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Ordered Liberty

The Washington Times’ Guide to ‘Moderate’ Islam: CAIR & a Flying Imam

October 16th, 2014 - 7:25 am

I would have thought I was reading the New York Times. But no, it was the Washington Times, whose Andrea Noble gave a platform to notorious Islamists yesterday, enabling them to masquerade as moderates who condemn Islamic State jihadists for purportedly running afoul of sharia law in their rampage through Iraq and Syria.

Ms. Noble helped the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Omar Shahin along by airbrushing their backgrounds: CAIR is presented to the reader as a mainstream “Muslim organization” opposed to terrorism, with no mention of the fact that it is a Muslim Brotherhood creation conceived to promote Hamas — one with a long history as an apologist for terrorists (indeed, it has had terrorists in its ranks). Not a word is breathed about Mr. Shahin’s unsavory background: ringleader of the infamous “Flying Imams”; leader of an Islamic Center in Tucson well-known for its al-Qaeda and Hamas sympathies; denial of Muslim terrorist involvement in the 9/11 attacks; and his ties to Islamic “charities” shut down by the government for promoting jihad.

Ms. Noble similarly whitewashes sharia. It would of course be nice if, as she intimates, there were no mainstream interpretation of Islam that supported sex slavery and extortion in the form of jizya – the tax required of non-Muslims for the privilege of living under the protection of a sharia state. But it is simply a fact that these practices have firm roots in Islamic scripture. While we should applaud the work of authentic Muslim moderates to reform these concepts, it is a disservice to our national security to minimize the threat by pretending that the extremist construction of Islam is utterly false and followed by only a fringe.

It is literal, plausible, and has millions of adherents.

But it is not my purpose to rebut the Washington Times’s happy-face sharia; the estimable Robert Spencer has already done that here (see also here). My focus is the continuing practice by the government and the media — and not just the left-wing legacy media — of presenting Islamists as both “moderates” and a reliable source of information about Islam. Islamists promote sharia, which — as classically interpreted — is a most immoderate body of law. And they are incorrigibly Janus-faced, peddling “religion of peace” treacle for credulous Westerners while lionizing jihadists when they figure no one but other Islamists are listening.

In 2010, The Grand Jihad – my book about the Muslim Brotherhood and its sabotage of the West — was published. As it happens, I included a chapter that dealt specifically with CAIR, Mr. Shahin, and the “Flying Imams” episode.

I reproduce that chapter below, and encourage readers to ask: (a) Isn’t the sharia debate, as Mr. Spencer demonstrates, more complicated than the Washington Times suggests; and (b) shouldn’t the Times either make full disclosure about its sources or, dare I say it, find better ones?

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Why is he always telling them what he’s not going to do?

This has become a constant refrain among President Obama’s Republican and conservative critics. And it is an excellent question. Why does the president tell jihadists from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda that the American campaign against them will be strictly limited to aerial bombing (sporadic, at that) and absolutely, positively will not involve the introduction of U.S. ground forces?

The theory behind the question is bulletproof: the only way you can hope to keep bad actors in check, to discourage them from acting roguishly in pursuit of their ambitions, is to indicate that you might respond with your superior powers. Even if you are reluctant to unleash those powers, the seed of doubt planted by signaling the possibility of decisive counteraction forces rogues to tread lightly. On the other hand, take your decisive weapons off the table and you’re sure to find ISIS mocking your impotence, sacking city after city, and poised to take Baghdad.

My question for my colleagues: why don’t we practice what we preach?

Back in June, my book Faithless Execution was published. Contrary to some of the commentary it provoked, I did not call for President Obama’s immediate impeachment. Indeed, I argued that the lesson of the Clinton impeachment episode was that it is a mistake to commence impeachment proceedings in the absence of strong public support for the president’s removal.

The point of the book was to address how presidential lawlessness — a threat to our governing structure over which the Framers agonized — is dealt with in the American constitutional system. Other than the ballot box, the Constitution provides only two ways for Congress to rein in presidential maladministration: the power of the purse and impeachment. That is, Congress can starve the administration of the funds needed to carry out its rogue practices, or it can remove from power executive officials — up to and including the president — who are lawless, derelict, profoundly dishonest, or incompetent in the carrying out their duties.

Like committing military “boots on the ground” in the Middle East, the use of these powers could be dispositive. Moreover, if Republicans signaled that reluctant resort to these powers was a distinct possibility — a signal that would rivet public attention to presidential lawlessness, and could thus alter the political climate — President Obama would be forced to factor that into his calculations.

Yet — adopting the president’s self-defeating strategy for conducting war — congressional Republicans cannot quickly enough or often enough tell the world what they are not going to do about Obama’s lawlessness.

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Last night’s post about Anwar al-Awlaki shows that I should stay away from variations of the word “break” in the context of news reporting. Used inaccurately, or at least incompletely, it can create the misimpression that one is erroneously assigning credit – or even personally claiming credit – for someone else’s good work.

To begin with the easy part, I am not a reporter and I do not break news or claim credit for breaking it. I am an analyst. I rely on the reporting of a number of terrific journalists whose reliability is well established, and on significant reporting by journalists whom I know less well but whose work can be corroborated.

In that spirit, I do not, and did not, claim to have revealed any new news about Awlaki. Rather, (a) two years ago, based on new reporting by others about Awlaki, I concluded – based on my own experience in prosecuting criminal cases and dealing with informants – that the government’s claims about its dismissal of a pending case against Awlaki did not make sense, and that it had probably tried to use him as an informant; and then (b) in last night’s post, I contended that new revelations, brought to light by others, bore out the legal analysis I had offered two years ago.

Now to the trickier part: assigning credit correctly. I always try to give credit to the reporting I rely on. In my Awlaki post two years ago, I credited a report by Fox’s Catherine Herridge. I did not claim that Ms. Herridge was the first to break the news that the government had intervened on Awlaki’s behalf to “un-arrest” him in October 2002. I credited her with breaking the narrower news that an FBI official had admitted that the government knew Awlaki was about to return to the U.S. before the Justice Department intervened on his behalf – a detail which proved the falsity of government’s original story that its dismissal of a felony arrest warrant for Awlaki was sheer coincidence.

My 2012 post then went into the background on Awlaki – both the evidence against him and his dealings with the government. For that, one of my main sources was the excellent Paul Sperry. I had also relied and lavishly credited him in my 2010 book, The Grand Jihad – in addition to his Awlaki reporting, Mr. Sperry’s work on the Muslim Brotherhood and its American network has been essential.

In his own invaluable 2005 book, Infiltration, Mr. Sperry had been the first (at least to my knowledge) to report on Awlaki’s “un-arrest.” This is no secret: Ms. Herridge has extensively credited him (including in her own superb 2011 book, The Next Wave); so did ABC news in a 2009 report that discussed Awlaki in the context of the Fort Hood massacre. I cited Mr. Sperry twice in my 2012 post, although not specifically on the “un-arrest” details. I meant no slight to Mr. Sperry (again, I’ve admiringly cited his work many times); it was simply a matter of Ms. Herridge’s then-new report about the FBI official’s testimony being the jumping-off point for my post.

In last night’s post, I observed that Ms. Herridge and Judicial Watch had stayed on the case. By saying this, I did not mean to imply that no one else had stayed on the case or done critical work on it. But I was writing about a report by Ms. Herridge a couple of days ago that was based on documents that Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit forced the government to disclose.

In describing Ms. Herridge’s years-long coverage of the Awlaki story, I stated that it was she “who in 2012 broke the news about Awlaki’s mysterious un-arrest a decade earlier.” This was a poor use of “broke” on my part. As just explained, what Ms. Herridge reported on in 2012 was the FBI official’s admission about an important detail concerning the “un-arrest.” News of the “un-arrest” itself had been broken years earlier by Mr. Sperry. Indeed, the new reporting by Ms. Herridge that I linked in last night’s post includes the following:

Previously obtained records show that in 2002, within days of al-Awlaki’s re-entry to the U.S., he showed up in [FBI agent Wade] Ammerman’s counterterrorism investigation in Virginia into Ali al-Timimi, who is now serving a life sentence on non-terrorism charges. [* See ACM note, below.] On Oct. 22, 2002, 12 days after the imam’s return, another FBI memo obtained through the Judicial Watch federal lawsuit (marked “Secret”) includes the subject line “Anwar Nasser Aulaqi” [ACM: i.e., Awlaki] and “Synopsis: Asset reporting.” The existence of the customs entry records was first documented by author Paul Sperry.

Hopefully, this gives credit where credit is due. It was not my intention to avoid doing that.

*ACM note: I assume Ms. Herridge meant that al-Tamimi was not charged under the federal code’s specific international terrorism statutes, which is true. I would not, however, describe the case against him as based on “non-terrorism charges.” He was, after all, convicted of inciting a terrorist war against the United States, attempting to aid the Taliban (a terrorist organization), and inciting the use of firearms and explosives. These are charges very similar to those in my own prosecution against Omar Abdel Rahman (“the Blind Sheikh”) in 1995 – a year before anti-terrorism law was overhauled and specific international terrorism statutes were enacted. The Blind Sheikh was convicted of, among other things, conspiring to levy a terrorist war against the United States, conspiring to bomb, and inciting attacks against American military installations. These were clearly terrorism charges even though the applicable statutes did not include the term “terrorism.”

New evidence pried from the government under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) proves the point I have posited here at Ordered Liberty: The federal government willfully intervened on behalf of al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki on October 10, 2002, undoing his arrest on felony fraud charges when he was detained at JFK International Airport in New York, and allowing him to walk away with a Saudi handler. As I argued over two years ago, the government’s story to the contrary – viz., that it was moved by sheer coincidence on the eve of Awlaki’s arrival to pull the plug on a weak case – does not pass the laugh test.

Twelve years ago, when the FBI intervened to “un-arrest” Awlaki despite the pendency of a valid felony warrant, he was a suspect – or, at the very least, a highly material witness – in the 9/11 conspiracy that resulted in the killing of nearly 3000 Americans. He went on to become one of al Qaeda’s most effective operatives. Awlaki is suspected of involvement in or incitement of the 2009 Fort Hood jihadist attack in which 13 U.S. soldiers were killed and many others wounded; the attempt to bomb a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009; the attempted bombing of Times Square in 2010; and the modernization of al Qaeda’s international recruitment practices.

In 2011, he was finally killed as an enemy-combatant by an American drone strike in Yemen.

Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, who in 2012 broke the news about Awlaki’s mysterious un-arrest a decade earlier, has stayed on the case. So has Judicial Watch, thanks to whose FOIA lawsuit, the government has been compelled to turn over 900 pages of documents about its investigations of, and communications with, the jihadist. As Ms. Herridge’s new reporting elaborates, the FOIA disclosures show that Awlaki had numerous contacts with the FBI well into 2004 – when the 9/11 Commission was trying to locate him for an interview based on mounting evidence of his likely knowledge of, if not complicity in, the 9/11 conspiracy.

Consistent with our government’s seemingly incorrigible penchant to dismiss extremist Islamic incitement as harmless rhetoric, and to perceive Islamic supremacists as “moderate Islamists” with whom it can collaborate, law enforcement officials knew about Awlaki’s extensive contacts with some of the 9/11 suicide-hijackers but excused them as “random [and] the inevitable consequence of living in the small world of Islam in America.” Years later, law enforcement and military officials knew about but ignored startling jihadist communications between Awlaki and eventual Fort Hood killer Nidal Hasan.

The new information corroborates my suggestion here two years ago that, in letting Awlaki go rather than arresting him on the pending fraud charge, the government was “acting on the misguided hope of using him as an informant.” This is not only cause for potential embarrassment in its own right; it adds to the concerns over the circumstances of Awlaki’s death.

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The most famous of the classic blunders is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia”? I don’t think so. I’d go with Never get involved in a blame war with the CIA. And that goes especially for lame duck presidents saddled with plummeting approval ratings as they head into the last two years of their terms.

Fox News reports:

The top U.S. intelligence official, in a memo to staff obtained by Fox News, praised his analysts for their work bringing attention to the Islamic State’s gains over the past two years — as Republican lawmakers likewise jumped to their defense after President Obama claimed they “underestimated” the threat.

The president’s comments to “60 Minutes” over the weekend have prompted a vigorous round of finger-pointing. The White House has eased off, saying the president did not intend to blame the intelligence community — but also is disputing accusations from GOP lawmakers and intelligence officials that Obama simply ignored their ISIS warnings for months.

“It wasn’t for lack of information, we all knew about it for years,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told Fox News on Wednesday. She claimed lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee, on which she sits, “gave it to the administration and said, ‘wake up, there’s something very serious happening.’”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has been left in a difficult position, with Obama pointing at him in his “60 Minutes” interview. In the interview, Obama said Clapper “has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”

But in the memo to staff sent Tuesday, Clapper made clear his officers have been on the case for a while.

“I’m proud of the [intelligence community's] efforts over the past two years to monitor, assess and call attention to the expansion of ISIL, and I know the president has found that work to be critical to developing his strategy,” Clapper wrote.

The report goes on to relate that Clapper’s assertions about how intel analysts have been calling attention to the Islamic State (aka ISIS, or ISIL) provide grist for media and congressional criticism that the Obama administration has failed to take the jihadist threat seriously enough. For one thing, Clapper did not appear to concur in President Obama’s claim that the intelligence community “underestimated” ISIS.

Naturally, Clapper’s explicit support of his subordinates also invites media attention on alternative explanations for the administration’s ineffectiveness — for example, the staggering number of national security intelligence briefings that President Obama has failed to attend, despite setting presidential records for rounds of golf and political fundraisers.

Slow Start for the Benghazi Select Committee

September 17th, 2014 - 11:47 am

Most prosecutors would be all over emergent evidence that culpable actors had obstructed justice. Yet the House Select Committee investigating the Benghazi Massacre under the direction of South Carolina Republican and former prosecutor Trey Gowdy is not exactly tripping over itself to probe such evidence – at least not publicly.

Earlier this week, a retired high-ranking State Department official publicly revealed that former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s top aides hid damaging documents from her hand-picked investigative panel. Subsequently, that panel, the vaunted “Accountability Review Board” (ARB), did not even bother to interview Mrs. Clinton despite her pivotal roles in (a) the appalling security lapses prior to the terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans; (b) the administration’s response on the night of the attack; and (c) Obama officials’ fraudulent claim that the attack was caused by spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video, rather than by entirely predictable jihadist terrorism.

Yet, as Chairman Gowdy’s select committee finally convenes its first hearing later today – four long months after being established, ostensibly to press urgently for truth and accountability regarding an act of war by al Qaeda affiliated terrorists on the second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – obstruction of justice is not the focus. Nor are allegations leveled just two weeks ago by members of the Annex Security Team in Benghazi. In a new book, 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi (profiled in a Fox News special and in this review by the American Spectator’s Ross Kaminski), three team members recount the official reluctance and indecision that delayed their response to the attack – a delay they believe cost the lives of Ambassador Stevens and Mr. Smith.

This morning’s hearing is likely to be the last word the public will hear from the select committee for many weeks, if not months, as Congress glides towards its midterm election recess. Gowdy is nonetheless giving Democrats – who initially threatened to boycott the committee – an opportunity to use it as a showcase for the Obama administration’s implementation the ARB recommendations.

The Chairman’s decision was popular at the hard Left Mother Jones, which pronounced this hearing “Actually Worth Having.” It is nonetheless a disappointment for those of us hoping the select committee would focus on real accountability: Why did our government change sides in Libya for the benefit of anti-American jihadists? What exactly was our government doing in Benghazi – what mission was worth assigning U.S. personnel to one of the most dangerous places in the world for Americans? Who is ultimately responsible for the appalling lack of security at the American compound? Where was President Obama, and what exactly was he doing, during the hours Americans were under siege? Why did the commander-in-chief and the military-chain-of-command take no meaningful action taken to respond to the attack? What role did election-eve politics – Obama’s repeated claims to have “decimated” al Qaeda – play in the administration’s misleading decision to portray the video, rather than al Qaeda-tied terrorists, as the culprit?

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The worst part of President Obama’s speech last night was the appalling failure to mention the Benghazi massacre. Today, we mark the second anniversary of that act of war by the enemy we have been at war with for 13 years, an act of war in which the enemy attacked sovereign American territory and murdered the representative of our country in Libya as well as three other brave Americans. Mr. Obama decided our fallen Benghazi heroes did not merit even a fleeting mention. Let’s focus on two things he did say. The first tells us he was not unaware that a speech about terrorism on the eve of September 11 was a time for reflection on the day’s significance:

My fellow Americans, we live in a time of great change. Tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. Next week marks six years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression.

So the economic downturn gets a nod in a speech about the threat Americans face from radical Islam, but nothing about the Benghazi attack that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for and that the local al Qaeda franchise, Ansar al-Sharia, carried out two years ago to the day? Here’s the second passage worth noting:

I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.

Core principle?

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The office of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko has issued a brief announcement that he reached a ceasefire agreement with Russia during a phone call with President Vladimir Putin, the New York Times reports. (See also this from the Wall Street Journal.)

The details of the agreement were not given. A Kremlin spokesman acknowledged that Putin and Poroshenko had “viewpoints on possible ways to overcome the grave and critical situation” in southeastern Ukraine “that coincide to a considerable degree.” Nevertheless, because Russia denies that it has invaded Ukraine and has supported the insurgency there with arms and soldiers, the spokesman claimed that Russia “cannot physically agree on a ceasefire as it is not a side in the conflict.”

Poroshenko is over a barrel. Russia has stepped up its campaign, and the Obama administration responded with a clear signal that the United States and the West would provide no meaningful support to Ukraine – a signal reaffirmed last week when President Obama refused to call Putin’s aggression an “invasion” and stressed that a U.S. military confrontation with Russia was unthinkable. Ukraine’s army is in retreat and it cannot compete with Russia’s invasion forces. Poroshenko faced the dilemma of fighting on and losing effective control over even more territory or seeking a settlement on what are sure to be unfavorable terms.

Putin, meantime, will get a resolution that gives him effective control over key territory –Novorossiya, as he calls it – thus frustrating Kiev’s capacity to increase integration with the West. He can resume the campaign of aggression at the time of his choosing, yet the ceasefire agreement will curb what little enthusiasm there may have been among NATO allies to ratchet up sanctions (which Russia has thus far laughed off).

In 1994, President Clinton, in conjunction with Russia’s then-President Boris Yeltsin and Britain’s then-Prime Minister John Major, signed the Budapest Memorandum, promising to protect Ukrainian territory and sovereignty in exchange for Ukraine’s giving up its huge nuclear arsenal. The agreement is not a formal treaty and was never ratified by the Senate, but it did prompt Ukraine’s disarmament. In 2005, against the backdrop of this security assurance, as I’ve previously recounted, then-Senator Barack Obama spearheaded a U.S. campaign, ultimately endorsed by President Bush, to provide $48 million to induce Ukraine to destroy much of its conventional military arsenal – including more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition. At the time, Obama delusionally asserted that Ukraine would make both itself and the world safer by disarming.

As president, Obama has refused to provide military aid to an ally under siege that the United States government – very much including Obama himself – convinced to render itself defenseless. By contrast, Obama in 2012 provided $1.5 billion in military aid to the Egyptian regime then controlled by the rabidly anti-American Muslim Brotherhood.

The incentives, as they have been for nearly six years under his administration, could not be clearer: There is more advantage in being America’s enemy than America’s friend, and countries – whether law-abiding or rogues – should pursue more numerous and powerful arms to make their way in a world where the United States has forfeited its leadership.

The Islamic-Supremacist Enclave in Minnesota

August 29th, 2014 - 9:20 am

There are several news stories making the rounds today expressing great surprise that young Muslim men who reside in Minnesota – particularly those having ties to the state’s substantial Somali community – are fighting for the Islamic State terrorist organization (aka “ISIS” or “ISIL”). Two Minnesota Muslims have reportedly been killed. What surprises me is that anyone is surprised. In my 2010 book on the Muslim Brotherhood, The Grand Jihad, I devoted a chapter to the Islamic supremacist infiltration of Minnesota. Even then, that infiltration was marked by ties to al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as a concerted effort to implement sharia principles in U.S. law and institutions, including the classroom and the economy. The chapter is reproduced below.

The questions came rat-tat-tat at this townhall meeting for Amy Klobuchar.  A member of Minnesota’s hard Left Democratic Farm Labor Party, she was campaigning as the Democrats’ nominee for the United States Senate.  Her answers sounded like babble, or perhaps clipped laughter:  Haa, haa, haa.  But she wasn’t laughing.  Klobuchar was speaking Somali.

And she was saying “yes”:  Yes to “comprehensive immigration reform”; yes to foreign language programs; yes to helping Somali money-service businesses that her constituents used to send the American dollars they learned back “home”; yes to meeting regularly with the Somali community so they could monitor that she was producing on the commitments that, absolutely haa, she was making.

The two hundred Somalis in the audience seemed pleased.  They were no doubt happier still when Klobuchar won in a landslide.  She rode the same wave that carried Keith Ellison into Congress.  Another Farm Labor Party member, Ellison became the first Muslim to sit in the House of Representatives.  He credited his victory to the enthusiastic support of Somalis. He took the oath of office, swearing on the Koran, to represent Minnesota’s fifth congressional district.  In that district lies the entire City of Minneapolis.  It is the Muslim enclave.

The local Somali population that has been estimated at 100,000, representing somewhere between half and two-thirds the the total number of Somalis now living in the United States.  There may be many more.  The actual population size is unknowable because of rampant illegal immigration, widespread identity and documentation fraud, and what the FBI gingerly describes as “a cultural reluctance to share personal information with census takers [that] has prevented an accurate count of the ethnic Somali population inside the United States.”

Somalis began pouring into America in the mid-Nineties thanks to the State Department’s refugee resettlement efforts, such as the “Africa Priority Three Program” that gives special attention to Somalis, Ethiopians and Liberians.  These initiatives were robust and incompetently supervised.  They targeted dire African countries without any evident concern about cultural differences that made assimilation unlikely.  In 2008, State was forced to concede that there had been immigration fraud on a massive scale:  nearly 40,000 aliens admitted into our country after falsely claiming family ties to immigrants already here. If Klobuchar delivers on her promises to push for an immigration “reform” package that would not just legalize aliens who are here unlawfully but streamline the process for importing their chains of family members, the numbers could increase geometrically.

The Somalis are the dominant Islamic group in Minnesota, but hardly the only one.  As we’ve seen [in a previous chapter on Congressman Ellison], CAIR was a prominent player in Ellison’s campaign, which appealed to Muslims across the board, including American- and Arab-born Muslims, as well as to the Islamists’ reliable allies on the Left.  But the Somalis are an especially potent, aggressive force. That is the case here as it is in their war-torn homeland, where life-expectancy for men is less than forty-eight years (for women, it hovers just above fifty-one), where the dead-end of Islamism is thriving, and where the scourge of piracy is again on the rise.

Besides Minneapolis, insular Somali communities have sprung up in Seattle, San Diego, Columbus, Atlanta, and—it almost goes without saying—Washington. There are other pockets throughout the country. The Tennessee town of Shelbyville is one. Hundreds of Somalis found work there in the local Tyson’s Chicken plant, and two were soon elected to the union’s eight-member board. When it came time for a new collective bargaining agreement to be struck in 2008, the union pressured the company to abandon Labor Day.  In its place, the Somali workers demanded a Muslim holiday: the Eid (Eid ul-Fitr), which marks the end of Ramadan.  The company capitulated, to much gnashing of teeth by the majority, non-Muslim employees.

It is in Minneapolis, though, where the greatest political and legal strides are being made by Somalis, and thus by Islamism. The Fifth District has become such a safe seat for Ellison that, on the campaign trail, he is more needed than in need. In 2008, he stumped vigorously for Al Franken’s Senate bid. During his Minneapolis appearances, by his side was Abdullahi Ugas Farah, described in one press account as a “highly regarded prominent Somali traditional leader”—which, my friend Diana West acidly observed, translates to “a Somali leader from Somalia, not Minnesota.” Farah urged the faithful that “in order for Keith to be helpful to the situation in Somalia, you must also elect Al Franken to the Senate.” That’s the job of the U.S. Congress, right?  To fix the situation in Somalia.

What exactly is the situation in Somalia?  Well, the failed state has been engulfed in a civil war for well over a decade, going back to the shattering “Black Hawk Down” days of the early Nineties. Islamists seek to take over the country and impose strict sharia law under the auspices of leadership known as the “Islamic Courts Union,” together with the local al Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabaab (“the lads”). As Diana West found, Abdullahi Ugas Farah was one of two speakers who presided in 2003 over the opening ceremony for a new sharia court in Mogadishu’s Shirkole area. It was apparently a short distance from there to Democratic Party politics in Minneapolis. [ACM note: After ruling much of Somalia for a time, the Islamic Courts Union was driven from power by U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces, with many of its militant members formally joining their al-Shabaab allies. See Thomas Joscelyn & Bill Roggio, “Shabaab fomally joins al Qaeda” (The Long War Journal, Feb. 9, 2012).]

Import Somali Aliens, Export Islamist Militants

In Somalia, the Islamist factions are linked to the al Qaeda cells that bombed the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. They also maintain ties with al Qaeda leaders in Northwest Pakistan. Somalia has thus become crucially important to bin Laden’s network as both a rich recruiting vein and a staging ground for regional and global terrorist operations—including strikes against the United States. Reciprocally, al Qaeda training has proved critical to the Somali Islamists. Recruits, who have often been led to Somalia from mosques or diverted there while on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, are steeped in Salafist ideology while being trained in military assault tactics and the use of machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and other explosives. Terror tactics apt to intimidate civilian populations are stressed. In late 2008, for example, Shabaab “produced a videotape depicting the slow decapitation of an accused spy,” according to the FBI.

Incorporating familiar al Qaeda tactics like simultaneous bombings (frequently using suicide attackers), the campaign has been frightfully successful.  The Islamists took over much of Somalia in 2006 before being beaten back by U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces.  By 2009, the Islamists had surged back as Ethiopia retreated under the usual pressure from “human rights” groups—ever notice how they always seem preternaturally interested in the humans doing the killing versus the humans being killed? Shabaab terrorists and the Islamic Courts Union seized much of the country’s south again, including the strategically important port city of Kismayo. (See here and here.) Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s deputy, was moved to proclaim that Shabaab gains were “a step on the path of victory of Islam.”

The offensives had significant, U.S.-based help.  Our Somali immigration pipeline, you see, is far from a one-way street.  We not only import Somali aliens, including their “traditional leaders.” We also send back aspiring Islamist militants, including suicide bombers. Since 2006, the FBI has detected that many Somalis are returning to fight on behalf of al-Shabaab, and more are launched from Minneapolis than from any other U.S. haven.

Despite the extensive history of Muslims flocking to any “field of jihad” where Islamists are in combat, the Bureau was instinctively quick to rationalize that “the primary motivation” for their travel to Somalia was “to defend their place of birth [i.e., the place they couldn’t get out of fast enough] from the Ethiopian invasion.” But the criminal charges filed by the Justice Department tell a different story: one of a call to jihad that sounded in mosques from Minneapolis to Mecca. Thus, even the FBI has had to concede, however grudgingly, that “an appeal was also made based on their shared Islamic identity.” You don’t say? In fact, Somali Islamists have been bold in stressing their attachment to the global Islamist project. They’ve issued public statements of solidarity with their allies in al Qaeda’s rambunctious Yemeni satellite (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Moreover, on New Years Day 2010, a Somali Islamist in Denmark attempted to murder Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who drew one of the riot-inspiring depictions of Mohammed in 2005.

Shabaab recruitment drives have become intense in the United States and Canada.  Some relatives of the young men who’ve gone missing from Minneapolis point to the Abubakar as-Saddique mosque as the catalyst that radicalized them. And then there is the familiar Muslim Brotherhood route. Omar Hammami grew up as a Baptist in Alabama before converting to Islam while studying at the University of South Alabama. He became president of the Muslim Students Association [the first building block in the Brotherhood’s American infrastructure], duly opposed “terrorism,” and was quick to express his “shock” at the time of the 9/11 attacks that “a Muslim could have done this.”  In short order, though, the young American gravitated to Somali areas of Toronto before joining al-Shabaab, taking on the nom de guerre Abu Mansour al-Amriki. He is now a top Shabaab commander who regularly appears in recruiting videos, denouncing democracy and Western notions of human rights as being implacably set against sharia principles. (See here, here and here.)

The recruitment drive is taking its toll. Shirwa Ahmed, a twenty-seven-year old Somali who had lived with his family in Minneapolis, blew himself up at a UN checkpoint in 2008, killing twenty-nine people. In September 2009, another Somali immigrant left his Seattle community to return home and carry out a truck bombing in Mogadishu, killing twenty-one people. The case of Ahmed is especially grating.  Thanks to the State Department’s refugee resettlement mania, he’d become a naturalized American citizen.  So, after his mass-murder attack against U.S.-supported allies in northern Somalia, the FBI, at the expense of the American taxpayer, had his remains (which had become evidence in the Bureau’s terrorism-support investigation) transported back to America so he could be given a proper Islamic burial at “home.” (See here, here and here.)

To be fair, the Bureau, however ham-handedly, is trying to ingratiate itself within the community for intelligence purposes. The palpable fear of American and Canadian investigators is that the young men who leave North America with a jihadist fervor will return as trained, lethally capable terrorists, committed to carrying out terrorist strikes against the West. As David Harris, the former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service starkly puts it, “it is just a matter of time before someone who went abroad comes back to North America in an effort to carry out an attack.”

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In-depth reporting by the Wall Street Journal’s Nicholas Casey and Adam Entous takes us inside Gaza, into the minds, indoctrination and support system of Hamas. The report is here (but behind the paper’s subscriber wall).

It will be a tough one to refute for the willful blindness crowd – i.e., the bipartisan Beltway ruling class and its cooperative mainstream media – who insist that Islam is innately a religion of peace. The report illuminates the reality that Islamic study is the basic pathway to jihadist militancy and that, for members of Hamas, the jihad against Israel is not a parochial political affair but part and parcel of a global ideological movement that is very much driven by a perception of divine directive.

To observe what Hamas members and their supporters believe, and to learn that even non-adherents of Hamas respect the organization’s tenets as an entirely legitimate construction of Islam, is to elucidate the stubborn stupidity of the claim that “true” Islam is unconnected to terrorism committed by Muslims – and that we should regard such Muslims as irrational “violent extremists” rather than jihadists.

The report introduces us first to Abu Thoraya, a Hamas jihadist killed in the recent fighting:

[He was] in some respects a typical young man in his 20s. He was unmarried, worked a clerical job and lived with his parents, whom he and his brother supported. He took long morning runs down the Gaza Strip toward Egypt. He had a pious side which drew him to Hamas. He made connections to the group at the Abu Salim Mosque, an old stone prayer hall down the street from his home.

We learn from his brother that family members “didn’t share the same views” as Abu Thoraya, but it quickly becomes clear that the narrow disagreement is about jihadist aggression. The report explains that the brother is an “Islamist.” This means (although the report does not go into it) that he is an Islamic-supremacist: a supporter of sharia government – i.e., imposition of Islam’s societal framework and legal code. That is Hamas’s goal as well. The only real difference is that the brother belongs to an Islamic supremacist faction, the Dawa movement, that does not have a military wing.

Why is it so important to understand the ideological sympathies, rather than narrow disagreements about tactics that Western leaders obsess over? Because it shows that even dissenters from Hamas respect the terrorist organization’s beliefs and goals. Despite their differences, the report explains, “the family accepted and supported Mr. Abu Thoraya’s decision to plumb the world of Hamas through Islamic study and religious training.”

And, whether we choose to see it or not, fundamentalist Islamic religion includes the call to violent jihad and the veneration of it as the highest service to Allah – the surest path to paradise. The Obama administration can try to erase this incontestable fact out of the materials used to train the intelligence, law-enforcement and military personnel charged with protecting us. It will not, however, be erased from the scripture-based materials used to educate and indoctrinate Islamic supremacists. As the report relates Abu Thoraya’s seamless transition from education to indoctrination to terror:

At some point, religious study transitioned into fighting. “You start as a fan of Hamas, then eventually, if they trust you, you join the armed movement,” said his brother.

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