Posted tagged ‘Countering violent extremism’

A Welcome Resignation at DHS

July 31, 2017

A Welcome Resignation at DHS, Power Line,  Paul Mirengoff, July 31, 2017

(Please see also, Break out the champagne: State Department officials quitting over “complete and utter disdain for our expertise.” Another pro-Islam official,  the Director of Countering Violent Extremism, leaves the Department of Homeland Security. — DM)

Selim’s resignation is evidence of a clear and welcome break by the Trump administration from Obama-era policy on countering radical Islam

************************

I try to write about both the good and the bad of the Trump administration, as I see things.Here’s an important addition to the good column:

George Selim, a prominent Obama administration holdover known for engaging fringe Islamic radicals, has resigned from the Department of Homeland Security. Selim left his post as director of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). . . .

A DHS source familiar with the situation. . .explained that Selim often clashed with Trump administration officials who sought to do away with the past president’s policies. Senior officials effectively quashed Selim’s efforts to maneuver Obama White House policies and strategies into the new administration, leaving a frustrated Selim with resignation as his only option.

I wrote about CVE here, describing it as a slush fund for CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, Jordan Schachtel of Conservative Review notes that Selim admitted to hosting hundreds of meetings with officials from the CAIR, an Islamic advocacy group that federal prosecutors have labeled as a Muslim Brotherhood front group that was created to achieve the ends of Hamas (a U.S.-designated terrorist organization).

The premise of CVE is that the best way to fight violent extremists is with “non violent extremist” Salafi clergy who have the most influence on them. As Daniel Greenfield has said:

What it really comes down to is paying Muslims to argue with other Muslims on social media. And hope that the Muslims we’re paying to do the arguing are the good kind of extremists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and not the bad kind of extremists, like ISIS. Even though they’re both vicious killers.

Greenfield added:

CVE not only doesn’t fight terrorism, it perpetuates the whole reason for it by outsourcing our interaction with domestic Muslims to the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s a big part of how we got a terrorism problem in the first place. CVE’s promoters have convinced us that the best way to fight Islamic terrorism is by partnering with Islamic terrorists.

In reality, the best way to fight Islamic terrorism is not to “parse different flavors of Islam,” as Greenfield put it, but to distinguish between those citizens whose allegiance we have and those whose allegiance we do not have. However, to quote Greenfield again, CVE “rejects the idea that Muslims should be expected to show their allegiance [to the United States] and instead demands that the United States show its allegiance to them.” It thus “inverts the balance of citizenship and invests the United States in an unspoken religious debate.”

One of the consequences of this approach was the watering down the FBI’s counterterrorism training materials, including the elimination of valuable information that would help agents identify terrorists. According to Patrick Poole, this “purge” contributed to clues being missed by the FBI in major terrorism cases, including last year’s bombing of the Boston Marathon

Thus, Selim’s resignation is evidence of a clear and welcome break by the Trump administration from Obama-era policy on countering radical Islam.

Feds Spends Millions on Failed Program to Combat Extremism in America

July 28, 2017

Feds Spends Millions on Failed Program to Combat Extremism in America, Washington Free Beacon, , July 28, 2017

Members of a Federal Bureau of Investigation SWAT team are seen during an FBI field training exercise / Getty Images

“The time has come to definitely have a more direct approach,” said Raheel Raza, president of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, which seeks to counter extremist ideologies. “Fluff stuff and interfaith dialogue hasn’t really led to much deradicalization. There needs to be specific policies put in place that tackle the ideology.”

Raza also called on Congress to formally designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization due to its efforts to foment radical ideologies.

***************************************

The U.S. government has spent millions in taxpayer dollars on programs to combat violent extremism, despite the absence of evidence these programs have prevented the growth of terrorists in the United States, according to Congress, which criticized the FBI and Department of Homeland Security for enacting policy preventing its authorities from referencing “Islam” and “Islamic terrorism.”

The FBI and DHS are still providing upwards of $10 million dollars to fund a slew of community organizations committed to countering the rise of homegrown terrorism. Nevertheless there is little evidence these programs have had an impact, and in some cases, the money has been awarded to “partisan” organizations that have ties to the anti-Israel movement and radical groups such as Black Lives Matter, according to Congress.

The matter sparked a heated debate Thursday between congressional officials on the House National Security Subcommittee and senior law enforcement officials in the Trump administration.

Lawmakers accused DHS and the FBI of relying on Obama-era policies that downplay Islamic terrorism, despite clear guidance from the Trump administration that it does not support this approach.

Law enforcement anti-extremism training manuals—which were codified under an Obama-era program known as Countering Violent Extremism, or CVE—continue to ban the use of such terms as “Islamic extremism.”

While government reports have concluded that these programs are a failure, federal agencies continue to rely on them, sparking concern in Congress amid an uptick in domestic terrorism cases.

The FBI continues to have active terrorism investigations in all 50 states and at least 128 individuals have been charged in the last three years of attempting to aid ISIS.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), chair of the subcommittee on national security, verbally sparred with officials from DHS and FBI, who continue to maintain that these CVE programs have been a success.

“Radical Islamic extremism is the primary driver of this problem and deserves the federal government’s immediate attention,” DeSantis said during the hearing.

“Currently, [DHS] still follows the Obama-era policies related to CVE,” DeSantis added. “The guidance developed during the Obama administration specifically limits any intelligence or law enforcement investigative activity through CVE.”

“The government manuals, they will not mention radical Islam, they don’t use anything associated with the word Islam,” he said.

“By leaving this information on the table, CVE efforts are potentially missing opportunities to identify and disrupt terrorist plots,” DeSantis said. “Obama era guidance also fails to properly identify the threat of radical Islamic ideology.”

The Obama-era guidance on the matter, which is still being used, “does not even mention radical Islamic terrorism at all,” DeSantis said.

Grants totaling some $10 million for community organizations that are part of the CVE effort are still being awarded to groups with “questionable agendas,” DeSantis said, noting instances in which grants were given to partisan organizations and those with stated anti-Israel agendas.

DHS has declined to share information on these grant recipients with Congress and also has refused multiple requests from these lawmakers for a briefing on the situation, DeSantis disclosed.

Experts who testified alongside officials from DHS and the FBI also described the CVE programs as a failure.

“The time has come to definitely have a more direct approach,” said Raheel Raza, president of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, which seeks to counter extremist ideologies. “Fluff stuff and interfaith dialogue hasn’t really led to much deradicalization. There needs to be specific policies put in place that tackle the ideology.”

Raza also called on Congress to formally designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization due to its efforts to foment radical ideologies.

Raza pointed to polls showing that 27 percent of Muslims support the execution of non-believers, while around 26 percent of young American Muslims believe that suicide bombing against non-Muslims can be justified.

DHS Denies Grant to Islamic Radicalization Enabler MPAC

June 24, 2017

DHS Denies Grant to Islamic Radicalization Enabler MPAC. Investigative Project on Terrorism, John Rossomando, June 23, 2017

(One down and a bunch more to go. Does anybody CAIR care? — DM)


The Department of Homeland Security has ruled that the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) will not receive the $393,800 Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) grant approved by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on Jan. 13, days before Johnson left office.

The DHS released its list of grant recipients on Friday. MPAC is not on it. The change came after “DHS utilized its discretion to consider other factors and information when reviewing applicants,” a spokeswoman said in an email to the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “The Department considered whether applicants for CVE awards would partner with law enforcement, had a strong basis of prior experience in countering violent extremism, had a history of prior efforts to implement prevention programs targeting violent extremism, and were viable to continue after the end of the award period. These additional priorities were applied to the existing pool of applicants. Top scoring applications that were consistent with these priorities remained as awardees, while others did not.”

In a statement, MPAC acknowledged that working with law enforcement isn’t a priority: “Our position on this issue has consistently centered on community-led initiatives that improve mental health resources, access to counseling, and a host of other social services without the involvement or spectre of law enforcement.”

Still, it disputed the loss of the grant, saying it would consider “all legal options…”

“The exclusion of groups like MPAC point to a DHS that is ineffective in coordinating with communities and unconstitutional in its treatment of a religious minority,” the statement said. “MPAC will continue challenging the trajectory of the Trump administration’s efforts in this space by advocating for a holistic approach that empowers rather than sidelines communities, focuses on all forms of violent threats, and fosters a climate of trust over fear.”

MPAC pledged to use the money for targeted interventions under its Safe Spaces program for people at risk for radicalization. Created in 2014, Safe Spaces aims to improve relations between Muslim institutions and law enforcement.

MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati introduced the program as an alternative to law enforcement agencies using informants to infiltrate mosques. The roll out meeting included Johnson, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., and other Muslim community groups including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Al-Marayati vehemently objects to anything that involves mosques or informants in terror investigations.

“Counter-terrorism and counter-violence should be defined by us,” he said at 2005 Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) conference in Dallas. “We should define how an effective counter-terrorism policy should be pursued in this country. So, No. 1, we reject any effort, notion, and suggestion that Muslims should start spying on one another. Everywhere I go either somebody tells me that officials have met with them publicly or they tell me that they know who those folks are that are representing law enforcement. So we know they have communicated one way or the other with the Muslim community.

“The question is how do you deal with it in a healthy, open, transparent manner? That is why we are saying have them come in community forums, in open-dialogues, so they come through the front door and you prevent them having to come from the back door,” Al-Marayati said.

Government agencies preferred CVE programs, especially during the Obama administration. But there’s no way to measure whether they work, a Government Accountability Office report issued in April said. The GAO “was not able to determine if the United States is better off today than it was in 2011 as a result” of CVE programs.”

The House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management offered similar criticism during a hearing last September. The committee has “no way of gauging whether CVE efforts have been successful – or harmful – or if money is being spent wisely,” said U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.

MPAC may have won the grant simply because it is “the most organized group,” said Heritage Foundation counterterrorism scholar Robin Simcox. But that “is going down the wrong path. Often this means giving it to some very, very divisive voices who will play into the Islamist narrative; they will play off grievances. They will encourage a feeling of segregation and otherness, and we are promoting other problems for the future.”

MPAC promotes a narrative that Muslims are victimized by a hostile non-Muslim society, Simcox said. That message helps breed terrorists.

“I think it creates an environment where these radical ideas are in the ether, and it’s no surprise to me that somebody then [would] take that final step into violence,” Simcox said.

Research backs up Simcox’s assertion.

Grievances “framed around victimhood against Western foreign policy and military intervention” are among “a kaleidoscope of factors” in fueling extremism, Swedish jihad researcher Magnus Ranstorp has found.

MPAC’s recent messaging has emphasized threats to Muslim Americans’ freedom and security, including promoting a conspiracy theory that internment camps could be revived for them. In February, MPAC posted an image of Star Trek actor George Takei, on its homepage, with the heading “Stand Up for Muslims in the U.S.” The image linked to a petition in which Takei described his experience during World War II: “When I was just 5, my family was rounded up at gunpoint from our home in Los Angeles into an internment camp. We were prisoners in our own country, held within barbed wire compounds, armed guards pointing guns down on us.”

“A Trump spokesperson recently stated the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II “sets a precedent” for Trump to do the same today,” Takei wrote. [Emphasis original]

But that spokesman, former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie, had no role in the Trump transition and only spoke for himself. No one in the administration has endorsed such a scheme.

But Takei’s statement, which MPAC embraced, claimed that “Trump continues to stand by his plans to establish a Muslim registry and ban immigrants from ‘certain’ Muslim countries from the U.S. It starts with a registry, with restrictions, with irrationally ascribed guilt, and with fear. But we never know where it might lead.”

Takei didn’t start the internment analogy. “Challenging patriotis (sic) of AmMuslims is un-American – what happened to Japanese Americans-loyalty test, confiscating their wealth #CruzHearing,” Al-Marayati wrote a year ago, in a Twitter post he later deleted.

Promoting the internment conspiracy theory destroys the credibility of “soft Islamist” organizations like MPAC that don’t engage in terrorist acts themselves, yet validate the jihadist narratives, Simcox said.

Al-Marayati has long promoted the narrative that the U.S. is waging “war on Islam,” one of the most potent terrorist recruitment tropes.

He called U.S. counterterrorism policies a “war on Islam” in a 2009 interview with Al-Watan Al-Arabi. Al-Marayati also engaged in “war on Islam” rhetoric when he chided U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz a year ago for using the term “radical Islam” during a hearing about the Obama administration’s avoidance of using the phrase “So @SenCruz, do you want to have a war with Islam rather than a war on terrorists?” he wrote in a tweet he later deleted.

MPAC Whitewashes Jihad

Al-Marayati appeared on C-Span in 2014, and balked when asked why Muslims weren’t speaking up against jihadism: “Well I think we’ll call this violent extremism. And one thing we have to be clear about, we should not be countering jihad,” Al-Marayati said. “Jihad to the violent extremists means holy war. But jihad in classical Islam means ‘struggle.’ So let us at least not use religious terminology in fighting groups like ISIS. It just plays into their hands. They want this to be a war on Islam, a war on religion.

“We should be at war on criminal behavior, war against terrorism.”

Al-Marayati again rejected the connection between jihad and violence during a Jan. 25 debate with American Islamic Forum for Democracy founder and President Zuhdi Jasser. Jihad is not holy war, he said, but a struggle against oneself.

“We must allow the Muslims to reclaim their faith and not let Islam be defined by the extremist distortions of Islam,” Al-Marayati said.

Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna disagreed, writing that jihad only had to do with fighting and argued that purely spiritual jihad was spurious. MPAC co-founder Maher Hathout described himself as an al-Banna disciple.

“Many Muslims today mistakenly believe that fighting the enemy is jihad asghar (a lesser jihad) and that fighting one’s ego is jihad akbar (a greater jihad),” al-Banna wrote in his tract On Jihad. “This narration is used by some to lessen the importance of fighting, to discourage any preparation for combat, and to deter any offering of jihad in Allah’s way. This narration is not a saheeh (sound) tradition.”

Jasser sees a dichotomy between Al-Marayati’s public rejection of violent jihad and his group’s embrace of Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood-linked cleric Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi. MPAC hosted Ghannouchi at a 2011 dinner, and Al-Marayati flew to Paris in 2013 to attend a conference with Ghannouchi. The sheikh is a member of the International Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau.

Back in 1990, Ghannouchi spoke at a conference in Tehran, Iran where he called for the “destruction of the Jews” and invoked Ayatollah Khamenei’s “call to jihad” against America, “the Great Satan.” Ghannouchi aspired to wage “worldwide jihad,” a 1991 State Department cable said. Ghannouchi still favors violent jihad, 5 endorsing the Palestinian knife jihad against Israelis in 2015.

“The central problem with MPAC … is the schizophrenia with which they deal with American issues versus how they deal with global issues,” Jasser said. “The Islamists assume Americans are not very smart, so they are going to listen to their apologetics about jihad and then not connect it to what happens when the Ghannouchis of the world get into power.”

MPAC leaders have made their own pro-terrorist and anti-Israeli statements.

Al-Marayati didn’t seem to have a problem with Hizballah calling its terror campaign against Israel “jihad” in a November 1999 interview with PBS’s Jim Lehrer.

“If the Lebanese people are resisting Israeli intransigence on Lebanese soil, then that is the right of resistance and they have the right to target Israeli soldiers in this conflict. That is not terrorism. That is a legitimate resistance. That could be called liberation movement, that could be called anything, but it’s not terrorism,” Al-Marayati said.

Similarly, MPAC Public Affairs Consultant Edina Lekovic served as managing editor of Al-Talib, the defunct newspaper of UCLA’s Muslim Student Association, when it published an editorial saying Osama bin Laden was not a terrorist in its July 1999 issue.

“When we hear someone refer to the great Mujahid (someone who struggles in Allah’s cause) Osama bin Laden a ‘terrorist,’ we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter; someone who has forsaken wealth and power to fight in Allah’s cause and speak out against oppressors,” the unsigned editorial said.

MPAC Defends Al-Qaida and Hamas Financiers

Another hit against MPAC’s credibility is its history of apologism for terrorist financiers.

Just after 9/11, Al-Marayati painted Muslims as victims after the federal government shut down the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) on suspicion it provided material support to al-Qaida. Its leader, Enaam Arnaout, had close ties with Osama Bin Laden, court documents show.

He had similar reactions after Treasury Department asset freezes in December 2001 targeted the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), which illegally routed charity money to Hamas, and the Global Relief Foundation, which provided assistance to Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaida.

“Selective justice is injustice – it does not help us in the war on terror and continues to project the image that the U.S. is anti-Islam,” Al-Marayati wrote in July 2002 press release posted on MPAC’s website defending all three charities.

Closing these terror-linked charities could send the message to Muslims abroad that America is intolerant of religious minorities, Al-Marayati said that October in a New York Times op-ed.

When the Treasury Department shut down the Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA) in 2004, saying it “provided direct financial support for” Osama bin Laden, Al-Marayati described it as “a bit disturbing that the announcement of shutting down another charity… [took] place just before the month of Ramadan in the peak of the election season.”

Arnaout pleaded guilty to violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and acknowledged that his group hid the fact it used a portion of its donations to fund terrorists overseas.

HLF’s leaders were convicted of providing material support to Hamas in 2008.

MPAC’s magazine, The Minaret, cast these charity closures in an anti-Semitic light in a political cartoon it published in its March 2002 issue. It shows President George W. Bush doing the bidding of Israel and the Anti-Defamation League knocking down a building with a foundation labeled “Islamic Foundations (Holy Land, Global Relief, etc.” The top of the building being knocked down says, “Relief for Muslim Orphans” and “Support for U.S. Muslim Free Speech.”

This was not an isolated incident. A January 2000 Minaret cartoon showed “The West” apologizing for the Holocaust and handing over money to an old woman holding a cane with the label “Jewish holocaust.” At the same time, an Arab wearing a keffiyeh labeled “Palestine” says, “Ahem ‘scuse me” followed by a person with a crutch and bandaged foot labeled “Indian genocide” and a black person emblazoned with “African slavery.”

During the 2006 Israeli war with Hizballah in Lebanon Al-Marayati similarly diminished the Holocaust.

“And as far as the Holocaust is concerned, we’ve come out very clearly saying that the Holocaust is the worst genocide, war crime, in the 20th century. We’re against Holocaust denial, but we’re also against people who exploit that as a way of shoving this kind of war propaganda and dehumanization of the Arab peoples and the Muslim peoples as if they have to pay the price for what Nazi Germany did to the Jews back in the 20th century,” Al-Marayati said in an interview.

“MPAC’s default position is that the government is on a witch hunt against Muslims, and that any identification of organizations or non-profits doing quote end quote humanitarian work must be anti-Muslim if they are identified as a terror group,” Jasser said. “And if they are found to support terror, they say they are not the rule; they are the exception.”

MPAC’s statements and actions suggest that DHS’s decision to rescind Johnson’s decision to award the CVE grant was the right thing to do.

MEF Sues DHS for Hiding Information on Its Funding of Islamists

May 1, 2017

MEF Sues DHS for Hiding Information on Its Funding of Islamists, Middle East Forum, May 1, 2017

(Is the “deep state” again the problem? The Department of Justice should confess judgment and agree to the release of all pertinent records following a diligent but prompt search. — DM) 

In July 2016 then-DHS Secretary Jeh C. Johnson assured lawmakers that CVE grant applicants would be carefully vetted.

“The CVE program should be canceled altogether,” said Sam Westrop, director of MEF’s Islamist Watch project. “And guidelines should be put in place to make sure that extremist groups like MPAC never receive taxpayer money to counter extremism.”

*************************************

Philadelphia – May 1, 2017 – The Middle East Forum has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to secure the release of documents related to the Obama administration’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) grant program.

The grant program, which began last year, is intended to assist “efforts at the community level to counter violent extremist recruitment and radicalization to violence,” but MEF was concerned about U.S. Islamist groups – themselves radicals – receiving CVE funds. Indeed, grant recipients have included the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), an organization with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and a long history of sanitizing Islamist terrorism.

On January 10, MEF filed a detailed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with DHS seeking documents about the selection criteria and specific decisions in awarding CVE grants. The request indicated that the documents are mostly located at the DHS Office for Community Partnerships (OCP), headed by George Selim.

Having failed to receive even a response to its request within the 20-day period mandated by law, MEF contacted DHS. Finally, on March 23, DHS FOIA officer Ebony Livingston informed us that the request had been routed to the Federal Emergency Management System (FEMA), which found no pertinent records.

On April 26, MEF filed a lawsuit alleging that DHS violated the law by not only failing to produce the documents, but failing even to conduct a search for the documents.

The complaint, prepared by attorney Matt Hardin, a specialist in FOIA litigation, seeks injunctive relief compelling DHS “to search for and produce all records in its possession responsive to plaintiff’s FOIA request.”

“We filed a detailed FOIA request, specifying the documents we were looking for and where they likely were,” said MEF Director Gregg Roman. “DHS not only failed to produce the documents, it failed even to conduct a search and closed our case without bothering to tell us. This is not just unacceptable but illegal.”

The case has been assigned to Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. It bears noting that Judge Lamberth previously handled FOIA litigation concerning former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“The CVE program should be canceled altogether,” said Sam Westrop, director of MEF’s Islamist Watch project. “And guidelines should be put in place to make sure that extremist groups like MPAC never receive taxpayer money to counter extremism.”


The Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank, is dedicated to defining American interests in the Middle East and protecting America from Islamist threats. It achieves its goals through intellectual, activist, and philanthropic efforts.

Karim Cheurfi: From the Cauldron of Prison to the Streets of Paris

April 25, 2017

Karim Cheurfi: From the Cauldron of Prison to the Streets of Paris, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Patrick Dunleavy, April 24, 2017

Despite an acknowledged problem with insufficient training, groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) seek to censor any mention of Islamic radicalization from American law enforcement and military training.

In 2004, the FBI’s official definition of radicalization was “the process of attracting and possibly converting inmates to radical Islam.” They since have been pressured to change the term to “violent extremism.”

Removing warning labels from canisters containing caustic material does not render the substance inside harmless. It only increases the risk of a deadly incident. Toxic waste spills are often the result of carelessness.

Here in the United States, it is imperative that the Justice Department and the FBI revise the Correctional Intelligence Initiative Program to include the proper vetting of clergy and a post release component to track people who were radicalized or previously incarcerated for terrorist crimes. The initiative started in 2003 with a mission to “detect, deter, and disrupt efforts by terrorist and extremist groups to radicalize or recruit within all federal, state, territorial, tribal and local prison populations.”

*****************************

The initial reports regarding Islamic terrorist Karim Cheurfi, the man responsible for the latest attack that killed French police officer Xavier Jugele and wounded several others, contained the all-too-familiar phrase – “known to authorities.”

What actually was known? Cheurfi had a predisposition for violence, animosity toward authority – he had tried to kill police officers twice before – and a sense of alienation. They also knew that he had spent a significant period of his life in a place that some authorities called a radicalizing cauldron, the French prison system. Inside those prisons, a small group of Islamic terrorists was effectively radicalizing other inmates who came in as petty criminals with no religious leanings, said Pascal Mailhos, past director of France’s domestic intelligence agency.

Mailhos’ warning proved prophetic as French prisons spawned terrorists like Mohammed Merah, who in 2012 murdered police officers and Jewish school children in Toulouse, and Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a police trainee before storming the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket and killing four hostages. Charlie Hebdo attacker Said Kouachi, like Karim Cheurfi, came out of the joint radicalized and ready to kill law enforcement, military personnel and innocent civilians in the name of Allah.

This problem is not unique to France. Former inmates who turned to the violent path of jihad plotted or carried out terrorist attacks in the United States, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom.

For some, particularly for those who have spent time in prison, the radicalization process from conversion to violence is more accelerated. “Some individuals, particularly those who convert in prison, may be attracted directly to jihadi violence…for this group, jihad represents a convenient outlet for (their) aggressive behavior,” the Central Intelligence Agency said in a report, “Homegrown Jihad – Pathway to Terrorism.”

When you combine the ingredients of violent aggressive behavior, animosity toward authority, incarceration, and radical Islamic ideology, you will almost certainly produce a deadly toxin. French prosecutor Francois Molins insisted that Cheurfi showed no signs of radicalization prior to the attack. Missing the signs could be the result of bad eyesight or, a lack of training. “We don’t have anyone trained for anti-radicalization,” said David Dulondel, the head of the union representing officers at France’s Fleury-Merogis maximum security prison. “We can’t say whether someone is in the process of radicalizing or not.”

Despite an acknowledged problem with insufficient training, groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) seek to censor any mention of Islamic radicalization from American law enforcement and military training.

In 2004, the FBI’s official definition of radicalization was “the process of attracting and possibly converting inmates to radical Islam.” They since have been pressured to change the term to “violent extremism.”

Removing warning labels from canisters containing caustic material does not render the substance inside harmless. It only increases the risk of a deadly incident. Toxic waste spills are often the result of carelessness.

Prison radicalization should not be treated this way. We must put the tools in place to monitor and control this threat. Others have done it. Following last month’s Westminster Bridge attack by Khalid Masood, British authorities announced the formation of a task force that will combine intelligence, law enforcement, corrections and probation personnel to look at literature, clergy, and other influences available in prisons. The task force will also closely monitor recently released inmates for changes in behavior or association with known radical mosques or people. France, which has suffered its share of jihadi violence carried out by ex-inmates, had to admit that its program to address prison radicalization had been an utter failure. Yet it has not made any significant changes.

Here in the United States, it is imperative that the Justice Department and the FBI revise the Correctional Intelligence Initiative Program to include the proper vetting of clergy and a post release component to track people who were radicalized or previously incarcerated for terrorist crimes. The initiative started in 2003 with a mission to “detect, deter, and disrupt efforts by terrorist and extremist groups to radicalize or recruit within all federal, state, territorial, tribal and local prison populations.”

Failure to effectively address the ongoing threat is not an acceptable option. At some point there will be a price to pay.

Defeating radical Islam

February 20, 2017

Defeating radical Islam, Washington Times, Daniel Pipes and Christopher C. Hull, February 19, 2017

cutislamistsIllustration on plans to defeat radical Islam by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Who is the enemy? It’s been over 15 years since Sept. 11, 2001, and this fundamental question still rattles around. Prominent answers have included evildoers, violent extremists, terrorists, Muslims, and Islamists.

As an example of how not to answer this question, the Obama administration convened a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Working Group in 2010 and included participants who turned up such gems as: “Jihad as holy war is a European invention,” the caliphate’s return is “inevitable,” Shariah (Islamic law) is “misunderstood,” and “Islamic terrorism is a contradiction in terms because terrorism is not Islamic by definition.” The result? The group produced propaganda helpful to the (unnamed) enemy.

In contrast, then-candidate Donald Trump gave a robust speech in August 2016 on how he, as president, would “Make America Safe Again.” In it, he pledged that “one of my first acts as president will be to establish a commission on radical Islam.” Note: he said radical Islam, not some euphemism like violent extremism.

The goal of that commission, he said, “will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.” The commission “will include reformist voices in the Muslim community” with the goal to “develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners.”

On Feb. 2, Reuters reported that, consistent with the August statement, the Trump administration “wants to revamp and rename” the Obama administration’s old CVE effort to focus solely on Islamism. Symbolic of this change, the name Countering Violent Extremism will be changed to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism” (or a near equivalent).

To make the most of this historic opportunity, the Middle East Forum has crafted a comprehensive plan for a White House Commission on Radical Islam for the administration to use. Here’s a summary of how we see the commission working and having an impact:

Structure. To be successful, all its members must be selected by the president. Too many commissions have included contrasting ideologies and agendas, grinding out sausagelike self-conflicting reports that displease the administration and end up discarded. Also, learning from the struggles of the Tower Commission, which lacked sufficient powers, and the precedent of the Three Mile Island Commission, which actually had them, the commission needs the power to subpoena documents, compel testimony and grant immunity.

Personnel. The commission should include a mix of experts on political violence and radical Islam, as well as elected officials, representatives of law enforcement, the military, the intelligence and diplomatic communities, technology specialists, Muslim reformers (as the president insisted), and victims of radical Islam. It should also include liaisons to those who ultimately will implement the commission’s recommendations: secretaries of the departments of state, defense, and homeland security, the attorney general, and the CIA director.

Mandate. The commission should expand on President Trump’s commitment to explain the core convictions of Islamists (i.e., the full and severe application of Shariah) to expose their networks, and develop new protocols for law enforcement. In addition, it should examine where Islamists get their resources and how these can be cut off; figure out how to deny them use of the internet; offer changes to immigration practices; and assess how political correctness impedes an honest appraisal of radical Islam.

Implementation. For the commission’s work to be relevant, it must coordinate with federal agencies to gather data and craft recommendations, draft executive orders and legislation, provide supporting documents, prepare requests for proposals, outline memos to state and local governments, recommend personnel, and work out budgets. Finally, the commission should be prepared that its reports may be used as evidence in criminal proceedings, such as was the case several times in the past (e.g., the Warren, Rogers, and Tower commissions).

The overall goal of the White House Commission on Radical Islam should be to bring the American people together around a common understanding of the enemy’s nature, how that enemy can be defeated, and specifics to accomplish this objective.

Perhaps this will start the long-delayed process of winning a war that has already gone on far too long. The United States has all the economic and military advantages; it lacks only a policy and a strategy, which the new administration, relying on a first-rate commission, can finally supply.

Four Muslim Groups Reject US Counter-Terror Funding

February 13, 2017

Four Muslim Groups Reject US Counter-Terror Funding, Clarion ProjectRyan Mauro, February 13, 2017

(Good! Now perhaps some of the funding will go to anti-Islamist groups, likely to use the money to discourage rather than to encourage radicalization. — DM)

minnesota-four-hpFour Minnesota youth from the Somali community who were convicted of terrorism-related offenses.

The good news is that there are plenty of non-profits, including Muslim ones with an unequivocal stand against Islamism that deserve the grant money. These organizations generally lack financial support from which to build a network, provide services, etc.

If certain Muslim nonprofits choose to put politics and ego above fighting extremism, then there are plenty of other options for these grants. 

***********************************

In a revealing trend, four nonprofits groups involved with the Muslim-American community have rejected federal funding for countering violent extremism. For these groups, their image — as well as making a political point – is a higher priority than fighting radical Islam and helping their communities.

The four Muslim groups had been privileged to receive Homeland Security grants to support their efforts to “counter violent extremism,” a generic and politically-correct term that the Obama Administration used to avoid verbiage related to Islam.

Now, these groups are willing to sacrifice that funding and cut their programs just to stick it to President Trump. Their form of protest is not to use their voices, but to try to show how bad President Trump is by increasing the suffering and danger for their constituents and country more broadly.

An organization for Somali youth in Minnesota named Ka Joog is rejecting $500,000 that was supposed to promote education, prevent radicalization, drug use and other harmful activities. Whether you agree with the premise that radicalization is caused by those problems or not, the fact is that Ka Joog chose to deny help to Somali youth in need.

Apparently unaware of how ridiculous his sentence sounded, executive director Mohamed Farah said the decision was made because President Trump is “promoting a cancerous ideology.” Yes, he actually said he’d decline an opportunity to fight the cancerous ideology of radical Islam because he is offended by the so-called “cancerous ideology” of President Trump.

One local Somali activist with a record of standing against radical Islam, Omar Jamal, said he disagrees with President Trump but “the community desperately needs the money” and it’s better to work with the government as best you can, regardless of politics.

A group in Michigan, Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities, won’t take $500,000 because it believes President Trump’s counter-extremism programs involve spying on Muslims. The group provided no evidence that accepting the money would actually require them to do that.

The organization’s programs involve public health, human services, youth development and education. They will suffer because of a hypothetical requirement that hasn’t happened yet or even been proposed by the Trump Administration.

The third group to join in, Unity Productions Foundation of Virginia, was offered $400,000 to develop films featuring Islamic scholars condemning terrorism and Muslim-Americans contributing to society.

Muslim-American leadership regularly complains that Islamic condemnations of terrorism do not get adequate attention and the public doesn’t seeing how Muslim-Americans are a positive part of the country.

This group was given a whopping $400,000 to do just that—but instead, it is responding to President Trump’s alleged anti-Muslim sentiment by rejecting money from his administration to combat anti-Muslim sentiment.

That makes absolutely no sense.

The Bayan Claremont Islamic school in California is the latest to join the trend, turning down $800,000 that was to be given to “improve interreligious cooperation, civic engagement and social justice.” About $250,000 of that would have been transferred to a dozen other nonprofits doing work for the Muslim-American community.

The school’s faculty includes some controversial Islamic leaders accused of spreading radicalism and ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The staff includes Imam Suhaib Webb, Omid Safi and Ihsan Bagby.

Its president, Jihad Turk, said it was partially a response to reported plans by the Trump Administration to rename the Countering Violent Extremism programs to a title identifying radical Islam as the focus.

Keep in mind, Trump’s controversial plans—the travel pause (derided as a “Muslim ban”) designed to identify threats of radical Islam—don’t alter these services. These policies do not stop these groups from combating extremism on their own or from providing charity to those in need. You don’t have to agree with your president to help others and work to protect your country to the best of your ability.

By this logic, schools that dislike Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should punish their students by turning away federal funding.

Another element is at play here: Pressure from Islamists and their allies.

Fox News reports that two of the nonprofits “said they were rejecting grants they had already been awarded under the program because of concerns that it could damage their credibility or come with uncomfortable strings attached.”

Such attacks can make the Trump Administration lose Muslim partners, enabling Islamists to rally the community together like a single political party under their helm. An added bonus is that any danger and controversy that arises from the severed relationships can be blamed on Trump’s policies that these Muslim groups sabotaged.

The good news is that there are plenty of non-profits, including Muslim ones with an unequivocal stand against Islamism that deserve the grant money. These organizations generally lack financial support from which to build a network, provide services, etc.

If certain Muslim nonprofits choose to put politics and ego above fighting extremism, then there are plenty of other options for these grants.