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The future of counterterrorism: Addressing the evolving threat to domestic security

March 1, 2017

The future of counterterrorism: Addressing the evolving threat to domestic security, Long War Journal, February 28, 2017

Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee Counterterrorism and Intelligence, on the future of counterterrorism and addressing the evolving threat to domestic security.

Chairman King, Ranking Member Rice, and other members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. The terrorist threat has evolved greatly since the September 11, 2001 hijackings. The U.S. arguably faces a more diverse set of threats today than ever. In my written and oral testimony, I intend to highlight both the scope of these threats, as well as some of what I think are the underappreciated risks.

My key points are as follows:

– The U.S. military and intelligence services have waged a prolific counterterrorism campaign to suppress threats to America. It is often argued that because no large-scale plot has been successful in the U.S. since 9/11 that the risk of such an attack is overblown. This argument ignores the fact that numerous plots, in various stages of development, have been thwarted since 2001. Meanwhile, Europe has been hit with larger-scale operations. In addition, the U.S. and its allies frequently target jihadists who are suspected of plotting against the West. America’s counterterrorism strategy is mainly intended to disrupt potentially significant operations that are in the pipeline.

-Over the past several years, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies claim to have struck numerous Islamic State (or ISIS) and al Qaeda “external operatives” in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. These so-called “external operatives” are involved in anti-Western plotting. Had they not been targeted, it is likely that at least some of their plans would have come to fruition. Importantly, it is likely that many “external operatives” remain in the game, and are still laying the groundwork for attacks in the U.S. and the West.

-In addition, the Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to adapt new messages in an attempt to inspire attacks abroad. U.S. law enforcement has been forced to spend significant resources to stop “inspired” plots. As we all know, some of them have not been thwarted. The Islamic State’s caliphate declaration in 2014 heightened the threat of inspired attacks, as would-be jihadists were lured to the false promises of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s cause.

-The Islamic State also developed a system for “remote-controlling” attacks in the West and elsewhere. This system relies on digital operatives who connect with aspiring jihadis via social media applications. The Islamic State has had more success with these types of small-scale operations in Europe. But as I explain in my written testimony, the FBI has uncovered a string of plots inside the U.S. involving these same virtual planners.

-The refugee crisis is predominately a humanitarian concern. The Islamic State has used migrant and refugee flows to infiltrate terrorists into Europe. Both the Islamic State and al Qaeda could seek to do the same with respect to the U.S., however, they have other means for sneaking jihadists into the country as well. While some terrorists have slipped into the West alongside refugees, the U.S. should remain focused on identifying specific threats.

-More than 15 years after 9/11, al Qaeda remains poorly understood. Most of al Qaeda’s resources are devoted to waging insurgencies in several countries. But as al Qaeda’s insurgency footprint has spread, so has the organization’s capacity for plotting against the West. On 9/11, al Qaeda’s anti-Western plotting was primarily confined to Afghanistan, with logistical support networks in Pakistan, Iran, and other countries. Testifying before the Senate in February 2016, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper warned that the al Qaeda threat to the West now emanates from multiple countries. Clapper testified that al Qaeda “nodes in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey” are “dedicating resources to planning attacks.” To this list we can add Yemen. And jihadists from Africa have been involved in anti-Western plotting as well. Incredibly, al Qaeda is still plotting against the U.S. from Afghanistan.

Both the Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to seek ways to inspire terrorism inside the U.S. and they are using both new and old messages in pursuit of this goal.

The jihadists have long sought to inspire individuals or small groups of people to commit acts of terrorism for their cause. Individual terrorists are often described as “lone wolves,” but that term is misleading. If a person is acting in the name of a global, ideological cause, then he or she cannot be considered a “lone wolf,” even if the individual in question has zero contact with others. In fact, single attackers often express their support for the jihadists’ cause in ways that show the clear influence of propaganda.

Indeed, al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) first began to aggressively market the idea of “individual” or “lone” operations years ago. AQAP’s Inspire magazine is intended to provide would-be jihadists with everything they could need to commit an attack without professional training or contact. Anwar al Awlaki, an AQAP ideologue who was fluent in English, was an especially effective advocate for these types of plots. Despite the fact that Awlaki was killed in a U.S. airstrike in September 2011, his teachings remain widely available on the internet.

The Islamic State capitalized on the groundwork laid by Awlaki and AQAP. In fact, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s operation took these ideas and aggressively marketed them with an added incentive. Al Qaeda has told its followers that it wants to eventually resurrect an Islamic caliphate. Beginning in mid-2014, the Islamic State began to tell its followers that it had already done so in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate has also instructed followers that it would be better for them to strike inside their home countries in the West, rather than migrate abroad for jihad. The Islamic State has consistently marketed this message.

In May 2016, for instance, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani told followers that if foreign governments “have shut the door of hijrah [migration] in your faces,” then they should “open the door of jihad in theirs,” meaning in the West. “Make your deed a source of their regret,” Adnani continued. “Truly, the smallest act you do in their lands is more beloved to us than the biggest act done here; it is more effective for us and more harmful to them.”

“If one of you wishes and strives to reach the lands of the Islamic State,” Adnani told his audience, “then each of us wishes to be in your place to make examples of the crusaders, day and night, scaring them and terrorizing them, until every neighbor fears his neighbor.” Adnani told jihadists that they should “not make light of throwing a stone at a crusader in his land,” nor should they “underestimate any deed, as its consequences are great for the mujahidin and its effect is noxious to the disbelievers.”

The Islamic State continued to push this message after Adnani’s death in August 2016.

In at least several cases, we have seen individual jihadists who were first influenced by Awlaki and AQAP gravitate to the Islamic State’s cause. Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife were responsible for the December 2, 2015 San Bernardino massacre. They pledged allegiance to Baghdadi on social media, but Farook had drawn inspiration from Awlaki and AQAP’s Inspire years earlier.

Omar Mateen swore allegiance to Baghdadi repeatedly on the night of his assault on a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. However, a Muslim who knew Mateen previously reported to the FBI that Mateen was going down the extremist path. He told the FBI in 2014 that Mateen was watching Awlaki’s videos. It was not until approximately two years later, in early June 2016, that Mateen killed 49 people and wounded dozens more in the name of the supposed caliphate.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man who allegedly planted bombs throughout New York and New Jersey in September 2016, left behind a notebook. In it, Rahami mentioned Osama bin Laden, “guidance” from Awlaki, an also referenced Islamic State spokesman Adnani. Federal prosecutors wrote in the complaint that Rahami specifically wrote about “the instructions of terrorist leaders that, if travel is infeasible, to attack nonbelievers where they live.” This was Adnani’s key message, and remains a theme in Islamic State propaganda.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has alleged that other individuals who sought to support the Islamic State were first exposed to Awlaki’s teachings as well.

These cases demonstrate that the jihadis have developed a well of ideas from which individual adherents can draw, but it may take years for them to act on these beliefs, if they ever act on them at all. There is no question that the Islamic State has had greater success of late in influencing people to act in its name. But al Qaeda continues to produce recruiting materials and to experiment with new concepts for individual attacks as well.

Al Qaeda and its branches have recently called for revenge for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who died in a U.S. prison earlier this month. Rahman was convicted by a U.S. court for his involvement in plots against New York City landmarks in the mid-1990s. Since then, al Qaeda has used Rahman’s “will” to prophesize his death and to proactively blame the U.S. for it. Approximately 20 years after al Qaeda first started pushing this theme, Rahman finally died. Al Qaeda’s continued use of Rahman’s prediction, which is really just jihadist propaganda, demonstrates how these groups can use the same concepts for years, whether or not the facts are consistent with their messaging. Al Qaeda also recently published a kidnapping guide based on old lectures by Saif al Adel, a senior figure in the group. Al Adel may or may not be currently in Syria. Al Qaeda is using his lectures on kidnappings and hostage operations as a way to potentially teach others how to carry them out. The guide was published in both Arabic and English, meaning that al Qaeda seeks an audience in the West for al Adel’s designs.

Both the Islamic State and AQAP also continue to produce English-language magazines for online audiences. The 15th issue of Inspire, which was released last year, provided instructions for carrying out “professional assassinations.” AQAP has been creating lists of high-profile targets in the U.S. and elsewhere that they hope supporters will use in selecting potential victims. AQAP’s idea is to maximize the impact of “lone” attacks by focusing on wealthy businessmen or other well-known individuals. AQAP has advocated for, and praised, indiscriminate attacks as well. But the group has critiqued some attacks (such as the Orlando massacre at a LGBT nightclub) for supposedly muddying the jihadists’ message. AQAP is trying to lay the groundwork for more targeted operations. For example, the January 2015 assault on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris was set in motion by al Qaeda and AQAP. Inspire even specifically identified the intended victims beforehand. Al Qaeda would like individual actors, with no foreign ties, to emulate such precise hits.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State has lowered the bar for what is considered a successful attack, pushing people to use cars, knives, or whatever weapons they can get in their hands. The Islamic State claimed that both the September 2016 mall stabbings in Minnesota and the vehicular assault at Ohio State University in November 2016 were the work of its “soldiers.” It may be the case that there were no digital ties between these attackers and the Islamic State. However, there is often more to the story of how the Islamic State guides such small-scale operations.

The Islamic State has sought to carry out attacks inside the U.S. via “remote-controlled” terrorists.

A series of attacks in Europe and elsewhere around the globe have been carried out by jihadists who were in contact, via social media applications, with Islamic State handlers in Syria and Iraq. The so-called caliphate’s members have been able to remotely guide willing recruits through small-scale plots that did not require much sophistication. These plots targeted victims in France, Germany, Russia, and other countries. In some cases, terrorists have received virtual support right up until the moment of their attack. The Islamic State has had more success orchestrating “remote-controlled” plots in Europe, but the jihadist group has also tried to carry out similar plots inside the U.S.

Since 2015, if not earlier, the U.S.-led coalition has launched airstrikes against the Islamic State operatives responsible for these operations. Jihadists such Rachid Kassim, Junaid Hussain, and Abu Issa al Amriki have all been targeted. Both Hussain and al Amriki sought to “remotely-control” attacks inside the U.S. They have reached into other countries as well. For example, British Prime Minister David Cameron connected Hussain to plots in the UK. And Hussain’s wife, Sally Jones, has also reportedly used the web to connect with female recruits.

Kassim was tracked to a location near Mosul, Iraq earlier this month. Hussain was killed in an American airstrike in Raqqa, Syria on August 24, 2015. Along with his wife, al Amriki perished in an airstrike near Al Bab, Syria on April 22, 2016. But law enforcement officials are still dealing with their legacy and it is possible that others will continue with their methods.

In this section, I will briefly outline several cases in which Hussain and al Amriki were in contact with convicted or suspected terror recruits inside the U.S. In a number of cases, the FBI has used confidential informants or other methods in sting operations to stop these recruits. It should be noted that it is not always clear how much of a threat a suspect really posed and the press has questioned the FBI’s methods in some of these cases. I have included the examples below to demonstrate how the Islamic State’s digital operatives have contacted potential jihadists across the U.S.

For example, Hussain was likely in contact with the two gunmen who opened fire at an event dedicated to drawing pictures of the Prophet Mohammed in Garland, Texas on May 3, 2015. As first reported by the SITE Intelligence Group, Hussain (tweeting under one of his aliases) quickly claimed the gunmen were acting on behalf of the caliphate. Then, in June 2015, Hussain claimed on Twitter that he had encouraged Usaamah Rahim, an Islamic State supporter, to carry a knife in case anyone attempted to arrest him. Rahim was shot and killed by police in Boston after allegedly wielding the blade. The DOJ subsequently confirmed that Rahim was “was communicating with [Islamic State] members overseas, including Junaid Hussain.”

On July 7, 2016, Munir Abdulkader, of West Chester, Ohio, pleaded guilty to various terrorism-related charges. According to the DOJ, Abdulkader communicated with Hussain, who “directed and encouraged Abdulkader to plan and execute a violent attack within the United States.” In conversations with both Hussain and a “confidential human source,” Abdulkader discussed a plot “to kill an identified military employee on account of his position with the U.S. government.” Abdulkader planned to abduct “the employee at the employee’s home” and then film this person’s execution. After murdering the military employee, Abdulkader “planned to perpetrate a violent attack on a police station in the Southern District of Ohio using firearms and Molotov cocktails.” Hussain repeatedly encouraged Islamic State followers to attack U.S. military personnel, just as Abdulkader planned.

On August 11, 2016, Emanuel Lutchman of Rochester, New York pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State as part of a planned New Year’s Eve attack. Lutchman admittedly conspired with Abu Issa al Amriki after he “initiated online contact” with the Islamic State planner on Christmas Day 2015. “In a series of subsequent communications,” DOJ noted, al Amriki “told Lutchman to plan an attack on New Year’s Eve and kill a number of kuffar [nonbelievers].” Al Amriki wanted Lutchman “to write something before the attack and give it to” an Islamic State member, “so that after the attack the [Islamic State] member could post it online to announce Lutchman’s allegiance” to the so-called caliphate. Lutchman wanted to join the Islamic State overseas, but al Amriki encouraged him to strike inside the U.S., as it would better serve the jihadists’ cause. “New years [sic] is here soon,” al Amriki typed to Lutchman. “Do operations and kill some kuffar.” Al Amriki also promised Lutchman some assistance in traveling to Syria or Libya, if the conditions were right. Lutchman divulged his contacts with al Amriki to individuals who, “unbeknownst to Lutchman,” were “cooperating with the FBI.”

On November 7, 2016, Aaron Travis Daniels, also known as Harun Muhammad and Abu Yusef, was arrested at an airport in Columbus, Ohio. He was reportedly en route to Trinidad, but he allegedly intended to travel to Libya for jihad. According to DOJ, Daniels was in contact with Abu Issa al Amriki, who acted as a “recruiter and external attack planner.” Daniels said at one point that it was al Amriki who “suggested” he go to Libya “to support jihad” and he allegedly “wired money to an intermediary” for al Amriki. The DOJ did not allege that Daniels planned to commit an attack in Ohio or elsewhere inside the U.S. Still, the allegations are significant because Daniels was allegedly in contact with al Amriki.

On November 29, 2016, Justin Nojan Sullivan, of Morganton, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges. “Sullivan was in contact and plotted with now-deceased Syria-based terrorist Junaid Hussain to execute acts of mass violence in the United States in the name of the” Islamic State, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord said in a statement. Sullivan and Hussain “conspired” to “plan mass shooting attacks in North Carolina and Virginia,” with Sullivan intending “to kill hundreds of innocent people.”

On February 10, 2017, the DOJ announced that two New York City residents, Munther Omar Saleh and Fareed Mumuni, pleaded guilty to terror-related charges. “Working with [Islamic State] fighters located overseas, Saleh and Mumuni also coordinated their plot to conduct a terrorist attack in New York City,” the DOJ explained. Saleh, from Queens, sought and received instructions from an [Islamic State] attack facilitator to create a pressure-cooker bomb and discussed with the same [Islamic State] attack facilitator potential targets for a terrorist attack in New York City.” Saleh “also sought and received religious authorization from an [Islamic State] fighter permitting Mumuni to conduct a suicide ‘martyrdom’ attack by using a pressure-cooker bomb against law enforcement officers who were following the co-conspirators and thus preventing them from traveling to join” the Islamic State. Federal prosecutors revealed that the “attack facilitator” Saleh was talking to was, in fact, Junaid Hussain.

Also on February 10, 2017, Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, a Virginia man and former member of the Army National Guard, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and five years supervised release for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State. According to the DOJ, Jalloh was in contact with Islamic State members both in person and online. He met Islamic State members in Nigeria during a “six-month trip to Africa” and also “began communicating online with” an Islamic State member located overseas during this time. The Islamic State member “brokered” Jalloh’s “introduction” to the FBI’s confidential human source. This means the U.S. government’s intelligence was so good in this case that the digital handler was actually fooled into leading Jalloh into a dead-end. Still, Jalloh considered “conducting an attack similar to the terrorist attack at Ft. Hood, Texas,” which left 13 people dead and dozens more wounded.

More than 15 years after the 9/11 hijackings, al Qaeda is still plotting against the U.S.

Al Qaeda has not been able to replicate its most devastating attack in history, the September 11, 2001 hijackings. But this does not mean the al Qaeda threat has disappeared. Instead, al Qaeda has evolved. There are multiple explanations for why the U.S. has not been struck with another 9/11-style, mass casualty operation. These reasons include: the inherent difficulty in planning large-scale attacks, America’s improved defenses, and a prolific counterterrorism campaign overseas.

In addition, contrary to a widely-held assumption in counterterrorism circles, al Qaeda has not made striking the U.S. its sole priority. In fact, al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri has even ordered his men in Syria to stand down at times, as they prioritized the war against Bashar al Assad’s regime over bombings, hijackings, or other assaults in the West. However, Zawahiri could change his calculation at any time, and it would then be up to America’s intelligence and law enforcement officials to detect and thwart specific plots launched from Syria. One additional caveat here is warranted. Despite the fact that Zawahiri has not given the final green light for an anti-Western operation launched from Syrian soil, al Qaeda has been laying the groundwork for such attacks in Syria and elsewhere. There is a risk that al Qaeda could seek to launch Mumbai-style attacks in American or European cities, bomb trains or other mass transit locations, plant sophisticated explosives on Western airliners, or dream up some other horrible attack.

In September 2014, the Obama administration announced that it launched airstrikes against al Qaeda’s so-called “Khorasan Group” in Syria. There was some confusion surrounding this group. The Khorasan Shura is an elite body within al Qaeda and part of this group is dedicated to launching “external operations,” that is, attacks in the West. Several significant leaders in the Khorasan Group were previously based in Iran, where al Qaeda maintains a core facilitation hub. In fact, at least two Khorasan figures previously headed al Qaeda’s Iran-based network, which shuttles operatives throughout the Middle East and sometimes into the West. As I have previously testified before this committee, some foiled al Qaeda plots against the West were facilitated by operatives based in Iran.

Al Qaeda began relocating senior operatives to Syria in 2011. And the U.S. has targeted known or obscure al Qaeda veterans in Syria in the years since, often citing their presumed threat to the U.S. and the West. I will not list all of these operatives here, but we regularly track the al Qaeda figures targeted in drone strikes at FDD’s Long War Journal.

During the final months of the Obama administration, American military and intelligence officials highlighted al Qaeda’s continued plotting against the U.S. on multiple occasions. And there was also a shift in America’s air campaign, from targeted strikes on individual al Qaeda operatives in Syria to bombings intended to destroy whole training camps or other facilities. In addition, the U.S. Treasury and State Departments began to designate terrorist leaders within al Qaeda’s branch in Syria who may not play any direct role in international operations. This change in tactics reflects the realization that al Qaeda has built its largest paramilitary force in history in Syria. And while only part of this force may have an eye on the West, there is often no easy way to delineate between jihadists involved in al Qaeda’s insurgency operations and those who are participating in plots against America or European nations.

In October 2016, the Defense Department announced that the U.S. had carried out “transregional” airstrikes against al Qaeda’s “external” operatives in Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda “doesn’t recognize borders when they conspire to commit terrorist attacks against the West, and we will continue to work with our partners and allies to find and destroy their leaders, their fighters and their cells that are planning attacks externally,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said shortly after the bombings. Davis added that some of al Qaeda’s “external” plotters enjoyed a “friendly, hospitable environment” within Al Nusrah Front, which was the name used by al Qaeda’s guerrilla army in Syria until mid-2016. Davis added that the jihadists targeted “are people who are from outside Syria in many cases and who are focused on external operations.”

The Pentagon provided short descriptions for each of the al Qaeda operatives targeted in October 2016. On October 17, Haydar Kirkan was killed in Idlib, Syria. He was “a long-serving and experienced facilitator and courier for al Qaeda in Syria,” who “had ties to al Qaeda senior leaders, including Osama bin Laden.” Davis added that Kirkan “was al Qaeda’s senior external terror attack planner in Syria, Turkey and Europe.” Kirkan oversaw a significant network inside Turkey. The U.S. has killed a number of individuals with backgrounds similar to Kirkan since 2014.

On October 21, an AQAP leader known as Abu Hadi al-Bayhani and four others were killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen’s Marib governorate. The Pentagon tied al-Bayhani to AQAP’s “external” plotting, noting that the al Qaeda arm relies on “leaders like Bayhani to build and maintain safe havens” from which it “plans external operations.”

Then, on October 23, two senior al Qaeda leaders, Farouq al-Qahtani and Bilal al-Utabi, were killed in airstrikes in Afghanistan. Qahtani was one of al Qaeda’s most prominent figures in the Afghan insurgency, as he was the group’s emir for eastern Afghanistan and coordinated operations with the Taliban. Osama bin Laden’s files indicate that Qahtani was responsible for re-establishing al Qaeda’s safe havens in Afghanistan in 2010, if not earlier. But Qahtani was also tasked with plotting attacks in the West.

General John W. Nicholson, the Commander of NATO’s Resolute Support and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, described the threat posed by Qahtani in a recent interview with the CTC Sentinel, a publication produced by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Gen. Nicholson described Qahtani as al Qaeda’s “external operations director,” saying that he was “actively involved in the last year in plotting attacks against the United States.” Nicholson added this warning: “There’s active plotting against our homeland going on in Afghanistan. If we relieve pressure on this system, then they’re going to be able to advance their work more quickly than they would otherwise.”

Kirkan, Bayhani, and Qahtani are just some of the men involved in anti-Western plotting who have been killed in recent bombings. And these targeted airstrikes are just part of the picture.

In October 2015, the U.S. and its Afghan allies destroyed what was probably the largest al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan’s history in the Shorabak district of Kandahar. The facility was an estimated 30 square miles in size, making it bigger than any of al Qaeda’s pre-9/11 camps.

The U.S. military says that approximately 250 al Qaeda operatives were killed or captured in Afghanistan in 2016. This is far more than the U.S. government’s longstanding estimate for al Qaeda’s entire force structure in all of Afghanistan. For years, U.S. officials claimed there was just 50 to 100 al Qaeda jihadists throughout the entire country.

On January 20, the Defense Department announced that “more than 150 al Qaeda terrorists” had been killed in Syria since the beginning of 2017. In addition to individual terrorists involved in plotting against the West, the U.S. struck the Shaykh Sulayman training camp, which had been “operational since at least 2013.”

The reality is that al Qaeda now operates large training camps in more countries today than on 9/11. The next 9/11-style plotters could be in those camps, or fighting in jihadist insurgencies, right now. If so, it will be up to America’s offensive counterterrorism campaign and its defenses to stop them.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

Venezuela, Iran, USA and Narco-Terrorism

October 13, 2016

Venezuela, Iran, USA and Narco-Terrorism, Gatestone Institute, Susan Warner, October 13, 2016

There are an estimated six million Muslims living in Latin American cities, who provide a fertile terrorist recruiting environment.

“Iran has opened up more than 80 cultural centers in Latin America in order to export its toxic brand of political influence and serve its interest, focusing on partnering with nations well known for their anti-American rhetoric including Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.” — US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in testimony for the House Sub-Committee on the Middle East and North Africa.

Amidst the unspeakable economic distress facing residents of Venezuela today, security experts have identified yet another major cause for concern emanating from this once prosperous, oil-rich nation: Iran is moving in, partnering with Venezuela’s prosperous drug traders and creating a foothold there, as well as in other “friendly” Latin American countries. Iran is laundering money in Latin America and presumably secretly plotting to accomplish a strategic long-term goal to penetrate the Western hemisphere.

Iran’s terrorist activities, its partnership with Venezuelan drug traffickers and the general criminal atmosphere affects the citizens of Caracas so much that people reportedly are fearful of even going to the store to wait in the endless lines for food.

In Venezuela, security analysts say, the corruption starts at the very top with President Nicolas Maduro himself, who is looking frantically for money in every crevasse to keep the nation and his presidency afloat. Reports estimate that in Venezuela one police officer dies every day and the number of homicides per capita in Caracas is the highest in the world.

National crime statistics, however, seem to be just the start: deeper and more alarming than the Venezuelan homicide toll, there appears to be an imminent threat to the entire Western hemisphere from partnerships between Venezuelan drug traffickers and terrorist networks like Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups that act a proxies for Iran.

Together, terrorism and illegal drugs represent a significant export for Venezuela. Iran and Venezuela partner together to move terrorist cells and drugs to hubs in the United States and throughout North America.

This alliance has already come to the attention of the House Sub-Committee on the Middle East and North Africa; in 2015, Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen headed a hearing entitled, “Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere.”

“Drug trafficking funds terrorism,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “The need for a comprehensive strategy must address this fundamental cause of the problem.”

“Recent reports of the connections between Hezbollah and the FARC [Colombia]; the murder of the special prosecutor of Argentina, Alberto Nisman, and the alleged conspiracy between the Argentine Government, Venezuela and Iran to cover up Hezbollah’s activities and involvement in the AMIA [Jewish Community Center] bombing do nothing to quell doubts about Iran’s activities in Latin America.”

Through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist proxy in Lebanon, Iran is spreading its roots through legitimate enterprise “laundries” throughout Latin America.

Iran has set up banking entities, embassies, cultural centers and business enterprises, through which it is building an infrastructure to advance expansionist strategies.

Vanessa Neumann wrote in 2011:

“Besides its sponsored terrorist groups, Iran also has a growing direct influence in Latin America, spurred by three principal motivations: 1) a quest for uranium, 2) a quest for gasoline, 3) a quest for a base of operations that is close to the US territory, in order to position itself to resist diplomatic and possible military pressure, possibly by setting up a missile base within striking distance of the mainland US, as the Soviets did in the Cuban Missile Crisis”

“FARC in Columbia, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Al Qaeda all have training camps, recruiting bases and networks of mutual assistance in Venezuela as well as throughout the continent,” the Foreign Policy Research Institute reported.

Jaime Daremblum wrote in 2011:

“An official involved in the fight against terrorism said that the relation between Venezuela and Iran is becoming a strategic association. How to explain otherwise reported regular flights between Caracas and Tehran, for which no tickets are sold and no immigration or customs inspections are required?”

Rachel Ehrenfeld, in her 1990 book on terrorism funding (page xiii), defined the term “narco-terrorism” as “the use of drug trafficking to advance the objectives of certain governments and terrorist organizations.” Two decades after the book’s publication, the term narco-terrorism has almost become a household word, with Venezuela as a hub of activity in the Western hemisphere.

A U.S. State Department report stated:

“Venezuela remained a major drug-transit country in 2014. Venezuela is one of the preferred trafficking routes for illegal drugs from South America to the Caribbean region, Central America, the United States, Western Africa, and Europe, due to its porous western border with Colombia, weak judicial system, sporadic international counternarcotics cooperation, and permissive and corrupt environment.”

Hezbollah’s annual budget of more than 100 million dollars is provided by the Iranian government directly and through a complex system of finance cells scattered around the world, from Bangkok and Paraguay to Michigan and North Carolina.

Far from being the passive beneficiaries of drug-trafficking expats and sympathizers, Hezbollah has high-level officials directly involved in the South American cocaine trade and its most violent cartels, including the Mexican crime syndicate Los Zetas. Hezbollah’s increasing foothold in the cocaine trade is facilitated by an enormous Lebanese diaspora.

There are an estimated six million Muslims living in Latin American cities, who provide a fertile terrorist recruiting environment. Vanessa Neumann writes:

“The Free Trade Zones of Iquique, Chile; Maicao, Colombia; and Colón, Panama, can generate undetected financial and logistical support for terrorist groups. Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru offer cocaine as a lucrative source of income. In addition, Cuba and Venezuela have cooperative agreements with Syria, Libya, and Iran.”

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was established by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. Today it plays a leading role in Iran’s expansionist enterprises. The IRGC has become a wide-ranging political, social, and economic corporation — with holdings in industry, security, energy, construction, and communications. It is the most robust economic organization in the country. According to reports, many of its former members currently hold senior political and bureaucratic positions in the Iranian government.

According to a 2013 report in Military and Strategic Affairs:

“… the Revolutionary Guards are active on two major complementary levels. First, the organization leads the efforts to export the Iranian Islamic Revolution, seeking to expand the republic’s political, ideological, and religious influences in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Secondly, the Revolutionary Guards continuously exert efforts to undermine the influence of the United States in the Middle East by harming the superpower’s regional interests and its allies. … the Revolutionary Guards make extensive global use of asymmetrical strategies in their struggle against the West and its allies, preferring tactics of subversion and terrorism.”

The Quds Force, an arm of IRGC, is in charge of exporting the Islamic Revolution and organizing terrorist and subversive activity against Iran’s enemies, according to a 2013 report from theAmerican Center for Democracy

The Quds Force uses proxies as a way to disguise Iran’s involvement in terrorist activity. The force’s most prominent ally is the Lebanese Hezbollah, which was established in 1982 with the help of the Revolutionary Guards.

Alongside their efforts to battle their own serious homegrown drug problems in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards are also reportedly working to harness the strategic and tactical potential of the international drug trade in order to advance Iran’s expansion.

Venezuela and Iran seem to have been friendly since the establishment of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1960. They have been reinforcing their bonds since May 2001, when then President Hugo Chavez paid a visit to Tehran. There he coordinated their anti-Western narrative, stressing opposition to all forms of “imperialism and oppression” in the Third World — a code for “lets agree to stay away from any relationship with Western capitalist powers: the United States, Israel and their allies”. This “anti-imperialist” mantra has been used by both Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, along with Iran as a unifying cry against the U.S. and its allies.

1944Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, January 10, 2015. (Image Source: TeleSUR video screenshot)

According to the testimony of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

“Iran has opened up more than 80 cultural centers in Latin America in order to export its toxic brand of political influence and serve its interest, focusing on partnering with nations well known for their anti-American rhetoric including Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.”

Hamas and Hezbollah, both Iranian proxy terrorist groups, have also established offices in Caracas.

Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Jeff Duncan and others say this is an appropriate time for the United States to pay more attention to activities happening in its own backyard.

The Need for a U.S. Response

In his statement to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Jeff Duncan asserted at the 2015 hearing, that the U.S. and its allies must do more to counter Iran’s goals to develop nuclear weapons, export terrorism and develop alliances with the narcotics trade.

Since the (unfortunate) approval of “Iran Nuclear Deal” in 2015, the United States has largely dissolved international sanctions against Iran, which leaves the IRGC free to make uninhibited alliances with networks of transnational organized crime organizations to finance its aspirations. Along with United States’ recent payment of $1.5 billion to Iran, there may be a grave risk to our own national security as Iran marches north from Venezuela into Central America and further into the United States through our southern border with Mexico.

In 2015, according to the US Department of State, U.S. President Barack Obama determined that Venezuela had failed to adhere to its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements. Even so, the US issued a waiver, allowing for continued assistance to be granted to Venezuela “in the interest of U.S. national security“.

The State Department admits that Venezuelan authorities do not effectively prosecute drug traffickers, in part due to their political corruption. Additionally, Venezuelan law enforcement officers lack the equipment, training, and resources required to significantly impede the operations of major drug trafficking organizations.

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned multiple Venezuelan banks and Venezuelan regime operatives, including the former Minister of Interior and Justice. The U.S. State Department has cited Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, and CAVIM, the Venezuelan weapons company, for their role in helping Iran circumvent the sanctions that the U.S. has now lifted altogether.

At the same time, the U.S. administration continues to purchase 10% of its oil (roughly 300 million barrels per year) from Venezuela, the same entity that it sanctioned in 2011 for shipping gasoline to Iran.

This is all happening while terrorist groups are regularly connecting to drug cartels in the region, and forging a deepening narco-terror machine that in turn is funding terrorist activities.

While the US administration — apparently in denial about the clear threats posed by Iran’s expansionist and nuclear aspirations — dismisses Israel’s concerns as “hysteria,” Iran quietly continues its unfettered march westward.

What’s the Plan for Winning the War?

August 25, 2016

What’s the Plan for Winning the War?, Counter Jihad, August 25, 2016

Who is even thinking about how to win the war?  Will the legacy of the Obama administration be a shattered NATO, a Turkey drawn into Russia’s orbit, an Iranian hegemony over the northern Middle East, and a resurgent Russia?  It certainly looks to be shaping up that way.  Russia is playing chess while the US is playing whack-a-mole.  The absence of a coherent governing strategy is glaring.

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Michael Ledeen makes a clever observation:

Everyone’s talking about “ransom,” but it’s virtually impossible to find anyone who’s trying to figure out how to win the world war we’re facing.  The two keystones of the enemy alliance are Iran and Russia, and the Obama administration, as always, has no will to resist their sorties, whether the Russians’ menacing moves against Ukraine, or the Iranians’ moves against us.

The moves are on the chessboard, sometimes kinetic and sometimes psychological warfare.  Like a chess game, we are in the early stages in which maneuver establishes the array of forces that will govern the rest of the game.  Russia’s deployment of air and naval forces to Syria stole a march on the Obama administration.  Its swaying of Turkey, which last year was downing Russian aircraft, is stealing another.  Its deployment of bombers and advanced strike aircraft to Iran is another.  That last appears to be in a state of renegotiation, as Ledeen notes, but that too is probably for show.  The Iranians have too much to gain in terms of security for their nuclear program, at least until they’ve had time to build their own air force.

Iran is making strategic moves as well.  Ledeen notes the “Shi’ite Freedom Army,” a kind of Iranian Foreign Legion that intends to field five divisions of between twenty and twenty-five thousand men each.  Overall command will belong to Quds Force commander Qassem Suliemani, currently a major figure in the assault on Mosul, having recovered from his injury in Syria commanding Iranian-backed militia in the war there.  The fact of his freedom of movement is itself a Russian-Iranian demonstration that they will not be governed by international law:  Suliemani is under international travel bans for his assassination plot against world diplomats, but was received in Moscow and now travels freely throughout the northern Middle East.

Turkey, meanwhile, has been effectively cut off by Iran’s and Russia’s success in the opening game of this global chess match.  As late as the Ottoman Empire, the Turks looked south through Iran and Iraq to power bases as far away as Arabia.  Now the Ayatollahs are going to control a crescent of territory from Afghanistan’s borders to the Levant, leaving the Turks locked out.  One might have expected the Turks to respond by doubling their sense of connection to Europe and NATO.  Instead, the purge following the alleged coup attempt is cementing an Islamist control that leaves the Turks looking toward a world from which they are largely separated by the power of this new Russian-Iranian alliance.  The Turks seem to be drifting toward joining that alliance because being a part of that alliance will preserve their ties to the Islamic world.

For now, the Obama administration seems blind to the fact that these moves are closing off America’s position in the Middle East.  This is not a new policy.  Eli Lake reports that the Obama administration told the CIA to sever its ties to Iranian opposition groups in order to avoid giving aid to the Green revolution.  Their negotiation of last year’s disastrous “Iran deal” has led to Iran testing new ballistic missiles and receiving major arms shipments from Russia.  Yet while all these moves keep being made around them, the Obama administration proceeds as if this were still just an attempt to crush the Islamic State (ISIS).  The commander of the XVIIIth Airborne Corps has been given a task that amounts to helping the Iranians win.  Our incoherent policy has left us on both sides in Syria.  Our only real ally in the conflict, the Kurds, stand abandoned by America.

Who is even thinking about how to win the war?  Will the legacy of the Obama administration be a shattered NATO, a Turkey drawn into Russia’s orbit, an Iranian hegemony over the northern Middle East, and a resurgent Russia?  It certainly looks to be shaping up that way.  Russia is playing chess while the US is playing whack-a-mole.  The absence of a coherent governing strategy is glaring.

Trump Castigated for Acknowledging Immigration Threats

July 29, 2016

Trump Castigated for Acknowledging Immigration Threats, Front Page MagazineMichael Cutler, July 29, 2016

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There have been no shortage of participants of the Democratic Convention who have dismissed the concerns articulated by Donald Trump in his acceptance speech and elsewhere, as painting a fearful and dark image about America today.

When Donald Trump  provided the transcript of his acceptance speech to the media, it was heavily footnoted to verify the claims he made, as the Washington Times reported, “Donald Trump promises ‘the truth, and nothing else,’ releases speech transcript with 282 footnotes.”

The concerns voiced by Mr. Trump were based on reality, a reality that Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, among others, would rather the American people not know.

On a personal note, fifteen years ago I was diagnosed as having aggressive form of prostate cancer.  That diagnosis was dark and frankly, disconcerting.  However, because of that diagnosis, I immediately sought an effective treatment.  I was fortunate because my cancer was successfully treated.

Had I not immediately sought effective treatment I would not be here today.

Donald Trump has accurately diagnosed America’s serious and indeed, potentially fatal ailments beginning with the Damoclean Sword of terrorism that hovering over our heads.  Our safety and wellbeing is also threatened by crime, record levels of drug addiction, poverty, unemployment, a faltering economy, suppressed wages and a shrinking middle class that are not fantasies but are the realities America and Americans face each day.

These concerns certainly paint a dark image, but it is an entirely accurate image and after more than seven years, the current administration bears the responsibility for the situation we are in.

However just as my cancer was treatable, America’s ills are treatable, if and only if our next president and other elected politicians are willing to acknowledge the threats and challenges and then swiftly devise and implement effective strategies to effectively mitigate them.

Donald Trump has properly identified the nexus between failures of the immigration system and the problems we face.  This is not to say that immigrants are the problem but that failures of the immigration system have resulted in the entry of aliens criminals, terrorists and huge numbers of foreign workers who displace American workers.

Furthermore there is a world of difference between immigrants and illegal aliens.

Contrary to the claims of Trump’s critics that he has offered no solutions, he advocated securing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws that make no distinction about race, religion or ethnicity.  They were enacted to protect national security and the lives and livelihoods of Americans.

Trump has called for ending the admission of Syrian refugees and, in fact, any alien who cannot be vetted.  This is sensible given the threats posed by ISIS and other terror organizations.  This is consistent with our laws and precedents.  Indeed, after our embassy was seized in Tehran, President Carter barred the entry of Iranians.

These are practical solutions and do not involve bigotry but commonsense.

The Obama administration implemented the DACA (Deferred Action- Childhood Arrival) program that has provided  hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens with lawful status and employment authorization.  Mr. Obama claimed to have done this because “Congress had failed to act.”

In reality, Congress did act.  It voted against the DREAM Act.  Hence, acted against what Obama wanted.  The DREAM Act would have created a dangerous program that would simply encourage still more illegal immigration, flood the labor pool with still more foreign workers under the auspices of the “DREAM Act” and, while Obama and advocates for the DREAM Act claimed that this was about children, the age cutoff for aliens who would participate in this ill-conceived program was 31.  (They simply had to claim that they entered the United States as teenagers.)

The Labor Department has falsely claimed that our unemployment rate stands at approximately 5% while utterly ignoring the tens of millions of working age Americans who have left the workforce.

Mr. Obama has complained about violence in the inner cities and connects the violence to high poverty rates while ignoring that as his second term as president draws to a close, our borders have never been more porous and that he has provided lawful immigration status to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens enabling them to compete with desperate American workers.  He ignores the great increase of the number of Americans now on food stamps or that the middle class is shrinking.

Obama’s failures to secure our borders have facilitated the smuggling of record quantities of heroin into the United States.  There is a clear nexus between violent crime, gangs and drug addiction and drug trafficking.

Obama has released record numbers of what he deemed “non-violent” federal drug offenders from prison and more than 100,000 criminal aliens from custody.  Generally federally prosecuted drug offenses involve large quantities of drugs and almost invariably when individuals engage in large-scale drug crimes they are armed- often heavily armed.

The drug trade is a violent trade where extreme violence is routinely used to make certain that none of those who work for the drug gangs steal drugs or money or cooperate with law enforcement.  Extreme violence is also a tactic of the drug gangs to control turf.

It must also be noted that many of the key players in drug gangs are aliens who were sent to the United States by the leaders of Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO’s) who employ them to maintain iron-fisted control over their operations in the United States.  Leaders of DTO’s have generally known the people they send to the United States for many years and also know where their family members live back in their home countries.  If an employee of a DTO betrays his/her employer, their family members will pay the price with their lives.

Although Obama and his supporters frequently claim that his administration has deported more illegal aliens than any previous administration, their statistics are bogus.  They claim that aliens who are denied entry at ports of entry or aliens simply turned around at the border by the Border Patrol were deported (removed).  This is the equivalent of claiming that a police officer who writes a parking ticket has made an arrest.

On July 24, 2016 Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, participated in a joint interview by Scott Pelley, correspondent for CBS News’ program, 60 Minutes.  That interview has been posted under the title, “The Democratic Ticket: Clinton and Kaine.”

During that interview, when asked about her goals Clinton said, in part,

“I want an economy that creates more jobs. And that’s a lot of jobs. I want an economy that gets back to raising incomes for everybody. Most Americans haven’t had a raise. I want an economy that’s going to help lift millions of people out of poverty. Because, given the great recession, we have fallen back in the wrong direction.”

During his acceptance speech as Vice-Presidential candidate at the DNC Tim Kaine often spoke in Spanish and repeatedly invoked the three word phrase, “Si se puede” which means “Yes, we can.”  This phrase is associated with the activist movement to provide unknown millions of illegal aliens with a pathway to citizenship and is the precise opposite of Trump’s position.

Both Clinton and Kaine have promised to legalize a population of tens of millions of illegal aliens, giving them an equal standing in the already overflowing labor pool of unemployed Americans.  On July 25, 2016 The Washington Times reported, “Tim Kaine promises bill to legalize illegal immigrants in ‘first 100 days’.”

Inasmuch as labor is a commodity, flooding the labor pool with millions of authorized workers will drive down wages and displace still more American and lawful immigrant workers.

It is absolutely impossible to provide lawful status to millions of illegal aliens and then magically put unemployed Americans to work and increase the wages of the workers.  Additionally, each month the United States admits a greater number of authorized foreign workers than the number of new jobs that is created.

It has been said that you don’t bring sand to the beach.

When you find a hole in the bottom of the boat, it would be insane to believe that drilling more holes in the bottom of that boat would enable the water to escape.  The rational and obvious approach would be to seal that hole.

America does not have a shortage of workers, it has a shortage of jobs.  Flooding America with still more foreign workers is the equivalent of drilling more holes in the bottom of that boat.

Additionally, there would be no way to conduct interviews interviews or field investigations of these millions of illegal aliens whose true identities or dates of entry could not be determined and who entered the United States surreptitiously, evading the inspections process that is supposed to prevent the entry of aliens whose presence would undermine national security, public safety, public health and the lives and livelihoods of Americans.

This violates commonsense and the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and would do irreparably undermine national security and public safety as would Hillary Clinton’s stated plans to greatly increase the number of Syrian Refugees who are admitted into the United States when the Director of the FBI and other high-ranking Obama administration officials have unequivocally testified before Congress that these refugees cannot be vetted.

Although never discussed, it is vital to note that if millions of illegal aliens were granted lawful status they would immediately be legally eligible to bring all of their spouses and minor children to the United States.  This would flood our nation’s schools with millions of additional children, most of whom cannot read, write or speak English.  Several years ago the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report that noted that it costs 20% to 40% more to teach a child who lacks English language proficiency.  Imagine the impact this would have on American children- especially those who attend schools that are already struggling to provide their students with a good education.

As the title of one of my recent articles noted, “‘It’s the Immigration Problem, Stupid’ – Secure borders are synonymous with safety and that’s what Americans want in 2016.”

Why Trump Will Win in November

July 7, 2016

Why Trump Will Win in November, Front Page Magazine, David Horowitz, July 7, 2016

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Reprinted from Breitbart.com.

In elections generally – but this one in particular – things are not always what they seem. Take the apparent exculpation of Hillary by FBI director James Comey. The Democrats responded with a statement that the issue had now been “resolved” because the target had not been indicted. But not so fast. The failure to indict was not an exoneration, and what the public witnessed – the secret meeting between the head of Justice and the target’s husband, the job offer to her would-be prosecutor, and the FBI’s  dossier of her misdeeds – was in effect a second trial, and it came with a conviction. The former Secretary of State had lied to Congress and the public, and not about private matters like sexual escapades with interns. She had lied about national security matters, and was reckless in handling secrets that affect the safety of all Americans. Worse, the fact she appeared to be getting away with a serious crime was a dramatic confirmation of Trump’s campaign narrative: the system is corrupt, the fix is in, I will change all this.

The Comey episode also turned a lot of Republican heads – most notably Paul Ryan’s – that had been openly skeptical of Trump’s candidacy, and lukewarm in endorsing his campaign. Until that moment, the failure of some Republicans to rally behind the Republican nominee, indeed to refrain from seconding Democrat attacks, has been the chief weakness of Trump’s candidacy. When Trump objected to an obviously biased judge – a member of “La Raza” and opponent of securing the border – Ryan and other Republicans joined the Democrats in the ludicrous charge that Trump was a racist. (What Republican candidate in the last thirty years have the Democrats not slandered as racist?) But Ryan is not attacking Trump now. Instead he is calling on officials to remove Hillary’s security clearance – a strong signal to voters that she is not fit to be commander-in-chief, and a powerful reinforcement of Trump’s campaign theme.

At the moment, Trump is in a virtual dead heat with Hillary, which is remarkable considering the slanderous attacks on his character not only by Democrats but by the chorus of #NeverTrump Republicans who have also called him a sexist and xenophobe, and have compared him to Mussolini and Hitler. These negatives have hurt him but will ultimately fail for the same reason that the anti-Trump attacks in the primary failed. Trump is not an unknown quantity. He has been in front of the American public for thirty or forty years. Nothing in the public record would validate the charge Trump is a racist, let alone Hitler. Consequently these negatives are unlikely to over-ride the actual issues when voters make the judgments that will determine the election. At the same time, the obviousness of the slanders merely serves to confirm Trump’s narrative that corrupt elites fear him and will do anything to prevent him from upsetting their applecarts.

The reason Trump will win in November is that national security is at the top of voter concerns and Trump has been a strong advocate on this front. Beginning with his promise to build a wall, made national security issues – vetting Syrian Muslim refugees, rebuilding the military, “bombing the sh-t” out of ISIS and naming the enemy – have been centerpieces of his campaign. Of course he has also had help from the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino and Orlando, and from a feckless Obama who refuses to recognize the Islamist threat. But so did Mitt Romney, who had Benghazi and Fort Hood and the same feckless commander-in-chief to work with. Romney, however, chose not to do so. He took the war issue off the table when he embraced Obama’s foreign policy in the third presidential debate and never tried to make it central again.

Since World War II no Republican has won the popular vote in a presidential election where national security has not been a primary issue. The one seeming exception is Bush’s victory in 2000. But Bush did not win the popular vote even though he was able to get the necessary majority in the electoral college.  In this election, Trump has instinctively seized the high ground on national security. He has put the disasters of Obama’s Middle East retreats front and center, and challenged the crippling denial of the commander-in-chief and his failure to take appropriate measures to defeat our enemies at home and abroad.

Thanks to nearly eight years of a party in power that refuses to secure our borders and is more interested in disarming law-abiding Americans than confronting the terror threat in our midst, national security is now a primary issue on the minds of all Americans. Donald Trump speaks to those concerns in a way that the damaged and compromised Hillary cannot. Her fingerprints are all over the disastrous Obama policies in the Middle East. National security is an issue that crosses party lines and also gender lines. Even more important, it is an issue that unifies the Republican coalition, whose current disunity is Trump’s greatest weakness. With the fallout from Hillary’s server fail as a backdrop, Trump should be able to bring his party together at the upcoming convention, and go on to secure a victory in November.

U.S. Attorney General Scrubs Orlando 911 Transcripts

June 20, 2016

U.S. Attorney General Scrubs Orlando 911 Transcripts, Clarion Project, Meira Svirsky, June 20, 2016

Orlando-Attack-HP_3

In an interview with NBC, we learned from the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch that only a partial transcript of the 911 calls made by the Orlando shooter will be released by the FBI to the public.

Reminiscent of other administration scrubbings, what will be omitted from the transcripts will be references to the motive of the shooter – namely, his pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State as well as his Islamist grievances about American foreign policy vis-à-vis Muslim countries.

“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda,” Lynch said. “We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to the Islamic State].”

Yet earlier when announcing the release of the transcripts, Lynch told CNN, “It’s been our goal to get as much information into the public domain as possible, so people can understand, as we do, possibly what motivated this killer, what led him to this place, and also provide us with information.”

When pressed by CNN what those transcripts will tell us about his motivation, Lynch calmly answers, “He talked about his pledges of allegiance to a terrorist group. He talked about his motivations for why he was claiming at that time he was committing this horrific act. He talked about American policy…”

Yet, those passages will be the very ones that will be redacted, as Lynch explained in an Orwellian fashion on CNN, “The reason why we’re going to limit these transcripts is to avoid re-victimizing those who went through this horror.”

To the contrary.

The immediate victims of this attack as well as the larger American public deserve to know and be able to discuss the motivations of this attack.

It is hard to imagine how speaking openly about the motive – so that steps can be made to prevent such an attack from happening again – can “re-victimize” the victims. Loved ones have been lost. Nothing will bring them back. Others have been injured – most likely maimed for life both physically and psychologically.

Nothing will make that horror go away.

What will help both the victims and the public at large is trying knowing that proper steps have been taken to prevent such a horror from happening again, and that justice will ultimately prevail.

As pointed out by Daniel Greenfield in an article titled, “Islamophobia Kills,” a culture has been created by the Obama administration along with organizations like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that has made Americans afraid to call out potential killers for fear of being labeled anti-Muslim racists — Islamophobes.

In the case of the Orlando shooter, when Mateen was reported by a fellow employee for his homophobic and racist comments while working for at G4S Security, the company refused to take action because Mateen was Muslim and did not want to be accused of being Islamophobic.  The employee, Daniel Gilroy, a former police officer who described Mateen as “unhinged and untable,” ended up quitting his own job to avoid Mateen after Mateen began stalking him.

Gilroy said the attack by Maten did not come as a surprise to him.

Later, when he was being investigated by the FBI, Mateen claimed he was reacting to Islamophobic comments by his co-workers. The FBI later concluded that Mateen’s professed Al Qaeda ties and terrorist threats were reactions to “being marginalized because of his Muslim faith.”

We saw a similar refusal to report suspicious activity with the San Bernadino killers. Neighbors noticed suspicious activity but didn’t report it for fear of being labeled anti-Muslim racists — Islamophobes.

The Fort Hood killer, Nidal Hasan, was also on the FBI’s radar. As Greenfield notes, “Nidal Hasan handed out business cards announcing that he was a Jihadist. He delivered a presentation justifying suicide bombings, but no action was taken. Like Omar [Mateen], the FBI was aware of Hasan. It knew that he was talking to Al Qaeda bigwig Anwar Al-Awlaki, yet nothing was done. Instead of worrying about his future victims, the FBI was concerned that investigating him and interviewing him would ‘harm Hasan’s career’.”

Greenfield adds, “One of his classmates later said that the military authorities ‘don’t want to say anything because it would be considered questioning somebody’s religious belief, or they’re afraid of an equal opportunity lawsuit.’”

An interesting poll taken in the wake of the Orlando attack shows just how far this “see something, say nothing” mentality has taken hold in America. When asked if the Orlando incident was more a function of Islamic terrorism or gun violence, 60 percent of Democratic voters answered gun violence, while only 20 percent said Islamic terrorism. (Of Republican voters, 79 percent answered Islamic terrorism.)

While it is true that a man with Mateen’s history should never have been able to have bought a gun (and this in itself is a travesty of the intent of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution), the gun he used was the physical facilitator of his Islamist ideology.

“Re-victimization,” in the words of U.S. Attorney General Lynch, will apply to all of us if the Islamist ideology and motivations of these killers are not openly addressed, taken seriously and made as the basis of a plan of action to counteract them.

In addition to creating an open season for Islamist attacks, ultimately the strategy of the administration will backfire. As noted by former Islamist radical Maajid Nawaz, If we refuse to isolate, name and shame Islamist extremism, from fear of increasing anti-Muslim bigotry, we only increase anti-Muslim bigotry.

Florida: America’s Jihad Playground

June 17, 2016

Florida: America’s Jihad Playground, Front Page MagazineMichelle Malkin, June 16, 2016

Terrorists wanted

The home of the “Happiest Place on Earth” has been breeding killer jihadists and Muslim zealots for years. 

Omar Mateen, the cold-blooded mass murderer who gunned down 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub and wounded 53 more before police took him out late Sunday, may have worked alone. But he operated in the larger context of a teeming, terror-coddling paradise.

While tourists from around the world soak up sunshine and dreams at Disney World, Islamic extremism festers around them.

Schools: The Muslim Students Association, founded by the radical Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood whose stated purpose is to wage “grand jihad” on America, is active at the publicly funded University of Central Florida in Orlando. The group defiantly brought un-indicted terror co-conspirator Siraj Wahhaj to campus. He’s the black Muslim convert and inflammatory imam tied by federal prosecutors to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and New York City landmarks bombing plots.

Wahhaj served as a character witness for convicted terror mastermind Omar Abdel Rahman (the Blind Sheik), called for replacement of America’s “constitutional government with a caliphate” and roots for our nation to “crumble” so Muslims can take over. UCF funded a Muslims “da’wa” (conversion) seminar and with an endowment by the Saudi-supported International Institute of Islamic Thought sought to create an Islamic Studies chair to “help the Ummah regain its intellectual and cultural identity and re-affirm its presence as a dynamic civilization.”

The IIIT, also a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, donated at least $50,000 to a “think tank” run by Sami al-Arian that served as a front group for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. While al-Arian, a Muslim Brotherhood member dating back to the 1980s, served as a computer science professor at Tampa’s University of South Florida, he toured the country raising money for terrorism overseas. Investigative reporters and the feds caught al-Arian on tape inciting his attendees against, America, Israel “and their allies until death.” The left-wing academic pleaded guilty to a terror-fundraising conspiracy charge in 2006.

Al-Arian brought Palestinian-born Ramadan Shalah to teach at USF and head his “think tank” for a spell. Shalah left the school in 1995 and resurfaced as head of Syria’s Islamic Jihad. He remains one of the FBI’s most wanted indicted terrorist fugitives.

Apologist officials at USF, first exposed by counter-jihad researcher Steve Emerson as America’s “Jihad U,” turned a blind eye to the terror helpers among them.

Mosques: Mateen’s homicidal hatred for gays didn’t exist in a vacuum. Mateen’s neighborhood mosque in nearby Fort Pierce, Florida, was also the house of worship of Moner Abu-Salha, an American jihad recruiter and suicide bomber who blew himself up in Syria last year. The Palm Beach Post reported this week that Abu-Salha had posted videos of an imam’s death-to-gays rant on Facebook.

Marcus Dwayne Robertson (a.k.a. Abu Taubah), a former U.S. Marine turned career criminal and bodyguard to the Blind Sheik, headed another mosque, Masjid Al-Ihsaam, in Orlando. He also founded the Orlando-based Fundamental Islamic Knowledge Seminary in 2008 and railed against gays and non-Muslims. Mateen was enrolled in Taubah’s course.

Just weeks before the Pulse nightclub massacre, another Orlando mosque, the Husseini Islamic Center, hosted a guest imam who had preached that “gays must die” and that Muslims should not “be embarrassed about this … let’s get rid of them now.”

Also in Orlando, the al-Rahman mosque led by Imam Muhammad Musri made headlines in 2010 after holding a fundraiser for the terrorist group Hamas.

In Tampa, Sami al-Arian founded the al-Qassam mosque named after an infamous Syrian terrorist. Last fall, the mosque — owned by the North American Islamic Trust, an un-indicted terror co-conspiracy organization — invited an exiled Muslim Brotherhood instigator and Hamas cheerleader to speak.

In South Florida, the Darul Uloom Institute mosque in Pembroke Pines counted al-Qaida jihad pilot Adnan el-Shukrijumah (allegedly killed in a raid in Waziristan by the Pakistan military in 2014) and convicted jihadist Imran Mandhai — who plotted with fellow mosque attendees Hakki Aksoy and Shueyb Jokhan to blow up power stations, synagogues and a National Guard armory — among its worshipers.

Shukrijumah’s brother still lives in Broward County near the Darul Uloom mosque and has posted social media videos condemning “moderate” Muslims, blaming 9/11 on Jews and promoting the caliphate. Darul Uloom’s imam is a gay-bashing, Christian-bashing, Jew-bashing bigot who has publicly stated that at least one of the 9/11 hijackers prayed at his mosque.

Jails: Florida’s prisons and penitentiaries are unfettered cesspools for jihad radicalization and recruitment. Convicted al-Qaida dirty bomb plotter Jose Padilla (a.k.a. Abdullah al Mujahir) was introduced to Islam while serving time for an armed road rage incident in Sunrise, Florida. The above-named Abu Taubah radicalized nearly 40 fellow inmates while behind bars on a weapons conviction. He was freed last summer by U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell after time served despite prosecutors’ pleas to add 10 years to his sentence based on enhanced terror charges.

Gun-grabbers and bleeding hearts, wake up and stop playing Mickey Mouse politics. The problem isn’t weapons. It’s the weaponized Muslim hate-mongers and jihad enablers operating openly in our midst.