The US has armed them and is supporting them. And now, because of tribal tensions in Darfour, the Crusaders are planning on intervening there. We are calling on the Jihadists to fight them in Darfour and Southern Sudan.

4. Long War: We're calling on all Jihadists, particularly in Sudan and the Arabian Peninsula to prepare themselves for a long war.

5. Danish Cartoons: We are asking the Danish Government to remit the Cartoonists to al Qaida.

6. Saudis: We criticize the Saudi Monarch for refuting the idea of Clash of civilization. There is a clash led by the West against Islam.

7. Arab Liberals: Jihadists must silence the Arab and Muslim liberals. (A list has been established, but it wasn't aired).

8. Education: We warn from any change that would affect the educational curriculum in the Arab and Muslim world.

9. Arab TV: We warn against those TV stations airing into the region and propagating Crusader propaganda.

10: Truce: We offered a truce to the West (US and Europe) but their public refused to accept it. They will only blame themselves.

He promises a complete analysis, but that is not up as of this posting.

All good stuff, as Dr Phares' analyses usually are. TigerHawk asks why OBL didn't talk about Iraq. Good question

Less than 2 1/2 years ago, al Qaeda broke the news to the Taliban that it was diverting resources to Iraq so as to humiliate the American "Crusaders."

All this was on the orders of bin Laden himself, the sources said. Why? Because the terror chieftain and his top lieutenants see a great opportunity for killing Americans and their allies in Iraq and neighboring countries such as Turkey, according to Taliban sources who complain that their own movement will suffer... Bin Laden believes that Iraq is becoming the perfect battlefield to fight the “American crusaders” and that the Iraqi insurgency has been “100 percent successful so far,” according to a Taliban participant at the mid-November meeting who goes by the nom de guerre Sharafullah.


Al Qaeda drew a line in the sands of the Sunni Triangle, and the United States Army and Marines walked right across it. First, al Qaeda tried to kill Americans, per bin Laden's orders. It largely failed. Then al Qaeda went after America's allies, and succeeded only in turning public opinion against itself in every Muslim country it attacked. After thirty months of battlefield defeats and political embarrassments, bin Laden won't even mention Iraq in one of his rare public utterances, and he rallies his troops to fight a war where American soldiers aren't. How humiliating. How delightful.

Al Qaeda has lost in Iraq, and bin Laden is desperate to change the subject. He and his organization are at grave risk of being discredited, and when that happens it will be much harder for al Qaeda to attract recruits, raise money, or deal with governments.

But Why Can't We Get Him?

I heard this today from a lady at my part time job. On Sunday's I work at an electronic retail store, and we usually have Fox News on the TV. We were watching the news of OBL's latest and she asked the obvious.

"Since we know he's in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, why can't we get him?"

Just for the record I avoid discussing politics at work, especially with customers. But I figured I could answer this one without betraying my political sympathies. What I told her went something like this.

We are caught in a Catch-22. When Pakistan was formed in the late 40s and early 50s, it's new government realized that it couldn't control this mountainous region. So it made a deal with the local tribes; you don't make trouble for us and we'll grant you de facto autonomy. They agreed, and a deal was struck. All off the record, of course.

The current president/dictator of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, is in a somewhat precarious position. While his position is pretty solid, it is also fragile. He has been the target of four(?) assassaination attempts already. His enemies are radical Islamists, and there are many of them in Pakistan, and particulary in their security services. In other words, he needs to tread carefully.

So flooding the border region with US troops will create much angst and will likely destabilize the country. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. The last thing we want are these weapons in the hands of Islamic fanatics.

The bottom line is that it is a difficult situation, and if you hear anyone make trite remarks like "why can't we catch the tallest man in Pakistan(or whereever)", you can be sure you're dealing with someone afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome.


Posted by Tom at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 8, 2006

The US of Islam

Check out this map from an Islamofascist web site that NRO contributor Cliff May linked to today:


Islamic World.jpg


Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Update

Go to Red Hot Cuppa Politics, where FrauBudgie has the inside story on this map and the group behind it.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 21, 2006

"Stand Up for Denmark!"

Wednesday Update at Bottom - Meet this Friday at Noon

Hitch says we ought to stand up for Denmark by joining him at the Danish Embassy in Washington DC

The incredible thing about the ongoing Kristallnacht against Denmark (and in some places, against the embassies and citizens of any Scandinavian or even European Union nation) is that it has resulted in, not opprobrium for the religion that perpetrates and excuses it, but increased respectability! A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary—that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let's be sure we haven't hurt the vandals' feelings.

Ah yes, feelings.

But words are not enough. Hitchens issues a call to action

Surely here is a case that can be taken up by those who worry that America is too casual and arrogant with its allies. I feel terrible that I have taken so long to get around to this, but I wonder if anyone might feel like joining me in gathering outside the Danish Embassy in Washington, in a quiet and composed manner, to affirm some elementary friendship. Those who like the idea might contact me at christopher.hitchens@yahoo.com, and those who live in other cities with Danish consulates might wish to initiate a stand for decency on their own account.

I sent him an email, and if my schedule allows I'll join him and anyone else who shows. I don't know what day and time he has in mind so this might not work out. But I'm going to try.

If you live anywhere near the Washington DC area I strongly encourage you to consider attending. Freedom must be defended.

Even if you live elsewhere in the country, there may be a Danish Consulate in your town or city.

Stay Tuned

I've got a post planned on the subject of activisim. In the past year or so I've done things I never before thought I'd do, from becoming active in political campaigns to traipsing around holding signs and counter-protesting the left. I am fortunate to live near Washington DC, where there are many opportunities for action.

But I've noticed that on some of my posts, like the one where we chased Code Pink off of their corners outside of Walter Reed, or where we acted as "human shields", symbolically protecting the Danish Embassy in Washington DC, that I get comments like "I wish I lived near you". I've also seen this on FreeRepublic posts.

I understand that I've got more opportunities. But my guess is there's more going on in your area than you realize, and on Wednesday I'm going to post some ideas on how you can get involved, and how to make contacts and all that.

Update, Feb. 22: Thank you all who've written. Please be outside the Embassy of Denmark, 3200 Whitehaven Street (off Massachusetts Avenue) between noon and 1 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 24. Quietness and calm are the necessities, plus cheerful conversation. Danish flags are good, or posters reading "Stand By Denmark" and any variation on this theme (such as "Buy Carlsberg/ Havarti/ Lego") The response has been astonishing and I know that the Danes are appreciative. But they are an embassy and thus do not of course endorse or comment on any demonstration. Let us hope, however, to set a precedent for other cities and countries. Please pass on this message to friends and colleagues.

Unfortunately I can't make it. I was hoping for a Saturday, but obviously it's easier for most people to simply take a long lunch than to drive in on the weekend. But if you do live in the DC area, please consider attending.

Posted by Tom at 11:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 8, 2006

Will Europe Wake Up?

I'm wondering if much of Western Europe will soon wake up from their current slumber. Consider what's happened these past three years:

1. Theo van Gogh murdered by a Muslim terrorist
2. Dutch politicians such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, forced to go into hiding or live under police protection after threats by Muslim extremists
3. The Madrid metro bombed by Al Qaeda
4. The London subways bombed by Al Qaeda
5. Riots in France by Muslim immigrants
6. The current "cartoon infidata"

Europeans have reacted in various ways to each of the above. The Spanish reacted by attempting to appease the terrorists. The French pretended they didn't have a problem. But it seems to me that there is a growing recognition on the other side of the pond that they face a real danger. I believe that the current rioting over the cartoons published six months ago in Danish newspapers might prove to be the last straw.

Why not Appease Them?

The reaction to the current rioting hasn't been completely solid. A few newspapers in France and Germany have republished the caroons to show their committment to freedom of the press. In the United States, the only one to do was is the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, says that four reasons are usually provided by those who advise against reprinting the cartoons:

1) just because one has the right to speak doesn't mean one must;

2) restraint is often exercised, particularly when being respectful of other religions or cultures;

3) tensions are particularly high among Muslims now;

4) only a madman, or, if there is a difference, those who want to instigate the "clash of civilizations" would pour gasoline on that already raging fire.

This seems to make sense on the surface, but as he points out "That argument would be not only plausible, but persuasive, if the cause of the violent Muslim reaction to the cartoons was merely a transitory phenomenon -- a brief, spontaneous, bizarre overreaction."

Exactly.

It's not a "Double Standard"

Blankley points to a Muslim who sees exactly what the danger is:

Hirsi Ali, the black, Muslim, female co-producer of assassinated Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, talked about Western journalists to Der Spiegel this week, while in hiding: "They probably feel numb. On the one hand, a voice in their heads is encouraging them not to sell out their freedom of speech. At the same time, they're experiencing the shocking sensation of what it's like to lose your own personal freedom. One mustn't forget that they're part of the postwar generation, and that all they've experienced is peace and prosperity. And now they suddenly have to fight for their own human rights once again."

"The [Islamists] call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech... Islamists don't allow their critics the same rights... After the West prostrates itself, the [Islamists] will be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless."

The point is that when people say the Muslims "have a double standard", they are missing the point. To the Muslims it isn't a double standad; they believe that sharia law should rule the world. Christianity, Judaism, and all other religions are to be subjugated to Islam. Everyone but Muslims get second-class status. Western democracy is to be subverted and eventually overthrown.

No not all Muslims think this way. Yes I know that many or even most Muslims are good decent people. But if that's where you end you are missing the boat, because it doesn't take a majority to decide matters, just a determined minority. Just ask Lenin.

The Washington Times agrees, and points out that the Muslims who object to the Danish cartoons stirring up riots are not interested in our "tolerance", but rather

They wanted to create a groundswell of discontent among Muslims in Europe, put pressure on Denmark -- and other nations -- to abide by sharia law and to build a sympathetic base for further terrorist attacks. The placards of British Muslims, demanding more "7/7s," a reference to the London subway bombings on July 7, went straight to the point of the clerics' Middle East tour. This was an exercise in agitprop to further the goals of Islamofascism, and it worked

What We Must Do

What we must not do is blather on about "now is the time for restraint by the press", or "with freedom of the press comes responsibility". Yes yes we know all that. But what we must do is react strongly to reassure newspapers that what they need not fear intimidation by murderous fanatics.

We can't do it alone, we need our European friends to help us out. But we are all in this together, and it is my hope, and cautious prediction, that (most of) the Europeans will finally see the light. The Times points out that

An awakened Europe, after all, is exactly what the United States has been waiting for -- reinforcements in the war against the terrorists
.

Of course, it's not really a desire for "more troops" to help us fight, or at least that's not all of it. As much as we've had policy differences with some Europeans over the years, between the lot of us we are still the best the world has to offer, and we'd best preserve our nations and our cultures.

Posted by Tom at 9:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 6, 2006

With Men Such as These... II

Explain this if the war in Iraq is going so poorly:

"I've only met two kinds of soldiers in the combat arms community: Those who have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, and those who are pulling every bureaucratic string to get deployed there.

"I spent the summer of 2004 with a group of Marines in Niger and sub-Saharan Africa, and every Marine in that platoon was trying to get to Iraq. A few months later, one of them got lucky and ended up leading Iraqi forces into combat in the second battle of Fallujah. He was a sergeant from Georgia, and after the battle, he sent me a long e-mail flush with pride. And that's not just a cutesy-pie story -- that's basically what I encounter all the time. ...

"Soldiers are very aware of why they're fighting -- and that awareness stems from their own practical day-to-day experience, which is not killing people. By and large, they're rebuilding, patrolling, and helping the Iraqi people."

-- Robert Kaplan, author of "Imperial Grunts," interviewed in the January/February issue of the American Enterprise (excerpted in today's Washington Times)

Further, as Marc at USS Neverdock reports, the Army exceeded it's reenlistment goals for 2005.

As Kaplan reports, the troops are by and large quite proud of their service in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. While we so often hear about how we are simply "creating more terrorists" by our actions in Iraq, or because of various administration policies, the determination of US troops must give the terrorists pause.

All too often the news media forgets that the other side has troubles of it's own. If you only read the press, you could be excused for thinking that things were going swimmingly for the insurgents in Iraq, and for al Qaeda in general. Osama bin Laden, after all, is still on the loose.

But as Al-Zawahiri's letter to al-Zarqawi, intercepted last summer, showed, the insurgents are deeply concerned that they are the ones who are loosing. One reason for this is that no matter what mayhem they cause, those darned Americans just won't give up.

This reminds me of an incident last summer that occured in Afghanistan regarding Seal Recon Team 3.

Four US Navy Seals, on patrol in a remote mountanous region of Afghanistan, ran into a large number of Taliban. In the ensuing firefight, three of the Seals were killed. One survived, evading superior numbers while escaping their grasp. He was later rescued by US forces rushed to the region.

At the time this occured, Wretchard, writing at Belmont Club, reflected on how our enemy must have preceived our determination:

Sixteen more Special Operations soldiers died in an attempt to reinforce the recon team when their MH-47 was shot down. The US response to the loss of the recon team was not to run but insert hundreds of troops into the area to find the missing men and possibly to complete the unfinished mission. The Al Qaeda might ask themselves what manner of men these are, who fight to the death rather than surrender, and who though injured evade over high and cold mountains until they have outdistanced their unwounded pursuers. It's not an idle question. One of Osama Bin Laden's strategic assumptions when he wrote contemptuously of the US in his 1996 fatwa was that he was facing cowards.

What manner of men indeed? Those who do not give up until the fight is won. Those who understand that there will always be setbacks in war, but who does not let this deter them.

It has always struck me as rather odd, that while those who face danger directly perform so heroically, and are so determined to finish the job, that all too many here safe at home want to give up.

So on the home front it is our duty to support the troops by whatever means possible, private and public. As individuals we should contribue to one or more organizations that directly help them. On the sidebar of this blog you'll see a section titled "Helping the Troops". If you're not already doing so, I encourage you to go through them, and contribute in some way.

Posted by Tom at 8:24 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 7, 2005

Who'd a Thunk It?

Another great story in today's Washington Times. Here's the headline:

Recruits join armed forces seeking war

Well who'd a thunk it?

Not from reading most of the news you wouldn't. I can't even take most of Fox News these days. Most of the time they're off chasing whatever young white girl has gone missing recently.

Back to the story:

Going to war, more than job opportunities and money for college, is the post-September 11 allure for joining the armed services, military officials say. And, in a trend that bewilders and dismays those opposed to the war in Iraq, enlistment numbers are up and recruiting goals are mostly being met or exceeded.

"There is a sort of vendetta because of 9/11," says Staff Sgt. Jose Guerreiro, a senior drill instructor at Parris Island.

"Some recruits have even had family members killed in Iraq. We tell them chances are they'll be going," the sergeant said. "We explain to them that not everybody's going to be kicking down doors up front, but they know combat is likely for all Marines."

My heavens you have to love 'em.

If I wasn't so old I'd join up myself. When I was young enough to sign up, I was too stupid and off doing things I oughtn't to have been doing. But if I lived life regretting things I didn't do when I should have I'd go nuts. But I've gotten off topic, and it's time to go back to the story.

What strikes me is the statement by the sergeant about a "vendetta because of 9/11". One, we are so often told by the msm that because there is no proof that Saddam was involved in 9/11(and he probably wasn't), the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the War on Terror. Further, liberals often trot out some survey which purportedly shows that some high percentage of Americans believe that Saddam was involved in 9/11, then we are instructed that this is due to the lies of the Bush administration... and it's here we go again with the same old tired mantra.

Second, many of the young men and women signing up must be in the 18-20 year age bracket. That means that they were 14-16 when 9/11 occured. And this in turn tells me that we have an awefully bunch of astute and smart young people in this country.

But if I may toot my own horn I knew this already. For anyone who is exasperated with the stories of young people doing wrong, I'd say you simply don't know where to look. Some years ago I discovered just where to look, and that place is as close as your local church.

I told you about my latest experience working with young people when I went on the mission trip to Scotland a few months ago. What I don't think I told you is that over the past 5 or 6 years I've been on other such trips and everytime I am impressed. (P.S. yes I know kids are on their best behavior around adults and all that but nevertheless I saw some amazing things)

I'll leave you with another quote from the article, about how recruitment goals are being met:


The military's numbers seem to back him up for the active-duty services, although the Reserves and National Guard units are having more trouble attracting new recruits.

For four out of the past five years, the Army has exceeded its goal for active-duty recruits, while regularly increasing the number desired. Fiscal 2005, which ended Sept. 30, was the first year it fell short, getting 92 percent of its 80,000 goal.

The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps have all met or exceeded their annual recruiting goals for every year since September 11, although some monthly and quarterly shortfalls have occurred.

For 2005, for example, the Air Force exceeded its active recruiting goal of 18,900 new airmen by 322; the Navy topped its goal of 37,635 recruits by 68; and the Marines exceeded their 32,917 target by 44.

Posted by Tom at 9:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 7, 2005

The Question of Political Identity and Values

in The War On Terror

David Frum asks "Who Are We?" in the most September 12 print edition of National Review (digital subscription required to view it online).

The questions references the age-old political question of Identity: "Who am I as a political creature?" In the Middle Ages this question might have been answered with reference to nobility, clergy, whether one was a merchant or serf, Christian or Muslim. In the early years of our nation one might have said "Virginian" first, "American" second. In the past few hundred years, we in the West we have come to see ourselves in terms of nationhood. Seeing ourselves as citizens of a particular nation is stronger in the United States or Australia, weaker in western Europe, so it varies by locale. Either way, Westerners see themselves as members of a political entitiy, as opposed to most Muslims, for example, who see themselves more in terms of their religion.

Frum is interested in the question the question of nationhood poses,and puts it in terms of "common values". Political scientists distinguish between a "state", which is political entity, and a "nation". Wikopedia has as good a definition as any, and tells us that the members of a nation

...are distinguished by a common identity, and almost always by a common origin, in the sense of ancestry, parentage or descent. The national identity refers both to the distinguishing features of the group, and to the individual’s sense of belonging to it.

The key in this is "identity". One way individuals may be said to have a common identity is to hold certain values in common.

And it is just this that worries David Frum.

The Enemy Within

The War on Terror (a poor term, but let that pass) has more in common with the Cold War than any other that we have fought, in that if we are to win then a critical mass of our citizens must not only believe that the war is worth fighting and winning, but must understand that it is in part (even primarily) a war of values, and that our values are superior.

During the Cold War we had a fifth column within the west that fortunately never reached this critical mass. But, contrary to the claims of some revisionist liberals today, it was a near-run thing. Perhaps the critical juncture was in the early '80s when we determined to meet the Soviet SS-20 threat with GLCMs and Pershing IIs. If the anti-nuclear left had prevented their installation, the Cold War might still be in progress.

Frum worries that we face the same problem today. The situation in America is no small matter, but it's Tony Blair and the UK that really worries him.

At the Labour party’s national conference nine days after the first London bombing, British prime minister Tony Blair offered a powerful and memorable answer: “The spirit of our age is one in which the prejudices of the past are put behind us, where our diversity is our strength. It is this which is under attack. Moderates are not moderate through weakness but through strength. Now is the time to show it in defense of our common values.”

Sounds good, right? But as Frum demonstrates, when you dig beneath the surface of those fine words, you find...nothing.

A Nearly Extinct Species

In the US, as in Europe, you used to be able to find a species known as the "liberal hawk". Leaders such as Harry Truman, LBJ, and Henry "Scoop" Jackson, were once common. Ditto for Europe. Frum describes Blair's thinking:

Tony Blair was the original liberal hawk, albeit one endowed with rather more staying power than most of the breed. Still, you can catch a continuing echo of the Old Labour way of thinking in his July 16 speech to the Labour-party conference: They believe in the global caliphate; we believe in . . . diversity, which is to say, in everything, which is again to say, in nothing. That’s why Blair refers to “our common values” without dropping any hint as to what those values might be. To name them would be to exclude others, and to exclude things is to acknowledge limits to our diversity.

Ah, "diversity", that new god to whom the left prays, and the rest of us are force to acknowledge, lest our HR department find out our true opinions.

The Paradox of "Diversity"

To believe in "diversity", and it's twin "multiculturalism", is to believe that all cultures are worthy of respect. Fine if you're dealing with Episcopalians vs Catholics vs Jews vs aethists, but what happens when you throw radical Islam into the mix?

Chaos, thats what.

As Frum relates, Britons today face an insane situation whereby in the name of "diversity"

...imported brutalities have begun to occur under the jurisdiction of Western police and Western courts: “honor killings,” forced marriages, and the below-the-horizon pressure for the tacit legal recognition of polygamy. Britain’s Inland Revenue acknowledged in December 2004 that it was considering legal changes that would permit a husband to divide his estate tax-free among more than one wife. In at least one U.K. case (A-M v. A-M, 2001), British courts have held that polygamous marriages contracted outside Britain could be recognized as valid by British authorities. Although it remains a crime in Britain to enter into a second marriage before the first is dissolved, senior Muslim officials estimate that up to 4,000 British Muslim men have multiple wives. And one British Muslim group plans to launch a challenge to British marriage laws before the European Court of Human Rights.

What's a good multiculturalist to do? On the one hand, multiculturalism dicates "...that immigrants, and others, should preserve their cultures with the different cultures interacting peacefully within one nation." (Wikopedia) On the other, Islamic culture is in many instances directly contradicts western values.

Lets take a minute to define matters. "Tolerance", if one means by it a societal agreement not to persecute others because of their race, sex, religion, excetera, then I'm all for it. Tolerance is then one of the hallmarks of western civilization. But that's not what we're talking about here.

We are talking about whether we have the desire to defend ourselves. Do we have what it takes to say to Muslim immigrants "sorry, but that's not acceptable here. Change or move back to where you came from."

Do We have What it Takes?

George W Bush does. Most Americans do, too. Many Democrats get it, although those on the left certainy don't

And unfortunately, Tony Blair probably doesn't either. As John O'Sullivan observes in the Aug 29 edition of NR (digital subscription only), "One senses that Blair, underneath his public mask of self-confident leadership, is baffled by the scope and nature of the problems of domestic and imported radical Islamism facing him."

Blair understands WMD, and the necessity of a strong relationship with the US, I'll give him that. But he can't understand how anyone cannot but fail to love his new "multicultural" UK.

Frum tells of what happens when we refuse to defend ourselves:

The Islamic extremists accuse the West of lacking any sexual morality. Indeed, the alleged immorality of the West — the indecent liberty of women, the lewd explicitness of entertainment — is one of the principal grievances of Islamic radicals in the West. (One of the perpetrators of the second London bombing, Somali-born Yasin Hassan Omar, was also offended that alcohol was sold in Western cities in violation of Islamic law.) They think: The West believes in nothing but personal whim. Anything goes! And those Westerners who draw comparisons between Islamic extremists and defenders of traditional marriage — don’t they think just the same thing? Yes! We believe in nothing but personal — well, not whim, that sounds . . . whimsical — but choice. Anything goes!

Far too many in the west simply have not recognized that there is a significant number of Muslim immigrants who see "diversity" as a sin. While only a small number become terrorists, it is the number who turn their eyes from the radicals, or who even shield them, that should be our concern.

Frum summarizes the situation in Europe:

National survival in the age of terror is not just a matter of intelligence operations and security measures. It’s not just a job for armies and police. National survival depends on the willingness and ability of the targets of terrorism to assert and defend a national identity: an identity that is more than a catalogue of self-doubts and self-criticisms, an identity that is more than a statement of disagreements and diversities — an identity that can say, in English, in French, in German, on behalf of the nations of the Atlantic community on both sides of the ocean, This is who we are — and we are prepared to fight for it
.

NEXT: Our Shared Western Values

Posted by Tom at 8:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2005

God Bless John Howard

Australian Prime Minister John Howard gave what is possibly the most devastating answer to a stupid question by a moonbat reporter that I have ever seen (hat tip NRO):

Question:

To both Prime Ministers, what was your immediate reaction on hearing that some incidents had occurred, was it here we go again? And do incidents like this, coming just 14 days after the horrific attacks, suggest that the war against terror is being lost on the streets? And yesterday an Australian bomb victim of July 7 linked the bombings to Iraq. Does that suggest that the propaganda war against terrorists is also being lost?

Mr Howard:

Could I start by saying the Prime Minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it, and my first reaction was to get some more information, and I really don't want to add to what the Prime Minister has said. It is a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here. Could I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government, and indeed the policies of the British and American government on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it has given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq; and could I remind you that the 11 September occurred before the operation in Iraq; can I also remind you that the very first occasion that Bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor.

Are people, by implication, suggesting that we shouldn't have done that? When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on 7 July, they talked about British policy, not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Melo was murdered in Iraq, a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, immensely respected for his work in the United Nations, when al Queda gloated about that they referred specifically to the role that de Melo had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor. Now I don't know the mind of the terrorist, by definition you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber, I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I have cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq, and indeed all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggest to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion that at its root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances, rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

Take that, you leftie apologists.

Trey Jackson has the video here. It's a must-see.

Posted by Tom at 10:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

Shocked, Shocked!

So Tony Blair is shocked, shocked! that the London terrorists were indiginous and did not come into the country especially for that purpose, as did the 9/11 hijackers(hat tip NRO)

Tony Blair said it is "shocking" that the four suspected London suicide bombers are believed to be home-grown terrorists.

The Prime Minister told the Commons during PMQs that it was "shocking that they were brought up in this country".

Unbelieveable. Anyone who has followed events in the UK knows that the Islamists are tolerated there, all in the name of "tolerance" and "multiculturalism." The left is so absorbed in the idea the greviances of all minority groups are automatically valid that they can't see hate when it's staring them in the face.

But on the other side of the pond they can't figure it out:

The four suspects in the London suicide bombings were young men who had lived outwardly normal lives in the northern English city of Leeds.

That leaves police, politicians, Britain's 1.7 million Muslims and a nation known for its multicultural tolerance asking the same anguished question -- what turned these young men into killers?

It's pretty simple, actually, and as always Christopher Hitchens summed it up nicely the other day(again, hat tip NRO):

We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.

Dead spot on. But some people seem intent on ignoring the radicals in our midst.

If you really want to follow the PC pandering in the UK, read USS Neverdock. He tracks this stuff daily.

Daniel Pipes is also a great source. Check out this list of PC follies on his blog. Just be warned; keep objects that can be thrown out of reach before you read it.

It's stuff like what Marc of USS Neverdock and Daniel Pipes track that allows terrorism to develop. When you have hate speech coming from even a few mosques, and no one in the major media or a major politician dares to call them on it, then sooner or later some young Muslims are going to become radicalized to the point where they become terrorists. How hard is this to figure out?

Victor Davis Hanson also nails it in a recent column of his (Hat tip USS Neverdock)

The terrorists and their supporters understand that in a strange way the West is not only split, but also increasingly illiberal as well. It has lost confidence in its old commitment to rationalism, free speech and empiricism, and now embraces the deductive near-religious doctrines of moral equivalence and utopian pacifism. Al Qaeda's supporters will say that Thursday's victims were killed because of Afghanistan or Iraq. Westerners will duly repeat the dull refrain that "Bush lied, thousands died" in their guilt-ridden search for something we did to cause this.

And so, rather than focus our attention on the madrassas and the mosques that preach hatred, we will strive to learn more about Islamic culture, as if our own insensitivity were the true culprit. Our grandfathers could despise Bushido — Japan's warrior cult — without worrying whether they were being unfair to Buddhists; we of less conviction and even less courage, cannot do likewise.

In short, we now know what to expect from the London bombings and the others to follow. There will be no effort to punish the states that subsidize al Qaeda. Critics will cling to the myth that the British got what they had coming. The primary obsession of many Westerners will be to extend sensitivity to Islam, not the victims of those who kill in its name. And all will be consoled that just a few dozen were harvested this time.

What a strange way to fight a war.

Strange indeed.

Posted by Tom at 8:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

Al Qaeda Attacks" Movie

You have got to go over to Winds of Change and watch this video on Al Qaeda by Marvin and Bill.

Posted by Tom at 9:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2005

Do We "Cause" Terrorism?

Does the United States and our allies bring terrorism on ourselves? More specifically, is it our foreign policy that "causes" certain people to become terrorists? Do we bring it on ourselves?

To the left the answer seems to be an unequivocal "yes!" This is also the case with some conservatives of the Pat Buchanan school, who since the end of the Cold War have advocated a withdrawal from the world and a "seal the borders" policy at home.

While I am certainly in favor of enhanced border security, readers of this blog will know that I have no patience with the isolationists, whether from the right or left.

There are several ways in which it is said that we bring terrorism on ourselves. I'll try and hit on a few of them this morning:

1) Our failure to alleviate poverty drives people to extremist groups which in turn see terrorist actions as their only means of bringing attention to their cause. DagneyT has an excellent post on this very subject.

2) Our aggressive foreign policy, and stationing of troops in foreign lands sparks resentment and brings humiliation to the people of the affected countries. This in turn drives people to extremist movements and thus terrorism.

3) Our support of Israel, and failure to force a peace settlement on the region engenders hatred of the United States.

My answer to whether these things cause terrorism is...yes and no.

I suspect you were expecting me to say "heck no!" but the truth is a bit more complicated.

The fact is if we did completely withdraw from the world a la Canada or Sweden, the terrorists probably would leave us alone.

The reality is that we cannot withdraw, no matter how much people like Pat Buchanan would like us to. We have little choice but to be involved in the world. This is so for several reasons; our economy demands it, the world requires our presence, and it fits us temperamentally.

Avoiding World War II

The Japanese believed that they had no choice but to attack us at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Our foreign policy, they said, coupled with our stationing of troops so close to their empire, posed an unacceptable threat.

Japanese expansionism, especially their invasions of Manchuria and China in 1931 and 1937 respectively, led to U.S. condemnation. Roosevelt ordered that trade sanctions be placed on Japanese goods.

The Japanese saw our bases in the Philippines and Hawaii as threats. The United States had been active in seeking territory and bases in the Pacific since at least the Spanish-American War of 1898, when we seized control of the Philippines. Since then, U.S. Naval stragegists had developed contingency plans for war with Japan, which was called War Plan Orange.

So in a sense one could say that we brought the Pacific War on ourselves, in that we could have drawn down our forces in that region, and ignored Japanese atrocities in China and Manchuria. We could have held a "peace" conference, of the sort that Tony Benn urges for the Middle East today.

But of course none of this was possible.

Likewise, we could have avoided war with Hitler. It was our support of Great Britain in 1940 and 1941 that led us into the conflict. The Axis treaty between Germany, Italy, and Japan, was strictly defensive in nature. Because Japan initiated hostilities, German and Italian obligations to come to her aid were rendered null and void.

We could have stayed out of the European war. Presdent Roosevelt didn't have to send those forty destroyers to Britain, or push the lend-lease act through congress, and he certainly didn't have to fight a virtual secret war against German U-boats in 1941 well before our entrance into the conflict.

Honest Abe

For that matter, Abraham Lincoln could have ignored slavery. He could well have soothed Southern fears before taking office. He did not.

And although he fought the war "to preserve the Union", and the Southerners fought it "for states rights", everyone knew that the root cause of the problem was slavery.

Not Inevitable but Unavoidable

Wars are not inevitable. Before any conflict, there are things that could have been done to prevent them. American presidents of the 1850s could have at least tried to keep the old compromises of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster alive. One might argue that we should have "engaged" Japan in dialogue and negotiations earlier. Certainly the opportunities to stop Hitler that were missed have been well discussed.

But Northerners of strong moral foundation could not avoid the issue of slavery as the Whigs had. The United States could not ignore Japanese atrocities in China, nor abandon our Pacific territories. The Britons and French who appeased Hitler had public opinion on their side.

And as I argued in "History Backwards", our support of Saddam in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war was the right thing to do, even knowing what we know today.

Back to Terrorism

The bottom line is that yes, in a way, we "cause" terrorism in that we could totally withdraw from the world and let it go it's own way. They use terrorism as their tactic because we are too strong for direct military confrontation, and because it suits their fanatical philosoply of life.

But the fact is that most of our actions in the Middle East and elsewhere have been necessary. We needed to keep troops in Saudi Arabia (OBLs big complaint in his 1996 Fatwa) to keep an eye on Saddam Hussein. We support Israel because it is the morally correct thing to do.

If we are in the wrong, it is because as Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recently said in her speech at Cairo University, "For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither."

In the final analysis, then, of course we do not "cause" terrorism, or "bring it on ourselves". To say so at minimum excuses those who are guilty of such deeds. It also ignores the reality of our world, and how we have little choice but to be engaged. We can, and have, set a new foreign policy goal of encouraging democracy and pluralism, of "no more excuses."

It will take much time, but in the end we will prevail.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 7, 2005

The London Attacks

I'm finally back home and able to write something on these terrible attacks. I actually first heard about them from a fellow blogger in an email this morning. Unfortunately, it was just as I had to run off to work so I only found out the details on the radio.

Here is a quick survey from around the Internet

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's statement says it perfectly:

Though it is not yet known with certainty precisely who is responsible, we do know terrorists’ intentions. They strike without warning and without regard for human life in the hope that they can frighten and intimidate free people -- to change our way of life. And they won't stop until their side or our side has prevailed.

But if these terrorists thought they could intimidate the people of a great nation, they picked the wrong people and the wrong nation. For generations, tyrants, fascists, and terrorists have sought to carry out their violent designs upon the British people only to founder upon its unrelenting shores.

Before long, I suspect that those responsible for these acts will encounter British steel. Their kind of steel has an uncommon strength. It does not bend or break.

Indeed. Although the left will howl and moan that "we brought it on ourselves by going to Iraq", the Brits will not be cowed.

Wretchard
nails it as always:


The Al Qaeda have characterized the attack on London as 'punishment' for Britain's temerity to resist the inevitability of Islam. It is the kind of punishment these self-ordained masters of the universe are accustomed to meting out against harem women and insolent slaves. A few administered licks, and no doubt the cowardly kuffar will crawl back to his place. The tragedy is that Al Qaeda's perception is perfectly correct when applied to the Left, for whom no position is too supine, no degradation too shameful to endure; but incorrect for the vast majority of humans, in whom the instinct for self-preservation has not yet been extinguished. It will result in history's greatest case of mistaken identity; the mismatch that should never have happened. The enemy is even now dying at our feet, where we should kick him and kick him again.

Exactly. Don't let the naysayers tell you that we're losing.

Christopher Hitchens explains why Iraq was not the original motivating force behind the Al-Qaeda attacks, and taht Britain had better face up to their internal problems with a certain immigrant group:

...there are two considerations here. The first is Britain's role as a leading member of the "Coalition" in Iraq and Afghanistan. The second is its role as a host to a large and growing Muslim minority. The first British citizens to be killed in Afghanistan were fighting for the Taliban, which is proof in itself that the Iraq war is not the original motivating force. Last year, two British Muslims pulled off a suicide attack at an Israeli beach resort. In many British cities, there are now demands for sexual segregation in schools and for separate sharia courts to try Muslim defendants. The electoral strength of Muslims is great enough to encourage pandering from all three parties: The most egregious pandering of all has come from Blair himself, who has promised legislation that would outlaw any speech that could be construed as offensive to Islam. Since most British Muslims are of Asian descent, a faint sense exists that criticism of their religion is somehow racist: In practice this weak-mindedness leads to the extension of an antiquated law on blasphemy that ought long ago to have been repealed but is now to cover the wounded feelings of Muslims as well as Christians.

Yep. They've got a big problem, and so far have largely refused to deal with it.

Take a look at National Review. They've got the British flag on their mast.

Chris Muir's Day by Day is all British today.

For yes, we are all Londonders today.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Brits.

Posted by Tom at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 1, 2005

Primary Documents: Osama bin Laden's 1996 Fatwa

Speaking of basics in our War on Terror, let's go back to Osama bin Laden's initial fatwa, or declaration of war, against the west in general and United States in particular. It was issued in 1996 and was published in a London newspaper. It is, appropriately enough, titled "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places" (hat tip NRO for the link)

It makes for instructive reading. Of course, everything is "obvious" in retrospect. It is "obvious" that he was a huge danger, that we should have taken him more seriously, blah blah. If that was it this would only be an academic exercise.

Unfortunately, some people still don't get it. They still don't get that

- bin Laden sees the world with a long historical perspective. His basis, or baseline, was the Crusades. To him this is not ancient history, but an event (or series of events) with close relevance to the world today.

- bin Laden and his sort cannot be satisfied with policy changes. "Settling" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not dissuade them from attacking us.

- bin Laden was quite willing to make an alliance with anyone to achieve his goals, whether that person or entity was "righteous" or not. Thus he would have no problem in cooperating with Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

- bin Laden wants to impost Sharia (strict Islamic law), apparently with a corresponding return to the ancient Caliphate.

Let's then go through his 1996 Fatwa and see exactly what it says:

First, there's a lot of "praise be to Allah", and exortations to the faithful:

O you who believe! be careful of -your duty to- Allah with the proper care which is due to Him, and do not die unless you are Muslim} (Imraan; 3:102), {O people be careful of -your duty to- your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same -kind- and spread from these two, many men and women; and be careful of -your duty to- Allah , by whom you demand one of another -your rights-, and (be careful) to the ties of kinship; surely Allah ever watches over you} (An-Nisa; 4:1), {O you who believe! be careful- of your duty- to Allah and speak the right word; He will put your deeds into a right state for you, and forgive you your faults; and who ever obeys Allah and his Apostle, he indeed achieve a mighty success} (Al-Ahzab; 33:70-71).

The entire document is filled stuff like this. One tends to skim through it, trying to find the "good parts" where he talks about something concrete. On the one hand there is nothing wrong with doing this. On the other one can miss the essence of bin Laden; religious fanaticism. This may sound obvious, but consider history.

Adolf Hitler was underestimated because the "smart set" couldn't believe that he really meant what he said in Mein Kampf. When Hitler and his henchmen in the 1930s spun their outlandish racial theories, they were dismissed as cranks. What people failed to understand is that Hitler wanted to act on those beliefs. He also had the talent and political acumen to tell each audience just what it wanted to hear. We have no such excuse with bin Laden.

My point is that those who say that bin Laden and his sort can be satisfied by changing this or that American policy are just as mistaken as Chamberlain and Lord Halifax were sixty-odd years ago about Hitler. Hitler wanted racial purity throughout all of Europe and would kill to achieve it, bin Laden wants a rise of the ancient Caliphate and will kill to get it also.

It is, nevertheless, instructive to find out what bin Laden's complaints are. Let's go through some of them:

It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana, in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajakestan, Burma, Cashmere, Assam, Philippine, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Erithria, Chechnia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience. All of this and the world watch and hear, and not only didn't respond to these atrocities, but also with a clear conspiracy between the USA and its' allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations, the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves.

The people of Islam awakened and realised that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance. All false claims and propaganda about "Human Rights" were hammered down and exposed by the massacres that took place against the Muslims in every part of the world.

There is much of this talk about western "massacres". What is interesting is that "Palestine" is listed as only one of many. The idea that the "Arab-Israeli" conflict is at the heart of his complaint does not stand up to scrutiny. He does, however, mention "Zionist-Crusader" alliance several times. This tells me that 1) the existance of Israel is the problem to him, so no "solution" short of it's dismanteling will satisfy him. 2) He believes that the problems of the Arab world are all caused by the West, and again the solution is a return to the glory days of Saladin.

Injustice had affected the people of the industry and agriculture. It affected the people of the rural and urban areas. And almost every body complain about something. The situation at the land of the two Holy places became like a huge volcano at the verge of eruption that would destroy the Kufr and the corruption and its' sources. The explosion at Riyadh and Al-Khobar is a warning of this volcanic eruption emerging as a result of the sever oppression, suffering, excessive iniquity, humiliation and poverty.

By "two Holy places" he means Mecca and Medina, Islams to most holy sites, both of which are in Saudi Arabia. At the time we had a lot of troops stationed in the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), and it was the presence of the "infidels" that upset him so. He goes on to complain about the KSA at some length.

His complaints against the KSA can be broken down into

1) The rulers of the KSA have violated the tenants of Islam.

2) The economic/public works situations have deteriorated

3) The rulers of the KSA are corrupt.

4) The rulers of the KSA have allowed the "infidels" to occupy parts of the country.

In summary,

If there are more than one duty to be carried out, then the most important one should receive priority. Clearly after Belief (Imaan) there is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land. No other priority, except Belief, could be considered before it...

bin Laden is willing to use anyone to help him.

It was the tradition of the people of the Sunnah (Ahlul-Sunnah) to join and invade- fight- with the righteous and non righteous men. Allah may support this religion by righteous and non righteous people as told by the prophet...

In other words, he has no problem in making an alliance with "non-righteous" people. Saddam Hussein was a Muslim in name only. Therefore... that blank is easy to fill in. Those who say that bin Laden would never have allied himself with Saddam haven't read what the man said.

Israel, or as he calls it, "the Zionist state in Palestine" is a problem, and it must be destroyed. To him, Israel is not an entity in itself, as much as it is part of "the Zionist-Crusader alliance"

The "infidel" forces in the KSA are a problem for this reason:

It is out of date and no longer acceptable to claim that the presence of the crusaders is necessity and only a temporary measures to protect the land of the two Holy Places. Especially when the civil and the military infrastructures of Iraq were savagely destroyed showing the depth of the Zionist-Crusaders hatred to the Muslims and their children, and the rejection of the idea of replacing the crusaders forces by an Islamic force composed of the sons of the country and other Muslim people.

Osama bin Laden's Solution

Jihad, of course.

Interestingly, he also calls for an economic boycott against us. This is to be coupled with military action. Any Muslim who does not cooperate is to be considered an enemy.

If economical boycotting is intertwined with the military operations of the Mujahideen, then defeating the enemy will be even nearer, by the Permission of Allah. However if Muslims don't co-operate and support their Mujahideen brothers then , in effect, they are supplying the army of the enemy with financial help and extending the war and increasing the suffering of the Muslims.

bin Laden then goes on a long ramble about "this difficult period in the history of our Ummah", with many historical references, going back several centuries and concluding with the Russians in Afghanistan and the United States in Somalia (he saw that we pulled out after taking casualties. A lesson, there).

After this there are many exortations to young Muslims, and how they must join him in the battle ahead. These calls are intersperced with liberal references to the Koran, as is throughout the Fatwa.

He does not mince words about how he will go after Americans. He says that he will be

Terrorising you, while you are carrying arms on our land, is a legitimate and morally demanded duty

Like the Japanese and Germans of World War II, he takes it for granted that his soldiers ("youths")are brave, but that Americans are weak and cowardly:

Those youths are different from your soldiers. Your problem will be how to convince your troops to fight, while our problem will be how to restrain our youths to wait for their turn in fighting and in operations.

Lastly he asks for God's help. Here is one of many such passages

Our Lord, You are the Revealer of the book, Director of the clouds, You defeated the allies (Ahzab); defeat them and make us victorious over them.

So What of It?

He's a religious fanatic, of course.

One is also struck at how long the document is. Today it is obvious that it was written by someone who has dedicated his life to destroying the KSA and the "infidels".

He believes strongly in what he says, and as I said at the beginning cannot be compromised with.

Their are two ways to deal with him and his followers:

The first is to utterly destroy them though all military means at our disposal. This means war, not a law-enforcement model of conflict.

Second,we must reform the Arab/Muslim countries of the Middle East. bin Laden was right, the rulers of the KSA are corrupt.

It also means something else; that we were right in taking out Saddam. He was a cancer in the region, and Osama bin Laden had no problem in making alliances with the "non-righteous". Given Saddam's hatred of the US and UK, he no doubt joined Al Qaeda in a de facto alliance. Anyone who says otherwise just doesn't know what they're talking about.

Posted by Tom at 8:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 30, 2005

All the Right Enemies II

Well, well, so the liberals are all in a huff over President Bush' mention of 9/11 in his speech Tuesday night.

Fine. What's important is who is upset, and who is happy. The invaluable Victor Davis Hanson pointed this out some time ago in a must-read article.

And it appears that all the right people are upset. All those who I never agree with anyway didn't like it.

Such as David Gergen, the man who will serve in any administration as long as they stroke his ego.

Like the Washington Post, who is still off on the bogus he "missed an opportunity to fully level with Americans" line that I dealt with a post or so ago.

Like the New York Times, which makes the Post look positively reactionary by comparison. Their editorial is beyond pathetic.

Like the Democrat's response to the speech. That they don't get it has been obvious for a long time.

The editors of National Review, typically, do:

The September 11 attacks were so important and so horrific that they never should be mentioned again. That at least seems to be the position of the Left and establishment media. Images of the planes hitting the towers on that day have been all but banned from the public airwaves. And the president of the United States cannot mention 9/11 when explaining the stakes in a fight against jihadists supported by Osama bin Laden in Iraq without prompting howls of outrage. Bush was absolutely justified in invoking repeatedly Sept. 11 and the fight against terrorism in his speech from Fort Bragg Tuesday night. Let's count the ways:
There never would have been an Iraq war without 9/11, which drastically reduced the country's tolerance for a hostile Arab who had sought weapons of mass destruction before and was likely to do so again.

Saddam's regime had a web of connections to Islamic extremists and terrorists, as explained by Andy McCarthy elsewhere on NRO.

Foreign jihadists are now pouring into Iraq to fight on behalf of Abu Zarqawi, who has explicitly allied himself with Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. The case for a connection between the Iraq war and the sort of terrorists who perpetrated 9/11 is — sadly — stronger than ever.

Bin Laden himself has, as Bush noted Tuesday night, called the Iraq war a crucial front in the war on terror. He has said that the war will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”

If we lose in Iraq, a Sunni rump state could emerge that would provide a haven for terrorists, the same way Afghanistan provided a haven for the 9/11 terrorists.

If we fail in Iraq, it will be a blow to America's prestige. One reason the terrorists struck on 9/11 is that they thought America was weak and making it bleed would prompt it to abandon its allies in the Middle East. The signal of weakness sent by a loss in Iraq wouldn't placate our enemies, but invite more attacks.

Supporters of a radical Islamic ideology struck American on 9/11. The war on terror is not a fight against a tactic (as the name falsely suggests), but against that ideology. The appeal of an ideology ebbs and flows with perceptions of its success. Communism advanced in the third world after its victory in Vietnam. The Islamists would get a similar boost if they were to prevail in Iraq.

Competing interpretations of Islam are at war in Iraq — that of Aytollah Sistani, who says Islam is compatible with democracy, and that of Zarqawi, who believes like bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers that Islam is a religion of violence. It is imperative that Sistani win out.

Islamic extremists justifiably fear a Middle East that turns away from radicalism and anti-Americanism. Victory in Iraq will be a step toward that goal.

In short, not only was it defensible for Bush to talk of 9/11 Tuesday night, it would be impossible for him to make the case for the Iraq war without reference to it. The war on terror began in earnest on that day, and Iraq is properly understood as a front in that larger, necessary war.

As mentioned by the NR editors, Andrew McCarthy outlined the links between Saddam and terrorism (for the umpteenth time, one might add):

It is not the war for democratization. It is not the war for stability. Democratization and stability are not unimportant. They are among a host of developments that could help defeat the enemy.

But they are not the primary goal of this war, which is to destroy the network of Islamic militants who declared war against the United States when they bombed the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993, and finally jarred us into an appropriate response when they demolished that complex, struck the Pentagon, and killed 3000 of us on September 11, 2001.

That is why we are in Iraq.

On September 12, 2001, no one in America cared about whether there would be enough Sunni participation in a fledgling Iraqi democracy if Saddam were ever toppled. No one in lower Manhattan cared whether the electricity would work in Baghdad, or whether Muqtada al-Sadr’s Shiite militia could be coaxed into a political process. They cared about smashing terrorists and the states that supported them for the purpose of promoting American national security.

Saddam Hussein’s regime was a crucial part of that response because it was a safety net for al Qaeda. A place where terror attacks against the United States and the West were planned. A place where Saddam’s intelligence service aided and abetted al Qaeda terrorists planning operations. A place where terrorists could hide safely between attacks. A place where terrorists could lick their wounds. A place where committed terrorists could receive vital training in weapons construction and paramilitary tactics. In short, a platform of precisely the type without which an international terror network cannot succeed.
...
On that score, nobody should worry about anything the Times or David Gergen or Senator Reid has to say about all this until they have some straight answers on questions like these. What does the “nothing whatsoever” crowd have to say about:

Ahmed Hikmat Shakir — the Iraqi Intelligence operative who facilitated a 9/11 hijacker into Malaysia and was in attendance at the Kuala Lampur meeting with two of the hijackers, and other conspirators, at what is roundly acknowledged to be the initial 9/11 planning session in January 2000? Who was arrested after the 9/11 attacks in possession of contact information for several known terrorists? Who managed to make his way out of Jordanian custody over our objections after the 9/11 attacks because of special pleading by Saddam’s regime?

Saddam's intelligence agency's efforts to recruit jihadists to bomb Radio Free Europe in Prague in the late 1990's?

Mohammed Atta's unexplained visits to Prague in 2000, and his alleged visit there in April 2001 which — notwithstanding the 9/11 Commission's dismissal of it (based on interviewing exactly zero relevant witnesses) — the Czechs have not retracted?

The Clinton Justice Department's allegation in a 1998 indictment (two months before the embassy bombings) against bin Laden, to wit: In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.

Seized Iraq Intelligence Service records indicating that Saddam's henchmen regarded bin Laden as an asset as early as 1992?

Saddam's hosting of al Qaeda No. 2, Ayman Zawahiri beginning in the early 1990’s, and reports of a large payment of money to Zawahiri in 1998?

Saddam’s ten years of harboring of 1993 World Trade Center bomber Abdul Rahman Yasin?

Iraqi Intelligence Service operatives being dispatched to meet with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998 (the year of bin Laden’s fatwa demanding the killing of all Americans, as well as the embassy bombings)?

Saddam’s official press lionizing bin Laden as “an Arab and Islamic hero” following the 1998 embassy bombing attacks?

The continued insistence of high-ranking Clinton administration officials to the 9/11 Commission that the 1998 retaliatory strikes (after the embassy bombings) against a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory were justified because the factory was a chemical weapons hub tied to Iraq and bin Laden?

Top Clinton administration counterterrorism official Richard Clarke’s assertions, based on intelligence reports in 1999, that Saddam had offered bin Laden asylum after the embassy bombings, and Clarke’s memo to then-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, advising him not to fly U-2 missions against bin Laden in Afghanistan because he might be tipped off by Pakistani Intelligence, and “[a]rmed with that knowledge, old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad”? (See 9/11 Commission Final Report, p. 134 & n.135.)

Terror master Abu Musab Zarqawi's choice to boogie to Baghdad of all places when he needed surgery after fighting American forces in Afghanistan in 2001?

Saddam's Intelligence Service running a training camp at Salman Pak, were terrorists were instructed in tactics for assassination, kidnapping and hijacking?

Former CIA Director George Tenet’s October 7, 2002 letter to Congress, which asserted: Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.

We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade.

Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.

Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.

We have credible reporting that Al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.

Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of relationship with Al Qaeda suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action.

There's more. Stephen Hayes’s book, The Connection, remains required reading. But these are just the questions; the answers — if someone will just investigate the questions rather than pretending there’s “nothing whatsoever” there — will provide more still.

So Gergen, Reid, the Times, and the rest are “offended” at the president's reminding us of 9/11? The rest of us should be offended, too. Offended at the “nothing whatsoever” crowd’s inexplicable lack of curiosity about these ties, and about the answers to these questions.

Just tell us one thing: Do you have any good answer to what Ahmed Hikmat Shakir was doing with the 9/11 hijackers in Kuala Lampur? Can you explain it?

If not, why aren't you moving heaven and earth to find out the answer?

Update

I was doing a google search for some other information and look at what I found. The article, by CNS, is about a year old, so is not exactly news. But as with the information above, it is useful to throw at people who still insist that there were few ties between Saddam and terrorism:

Iraqi intelligence documents, confiscated by U.S. forces and obtained by CNSNews.com, show numerous efforts by Saddam Hussein's regime to work with some of the world's most notorious terror organizations, including al Qaeda, to target Americans. They demonstrate that Saddam's government possessed mustard gas and anthrax, both considered weapons of mass destruction, in the summer of 2000, during the period in which United Nations weapons inspectors were not present in Iraq. And the papers show that Iraq trained dozens of terrorists inside its borders.

One of the Iraqi memos contains an order from Saddam for his intelligence service to support terrorist attacks against Americans in Somalia. The memo was written nine months before U.S. Army Rangers were ambushed in Mogadishu by forces loyal to a warlord with alleged ties to al Qaeda.

Other memos provide a list of terrorist groups with whom Iraq had relationships and considered available for terror operations against the United States.

Among the organizations mentioned are those affiliated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Ayman al-Zawahiri, two of the world's most wanted terrorists.

As always, read the whole thing.

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June 28, 2005

The President's Speech

The short version is simple - the president hit a home run.

The longer take is to ask why he doesn't do this more often. When he wants to be on he's on. There are other times, like during the first two debates with John Kerry, that he looked positively aweful. Ok, he only looked aweful in the first debate. Bad enough.

The most telling aspect is how members of the military feel. After the speech Carl Cameron, of Fox News, talked about the audience. It was made up of members of the 82nd airborne, as well as some special ops forces at Fort Bragg, where the president spoke.

Cameron told of how they had been admonished beforehand by their officers not to clap or cheer during the speech, as it wasn't appropriate for this type of speech. It was obvious, however, he said, that they were full of approval and about ready to burst from holding back. At one point, some GOP staffers at the back of the room clapped after Bush made a point, and they took this as a signal to let loose.

The point is obvious; if we're in such an unwinnable quagmire in Iraq, don't you think that members of the military would be the first to know? The enlisted and junior officers, I mean, not the generals.

Let's go into what Bush actually said tonight.

You can find the entire text here.

At this point let me say that I'm not going to rehash the history of our involvement in Iraq, as I've done that so many times on this blog interested parties can do the research themselves.

The bottom line is that Bush didn't pull any punches tonight. He didn't sugarcoat the situation, but neither did he (nor should he) apologize for mistakes. He didn't give an inch, nor should he have

What the Liberals Wanted

The latest lie from the left is that "the president needs to come clean with the American people".

Let me translate this into English: "We want the president to apologize and say he's sorry for invading Iraq. We also want him to say that we're losing the war and that we should pull out our troops."

Our president's not stupid enough to give the libs what they want. Instead, tonight he basically threw it in their faces. Good for him.

And good for us. Because like all people, Americans don't want some wishy-washy "maybe we'll be able to do this maybe not, and gee I'm sorry won't you please forgive me" weakness. We had our fill of that with Jimmy Carter. Americans like strength and resolve, just like the Brits did some sixty-five years ago.

Building up the Iraqi Forces

Today Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions. Iraqi forces have fought bravely — helping to capture terrorists and insurgents in Najaf, Samarra, Fallujah, and Mosul. And in the past month, Iraqi forces have led a major anti-terrorist campaign in Baghdad called Operation Lightning — which has led to the capture of hundreds of suspected insurgents. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended by their own countrymen — and we are helping Iraqis assume those duties.

No doubt that the naysayers will dispute the figure cited above. And they'll be partially correct.

But am I the only one to notice that the left has totally ignored the sacrifice of the Iraqis? This first hit me during the vice-presidential debate, when Cheney rightfully admonished Senator Edwards over this issue. And they still haven't learned.

Why We are There

Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home. The commander in charge of Coalition operations in Iraq — who is also senior commander at this base — General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said: “We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us.”

Yes yes, we all know that we didn't find any of the WMD that we expected that we would. But I've dealt with the idiotic Bush Lied! nonsense extensively in other posts.

The fact is that without the invasion of Iraq a huge cancer would still be festering in the Middle East, one that stymied pluralistic government and supported terrorism (again, I've covered this).

The Idiocy of a Deadline

Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis — who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops — who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy — who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed — and not a day longer.

Well of course. To anyone who wants to win the war this is obvious. Hmmm. That would mean that anyone who does not see this...wants us to lose. Or just doesn't care.

After two long years, the Iraqis more and more are standing with us, or at least against the terrorists (two different things, I know, but for purposes of winning the war the same thing). As one commenter on lgf said, "They want an exit strategy? That's it, when the Iraqis are ready to stand alone we leave."

or, in a slightly more colorful comment:

Dec 7 1942. White House press conference.

A CNN reporter askes: President Rosevelt, we have been fighting Germany and Japan for a year now. This is clearly a quagmire. What is you exit strategy for bringing the troops home?

FDR replies: Whats my exit strategy? Win you stupid f**k, by any means necessary!

I swear I laughed so hard I almost dropped the laptop when I read that one. BTW, you've got to follow lgf during these events.

FINALLY; the "I" Word

After two years of using the somewhat nonsensical "War on Terror", the president told it like it is:

Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and other nations. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime who want to restore the old order. They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy, prosperity, and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.

Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: “This Third World War … is raging” in Iraq. “The whole world is watching this war.” He says it will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”

The terrorists know that the outcome will leave them emboldened, or defeated. So, they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction. And there is no limit to the innocent lives they are willing to take.

Wars are often begun for one reason, and then later justified or remembered by another. Lincoln did not fight the Civil War to free the slaves, and we didn't fight World War II to liberate concentration camps. Yet that is how we remember them now. It will be the legacy of this war that it was begun mostly over WMD, yet it's benefit was to begin a process of liberation throughout the region. How ironic that those in this country who always tell us that they are the most concerned with freedome cannot or will not see this.

Democracy, or at least a version of it, has come to Iraq. The Purple Revolution was a watershed event. The president mentioned Libya giving up it's WMD program, liberaliztions in Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian elections. Egypt and Lebanon have seen progress. Small steps, to be sure, but real ones. Our own country was hardly perfect in 1793, and isn't now.

Listen

After September 11, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult — and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult. And we are prevailing.

Well yes you did. And some people weren't listening when they should have. Here and overseas.

Sixty four years ago someone listened, heard, and understood us.

"I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve"

Those words were spoken by Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, to his aides following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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June 24, 2005

The Gitmo Investigation Fraud

So now the Democrats have decided that the most important thing to do in the War on Terror is to provide Al-Jazeera with more anti-American propaganda. As such, they've demanded an independent investigation to look into alleged abuses at Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, where we are holding several hundred terrorists.

Of course, as it is Al-Jazzera covers in detail the attempt by far-left Congressman John Conyers' and other Democrats to impeach President Bush. That network is full of stories about our supposedly regular torture of prisoners at the camp. Don't think they don't follow what goes on over here.

The Democrats aren't the only ones in the business of trying to make us look bad, as the UN is trying to get in the game too, demanding access to the prison "to check out conditions there." That's rich. This from the same organization that has Cuba, Egypt, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Zimbabwe as members on it's Commission on Human Rights.

I've gone over many times the fallacy of treating the prisoners there as if they were criminals, and interested readers need only select "Guantanamo Bay and the Geneva Convention" at right for the full story.

Right now I'm going to deal with this latest Democrat diversion.

And let us have no doubt, for it is indeed a diversion from the War on Terror. Let me stop right here and point out the obvious; about half of the Democrats are sincere in wanting to win the War on Terror. We and they may disagree on this or that, but it's all an argument within the family.

But Ted Kennedy, Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers, Jim McDermott and crowd, they do not seem to care at all if we win. To them it's all a diversion from their plan to put us all under the rule of the EPA (this is HUMOR, trolls).

I've got other posts to write, and since the editors of National Review say it best, I'll just quote them:

It is argued that a commission will help clear the country’s good name. Put aside that the portion of the foreign audience that hates us won’t be swayed by a commission’s findings one way or another. A commission will, in political terms, never clear the Bush administration of anything. The Robb-Silberman Commission cleared Bush officials of the charge that they pressured intelligence officials to hype intelligence about Iraq’s WMD. Democrats and swaths of the media dismissed the report for exactly that reason.

The Pentagon has investigated its detainee practices repeatedly. Air Force Lt. General Randall Schmidt’s investigation into Gitmo — it is his forthcoming report that Newsweek falsely said would contain the toilet-flushing incident — will just be the latest. There is no reason to believe that violations of the rules at the facility, including of the minute procedures for handling the Koran, haven’t resulted in discipline for the violators. And numerous congressional hearings have been held about the detentions there.

An independent commission is not just unnecessary, it’s a cop out. Democrats should simply say what they would do with the detainees, and offer a congressional resolution to that effect and vote on it. Do they oppose tough interrogation techniques for the 20th hijacker? Then they should put themselves on record against them, even if it’s only in a symbolic resolution. Do they think terrorists deserve Geneva Convention protections? That we should attempt (futilely) to try the detainees in the American courts and — failing that — release them? If they are such fans of “accountability,” Democrats shouldn’t blanch at putting such positions in black and white and voting on them.

Of course, they will do no such thing. They instead want to hide behind a commission that at best will duplicate investigative work that has already been done and at worst replicate the 9/11 Commission at its lowest, most politicized moments. The response to calls for such a commission should be simple: “Hell, no.”

Ditto that.

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June 22, 2005

War Update

Here are some things that have come to my attention recently regarding the War on Teror that I thought I'd share with you.

Here's a story in USA today that is must-read. It's about how a group of Vietnam vets in Iraq see an "Entirely Different War":

"In Vietnam, I don't think the local population ever understood that we were just there to help them," says Chief Warrant Officer James Miles, 57, of Sioux Falls, S.D., who flew UH-1H Hueys in Vietnam from February 1969 to February 1970. And the Vietcong and North Vietnamese were a tougher, more tenacious enemy, he says. Instead of setting off bombs outside the base, they'd be inside.

"I knew we were going to lose Vietnam the day I walked off the plane," says Miles, who returned home this month after nearly a year in Iraq. Not this time. "There's no doubt in my mind that this was the right thing to do," he says.
...

Miles says the biggest difference he saw was that, over time, Iraqi civilians grew more positive toward U.S. forces. He says he saw more people smiling and waving near his base here than there were 10 months ago when he arrived.

1st Sgt. Patrick Olechny, 52, of Marydel, Del., an attack helicopter crew chief and door gunner in Vietnam from March 1971 to February 1972, says the most important difference to him is the attitude of the American public.

"Vietnam was an entirely different war than this one," he says. The basic job of flying helicopters is the same, but the overall mission now is clear when it wasn't then. "We thought in Vietnam we were doing the right thing, and in the end it didn't seem that way," he says.

Now, "the people in the United States respect what the soldiers are doing," says Olechny, who still fills in at the door gunner position when he can get away from his administrative duties.

This next article is about how the insurgents are turning on each other.

I've seen this before on Belmont Club and I believe The Fourth Rail, but didn't have a chance to post it here. This story is from the New York Times:

Marines patrolling this desert region near the Syrian border have for months been seeing a strange new trend in the already complex Iraqi insurgency. Insurgents, they say, have been fighting each other in towns along the Euphrates from Husayba, on the border, to Qaim, farther west. The observations offer a new clue in the hidden world of the insurgency and suggest that there may have been, as American commanders suggest, a split between Islamic militants and local rebels.

A United Nations official who served in Iraq last year and who consulted widely with militant groups said in a telephone interview that there has been a split for some time.

"There is a rift," said the official, who requested anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the talks he had held. "I'm certain that the nationalist Iraqi part of the insurgency is very much fed up with the Jihadists grabbing the headlines and carrying out the sort of violence that they don't want against innocent civilians."

The nationalist insurgent groups, "are giving a lot of signals implying that there should be a settlement with the Americans," while the Jihadists have a purely ideological agenda, he added

.

As we said above, folks, this isn't another Vietnam. The NVA, and VC before them, were far too disciplined to let disagreements come to blows.

Meanwhile, Karl Zinmeister of the American Enterprise Institute just got back from Iraq and says that "The War is Over, and We Won":


What the establishment media covering Iraq have utterly failed to make clear today is this central reality: With the exception of periodic flare-ups in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over. Egregious acts of terror will continue—in Iraq as in many other parts of the world. But there is now no chance whatever of the U.S. losing this critical guerilla war.

Contrary to the impression given by most newspaper headlines, the United States has won the day in Iraq. In 2004, our military fought fierce battles in Najaf, Fallujah, and Sadr City. Many thousands of terrorists were killed, with comparatively little collateral damage. As examples of the very hardest sorts of urban combat, these will go down in history as smashing U.S. victories.

And our successes at urban combat (which, scandalously, are mostly untold stories in the U.S.) made it crystal clear to both the terrorists and the millions of moderate Iraqis that the insurgents simply cannot win against today’s U.S. Army and Marines. That’s why everyday citizens have surged into politics instead.

Oh, and anyone who says "but but but casualties are up! huh, huh, what about that?" - just please read some history. Anything but your favorite, Vietnam.

And last but not least is the where abouts that favorite hide-and-go-seek participant, Osama bin Laden.

Porter Goss, Director of Central Intelligence (that's CIA), was interviewed by Time Magazine, and this very interesting exchange occured:

Q: WHEN WILL WE GET OSAMA BIN LADEN?
Goss: That is a question that goes far deeper than you know. In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice. We are making very good progress on it. But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play. We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways that are acceptable to the international community.

Q:IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA OF WHERE HE IS. WHERE?
Goss: I have an excellent idea of where he is. What's the next question?

In other words, he's in Iran. Which is just where Richard Miniter, author of "Shadow War", thought he was. As Clausewitz would have said, it's all part of the friction of war.

6/23 Update

Wretchard provides the analysis and context. He talks about guerilla forces, and the difference for them between prospects for victory and merely continuing to exist. In other words, just because they are able to continue their existance and even do damage, does not mean that they stand a realistic prospect for success:

Political influence, combat capability and territorial control are the real metrics of a successful guerilla campaign. The argument that mere existence or avoidance of defeat constitutes victory is hogwash: both the IRA and the Red Hand Commandos exist, but clearly the IRA is the more successful guerilla organization because it has a national united front, some combat capability and hard and diverse leadership core where the Red Hand Commandos do not. Even Al Qaeda, which some claim to be a creature of pure thought has sought to control territory in Afghanistan and spread its influence through Islamic "charities" while under the control of a central group of militants. It was, in other words, no different from any other classic guerilla organization.

While the Iraqi insurgents still retain the capability to kill significant numbers of people they are almost total losers by the traditional metric of guerilla warfare. First of all, by attacking civilians of every ethnic group and vowing to resubjugate the majority ethnic groups in the country they have at a stroke made creating a national united front against the United States a near impossibility. Second, there is a battle for supremacy among the insurgent leaders.

Which is why anyone who depends on the TV, newspapers, or magazines for analysis will never understand what is going on.

Posted by Tom at 9:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 5, 2005

The Consequences of Failure

This morning in the Washington Times the lead editorial was so "right on" that I thought I'd share it with you. Now, I'm sure that most of my readers will also say "right on!" after you read it, so in that sense it's nothing new.

But that's ok, because that's one thing that makes Internet blogging so grea; the ability to spread good ideas. Well, that and the ability to spread the absolutely whacko stuff spoken by the likes of Eason Jordan, Linda Foley, and our newest corporate bigwig whacko; Indra Nooyi. But I don't want to get too far off on a tangent so I'll get back to what I was talking about.

The editorial is by Clifford May, and unfortunately for some reason the Times doesn't have it on their website, so I went to townhall.com to get it. Which is fine, but the Times can be frustrating like that sometimes.

May asks what the result would be if we simply gave up and pulled out of Iraq. What might happen if we up and agreed with the liberals in the Democrat Party and the mainstream media that Iraq was a hopeless quagmire and that the only thing to do was to pull out?

It surely would mean a blood bath as the Ba'athist insurgents and al-Qaeda terrorists settled scores and demonstrated – as an object lesson for others -- the price that must be paid for collaborating with American infidels.

Iraqi terrorist training camps would no doubt be re-opened. Refurbishing Salman Pak, for example, not only would humiliate America but, more practically, could turn out skilled replacements for those combatants lost during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.

On a conceptual level, it would now be apparent that America's flight from Beirut after the slaughter of its Marines in 1983, its hasty withdrawal from Somalia ten years later, its refusal to hold any terrorist nation, dictator or group responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing – these were not flukes or mistakes but points in a trend line. It would confirm the belief that the West is in decline and that a superior force is destined to prevail – exactly what both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein have long predicted.

Al-Qaeda, Saddam loyalists, agents of the Iranian mullahs – whichever group or alliance of groups emerged on top in Iraq would build on their success. Before long we could expect an “insurgency” in Kuwait: the assassination of a few key figures, some beheadings and suicide bombings. The wave would continue into Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and beyond. Who would stop it? How would they stop it?

With expanding territory, population and resources, including vast oil wealth, the leaders of the new totalitarian confederation or empire – or caliphate -- could manipulate the world's economy to its benefit and to the detriment of those few nations who might dare obstruct their ascendance. Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons would soon be theirs. They'd want them only for peaceful purposes, of course; and for deterrence.

Before long, the dream of both Saddam and bin Laden would be realized. There would be an oil-rich, nuclear-armed new superpower, a true rival to the decadent and divided West. Quietly, it would empower “non-state actors,” AKA, terrorist groups.

In Europe, radical Islamists would become increasingly demanding. They'd find European leaders surprisingly accommodating. Americans, by contrast, would be obstreperous and try to better seal their borders. Such efforts would only delay the inevitable. Chances are that, eventually, a nuclear weapon or germ bomb would be detonated in some American population center. World leaders would express sympathy. But what could be done? Investigate who had supplied it to whom? Ask the United Nations to impose sanctions? Retaliate against the civilian populations of Baghdad and Tehran?

So let's break down what he is saying and go over each part a bit:

One, Iraq will experience a bloodbath that will rival Saddam's murders. And they think things are bad now. This happened, recall, when we pulled out of Vietnam. More people were killed by the communists in South Vietnam and Cambodia (mainly the latteer) after the war than during it. We'll have another episode of "boat people", just don't count on the liberals to be there to pick them up.

Two, terrorists newly trained in Iraq will come forth to wreck havoc on the rest of the world. Ok, I can just hear it, some pointy-head anti-war type is saying "see! see! if you'd never invaded we wouldn't have this problem!" Uh, you miss the point. If we hadn't taken down Saddam we'd eventually have had a Iraq free of sanctions and armed with WMD. The sanctions were falling apart by 2003, but I don't have time to go into that now.

Three, Al-Quada would establish their Caliphate and institute fundamendalist Islam throughout as much of the world as they can.
They would create a regular army and send it forth to wreck havoc on the world. And you thought terrorists were trouble? Hmm, there's a historical analogy here somewhere, let me think. Oh yes, there it is; can you say "Third Reich"? Remember that Hitler wanted to recreate what he saw as past German glories. Hard as it is for the modern western mind to grasp, the crazies in Al-Qaeda want to to the same for Islam.

The horror of the post-war in Vietnam would be tame compared to Iraq. May knows that some will say that defeat in Vietnam wasn't so bad, because

...after the U.S. defeat in Vietnam life returned to normal for most Americans. But Ho Chi Min had modest ambitions. He never sought to topple the American colossus; the Viet Cong never attempted to massacre Americans on American soil.

Exactly.

Fortunately for the other countries in the region such as Thailand, they were able to use the time we fought the communists in Vietnam to arm themselves. And the North Vietnamese were so exhausted by the war that they didn't have the strengh to spread their ideology to neighboring countries.

This time is different. As Clifford May says, "Failure is Not an Option" No indeed.

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May 13, 2005

On Casualties and War

Just a few thoughts this morning as I'm off to work on another threat assessment for our new Threats Watch site. Then it's off to work (oh yeah, that).

Anyone who's followed the news recently knows that casualties from bombings in Iraq are up. The number of dead and wounded are almost double what they were not too many months ago.

I have no doubt that this will prompt the usual suspects to declare that all is lost and that we have failed.

Need we point out to them that casualty rates is a very poor way of determining who is winning and who is losing? Apparently so.

The most bloody battles we fought in World War II were near the end of the war. Iwo Jima and Okinawa were fought in the closing months of the war, the former in February and March, and the latter in April of 1945.

Iwo Jima cost some 7,000 Americans their lives, and Okinawa 12,000. The battle for Okinawa was a marked by mistake after mistake on our side, starting with a gross underestimation of the number of Japanese troops on the island (we estimated 65,000, it turned out the number was more like 130,000). We had no real counter to the kamikaze, which devastated our navy and support vessels.

The situation was no better in Europe. We were totally taken by surprise by a German offensive in December of 1944, in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Many American units were completely overrun, and we only turned the tide when the Wehrmacht ran out of gas and the weather improved to where we could use our air power. As it was, we lost some 19,000 lives.

No Neat Lines

Today we have no neat maps where we can draw the "front line". The enemy does not make it easy be organizing in neat identifiable western-style military units that we can mark with pins.

No, this time we have to actually think. That's right, use our heads and try to analyze exactly what is going on. I don't have the time or expertise to do that right now, so if you want the best go to these sites, where I assure you you'll be amply rewarded:

Belmont Club
Bill Roggio
Strategy Page

Al-Qaeda Organization Chart

As promised, Bill Roggio has posted a link to an organization chart to Al-Qaeda in Iraq (link to download here)

Posted by Tom at 9:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Stand up for Israel

Maia Lazar has organized a "Jewish Blogburst". Stop over at the blogburst site where she has a list of those who participated and an excerpt from their post.

I will use this opportunity to discuss once more a topic that I believe to be vitally important; moral clarity and the Middle East.

In all of the areas of the world, of all the issues that we discuss, none is more clouded by moral confusion as that of Israel and the Middle East. It is a subject that to me seems so obvious, yet to so many others at home and abroad it is so clouded. It almost pains me to say it, but their moral confusion on this issue is evidence of problems with the entire concept of democracy, freedom, and the concept of "right versus wrong". Big stuff, but there it is.

The Confused

Here is what we hear from the confused on an almost daily basis:

  • Israel stole land that belongs to the Palestinians
  • Israel is one of the most repressive states on the planet
  • Zionists are racists
  • Israeli troops deliberately kill civilians
  • "The Jews" control the banks, Hollywood, U.S. foreign policy, (fill in the blank with your favorite)
On and on it goes. Of all of the repressive regimes on our planet, tiny Israel receives more venom and hatred directed towards it than all of the others put together. It is regularly attacked in the UN General Assembly. It is despised in Europe.

The fact is, of course, that those who attack Israel so venemously know perfectly well what they are doing. They are not really confused at all.

A Perfect Example

The best example of moral confusion is in regard to Israeli military actions versus terrorist actions by Palestinian and other Muslim extremists.

Israel directs it's attacks at military targets, by which we mean people who are either armed themselves or directly part of a military-type structure aimed at doing harm. Sometimes civilians are killed during the fighting. However, they civilians are not only the ones not targeted, but the evidence is overwhelming that Israel, like the United States, goes out of its way to avoid civilian casualties.

Palestinian and other Muslim extemists, however, directly target Israeli civilians.

Why this difference is hard for some people to understand is utterly beyond me. My only conclusion is that they are so enraptured by leftist ideologies that they are beyond reason.


The Settlements

We're forever hearing that the settlements are standing in the way of peace.

To which I ask; if the settlements are the problem today, what was the problem before 1967?

The usual response; silence. Of course. They have no answer.

I wrote about this at some length in a previous post. My conclusion:


The main issues preventing peace are the following
  1. Lack of Moral Clarity. I've written on this before here. Here are two of the essential elements of moral clarity lacking in some people:
    1. Israel is an imperfect democracy, but it is a democracy. No Arab state is a democracy. This does not mean that Israel may do anything it wishes, but it does mean that we should give them the benefit of the doubt.
    2. Israeli forces practice discrimination in warfare. That is, they only attack military targets. Civilians are sometimes killed as a byproduct, but the civilians are not the target themselves. Arab/Muslim terrorists deliberately target civilians. Why this is hard for some people to understand is beyond me.
  2. Lack of Democracy among the Arab States. Natan Scharansky wrote about this in his excellent book "The Case for Democracy". Simply put, democracies do not fight each other. We in the west are partly responsible for the current state of affairs, since in the past we did not pressure Arab governments to reform.
  3. Palestinian terrorism - until the Arab states and/or the PA put and end to terrorism by organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the others there will be no peace.
  4. The expansion of the settlements should stop. Ok, I know I said earlier that "the settlements per se" are not the problem. And that is true. But it is also true that in my opinion Israel does not need new settlements, and by expanding them they give Palestinian extremists a propaganda message that is useful in recruiting terrorists.


Onwards to Democracy

There will not be a permanent peace in the Middle East until the Arab states start to embrace pluralistic forms of government. This includes the Palestinian Authority.

Natan Sharansky wrote about this in his book "The Case for Democracy". Sharansky said that agreements such as the one at Oslo were a mistake because they did not require that the Palestinians reform themselves, and I believe that history has shown him to be correct.

While some doubt that democracy is possible among Muslims, Sharansky (and I) disagree. Many once thought that democracy was not possible for people in the former Soviet Republics and Eastern Europe. History has proven them wrong.

Stand up for Israel

So in the meantime we must stand up for Israel, for to do so is to stand for democracy. We do this not because of some misguided notion of "Israel right or wrong", for Israel is not always in the right. But it is more right more often that it's enemies, far more, in fact. And we also stand up for Israel because, strange as it may sound, to do so is to stand up for democratic change in the Arab world, for they deserve to live as we do also.

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May 2, 2005

Brilliant

If you're not reading Belmont Club you're missing out. Wretchard says he has the flu yet still writes so brilliantly I am in awe. The comments are well worth reading also.

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April 29, 2005

All the Right Enemies (and Friends!)

Victor Davis Hanson says that that United States is hated by all the right people:

At the U.N. it is said that a ruling hierarchy mistrusts the United States and that a culture of anti-Americanism has become endemic within the organization. No wonder — the Americans alone push for more facts about the Oil-for-Food scandal, question Kofi Annan's breaches of ethics, and want investigations about U.N. crimes in Africa. If we are mistrusted for caring about those thousands who are inhumanely treated by a supposedly humane organization, then why in the world should we wish to be liked by such a group?
...
In short, who exactly does not like the United States and why? First, almost all the 20 or so illiberal Arab governments that used to count on American realpolitik's giving them a pass on accounting for their crimes. They fear not the realist Europeans, nor the resource-mad Chinese, nor the old brutal Russians, but the Americans, who alone are prodding them to open their economies and democratize their corrupt political cultures. We must learn to expect, not lament, their hostility, and begin to worry that things would be indeed wrong if such unelected dictators praised the United States.
Ok but what about the Europeans? Shouldn't we want them to like us?
The EU is well past being merely silly, as its vast complex of bureaucrats tries to control what 400 million speak, eat, and think. Its biggest concerns are three: figuring out how its nations are to keep paying billions of euros to retirees, unemployed, and assorted other entitlement recipients; how to continue to ankle-bite the United States without antagonizing it to the degree that these utopians might have to pay for their own security; and how not to depopulate itself out of existence. Europeans sold Saddam terrible arms for oil well after the first Gulf War. Democratic Israel or Taiwan means nothing to them; indeed, democracy is increasingly becoming the barometer by which to judge European hostility.
Who, then, likes us?
Perhaps one billion Indians, who appreciated that at a time of recession we kept our economy open, and exported jobs and expertise there that helped evolve its economy.

Millions of Japanese trust America as well. Unlike the Chinese, who on script vandalized Japanese interests abroad in anguish over right-wing Japanese textbooks, Americans — who at great cost once freed China — without such violence urge the Japanese to deal honestly with the past. After all, the Tokyo government that started the war is gone and replaced by a democracy; in contrast, the Communist dictatorship that killed 50 million of its own and many of its neighbors is still in place in China. At a time when no one in Europe seems to care that Japan is squeezed between a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear China, the United States alone proves a reliable friend. The French, on spec, conduct maneuvers with the ascendant Communist Chinese navy.

Eastern Europeans do not find the larger families, religiosity, or commitment to individualism and freedom in America disturbing. Apparently, millions in South America don't either — if their eagerness to emigrate here is any indication.

In short, we are hated by all the right people, and liked by all the right people. We should be disturbed if it was any different

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April 26, 2005

Terror in the Skies Update

and The James Woods Encounter

Last July (here, here here and here I wrote about Annie Jacobson, who's experience on Northwest flight 327 was the subject of her much-talked about "Terror in the Skies" article in the Women's Wall Street Journal.

At the time some say that she overreacted. I wondered, but thought it credible. Michelle Malkin, who has done great work keeping air safety in the forefront of her reporting, thinks so also. Joe Scarbough took it seriously enough to report on it on his MSNBC television show.

Jacobson's latest installment on the incident appeared a few days ago in the Women's Wall Street Journal. This one details a visit she got from the Department of Homeland Security, which took the incident a lot more seriously than did Transportation.

Here's what I find fascinating: while one arm of the government (the Federal Air Marshal Service) has vehemently maintained all along that "nothing happened on flight 327," the other, more muscular arm (the Department of Homeland Security) has been conducting a rather large investigation about it. Based on my 4 ½ hour meeting with the agents, I can tell you that not only have they been investigating what did happen during the flight, but they've also been investigating who botched the subsequent investigation as well as how it got botched.
(Hat tip Michelle Malkin).

Thank you, Tom Ridge.

The Homeland Security agents had called her to request an interview (they called her on her cell phone, which is of course an unlisted number. Interesting...) Anyway, four agents flew from their office in Los Angeles to her house in Chicago even though Jacobson had warned them that she was about to give birth so might not be available.

The first thing I clarified for the agents was that, prior to my experience on flight 327, I had never heard of a "probe" or a "dry run." For the record, I explained, I had never heard of the James Woods incident either. [In case you're not aware, the actor James Woods flew on an American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles one month prior to 9/11. Alarmed by the behavior of a group of four Middle Eastern men, Woods summoned the pilot and told him that he was "concerned the men were going to hijack the plane." A report was filed with the FAA on Woods' behalf but, tragically, no one followed up with Woods or the men. A few days after 9/11, several federal agents showed up in Woods' kitchen. Woods can't talk about what was said -- he believes his testimony will be used in the trial of the supposed 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui-- but, in an interview with Bill O'Reilly, Woods revealed that his flight "was a rehearsal [for 9/11] with four men."]

Standing in my kitchen, one of the agents said, "What I can tell you is this: Mohammed Atta

was one of the passengers on that flight with James Woods." (Apparently, this information has never been made public.) With that, the agent pulled out his chair, opened his notebook and started in with his questions for me (at which point the other three agents opened up their notepads almost simultaneously).
You have got to read the whole thing.

The New Yorker also wrote a story on the James Woods incident by Seymore Hersh. Since I don't generally trust Hersh you'll have to take it for what it's worth.

This is also another reason why I don't trust Snopes, a so-called "rumor investigating" website. Their bias on the matter shows plainly in their "investigation." Over the past few months I've seen lefties quote them in attempts to say that something or another "has been debunked by snopes". But even a cursory reading of many snopes articles reveals shoddy research and an obvious bias.

Far from being an "urban legend", as snopes would have us believe, the case is not at all closed:

The agents who sat with me all morning going over the events of flight 327 seemed sincerely committed to getting to the bottom of what happened on that flight. It seemed obvious that they believe something happened. Was it a probe? A dry run? A training exercise or an intelligence gathering mission? My sense is that the jury's still out on a hard and fast answer. But flight 327 was far from a situation involving 13 hapless Syrian musicians and a case of bad behavior.

Don't let your guard down.

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February 21, 2005

The Strategic Offensive III:

The Next Step

Last August I posted an article titled "The Strategic Offensive I: What We have Achieved in the War on Terror" on this site. In it I made the case that by invading Iraq we had achieved far more than what most people seemed to think.

What we have done is nothing short of revolutionary. We have gone to the heart of the enemy camp and destroyed his headquarters. We have seized his leaders and forced the others to flee for their lives. We have grabbed them by the throat and are slowly but surely strangling them.

No more are we probing the enemy listening posts and attacking selected, weakly defended targets. No more are we simply skirting around the periphery.

For a new Iraq, secure in it's borders and with a new spirit of freedom, will shine a light to the countries in the rest of the Arab and Muslim world. That light has already revealed those regimes to be decadent, corrupt, and uncaring towards their own citizens.

The theses of the article were threefold:
  1. We must strike directly into the heart of the enemy camp, and not be content with "contaiment or piddling around the edges
  2. By invading and thus seizing the strategic offensive "...we have forced them to fight where we want to fight, at a time and place of our choosing."
  3. This will result in a new democratic Iraq, which will in turn spread democracy throughout the region.
During the Cold War we had little choice but to adopt a strategy of containment. Now we have the opportunity to act before our enemies get nuclear weapons.

Not to toot my own horn (at least not too loud) but I believe that the recent elections in Iraq, and other events around the Middle East have vindicated me.

Writing in the Feb 28 print edition of National Review (a digital subscription is required for on-line viewing), historian Paul Johnson seems to agree:

By taking up the leadership of the War on Terror, and by insisting that America would act unilaterally if necessary, Bush showed he was eager to take full advantage of America's vastly increased relative power. The results are now coming in. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, fair and free elections have been held for the first time. What a half a century of exhortation had failed to do, the judicious use of military force achieved in two years — to bring democracy to the Muslim Middle East.

In the process, America obliged the leaders of international terrorism to concentrate all their efforts on preventing democracy from emerging in Iraq. By inflicting defeat on them there — where they were strongest — U.S. armed forces have dealt a blow to terrorist morale from which it may never recover. The families of American and Allied soldiers killed in Iraq should take comfort from this. The operation has succeeded. Terrorism is now on the retreat, and countless innocent lives may be saved in consequence.

Certainly I do not imagine that Mr. Johnson reads The Redhunter (although a little fantasy every now and then can't be so bad, can it?).

The results of the election, and the way the Iraqi's have handled themselves, is encouraging. No one group got over 50% of the vote, and thus enough power to rule by themselves. There have been many reports of how the Shia have "reached out" to the Sunnis, recognizing that they must be brought into decision making. There is evidence that some or many in the Sunni leadership have seen that they made a mistake by staying out of the elections. Many average Sunnis would have voted were it not for fear of terrorists. Indeed, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's own approved electoral list included 30 Sunnis.

Far from provoking a civil war, Zarqawi seems to have provoked cooperation. This alone will be his undoing. For once the Iraqis have a government by them and for them, they will fight for it.

That Arabs in neighboring countries are taking notice is much in evidence. David Pryce Jones (same NR print edition) tells us that

Iraq's version of a round table is already having positive repercussions. In Beirut, Rami G. Khouri, one of the most prominent and articulate Arab commentators, writes that the sight of Iraqis enthusiastically choosing their leaders from among a wide range of options is causing many Arabs to reassess the political implications of developments inside Iraq. Except for the usual collaborators and quislings, the Lebanese actively want an end to the Syrian occupation of their country, and may use the elections as a means of showing that they too can choose leaders able to hand their state to them.
Even in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia we are seeing the beginnings of reform;
Bahrain is to hold legislative elections this year. As for Saudi Arabia, it takes pride in maintaining its Muslim identity and absolute rule, but even there the retrograde royal family has agreed to hold municipal elections, limited, to be sure, because women will have no vote and a proportion of candidates are to be appointed rather than elected. Still, nothing like it has ever taken place. Nor has anything ever taken place in Morocco like the commission now trying to establish the extent of injustice and torture in that country's concentration camps under the previous ruler.
All of this is very encouraging. To be sure, we're not out of the woods yet. Much could go wrong to thwart our plans.

And two of the things that could go wrong are meddling by Iran and Syria.

What to do Next

Some, like Johnson, think that the best way to deal with Iran and Syria is to eliminate the threat from North Korea first. His rational is that since it has been proven that they supplied uranium hexaflouride to Libya, they may supply it to others as well. Uranium hexaflouride can be enriched into weapons-grade levels by use of centrafuges, and is thus uniquely dangerous material.

Either way, the point is that we need to stay on the offensive and not sit back. That Iraq has proved harder than expected must not deter us. Although our ground forces may be stretched thin, our Navy and Air Force do not have much to do. We need to make use of all of our resources before it is too late.

North Korea

Some advocate immediate air strikes on North Korea. I am wary of this, as the DPRK could easily destroy the South Korean capital with the massive amounts of artillery that they currently have hidden in caves just north of the border. The resulting damage would be tremendous. While there may well come a time when this step is necessary, I think it premature to act now.

Iran

There are several problems with regard to Iran. One is that although the people there seem to like the United States and oppose their government, they don't want us to attack militarily. It is problamatic as to whether air strikes will significantly set back their nuclear program, and may turn the people against us as well.

However, if we continue along the current path of endless negotiations and limited sanctions, we are only delaying the inevitable. While the people may revolt, it is too thin a reed upon which to place much hope. We need stronger action.

We should strongly consider a naval blockade, perhaps of selective items, perhaps of everything, including oil.

Tough? Yes. Risky? Certainly. Will we have the support of the "world community"? No. But which is worse, these or a nuclear-armed Iran? You know my answer.

Syria

While Syria has no nuclear program, they are armed with chemical and perhaps biological weapons. The real threat from them, however, is their aid to terrorists within Iraq. This is intollerable and must be made to stop. Beefing up border security will not be enough.

Syria has a relatively weak military. They have a small army and air force, and most analysis I read does not think much of their abilities.

We need to inform Bashir Assad, the current dictator/strongman (he doesn't deserve to be called by whatever his title really is) that he stops his aid to terrorists or else. And that "or else" is air attacks on his country. At first we should hit suspected terrorist camps, but as many are probably unknown to us (or hidden within populated areas), we should hit some of his bases as well.

Again, tough stuff, I know. Yes it will be an "escallation," with risks. But if we do not stabilize Iraq the game is up anyway. Assad's position is not strong, and he knows it. I believe that he can be made to see reason, unlike his cohorts in Iran and North Korea.

Saudi Arabia

They are not direct threats in the same way that the others are. But for far too long we have tolerated their export of radical Wahhabist ideology to many countries, including the United States. They did recently hold elections for municipal government. Granted, they were very imperfect elections, with no women voting, and only approved candidates on the ballot. But they did occur, and it is a good start. We must hold their feet to the fire on this, and especially on ending their support to clerics who preach Wahhabi hate ideology. Business as usual must end.

Staying on the Offensive

Whatever we do, we must not simply sit back and think that the business-as-usual of negotiations and sanctions will work. That Iraq has tied up more of our ground forces for longer than expected must not deter us. No I am not arguing for new military adventures, mainly for judicious use of force.

The choice is not between a stable status quo and stirring things up. The choice is between taking calculated risks or living in a future that is much worse.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2004

Shadow War

In his book Shadow War: The Untold Story of How Bush is Winning the War on Terror, Richard Miniter sets out to answer three questions:

Where is Osama bin Laden? Why hasn't there been another terrorist strike inside the U.S. since September 11, 2001? Is President Bush winning the war?
Miniter answers the second two conclusively and well, and gives a credible case for his answer on the first. Unfortunately, several sections of the book, and one entire chapter, are essentially non sequiturs.

Where is Osama bin Laden?

Miniter makes the case the he is alive and well and living in Iran. The book was published in September 2004, well before bin Laden's pre-election videotape, when there was much speculation that he was dead. Miniter makes a good case that he is in Iran, though admits that it is quite possible that he is somewhere near the Afghan-Pakistani border.

John Kerry famously declared that we failed to get bin Laden at Tora Bora because we "outsourced" the operation. Tommy Franks answered that accusation by responding that one, we never knew for certain whether he was even there or not, two that we relied on Afghans because they knew the area better than us, and third, our Special Forces were heavily involved.

Richard Miniter describes Afghanistan and the Tora Bora region

(Superimposed over the United States on a map) Afghanistan stretched from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans and from Cincinnati to Atlanta. The implications were clear; Afghanistan is far bigger than most Americans realize and there remain many places for terrorists to hide. the land is a smuggler's paradise of deep ravines, caves, crevices, dry plains prone to visibility-destroying dust storms, and snow-caped peaks soaring high above the limits of American helicopters. (p. 14)
The mountainous environment "...made encirciling al Qaeda's forces at Tora Bora impossible." That, coupled with the distrust locals traditionally show to outsiders, meant that flooding the country or even a region of it would be foolish.

Why hasn't there been another Terrorist Strike since Sept 11, 2004?

It's not for lack of trying, answers Miniter. Rather, it is because we are defeating "...something like a plot a day."(p. 4)

Recall that a second wave of attacks by hijacked aircraft were planned for the days after Sept 11. Al Qaeda never got a chance to carry them out, because "afterwards, we never got time to catch our breath, we were always on the run," explained Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to his interrogators after his capture.

Much of the book is dedicated to telling the story of how the U.S. and it's allies defeated several terrorist plots. I won't give them away, other than to say that much of what he relates has not appeared in the papers. It is the result of good old-fashioned investigative journalism.

The Bush Administration is not spared criticism, however. "Visa Express," and their failure attempt to recruit informants inside al Qaeda come under scrutiny, for example. The feud between Condelezza Rice and Richard Clarke is dealt with at some length. Miniter seems to have a more positive assessment of Clarke than did Tommy Franks.

Is President Bush winning the War?

Yes, and in a thousand small battles. Many are related in the book, too numerous for me to list here.

Miniter makes the case that Saddam Hussein "...provided arms, training, and money to bin Laden." and details the Iraq - al Qaeda connection in an appendix.

There are many fronts in the War on Terror, most of which do not make the daily newspapers. One of them is on the oceans and at our port facilities. Al Qaeda hatched several plots to attack U.S. Navy ships, so far all of which have been successfully foiled. One of them even involved a traitor on a U.S. warship who sent sensitive information to his al Qaeda contacts about naval operations. The Navy and Coast Guard have gone from being reactive to adopting the Bush strategy of preemption. We are now actively stopping and searching suspicious ships on the high seas as well as when they enter port.

Miniter also discusses our successful operations in North Africa.

Fought largely by forces from the U.S. Army's European Command (whish is responsible for North Africa), the CIA, French Intelligence (many of the Saharan countries are former French colonies), and a panoply of African allies, the war on al Qaeda in North Africa has gone largely unnoticed in the American media. At the very least, this war shows that the Iraq War was not a distraction from President Bush's War on Terror, only a distraction for the press. (p. 89)
Much time is taken to discuss this cooperation with other countries. After relating the arrest of an important al Qaeda terrorist in the UAE, Miniter concludes that

The UAE alliance with the U.S. is just one of the many that the Bush Administration has negotiated - and others are said to be just as productive. With its dizzying number of alliances, the Bush administration's War on Terror is anything but unilateral. (p. 117)

Whither the Press?

Actually, says Minitar, most of the successes in the War on Terror are "no secret," such as the fact that Libya has renounced WMD. Why, then, has the press missed them? Why do they concentrate on Abu Graib and

While there is some merit to both of these suspicions, the root cause is something more subtle: a failure of imaginatioin. The media does not understanad the workings of the intelligence community or the military, and therefore does not understand the war.(p. 160)
Further, there is no context to the reporting. Rather, we get bits and fragments, and sensational headlines of "scandals," but no big picture. It's as if during World War II the press spent their entire time attacking Roosevelt over failure to prevent Pearl Harbor.

The War on Terror is not like World War II, but is more like the Cold War in that we are fighting an ideological enemy rather than a geographical one. To be sure, the Nazis and Fascists had their ideologies, but few others in the world wanted to adopt it. In our current war, we are fighting a movement which may at times have state sponsors but is not absolutely dependant on them. Therefore, success cannot measured in geographical terms, or even in terms of time. Imagine, Minitar asks, if a reporter had demanded that Harry Truman tell them how long it would take to win the Cold War.

Why did bin Laden want war with the U.S.?

Miniter says that the best answer he found came from a French(!) intelligence agent who specialized in counter-terrorism. In his view, bin Laden thought that

A massive attack on America's soaring skyscrapers and public offices would compel the infidel power to invade Afghanistan, forcing a final showdown between the "house of peace"(Islam), and the "house of war" (the infidels). (p.31)
Bin Laden expected to easily defeat us, just as he defeated the Soviets. He did not imagine that we would not adopt their failed strategy. To him, the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan was the "defining moment" in his life.

Oddly enough, some on the far left used as a reason why we should not have invaded Afghanistan. By doing so, they argued, we were simply "playing into his hands" or "doing what he wanted us to do." As Miniter shows, however, we are in fact winning the War on Terror; you just won't read about it in the papers.

Reason for Hope

Miniter provides much reason for hope that we will win the War on Terror. As stated earlier, he describes many small successes that usually don't make the papers. But history is also a guide, and it gives us reason for hope.

The fact is, the West is much better at being flexible, and adopting new strategies, than are the Muslim terrorists. Our experience shows as much. During World War II, we learned from our mistakes. At the start of the war we were surprised, not just tactically such as at Pearl Harbor, but also technically when we discovered our aircraft were far inferior to those of our enemies. We built new aircraft and developed new tactics. We went from initial surprise to recovery, to victory. Our enemies stayed with the same equipment and tactics throughout the war.

The same seems to be happening in this war. Is is we who are learning from our mistakes, and are developing new methods to combat our enemy. Al Qaeda, who thought we would fight like the Soviets had in Afghanistan, has not recovered or shown that they can adapt to our way of war. The reason, Minitar says, is that their experience in war has been much more limited. They simply do not have the institutional knowledge that we possess.

The non sequiturs

Miniter spends an entire chapter on the Madrid bombing and subsequent defeat of Prime Minister Jose Maria Anzar. He uses this to speculate on what might happen if we suffer(ed) a similar attack before our election, and to provide advice for the Bush Administration.

There is also a chapter on an alleged plot to kill President George W Bush. The "plot" turns out to be a fabrication, although in the end we developed a valuable relationship with Sudanese Intelligence that has helped in the War on Terror. Important as it may be, it's hard to see how it justifies an entire chapter.

It is hard to see how either of these tie into his thesis.

In Conclusion

The book is generally good, and is worth purchasing, but could have used a good editor. Minitar includes many facts and much information about the War on Terror that, to my knowledge, have not been previously published.

You may also want to visit amazon.com and read the reviews of this book there. This book has brought the Bush-haters out in force. You'll find that most of their reviews are quite childish and do not address the facts presented in the book. Nothing surprising there, of course.

Richard Miniter is also the author of Losing bin Laden; How Bill Clinton's Failures Unleashed Global Terror.

My next review: Inside the Asylum: Why the United Nations and Old Europe are Worse Than You Think, by Jed Babbin

Update

I found an interview with Richard Miniter on "Blogs for Bush." (via Mud & Phud) Here's a sample of what he had to say:

Here's the key statistic: More 3,000 al Qaeda fighters have been seized or slain since 9-11 in 102 different countries. That shows that the effort is larger than the public has been told--3,000 may be equal to one-quarter of al Qaeda's total strength--and far more global than the public believes. If you destroy a division of the enemy and it does not score a comparable victory against you, you are winning. That is the position of the U.S. today.

The war is more than Iraq and Afghanistan: In all but a handful of those 102 cases, those captures and kills have occurred with the help of local governments. Forget the 30 allies we have on the ground in Iraq, we have almost 100 allies in the war on terror--including virtually every Muslim-majority country in the world.

I learned this firsthand by reporting in the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Israel and beyond.

Posted by Tom at 10:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 5, 2004

But Should We Care?

Over on the other side of the pond, the Guardian has a roundup of what they see as world opinion as regards the election in particular and our role in a post 9/11 world in particular. Are they ever bitter over there.

Of the 14 articles that make up their post-election "America's Place in the World", all but two are critical, if not outright hostile, to George W Bush. One country friendly towards us is Israel. No surprise there. But the other is Russia, where there may be a New-Found Friendship. According to the author of that piece, in the aftermath of the Beslan massacre Russians have developed a more favorable attitude towards the United States. Funny what a terrorist attack on one's own soil will do to one's predilections.

A review of just a few of the articles will suffice

Poll Reveals World Anger at Bush

George Bush has squandered a wealth of sympathy around the world towards America since September 11 with public opinion in 10 leading countries - including some of its closest allies - growing more hostile to the United States while he has been in office.

Never mind that this is a load of bunk. The reality is different. I'm willing to believe that most Europeans were actually sympathetic (even if privately happy to see us humbled). The problem is that they simply do not see 9/11 as a cause for war of any sort. Afghanistan, maybe. But a broader war? No. They are far too cynical, too sardonic, to accept the idea that we can reform the Middle East. The idea of moral values driving foreign policy is quite beyond them.

The most condesending article was regarding opinion in Spain

A Mature Society Condemns the War

Generally speaking, the polls show the same pattern in almost every country: rejection of the Iraq invasion, contempt for the Bush administration and lukewarm support for Kerry, but no clear sentiment of anti-Americanism, no rejection of the Americans or of their society. Such is the case in Spain, where there has traditionally been anti-American sentiment on the extreme right and the extreme left, but not in the centre. This lack of anti-Americanism is evidence of a mature society.

Thi attempt to separate "Americans" from "Bush", seen in other Guardian articles too, grates. Do they not realize that in a democracy a government is a reflection of what the people want? Or is it that the only Americans they meet are the Michael Moore-types?

But should we care? Niccolo Machiavelli offered this response to his Prince

Here the question arises; whether it is better to be loved than feared than feared or feared than loved. The answer is that it would be desireable to be both, but, since that is difficult, it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one must choose.
We live in a time in which we might just have to choose. As Robert Kagan wrote two years ago
It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world. On the all-important question of power — the efficacy of power, the morality of power, the desirability of power — American and European perspectives are diverging. Europe is turning away from power, or to put it a little differently, it is moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation. It is entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Kant’s “Perpetual Peace.” The United States, meanwhile, remains mired in history, exercising power in the anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might. That is why on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus: They agree on little and understand one another less and less. And this state of affairs is not transitory — the product of one American election or one catastrophic event. The reasons for the transatlantic divide are deep, long in development, and likely to endure.
If he is right, and I believe that he is, then the idea that holding summits will change matters was more than naive. Thank heavens John Kerry did not win the election and force us to witness several useless get-togethers by the world's leaders.

So yes, we should care. No, we should not compromise. As a result of the election it is they who will be forced to deal with us. We will see articles like those in the Guardian for a time. Let them get it out of their system. But at the end of the day they must come to grips with four more years of George W Bush. The American people have spoken, and they approve of his policies. American power and determination cannot be ignored.

Posted by Tom at 9:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2004

The New Fifth Column

Late in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the Nationalist General Mola was advancing on Madrid with four columns of soldiers. During a radio address he was asked which one would take the city, which was held by Republican forces. He replied that a "fifth column" of hidden supporters within the city would undermine the government from within.

We are today faced with a new Fifth Column in the War on Terror. One that is working to undermine us from within.

From the BBC's website we learn of a new documentary to be broadcast tonight

The Power of Nightmares
Wed 20 Oct, 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm 60mins
Baby It's Cold Outside

In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares. The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror network. But just as the dreams weren't true, neither are these nightmares.

This series shows dramatically how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. It is a myth that has spread unquestioned through politics, the security services and the international media.

"Baby It's Cold Outside" is the first of a three part series.

Lest anyone be in doubt as to the Curtis' point of view, the review in the Guardian tells us that

During the three years in which the "war on terror" has been waged, high-profile challenges to its assumptions have been rare. The sheer number of incidents and warnings connected or attributed to the war has left little room, it seems, for heretical thoughts. In this context, the central theme of The Power of Nightmares is riskily counter-intuitive and provocative. Much of the currently perceived threat from international terrorism, the series argues, "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media." The series' explanation for this is even bolder: "In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power."
In other words, the entire war is a fraud. Not just the invasion of Iraq, mind you, but the entire concept of a War on Terror, which the writer helpfully puts in quotation marks so you'll get the point. Al Qaeda? Doesn't exist.
The Power of Nightmares seeks to overturn much of what is widely believed about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The latter, it argues, is not an organised international network. It does not have members or a leader. It does not have "sleeper cells". It does not have an overall strategy. In fact, it barely exists at all, except as an idea about cleansing a corrupt world through religious violence.
One hardly knows where to begin. That every point of this inditement is wrong has been amply documented elsewhere. Where does this idea that it is all an illusion come from, then?

Even before the start of the Cold War the left never believed the Soviet Union to be a threat. Far from it. They saw the communist experiment as one of hope for the future of mankind. After returning from a visit to the Soviet Union in 1921, Lincoln Stefans famously proclaimed that "I have seen the future, and it works."

Far from a threat, the "Old Left" saw it as the saviour of mankind.

We're all familiar with the run-up to the Second World War. The British and French ignored what today seem to us as obvious signs that Hitler would settle for nothing less than European domination. The idea that Hitler was anyting more than a nuisance was dismissed by the "enlightened" crowd. Churchill? Well, he was uncouth, a loudmouth, and everyone knew that he drank too much.

When the Cold War started up in the late '40s, again we were told that we were overreacting. Far from being a threat, the Soviet military buildup was simply a response to an understandable fear of us. It was the Soviet Union, we were told, who was surrounded by unfriendly states. We threatened them, and we should learn to understand their position.

The movement received new vigor with the rise of the "New Left" (their own term) in the 1960's, and reached it's climax with the presidency of Jimmy Carter. Carter went so far as to tell us that we had an "inordinate fear of communism."

What ultimately saved the West in each of these examples was not a new military weapon, or better intelligence, or the employment of some new military tactics or strategy. It was willpower. The resolve to stand up and stare down our enemy even, or perhaps especially, in the face of opposition from within.

The key to winning the War on Terror, then, is not military (although it is crucial), nor improvement of our intelligence capabilities (though surely we must), or even a repackaging of our message (which has been neglected). The key lies in Willpower and Resolve. We must develop what I call a philosophy of "anti-nihilism." For unlike what the multi-culturalists would have us believe, our beliefs and values are better than those of the Islamic world. There is an objective truth, and it is that freedom is the best hope for mankind.

And we are indeed in a War on Terror. It is real. Al Qaeda is not a fiction of our imagination, any more than the communists in the United States were during the '30s and '40's were. As the Venona transcripts have shown, there was a serious espionage threat from the Soviet Union. We today are faced with a similar infiltration that will likely only be exposed in it's entirety many years from now. We already have enough evidence to understand the threat.

We all remember the heady days following the attacks of Sept 11. The extreme left kept out of sight. Only a few, Susan Sontag among them, dared to say anything controversial. Her wrongheaded commets made a bit of a splash, then faded from the scene. Only Norman Podhoretz forsaw that the left would rise to oppose this war with all the ferocity they could muster.

It didn't take long, however, for indications of trouble to appear. There was the manufactured "controversy" over whether we should continue our attacks in Afghanistan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Some who said we should stop the bombing were trying to be genuinly helpful. They feared an uprising by the "Arab Street." But others seemed to be using it as the excuse of-the-day to stop the war. Any reason would do, and this was the must convenient for the moment.

Had we hesitated we would have set a terrible precident. We would have given hope to our enemies and demonstrated weakness instead of resolve. War is, indeed, a terrible business. It is a measure of our humanity that we may wish to delay or avoid bloodletting. There are times, however, when we must carry forward.

None of this is to be construed as advocating indiscriminate killing. I am a firm believer in the Just War principles of proportionality and discrimination.

Nor am I saying that anyone who opposes the invasion of Iraq, or who has criticisms of how we are conducting the War on Terror, is a member of the Fifth Column. You can vote for Kerry and be a patriotic American. You can oppose the invasion of Iraq, although I will disagree with you. You can even wish that we involve the UN and French more, although I will really disagree with you.

What distinguishes members of the Fifth Column are their utter lack of constructive criticism, their blind "peace" mantra, those who apologize for American actions, or those who seek to tell us that it is all in our heads, that Al Qaeda doesn't really exist or is not a threat.

For additional reading, you may enjoy these books. I must warn you, however, they can be profoundly depressing at times.

Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left by David Horowitz
Political Pilgrims: Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba by Paul Hollander
Anti-Americanism: Critiques at Home and Abroad 1965 - 1990 by Paul Hollander
Useful Idiots: How Liberals got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First by Mona Charen

Update

I was reading Paul Hollander's Anti-Americanism again last night and came upon this passage

The people I have in mind - who belong to this broader adversary culture - can be identified by a number of beliefs. Among them is that American intervention almost anywhere in the world is without moral justification. They also aver that the United States bears the lion's share of responsibility for the sufferings of the poor in the Third World. They include prosperous white middle-class people who voted for Jesse Jackson, thosse who would not register for the draft (or who support and encourage nonregistration). They are citizens for whom all American military expenditure is wasteful, who claim to have sleepless nightts over the prospect of nuclear war and press for making their towns "nuclear free zones"(and "sister cities" of those in the USSR and Nicaragua), people who in any conceivable conflict between the U.S. and other powers instinctively place the blame on the U.S., those among the college educated who are persuaded that Orwell's1984 captures most aptly the characteristics of contemporary America. They can also be identified by sporting bumper stickers proclaiming "US out of North America" and "This Country Was Build on the Bones of Indians." They are inclined to believe that the United States is a uniquely hypocritical and destructive society that failed to live up to it's promises. They are for the most part people of goodwill anhd frustrated idealism, persuaded that in no other country are social ideals and practices so far apart as in the United States of America.
We've all met people who fit the description above. The amazing thing is that almost inevitably they have good jobs and families. They have benefited most from American society, and are kept safe through the use of American military force. Although written in 1992, with only a few slight updates those words are as appropriate today as they were then.

It is these people, then, who hate the very concept of a "War on Terror". "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is their motto. I said it above, and I'll say it again; I am not speaking of those who simply have honest disagreements over how to fight the terrorists, or those who oppose the invasion of Iraq (again, as long as they do it for honest reasons), or even those who think that we should adopt a more "law enforcement" model.

Rather, I speak of those such as Michael Moore, who make "documentaries" filled with lies and half truths, and of his followers. This even includes a past president, Jimmy Carter, who invited Mr Moore to sit with him in his box at the Democratic National Convention. The writers of the BBC documentary discussed above also appear to fit into this category. Most of those who protested outside the Republican National Convention in New York also fit into this category of a "Fifth Column".

Those of us who dare to call these people by their true name can expect vituperation in return. "McCarthyite!" will be among the more tame insults we will endure. But as I've said, the key to winning this war is not about military force, or intelligence gathering, or by broadcasting a better "message", although these things are important. The key is Willpower and Resolve in the face of trials and troubles. The words of Thomas Paine come to mind

These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the servive of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
Update II

Jamie at Conservapuppies has an excellent post on the BBC "documentary". Check it out.

Update III

After happening upon some leftist websites and blogs, I've just got to write this: Anyone who calls our country, Republicans, or George W Bush "fascist" is a member of the Fifth Column.


Posted by Tom at 11:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 11, 2004

The Strategic Offensive II

W Thomas Smith has an excellant article posted on NRO in which he interviews a Navy SEAL, Lt. Commander Mark Divine.

Currently, Divine is working on a report for the U.S. Special Operations Command regarding the development of a Marine Corps special-operations unit attached to SEAL Team One, which he has been observing in Iraq. When asked about ongoing U.S. military efforts in that country, he says, "We have established a beachhead in what is Islamist-fascist territory. We're in their breeding ground and we've upset the plans of the Islamic fascists who during the years of the Clinton administration believed they could force our presence out of the Middle East."
...
President Bush's opponents, however, continue to rail against the war in Iraq. They contend that the three-year-old response to 9/11 in Afghanistan has been sidetracked by an unrelated adventure in Iraq. "Not so," says Divine, who believes such views are shortsighted. "Look, we are fighting terrorists — in the shadows — which is where we want to fight, and we are fighting them all over the world, not just in Afghanistan or in Iraq, but in places no one is even aware of. This is a global war where the major victory is in a thousand minor victories."

The Lt Commander is outlining the principle of the Strategic Offensive, which I discussed in a post last month.

"Shortsighted" is being too nice, however. It takes a very small mind to believe that the reason that we shouldn't be in Iraq is because we should have spent the money on health care or education here at home. Note that I am not saying that these are not important issues that should not be debated. Perhaps we do need to spend more money here at home, although I rather think that lask of money is not the cause of our problems. But to use it as a reason, no excuse, for not going into Iraq is small thinking indeed.

That al Qaeda Connection

LtC Divine sees clearly what so many on the left are (deliberately?) blind to

"There are enormous numbers of foreign fighters in Iraq right now. Whether some of those fighters were there before September 11, 2001, or as a call to arms later, will be argued by both [Democrats and Republicans] until they are blue in the face. What I can tell you is that there is tremendous evidence to suggest there were terrorist training camps in Iraq before 9/11."
...
President Bush's opponents, however, continue to rail against the war in Iraq. They contend that the three-year-old response to 9/11 in Afghanistan has been sidetracked by an unrelated adventure in Iraq. "Not so," says Divine, who believes such views are shortsighted. "Look, we are fighting terrorists — in the shadows — which is where we want to fight, and we are fighting them all over the world, not just in Afghanistan or in Iraq, but in places no one is even aware of. This is a global war where the major victory is in a thousand minor victories."

Amen. "Short sighted" about sums up the liberal/left response to Bush' strategic offensive. And anyone who says that there was no connection between terrorism and Iraq prior to 9/11 simply doesn't know what they're talking about.


Posted by Tom at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 10, 2004

That Useless UN

The third, and last part of Bill Gertz' book "Treachery" is excerpted in today's Washington Times.

In today's piece Gertz shows how the UN utterly failed to prevent dangerous nations from developing nuclear-weapons programs:


Three times, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency missed the covert nuclear-arms programs of rogue regimes, allowing those states to build deadly weapons capability under the guise of generating nuclear power.

Disclosures of the nuclear progress of North Korea, Libya and Iran came in rapid succession, within the space of about a year. If the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not detect these programs, one must wonder what purpose the U.N. branch serves.


And to think that there are those in this country who would have us entrust our national security to such an organization. They would be perfectly happy with Hans Blix still in charge of inspections in Iraq. This, the same man who was utterly fooled by Saddam in the 1980's and who admitted as much after the Gulf War.

The Gertz article makes for painful, though necessary, reading. To show how effective he is, the French ambassador to the US felt compelled to write a letter to the editor showing his displeasure with Wednesday's piece.

While outright withdrawal from the UN is not realistic, we should work towards forming an alternate organization of "like minded nations" that can handle international crisis such as that unfolding in the Sudan. The UN is institutionally incapable of working to resolve issues regarding rogue states. We need a change.

Posted by Tom at 8:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2004

Strategic Offensive I:

What we have Achieved in the War on Terror

I have been convinced for some time that there are a fair amount of people in the world who have not grasped the enormity of what we have done in Iraq.

To them we have panel opened a new era of danger by needlessly provoking Muslims. They say we have overreacted to 9/11. To them the war in Iraq was at best unnecessary, at worst immoral and unjustified.

They are not only mistaken, they have no strategic vision.

For what we have done is nothing short of revolutionary. We have gone to the heart of the enemy camp and destroyed his headquarters. We have seized his leaders and forced the others to flee for their lives. We have grabbed them by the throat and are slowly but surely strangling them.

No more are we probing the enemy listening posts and attacking selected, weakly defended targets. No more are we simply skirting around the periphery.

For a new Iraq, secure in it's borders and with a new spirit of freedom, will shine a light to the countries in the rest of the Arab and Muslim world. That light has already revealed those regimes to be decadent, corrupt, and uncaring towards their own citizens.

Nothing so far has been achieved without great difficulty. Harder times are sure to come. A safe and secure Iraq is not at all assured. Our experiment could still go awry, and Iraq could fall to the Jihadists.

The Nature of the Enemy

It will be objected that since the regime in Iraq was secular, it had no connection with religious terrorism in general or al Qaeda in particular. If they even concede the religious nature of the enemy they say that the terrorist organization is based on a fundamentalist(yet distorted) reading of the Koran, and Saddam was their enemy as much as ours. That this view has been shown to be incorrect (see here and here) does not disuade them.

This is a fundamental misreading of the situation. Al Qaeda is indeed an organization based on a fundamentalist reading of the Koran. Osama bin Laden's goal is to establish a seventh-century Caliphate across the Middle East. Thousands of Muslims have joined his organization, and millions more are sympathetic to it's goals.

One primary reason that they have joined or are sympathetic is that their own governments are corrupt and unresponsive to their needs. They are frustrated by the inability of their governments to provide for their needs, and are embarrassed by their military ineptness and technological backwardness. Saddam Hussein's regime was no different in this regard. It simply stood out because it was more overtly brutal than the others in the region.

As such, Iraq was a particularly virulent cancer in the Middle East. Saddam's regime was uniquely destabilizing. As I have written before, the situation was intolerable and the status quo unsustainable.

As a result of these conditions young Arab/Muslim men looked for an answer to their problems. Radical Islam appeared to provide those answers. Al Qaeda is simply the vehicle.

The nature of the governments in the Middle East is therefore a prime cause of terrorism. In order for conditions to improve, they must be changed. Ideally they will change through an evolutionary process, as revolution is an uncertain and dangerous business. We had no choice in Iraq, and the hope is that this serves as a beacon of hope to the people of the region, and as a ray of warning to their leaders.

To be sure, there are other causes for Muslim terrorism; the lack of a secular tradition, various cultural attitudes, and some of the teachings of Islam are problems. I do not wish to pursue those here, however.

What must be Done

During the worst days of the Cold War the threat of nuclear war kept us from doing anything more than simply containing the Soviet Empire. Only when they had become visibly decadent could we speak of true "rollback." And even then we could apply our military forces only at the periphery of the empire, at places such as Grenada.

But there is no such threat from the Arab and Muslim worlds. The worst-case scenario is that the terrorists could sneak one or more nuclear weapons into our cities. Such an attack is horrible to contemplate, but it would not end our civilization. That the Soviets could do so limited our options severely. We face no such limitations today.

On Strategy and Tactics

By invading Iraq not long after Afghanistan we maintained the Strategic Offensive. An understanding of this concept is crucial to whether we will succeed or fail in this war.

Strategy is the art and science of employing the forces of a nation to achieve the desired political result. These forces include not only military power, but economic, political, psychological, economic, and social forces as well. For example, North Vietnam was able to use our democracy against us during that war. The actions of the protestors sapped our strength and made us doubt the rightness of our cause. These factors are every bit as important as those which occur on the battlefield

Tactics are the minutiae of combat. They are the means by which one employs forces on the battlefield.

Karl von Clausewitz said that we needed to distinguish between "that which is merely preparation for war and war proper." The former is the tactics, the latter the strategy. In other words, it is one thing to train and equip an army. It is quite another to use that force to achieve the desired result.

It is crucial to understand that success on the battlefield (tactics) does not necessarily translate into overall success(strategy). A 1975 conversation in Hanoi illustrates the point:

"You know you never defeated us on the battlefield," said the American colonel.

The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. "That may be so," he replied, "but it is also irrelevant."

We can say that we defeated the Vietnamese on the battlefield all we want. Saigon, however, is now Ho Chi Minh City. There is more to winning wars than what occurs on the battlefield, which is a lesson we forgot during that war.

The North Vietnamese were on the strategic offensive during the war. That they were also on the tactical defensive during most of it did not prevent their eventual success. Our refusal to invade the north or seriously attempt to disrupt operations on the Ho Chi Minh trail placed us on the strategic defensive, whether we wanted to admit it or not.

The purpose here is not to analyze that war in detail. Rather it is to set the stage for a discussion of the current one.

The Offensive

We must remain on the strategic offensive if we are to win the War on Terror.

John Kerry and his supporters imagine that "strong diplomacy" coupled with police-type actions would also place us on the offensive. They could not be more mistaken. This strategy of theirs is strictly defensive. The enemy would be the ones "calling the shots" and we would be relegated to a role of pursuit. That we would be on the tactical offensive by carrying forth raids by special forces would only give the illusion of offense. Our victories on the battlefield would not result in positive results in the general campaign.

By carrying the war to the enemy we have forced them to fight where we want to fight, at a time and place of our choosing. That they are carrying out ambushes and bombings does not change this, for these are merely tactical offensives, and do not change the basic nature of the campaign. By carrying the war to them we are on the offensive. We have taken the war into their neighborhood, and by doing so have kept it out of ours. As Dick Morris recently observed, “The fact is, that the reason we have not been attacked in the United States is that the terrorists are fleeing from cave to cave in Afghanistan and from building to building in Iraq — pursued by our heroic young men and women.”

The Risks

The Strategic Offensive is not without risks. They have been well documented elsewhere, so there is no need to list them here. Yet we must be cognizant of what exactly constitutes a risk. We would do well to consider the words of Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson;

Never take council of your fears

Col Harry Summers evaluates this advice;


The key word is not "fears" since only a fool would disregard the very real dangers of the battlefield. The key word is "counsel" because if fears dominate thinking the resulting paralysis will only increase the hazard.

Jackson, as a student of history, knew what he was talking about.

In Vietnam we allowed our fear of creating a "wider war" to paralyze our thinking. The result was a multitude of restrictions on the targets our pilots could attack. Our fears were not unjustified, for the danger of a wider war was quite real. In the Korean War we turned a successful eight-month campaign to defeat the North Koreans into a bloody three year stalemate against the Chinese. We had ignored the danger that they might intervene and paid the price. However, we were so paralyzed by this fear in Vietnam that we lost all ability to think strategically.

We must not allow that to happen again. We must be quite sensitive the danger of a collapse of the Saudi regime, for example, but we should think creatively to overcome such a possibility. Taking calculated risks is acceptable, gambling with the lives of our soldiers is not.

The Alternative View

The alternative view seems restricted to the headlines of the day. The latest bombing, kidnapping, prison scandal photos, is all they see. They imagine that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have magical results. They fail to see that while resolution of that conflict would deprive the Jihadists of a recruiting slogan, it is not central to their demands. Others say that it is poverty that has caused so many to take up arms against us. Yet even a casual survey of the terrorists we face tells us that most of them came from solidly middle-class backgrounds. More to the point, virtually none of Osama bin Laden's demands are economic.

The alternative course of action recommended by the left would have no effect on the regimes in the Middle East. They would have no reason to change their policies. The people would have no cause for hope. Life as usual would simply go on.

And of course there is the fact that most of them simply abhor American power. They are embarrassed by who we are as a country and our role in the world. Witness the reaction to one of Mel Gibson's films, The Patriot. The left attacked the movie as jingoistic. The scene where Mel Gibson's character seizes the American flag and rallies the troops to victory was simply too much for the liberals to take.

The Choice

The choice is clear; stay on the stategic offensive and the road to victory, or delude ourselves with a false strategy.

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