The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, publishes a slick English-language magazine to justify its actions and exhort jihadists to support it financially, through attacks, and other ways. It also serves as a recruitment tool.
At the same time, it serves as a glimpse into the minds of the terrorist group/growing military threat in Iraq and Syria.
Here is the third edition of Dabiq: A Call to Hijrah, in full. “Hijrah” means “the path to jihad.”
It includes a longer statement from James Foley than was included in the IS execution video. That begins on page 39. The magazine blames that beheading on the US airstrikes that began on August 7. Dabiq calls President Barack Obama an “apostate” and a “crusader.” It depicts its jihadists as happy warriors, and its enemies as dead or shortly to be killed.
While President Obama dithers over a strategy and considers cobbling a coalition together to implement it, the Islamist State in Syria is entrenching and enforcing its barbaric law on the local inhabitants, reports Bloomberg.
In the Syrian city of Raqqah on the banks of the Euphrates River, Islamic State militants are busy building a capital fit for their followers.
Human rights observers say they have stoned women to death for adultery, while residents report that religious textbooks have been imported for schools and the market flooded with black cloaks for girls as young as 6 years old. Even as it wages war on multiple fronts, the group has had time to focus on the details, recruit thousands into its forces and celebrate victories by parading the heads of its enemies.
This is not a passage in a history book about some band of savages who pillaged their way across territory a thousand years ago. It’s happening right now.
The local victims mostly dislike the Islamic State’s hyperviolence and radicalism. The Islamic State and its leaders and street thugs don’t care. There is no force nearby that’s capable of overthrowing them.
Mohammad, a Raqqah resident who declined to give his full name because of fear of reprisals, said people are unhappy with the strict social codes imposed by the Islamic State.
Women cannot leave home without a male guardian, shops have to close five times for prayer and people accused of theft have their hands cut off in public, he said. “People yearn for the pre-war days,” he said after arriving in Beirut. “But they’re too intimidated to speak out.”
President Obama and his national security advisers keep insisting that the Islamic State doesn’t have any ideology beyond violence. That’s not correct. The Islamic State has an ideology, based on the Muslim Brotherhood’s desire to return Islam to its roots and the Koran. They are an expression of the Islamic revival that has been underway for about 30 to 40 years now, across the Islamic world. They’re the most radical expression of that revival so far, but they are an expression of it.
By “revival,” I’m using Christian terminology but this is nothing like a Christian revival, except in one sense. Christian revivals are efforts to bring believers back to what the New Testament actually says, about sin, about grace, about living the Christian life, about the Revelation. The New Testament never teaches war against anyone (the Old Testament does in some passages, but Christians revivals are almost always about the New Testament). It teaches peace, submission to even ungodly authorities, and many other things, but not violence.
The Koran teaches violence against non-Muslims, mainly Jews and Christians, in the portions thought to have been written after Mohammed had won secular power in warfare. Therefore an Islamic revival will not bear many similarities with a Christian revival. If both faiths have revivals aimed at getting them back to what their written teachings say, it matters a great deal what those teachings actually say. Contrary to soft beliefs that all religions basically teach the same things, they don’t.
If the Obama administration’s rhetoric that ISIS has no ideology is aimed at creating a split between IS and other Muslims, then it might be worthwhile as public relations. But this administration has had a cozy relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood for years. The Muslim Brotherhood started the Islamic revival. Even if the administration views the IS as too radical to have an ideology, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology seems to be seeping into the administration’s strategic thinking — to the extent that there is any.
The strongest public relations with the most impact would be to destroy IS root and branch and therefore discredit them. But that doesn’t appear to be the goal, at least not in any meaningful way.
I’ll end this post with this shoutfest between Sean Hannity and terrorist imam Anjem Choudary from Fox Wednesday night. Choudary is an Islamic supremacist who supports terrorism and any other means to further what he sees as Islam’s war against the rest of the world.
Most of the discussion is useless shouting, but near the end, Hannity gets Choudary to admit that the end game for him and al Qaeda and ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood is the same — to impose Islamic sharia law on the whole world.
That’s an ideology, as extreme an ideology as the world has ever seen. Sharia is the Islamic law behind everything from forcing women to cover themselves head to toe, to forcing all non-Muslims to pay a tax and live under repression, to beheading journalists and selling non-Muslim women into sex slavery. ISIS believes that its actions are in accord with sharia.
Most Muslims do not support the likes of ISIS or Choudary. But millions do support the global imposition of sharia, as part of the overall Islamic revival.
Anjem Choudary doesn’t live in Syria and isn’t taking up a gun to fight for the cause. He lives in London on welfare. He encourages other Muslims to live on welfare in the West and turn it into a “jihadi allowance.” His weapon is his mouth. He may have radicalized the British Muslim rapper who joined ISIS and is believed to have beheaded James Foley.
Does Anjem Choudary have an ideology?
President Barack Obama delivered a press conference on foreign policy crises this afternoon. While the president apparently did not have an overarching message in mind for either the crisis in Ukraine or ISIS’ rise in the Middle East, he did make one admission that is bound to be the headline.
“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Obama said. “We don’t have a strategy yet [for dealing with ISIS].”
Obama did allow that he may consult with Congress at some point, and the United States might “cobble together” some kind of coalition to combat ISIS.
A spokesman for the Peshmerga told CNN today that the Kurdish forces had received “some weapons from the United States,” but “it’s not enough, very little” to be able to defeat ISIS.
Brig. Gen. Hazhar Ismail said they are now “gaining ground” again versus the Islamic State in part thanks to U.S. airstrikes intended to protect Irbil.
“It’s very little, but it helped us a lot. So now, day by day, we are gaining ground, and we have a plan to re-control and defeat our enemy, our common enemy, the international enemy, is, and all the area, to save the area from is. You know they are threatening the civilian people,” Ismail said. “They killed many peoples in Sinjar, in Sinjar Mountain. They kill Christian, Yazidi, Kurd, Arab. There is no difference. So we have a plan with help and support with our friend, the U.S., and some countries.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday that “in addition to support from the U.S., and the central government of Iraq in Baghdad, seven additional nations – Albania, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom – have committed to helping provide Kurdish forces urgently needed arms and equipment.”
“Operations have already begun and will accelerate in the coming days with more nations also expected to contribute,” Hagel said in a statement. “…This multinational effort, which is being coordinated with the Government of Iraq in Baghdad, will greatly assist Kurdish forces in repelling the brutal terrorist threat they face from ISIL.”
Ismail said Baghdad is stalling shipments, saying it wants to check everything going to the Kurds first.
“For a week, we did not receive anything from U.S. or from other countries. The problem, Baghdad. So we need U.S. and other countries to tell Baghdad, you have to solve some bad policies you’re created in the past. It is a good chance to solve the problems now,” he said.
He stressed that the U.S. arms that did get through “helped us a lot to stop ISIS and to re-control the area.”
“But believe me, it’s not enough, because we have a very long border with ISIS. We have 1,050 kilometer border with ISIS. We’re fighting terrorist country, not terrorist organization or small group. So we need to have weapons, ammunition, equipment, everything as army,” Ismail said. “We are part of Iraqi defense system, but unfortunately, they did nothing for us, with budget, with training, with weapons, with ammunition, with everything. So even for eight years, they did not pay the Peshmerga forces even $1.”
Four senators this week called on the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.
The Latin American countries yanked their ambassadors from the Jewish state in protest of the operations in Gaza, with Brazil calling the IDF action a “disproportionate use of force.”
“This is an unfortunate demonstration of why Brazil, an economic and cultural giant, remains a diplomatic dwarf,” Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in return. “The moral relativism behind this move makes Brazil an irrelevant diplomatic partner, one who creates problems rather than contributes to solutions.”
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) sent letters Monday to each of the countries involved in the diplomatic spats, saying they were “deeply disappointed by your government’s decision to recall your Ambassador to Israel ‘in protest’ against Israel’s legitimate military operations to restore deterrence against rocket attacks and terrorist tunnels designed by Hamas to kill Israeli civilians.”
“Hamas is a terrorist organization committed to using violence as a political tool and denying Israel’s right to exist. Hamas leaders have violated international law by promoting the use of civilians as human shields, and have rejected multiple cease fire offers that could save lives on both sides of this conflict,” they wrote. “All loss of innocent lives during this conflict is tragic, but your government’s decision to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel at this critical time will only embolden Hamas leaders to continue on the current course of indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli civilians rather than working with the Israeli government to achieve a sustainable cease fire arrangement.”
“Your actions send a troubling message to the United States about your government’s commitment to long-lasting peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
The bipartisan group encouraged each president to “return your Ambassador to Israel, as a symbol of your country’s steadfast commitment to achieving an enduring peace in the Middle East and the fight against the scourge of international terrorism.”
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Congress can’t even begin to speculate what it can do to aid the fight against ISIS until President Obama comes up with a strategy to “destroy” the Islamic State.
“ISIS is a clear and present threat to our allies across the Middle East and to the United States. There is no negotiating with ISIS or deterring it. It must be defeated and destroyed,” chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement today. “Doing so demands a comprehensive strategy combining diplomatic, political, and military efforts, and the contributions from a broad coalition of countries. Such a strategy will require time, commitment, and leadership that America is uniquely suited to provide.”
“This comprehensive approach may well require additional authorities from Congress, but speculation about that before the president has even offered a strategy is putting the cart before the horse,” he continued. “We need the president to explain to the American people what is at stake, what our objectives are, and the strategy for how to achieve them. Only after we understand all this can we contemplate what new authorities might be needed.”
McKeon, who is retiring at the end of this term, challenged Obama “to engage Congress.”
“I’m willing to work with him, and I would offer a few factors for him to keep in mind,” the chairman continued. “First, ISIS is an urgent threat and a minimalist approach, that depends solely on FY15 funding or pinprick strikes that leave fragile forces in Iraq and Syria to do the hard fighting, is insufficient to protect our interests and guarantee our safety in time.”
“Second, good strategies keep options on the table and keep an adversary guessing, instead of telegraphing what we won’t do. No leader ever won a conflict by first declaring what steps he was unwilling to take – or, for that matter, leaking details about steps he actually is taking.”
Third, McKeon stressed, “the ISIS threat was allowed to build and fester over a period of time.”
“They are not likely to be decisively defeated quickly, but will have to be faced by this president and his successors,” he said. “Therefore, strategy and decisions made by the president now should preserve future options, not foreclose them. Finally, this enemy must be defeated, but if we are not going to adequately resource our effort, we will only make a very complex security situation worse.”
President Obama lauded the U.S. for being a leading force for peace and security in the world while assuring that pulling out of Afghanistan wouldn’t let the country become a haven for terrorists.
Obama told the American Legion convention that “the United States is better positioned to lead in the 21st century than any nation on Earth.”
“It’s not even close. We have the most powerful military in history. That’s certainly not close. From Europe to Asia, our alliances are unrivaled. Our economy is the most dynamic. We’ve got the best workers. We’ve got the best businesses. We have the best universities and the best scientists,” he said.
“…Nobody else can do what we do. No other nation does more to underwrite the security and prosperity on which the world depends. In times of crisis, no other nation can rally such broad coalitions to stand up for international norms and peace. In times of disaster, no other nation has the capabilities to deliver so much so quickly. No nation does more to help citizens claim their rights and build their democracies. No nation does more to help people in the far corners of the Earth escape poverty and hunger and disease and realize their dignity.”
The president continued by noting “even countries that criticize us, when the chips are down and they need help, they know who to call.”
“They call us. That’s what American leadership looks like. It’s why the United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world,” he said. “Now, sustaining our leadership, keeping America strong and secure means we have to use our power wisely. History teaches us of the dangers of overreaching and spreading ourselves too thin and trying to go it alone without international support or rushing into military adventures without thinking through the consequences.”
“And nobody knows this better than our veterans and our families, our veteran families because you’re the ones who bear the wages of war. You’re the ones who carry the scars. You know that we should never send American sons and daughters into harm’s way unless it is absolutely necessary and we have a plan and we are resourcing it and prepared to see it through.”
He added the U.S. “has to lead with strength and confidence and wisdom.”
“And that’s why after incredible sacrifice by so many of our men and women in uniform, we removed more than 140,000 troops from Iraq and welcomed those troops home. It was the right thing to do,” Obama said.
He praised his administration’s drive against “al-Qaeda’s leadership in the tribal regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” and stressed that the war would be coming to a close for the U.S. in four months with the pullout from Afghanistan.
“And now, as Afghans continue to work towards the first democratic transfer of power in their history, Afghan leaders need to make the hard compromises that are necessary to give the Afghan people a future of security and progress. And as we go forward, we’ll continue to partner with Afghans so their country can never again be used to launch attacks against the United States.”
He waited for applause after this line; he got a smattering of claps after the pause.
Obama said he’s “always made clear” that “the blows we’ve struck against al-Qaeda’s leadership don’t mean the end to the terrorist threat.”
“Al-Qaeda affiliates still target our homeland. We’ve seen that in Yemen. Other extremists threaten our citizens abroad, as we’ve seen most recently in Iraq and Syria. As commander in chief, the security of the American people is my highest priority, and that’s why, with the brutal terrorist group ISIL advancing in Iraq, I have authorized targeted strikes to protect our diplomats and military advisers who are there,” he continued.
“And let me say it again, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq. We’ll not allow the United States to be dragged back into another ground war in Iraq. Because ultimately, it is up to the Iraqis to bridge their differences and secure themselves.”
The president referenced the parents of American journalist James Foley, stressing prayers were with them.
“But our message to anyone who harms our people is simple: America does not forget our reach is long. We are patient. Justice will be done. We have proved time and time again we will do what’s necessary to capture those who harm Americans to go after those who harm Americans. And we’ll continue to take direct action where needed to protect our people and to defend our homeland. And rooting out a cancer like ISIL won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick,” Obama said.
“But tyrants and murderers before them should recognize that kind of hateful vision ultimately is no match for the strength and hopes of people who stand together for the security and dignity and freedom that is the birthright of every human being.”
Always late to the party, except when it’s an actual party.
The U.S. has started flying surveillance drones over Syria after President Obama authorized the missions, two senior Defense officials told Fox News, in a move that could pave the way for eventual airstrikes against Islamic State targets in the country.
A decision still has not been made, at least publicly, to launch airstrikes in Syria. But the Obama administration would likely need additional intelligence on possible targets should the president take that step.
Sources told Fox News that Obama approved surveillance missions in Syria for the first time over the weekend; they have since begun.
Why is Obama just now doing this? Or, why is he publicizing that he is just now doing this? He is letting the PR get ahead of strategy, supposing that there is a strategy. The world doesn’t need to know when the US is conducting drone flights over ISIS and when it isn’t. But a president with flagging poll numbers who is even taking golf grief from Maureen Dowd needs to look like he’s working on something other than his tee shot.
The ISIS crisis is headed to a bizarre probability — that the United States will end up conducting airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria that will aid the Assad regime that Barack Obama declared “had to go” not too long ago.
Of course, Obama wanted to intervene in Syria’s civil war early on, to oust Assad, an intervention which would have ended up helping the Islamists — some of whom are now ISIS.
Matti Friedman, a former AP Correspondent, has written a brilliant, must-read analysis of why the mainstream media’s reporting on Israel is skewed, biased, and downright reprehensible:
The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.
While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
The 3 page story explains a number of popular misnomers that are the result of mainstream media reporting techniques, including:
- In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.
- The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
- Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story. In addition, reporters are under deadline and often at risk, and many don’t speak the language and have only the most tenuous grip on what is going on. They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both. Reporters don’t need Hamas enforcers to shoo them away from facts that muddy the simple story they have been sent to tell.
Concluding with, “Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality,” the story is a must read for anyone willing to confront the mess of mainstream media and the reality of life in Israel and the Middle East.
The Islamic State may have achieved something that no terrorist group before them has managed — they may be a fully fledged combined-arms capable fighting force powered by the use of indigenous natural resources it controls.
Over the past few months, as if to defy President Barack Obama’s characterization of them as “jayvee,” ISIS spread swiftly from Syria deep into Iraq, sweeping through territory that had been controlled or at least patrolled by the Iraqi army.
That army proved to be so weak that its personnel fled their posts. ISIS scooped up American vehicles and weapons left behind by the Iraqi security forces. By July, the Islamic State had reportedly taken 52 155mm M198 Howitzer artillery guns. They have a range of up to 20 miles and can be used in conjunction with GPS for fine targeting. US airstrikes in recent weeks have focused on ISIS artillery, among other things, suggesting that US airmen are targeting some of those former US guns.
It’s also possible that in addition to picking up US vehicles and weapons, ISIS picked up some undeclared Syrian chemical weapons.
Over this past weekend, ISIS attacked and took over a Syrian air base in Raqqa. That has been widely reported. What has not been widely reported is that leading up to the assault, ISIS used drone aircraft for surveillance of the base. Whether or not ISIS captured any usable aircraft at the base (and apparently, they did), and whether they have any trained pilots to operate them or not, the Islamic State already has drone aircraft at its disposal.
The success of the mission in Syria shows that ISIS can coordinate the movements of its ground troops on foot and in vehicles, and its airborne drones. That is a combined-arms capable force. They only thing they’re missing is a navy, but they don’t need that where they are currently operating. If things continue on their current path, ISIS could steal a navy either from Iraq or Syria.
In addition to all of that, ISIS now controls an area that is larger than Britain. It is sparsely populated compared to Britain — about 4 million in ISIS territory versus about 64 million in Britain — but ISIS territory is oil-rich.
A Businessweek article compares ISIS to the “Taliban with oil fields.” The Islamic State may be raking in $2 million a day in revenue from oil sales alone, making it a self-financed and largely self-sufficient terrorist entity that happens to be armed chiefly with captured American-made weaponry. Additionally, ISIS is not as vulnerable to sanctions as previous terrorists groups have been.
“The Islamic State is probably the wealthiest terrorist group we’ve ever known,” said Matthew Levitt, a former U.S. Treasury terrorism and financial intelligence official who now is director of the counterterrorism and intelligence program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They’re not as integrated with the international financial system, and therefore not as vulnerable” to sanctions, anti-money laundering laws and banking regulations.
In contrast, the late al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was from a wealthy family and enjoyed a network of foreign patrons, and his funding sources were squeezed by financial intelligence officers. The Islamic State “makes their money primarily — if not entirely — locally,” said Patrick Johnston, a counterterrorism specialist at the Santa Monica, California-based Rand Corp.’s Pittsburgh office and co-author of a forthcoming analysis of declassified documents on the Islamic State’s finances.
In addition to all that, an unknown number of ISIS fighters are citizens of the West and carry western passports.
Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, before the “Arab Spring” and the plight of Christians became much of a topic, I wrote an article titled “The Silent Extermination of Iraq’s ‘Christian Dogs.’” Revisiting it is useful, as it highlights some important points. The article follows below in italics, with new observations interspersed in regular font:
Last week [April, 2011] an Iraqi Muslim scholar issued a fatwa that, among other barbarities, asserts that “it is permissible to spill the blood of Iraqi Christians.” Inciting as the fatwa is, it is also redundant. While last October’s Baghdad church attack which killed some sixty Christians is widely known—actually receiving some MSM coverage—the fact is, Christian life in Iraq has been a living hell ever since U.S. forces ousted the late Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The important point here is that the plight of Iraq’s Christians did not just begin under the Islamic State, as many seem to believe, but rather from the very first day the (secular) autocrat was removed.
Among other atrocities, beheading and crucifying Christians are not irregular occurrences; messages saying “you Christian dogs, leave or die,” are typical. Islamists see the church as an “obscene nest of pagans” and threaten to “exterminate Iraqi Christians.” John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, summarized the situation well in a recent letter to President Obama:
“The threat of extermination is not empty. Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, more than half the country’s Christian population has been forced by targeted violence to seek refuge abroad or to live away from their homes as internally displaced people. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, over 700 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 61 churches have been bombed. Seven years after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk reports: ‘He who is not a Muslim in Iraq is a second-class citizen. Often it is necessary to convert or emigrate, otherwise one risks being killed.’ This anti-Christian violence is sustained by a widespread culture of Muslim supremacism that extends far beyond those who pull the triggers and detonate the bombs.”
Again, more confirmation that the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq—including recent acts of genocide and expulsions—is not a product of the Islamic State, but rather something more homegrown, more—how shall we say?—integral to Muslims unloosed from the grips of secularized dictators?
The grand irony, of course, is that Christian persecution has increased exponentially under U.S. occupation. As one top Vatican official put it, Christians, “paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship” of Saddam Hussein.
What does one make of this—that under Saddam, who was notorious for human rights abuses, Christians were better off than they are under a democratic government sponsored by humanitarian, some would say “Christian,” America?
Although I first suggested over three years ago that Christian minorities are the first to suffer whenever the U.S. intervenes in Islamic nations—evincing the types of people the U.S. ends up empowering—this notion is now an ironclad fact, with other examples to add to Iraq, including Libya, Syria, and Egypt under Obama allies, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Like a Baghdad caliph, Saddam appears to have made use of the better educated Christians, who posed no risk to his rule, such as his close confidant Tariq Aziz. Moreover, by keeping a tight lid on the Islamists of his nation—who hated him as a secular apostate no less than the Christians—the latter benefited indirectly.
Conversely, by empowering “the people,” the U.S. has unwittingly undone Iraq’s Christian minority. Naively projecting Western values on Muslims, U.S. leadership continues to think that “people-power” will naturally culminate into a liberal, egalitarian society—despite all the evidence otherwise. The fact is, in the Arab/Muslim world, “majority rule” traditionally means domination by the largest tribe or sect; increasingly, it means Islamist domination.
Either which way, the minorities—notably the indigenous Christians—are the first to suffer once the genie of “people-power” is uncorked. Indeed, evidence indicates that the U.S. backed “democratic” government of Iraq enables and incites the persecution of its Christians. (All of this raises the pivotal question: Do heavy-handed tyrants—Saddam, Mubarak, Qaddafi, et al—create brutal societies, or do naturally brutal societies create the need for heavy-handed tyrants to keep order?)
Again, a reminder that it is not just the Islamic jihadis and other U.S. sponsored “rebels” that persecute Christians, but even the U.S. installed government of Iraq. Moreover, a few months after the above was written, the government of “liberated” Afghanistan destroyed the last Christian church—entirely under U.S. auspices.
Another indicator that empowering Muslim masses equates Christian suffering is the fact that, though Iraqi Christians amount to a mere 5% of the population, they make up nearly 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq. It is now the same in Egypt: “A growing number of Egypt’s 8-10 million Coptic Christians are looking for a way to get out as Islamists increasingly take advantage of the nationalist revolution that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in February.”
At least Egypt’s problems are homegrown, whereas the persecution of Iraq’s Christians is a direct byproduct of U.S. intervention. More ironic has been Obama’s approach: Justifying U.S. intervention in Libya largely in humanitarian terms, the president recently declared that, while “it is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs… that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.”
Indeed, and we have since seen what Obama’s “humanitarian” actions in Libya have led to—the empowerment of Islamists and jihadis, evinced from things like the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the dramatic rise of Christian persecution. Since Obama “liberated” Libya, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. And it’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was hardly the case under Gaddafi.
True, indeed. Yet, as Obama “acts on behalf of what’s right” by providing military protection to the al-Qaeda connected Libyan opposition, Iraq’s indigenous Christians continue to be exterminated—right under the U.S. military’s nose in Iraq. You see, in its ongoing bid to win the much coveted but forever elusive “Muslim-hearts-and-minds™”—which Obama has even tasked NASA with—U.S. leadership has opted to ignore the inhumane treatment of Islam’s “Christian dogs,” the mere mention of which tends to upset Muslims.
And now the job is largely done, as Christians and other religious minorities are being cleansed from large parts of Iraq, not to mention much of the Islamic world.
The best chance yet at a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and Gaza failed this week, when Hamas fired rockets at Israeli cities. They broke the ceasefire agreement, and so Israel retaliated with air strikes; and now, we’re back to square one.
You might think Qatar, with its ultra-wealthy skyscraper-clad cities, is far removed from the Gaza situation. Especially given there’s almost 700 miles between them, and that Qatar is a US ally, a seemingly westernized place, and a titan of globalized industry. But Qatar is wielding a lot of influence over Hamas and the negotiations.
According to the Washington Post: “An official from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement suggested Wednesday that Qatar torpedoed the peace talks. After signs of progress last week, Hamas negotiators returned to the table after consultations in Qatar with new conditions.”
Qatar is convincing Hamas to take a hard-line stance in talks with Israel.
So how do they have such influence? Well, for one, the Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal moved to Doha, Qatar, when he was exiled from Kuwait. He is one of the primary executives within the Hamas organization, and he lives in Qatar.
Meanwhile, in 2012, Qatar promised Hamas $400 million in aid. Their cause and terrorism activities have direct funding ties to the Government of Qatar.
Also, when Hamas took charge of Gaza in 2007, the Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was the first foreign dignitary to even visit the Palestinian territory. And, al-Thani even chartered a private plane to bring Hamas militant trainers to Doha to further their education, and experience life in the big city.
So the Qatari-Gaza relationship is strong and gives Qatar a lot of sway in cases such as this.
The reason Israel and Hamas haven’t come to a truce of some sort this go-round is the extreme demands that Gaza is putting forth. According to The Telegraph, “Hamas wants all restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza to be lifted.” This means that Israelis are supposed to let Gazans into their country, inside their sovereign borders, with no control.
So, when we hear that Qatar is bolstering Hamas’ more radical demands, we see that they are responsible for the negotiations falling apart. Because Israel wouldn’t meet these demands, Hamas left the table and fired rockets at Israel.
The Zionist Organization of America has called for a suspension of the $11 billion arms trade deal, that US Secretary of Defense Hagel made with Qatar this July. The Zionist organization wants Qatar named an International State Sponsor of Terror, which would also bar them from having FAA rights to have flights in or out of the USA, and it would allow people to sue Qatar for damages associated with the terror acts.
I agree with the ZOA’s call, but also want the international community to condemn Qatar on a broader level.
A little over a month ago, we just finished watching the FIFA World Cup, and many of us got really into it. Cheering on the US, which did better than anyone thought they could, laughing at “Tim Howard Saves” memes, and rooting for Germany or Argentina in the final round, was exhilarating. But, in 2022, the World Cup is supposed to be in Qatar.
There are already a lot of reasons why this was a bad choice. There is no soccer infrastructure there, and it gets very very hot. And it was uncovered that Qatari billionaires had set up slush funds to bribe many African and Asian leaders into supporting their bid, and even created a whole oil trade deal with Thailand to procure their vote. They have been treating their laborers, who were hired to build from scratch stadiums around their nation, very poorly, prompting World Cup sponsors like Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Visa to question their work conditions.
But now that we know more about Qataris involvement with the terrorist organization, Hamas, I think the US Government and US Soccer Association, as well as the World Cup corporate sponsors, should reinvigorate the call for the 2022 tournament to be competed elsewhere. The UK and the US have both been mentioned as possible replacement locales. The World Cup, and its millions of dollars in revenue, should not be in Qatar.
It’s time we show the world that there are real consequences for funding terrorism, and for going against our strongest allies, like Israel.
The formation and execution of foreign policy can be complicated. Yet, the principles which inform those tasks are not. Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson reports on the awkward relationship emerging between the United States and the Assad regime in Syria as both find a common enemy in the Islamic State (ISIS):
“The Obama administration can’t partner with Assad overtly at this time, but the logic and trajectory of White House policy in Syria leads in that direction,” Tony Badran, a research fellow specializing in Syria and Hezbollah at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News. “White House policy in Syria is predicated on preserving so-called regime institutions.”
In public, the administration is not changing its position on Assad. And State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf disputed that the U.S. and Syrian governments share a common goal in defeating ISIS.
“I would strongly disagree with the notion that we are on the same page here,” Harf said on Monday, while later admitting to Fox News, “We may be looking at some of the same targets.”
We need not wring our hands with concern over whether action taken against ISIS in defense of American lives places us in alignment with Assad on certain objectives. Moral clarity can be found by recalling the proper role of our armed forces in defending American citizens. Anxiety over “helping” Assad by undercutting his opposition in ISIS seems based primarily on concern over the death of innocents in Syria. But if ISIS presents a threat to American citizens, then failure to neutralize the aggressive Islamic totalitarian horde potentially sacrifices Americans for the sake of Syrians. That’s not a trade our government may properly make.
The other way to potentially view this, if we conclude that Assad also presents a threat to America, is that fighting the enemy of an enemy does not necessarily make friends. Certainly, when we recall the inclusion of the Soviet Union in the Allied Forces rallied to defeat the Axis, we would not in retrospect claim that common purpose made us lasting friends.
There’s no question that ISIS believes that it as at war with the US. It keeps saying so.
And the US has launched several dozen airstrikes against them, while we are also arming and advising the Kurds who are fighting them on the ground. We’re also advising the Iraqi security forces. ISIS just beheaded an American journalist and is threatening to murder another one.
But the State Department, represented here by Marie Harf, doesn’t believe that those facts constitute “war.”
At a briefing Thursday, a reporter brought up anti-American comments from ISIL leaders: “I mean, even they are announcing, ISIL people in their message, whatever, the recorded message, other messages, that now we are in a war with America.”
“This is not about ISIL versus the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf objected. “They are killing anyone who gets in their way: Sunnis, Shia Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Iraqis, Syrians, anyone who gets in their way — and now an American.”
“So this is not about what the United States is or isn’t doing,” Harf continued. “This is about ISIL stated a commitment to murder, rape, enslave people who don’t agree with their ideology and who get in their way.”
“But they are announcing that it’s a war against America,” the reporter pressed. “Right or wrong, that’s what they are saying.”
Harf maintained, “Well, they can say whatever they’d like, but what I am making clear is that’s not what ISIL represents. And they don’t represent any religion. They are at war with everybody they come into contact with.”
They’re not at war with the westerners they keep recruiting. They have about 1500 British citizens they have come into contact with, who have joined ISIS.
What’s the game here that State is playing?
I’m on the record that Harf is cute, but that she’s a terrible spokesperson for the US. Terrible. She gets snarky and defensive when reporters ask her legitimate questions, and she is of a mind that hashtags have replaced tanks and airplanes in modern warfare.
It would be nice if that were true. But it’s a fantasy to believe that it is. Hashtags won’t even get you through a game of Risk.
Here, Harf is not speaking on her own. She is delivering the official message. She is representing what Secretary of State John Kerry believes, who is supposed to be in sync with what President Obama believes. But he may not be. Obama isn’t exactly fully on task these days, unless the task is working on his putting game.
So Kerry believes that it’s not in our interests not to admit that we’re at war with ISIS — the worst thing to hit the world since al Qaeda.
Kerry also tweeted yesterday that ISIS should be “crushed.”
How and why should we crush an entity that we’re not even at war with?
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee today called for an investigation into the leak that led the Obama administration to say that it attempted a rescue of ISIS hostages earlier this summer.
The Pentagon and White House released details of the operation reportedly to beat some news stories that were expected on it.
“Earlier this summer the president authorized an operation to attempt the rescue of American citizens who were kidnapped and held by ISIL against their will in Syria,” Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “The president authorized action at this time because it was the national security team’s assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in ISIL custody.”
“The U.S. Government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the president authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens,” Monaco said in the statement. “Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present.”
Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement this afternoon that he, “like all Americans,” continues to be “shocked and outraged at the brutal execution of James Foley at the hands of ISIS terrorists.”
“I commend the bravery of our forces who attempted to rescue him and other American captives earlier this summer. They put their lives on the line for people they’d probably never met, and we are forever blessed to have such men and women in service to our country,” McKeon said.
“Successful or not, such operations are incredibly sensitive, even after they have concluded. Disclosure of these missions puts our troops at risk, reduces the likelihood that future missions will succeed, and risks the lives of hostages and informants alike.”
The chairman said while he found it “unwise for the White House and Department of Defense to formally acknowledge this operation, it is outrageous that someone would be so selfish and short sighted to leak it to the media.”
“Secretary Hagel should investigate this matter immediately and thoroughly to determine who, if anyone, at the Department of Defense was the source of this damaging leak,” McKeon said. “Likewise, the heads of the other agencies involved should take similar steps.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to address the media at 3:30 p.m. EST.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stressed that “failures of policies have consequences, and we’re paying those consequences in enormous… cost of human blood.”
“The president wanted out of Iraq. We predicted — many of us predicted that this chaos would ensue. We did not predict the rapidity of the collapse of collapse of the Iraqi military, but certainly this was all predictable when the president of the United States — and he — he’s not telling the truth when he says that he wanted to leave a residual force behind. He did not. And that’s a huge mistake,” McCain said this morning on Fox.
“These things are not like earthquakes or hurricanes… And he still doesn’t get it.”
“He gave a very moving statement about Mr. Foley which all touched us. And then what? He said we have to contain ISIS. We don’t have to contain ISIS. We have to defeat ISIS. And we have to do whatever is necessary. And ISIS is in Syria. And they have obliterated the — the boundary between Iraq and Syria. And we have to go in, and it’s more than pinprick air strikes. And we’re going to need more boots on the ground. And that does not mean combat troops, but it does mean a significant increase,” McCain continued.
“And rather the incrementalism that we are — that they are now practicing, we need a comprehensive strategy that can be explained to the American people, which is designed to defeat ISIS wherever they are. And I hope that this tragic thing that happened with — with Foley will serve to — as a — as a strong message to the United States of America that these people are going to attack us, and they’re going to attack us in the United States of America.”
He reminded all of the words Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — now the self-styled caliph — said when he left U.S. custody at Camp Bucca in 2004: “See you in New York.”
McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) issued their first statement on the execution of journalist James Foley after President Obama’s statement yesterday.
“We agree with the President that America must take the necessary actions against ISIS to protect our people, but ISIS is not just a threat to our personnel serving in Iraq. It is a threat to our nation, as all of our top military, national security, and intelligence leaders have clearly stated. America and our allies and partners will only be secure when ISIS is defeated. That means we must get beyond half-measures, tactical responses, and defensive actions. We need to develop a comprehensive strategy – political, economic, and military – to go on the offensive against ISIS, both in Iraq and Syria,” they said.
The senators noted that Obama “did not articulate a commitment to the comprehensive strategy necessary to defeat ISIS.”
“We cannot allow the darkness to spread, and we must accept our share of the responsibility to stop it, for the sake of our people and the entire civilized world,” McCain and Graham added.
McCain reminded viewers on Fox that Obama previously said, ”It’s not a question of whether Bashar Assad will go, it’s a matter of when.”
“Another debacle, which is the 170,000 dead, 150,000 Syrians still in Bashar Assad’s prison. And the barrel bombs that are so horrendous are continuing to be dropped on innocent men, women and children,” the senator said. “This is an abject failure. And I get emotional about it, because I know these people, and what they’re going through is horrendous.”
Early on in the latest Israel-Hamas war, which was started by the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, many on the medialeft tried their best to exonerate Hamas of that crime.
Hamas itself has now debunked that.
“There was much speculation about this operation, some said it was a conspiracy,” [senior Hamas leader] Saleh al-Arouri told delegates at the International Union of Islamic Scholars in Istanbul on Wednesday, according to a recording of the meeting posted online by organizers.
“The popular will was exercised throughout our occupied land, and culminated in the heroic operation by the Qassam Brigades in imprisoning the three settlers in Hebron,” he said, referring to Hamas’s armed wing.
“This was an operation from your brothers in Qassam undertaken to aid their brothers on hunger strike in (Israeli) prisons,” he added.
Jewish seminary students Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, were abducted while hitchhiking in the Israeli occupied West Bank on June 12 and killed.
So they did it. Case closed.
The White House said that it attempted to rescue U.S. hostages held by ISIS, including James Foley, who was beheaded in a video distributed by the terror group yesterday.
“Earlier this summer the president authorized an operation to attempt the rescue of American citizens who were kidnapped and held by ISIL against their will in Syria,” Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco said in a statement. “The president authorized action at this time because it was the national security team’s assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in ISIL custody.”
“The U.S. Government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the president authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens,” Monaco said in the statement. “Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present.”
She added that “given the need to protect our military’s operational capabilities, we will not be able to reveal the details of this operation.”
“But the president could not be prouder of the U.S. forces who carried out this mission and the dedicated intelligence and diplomatic professionals who supported their efforts. Their effort should serve as another signal to those who would do us harm that the United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to hold their captors accountable.”
Foley’s news outlet, the Global Post, received an email a week ago from ISIS stating their intentions to execute the photojournalist.
“We received an email from the captors on Wednesday night of last week stating their intention to execute Jim,” Philip Balboni, president of the online news service, told a Boston Fox affiliate.
“The email was full of rage. We pleaded (to his captors) for mercy, but to no avail,” he added.
The White House knew of the email. It released the statement about the attempted rescue op hours after the news that ISIS gave warning of Foley’s execution.
In a Pentagon statement, press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the operation “involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL.”
“As we have said repeatedly, the United States government is committed to the safety and well-being of its citizens, particularly those suffering in captivity. In this case, we put the best of the United States military in harms’ way to try and bring our citizens home,” Kirby said.
“The United States government uses the full breadth of our military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring people home whenever we can. The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will work tirelessly to secure the safety of our citizens and to hold their captors accountable.”
It has not been revealed exactly how many Western hostages are being held by ISIS, including journalists and aid workers.
At the end of the gruesome video of Foley’s murder, his executioner held journalist Steve Sotloff by the shirt and threatened to kill him next if Obama didn’t stop airstrikes against the caliphate.
“Obviously, the intelligence community is looking to get anything they can to possibly use from this video,” Harf said. “Obviously I’m not going to outline what tactical military or intelligence options are at our disposal to respond here and don’t want to get ahead of any discussions in that regard. But we have the ability to hold people accountable for what they’ve done. We have reserved the right to take action to protect our people, including when our people have been harmed. The principle will guide what we do going forward.”
The U.S. military conducted an additional 14 strikes around Mosul dam today, she said.
When asked if any sort of rescue operation was in the works to get Sotloff, Harf replied, “I’m not ruling anything in or out specifically. I don’t — I’m not going to have more specifics to share with you right now on that.”
“But I just want to be very clear that we — no effort is spared in trying to bring our people home. While we can’t always talk about it publicly for obvious security and safety reasons of the remaining people being held, I just want to make very clear that we are taking and will continue taking steps.”
Foley’s parents appeared outside of their Rochester, N.H., home today to speak of their son — and the cruelty of his death.
“It’s horrific,” said John Foley. “People can die in lots of different ways but this was the most horrific and it haunts me how much pain he was in and how cruel this method of execution is.”
His parents learned of their son’s beheading at the same time everyone else did — when ISIS posted the video on YouTube and distributed the link widely on social media.
“It testified to his courage. He was courageous to the end and I think he accepted his situation and I think he accepted God’s faith in him and his faith in God,” John Foley said.
James Foley’s mother, Diane, stressed that her son was ”a great American and he believed in the very best of this country.”
She said they pleaded with Obama to rescue Sotloff, and she asked people to pray for the president.
“How long are we going to tolerate this?” John Foley said of the terrorists’ crimes.
Secretary of State John Kerry offered remarks in reaction to the Islamic State’s murder of American journalist James Foley today. The State Department tweeted the highlights.
ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) August 20, 2014
For the record, yes, IS/ISIS/ISIL should be crushed. Tellingly, neither Kerry nor President Obama has offered a plan and they are not gathering a coalition of the willing to get the job done. Obama went back to golf this afternoon.
Crushing IS would be right. But it’s not a proportional response to the murder of one American.
Hamas routinely kidnaps Israeli citizens, murders them and leaves their bodies by the side of the road. Hamas launches rockets into Israel with the purpose of killing Israelis and creating the feeling of dread and terror among them.
The international community, of which Kerry and Obama are members in good standing, always calls on Israel to respond “proportionally” to Hamas terrorism and rocket attacks.
Responding proportionally to terrorism is…what, exactly? So far, it’s destroying tunnels and perhaps airstriking a few terrorist leaders, but the group itself is left intact enough to come back and wage terror war another day. It’s not effective in getting rid of the problem of terrorism.
In fact, if we take “proportional’ literally, Israel should respond to Hamas by kidnapping innocent Palestinians and by launching random bombs on houses, schools and hospitals in Gaza. But that’s not what the “international community” means.
No one in the “international community” is calling on the United States to respond to IS beheading an American “proportionally.” At least not yet.
Why not? Hm.
Doesn't sound like a proportional response. Or is that standard only for The JooooZ? RT @JohnKerry ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) August 20, 2014
Obama: ‘ISIL Speaks for No Religion,’ Global Effort Should ‘Extract This Cancer So That It Does Not Spread’
President Obama condemned the beheading of journalist James Foley and ISIS in a strongly worded statement to reporters moments ago, but didn’t offer specifics on how the U.S. would react policy-wise to ISIS killing Americans.
“Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL. Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away,” Obama said from Martha’s Vineyard.
“…Earlier today, I spoke to the Foleys and told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.”
He added that “Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers.”
“Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages, killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declare their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people,” Obama said.
“So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim, out of expediency, that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is, they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.”
The president said “people like this ultimately fail.”
“They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy, and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him,” Obama continued. “The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.”
“And we act against ISIL standing alongside others. The people of Iraq who, with our support, are taking the fight to ISIL, must continue coming together to expel these terrorists from their communities. The people of Syria, whose story Jim Foley told, do not deserve to live under the shadow of a tyrant or terrorists. They have our support in their pursuit of a future rooted in dignity.”
He stressed that among “governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of these kind of nihilistic ideologies.”
“One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century,” said Obama. “Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday, and we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility.”
“That’s what Jim Foley stood for, a man who lived his work, who courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings and who was liked and loved by friends and family. Today, the American people will all say a prayer for those who loved Jim. All of us feel the ache of his absence. All of us mourn his loss.”
Obama, who did not take questions from reporters, did not mention the specific threat in the beheading video to kill journalist Steve Sotloff if strikes continue. “We keep in our prayers those other Americans who are separated from their families. We will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for,” he said. “Maybe God bless and keep Jim’s memory and may God bless the United States of America.”
A day after news broke that the Islamic State beheaded American journalist James Foley, NBC News’ senior foreign correspondent has grim news of the near-term future.
According to Engel, IS terrorists are going about capturing foreigners and trading for them, building a cache of foreign hostages. Engel says the group already has between 30 and 40 western hostages.
IS is still holding American Steven Sotloff. The group tweeted out images of him Tuesday, and warned that his life depends on what President Obama does next.
It’s not the first time the northwestern Syrian fig-and-olive-producing town of Kafranbel has cited President Obama in its famous signs — see Obama as Pinocchio and a genocide enabler — but it’s especially poignant in their touching tribute to slain journalist James Foley:
— Bridget Johnson (@Bridget_PJM) August 20, 2014
My two-word response to the beheading of James Foley and captivity of Steven Sotloff: Daniel Pearl. Americans still suffer under the delusion that oceans are borders. America is so physically huge that we can watch the riots in Ferguson the way we watch the rockets being fired from Gaza or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: From the comfort of our couch. Neither we, nor our families, nor our homes are physically in danger. In truth, we are disconnected. At best, those of us who do pay attention do so through screen media. We participate by commenting on internet forums or through social media, or perhaps writing a check to a charity to help those in need. But we should not confuse compassion or concern for actual awareness.
As I watch what is happening in my second home, Israel, I marvel at the reactionary comments I’ve seen from well-meaning Americans who are confident that if they lived next door to Hamas, they’d just go after the terrorists with Christianity-fueled faith in their Second Amendment rights. It’s so easy to see yourself as the next John Wayne from the comfort of your living room. It’s far more difficult when your family and your home are on the line. Much has been said about the right of those overseas to tell Israel how to run their military operations. From a writer’s point of view, I can remain at best pragmatic by saying that the surreality in which these armchair soldiers dwell is, at least, far more supportive than the stupor that plagues most Americans. For their sake, and the sake of America, I hope the bravado isn’t masking an army of summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.
I recall watching my friends collapse in horror on 9/11. As profoundly moved as I was by the horrific tragedy of that day, my response was simply: Intifada. The reality of countless suicide bombers trolling city streets, blowing themselves and countless civilians up at nightclubs, hotels, or on city buses had become a way of life for Israelis in the ’90s. Because I am so deeply connected to that land I felt that impact in a way most overseas do not. There was no shock in 9/11 for me, only awe at the sleeping America that responded to their alarm clock by repeatedly hitting snooze.
A leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee stressed to MSNBC last night that what ISIS wants is “a fight against the infidels” — us.
“It’s hard to imagine a more apt description than evil for what this group represents. They’re beheading people. They’re forcing people to convert. They’re victimizing women and children, starving whole population centers,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said. “They are the personification of evil. And we see this most graphically in this latest barbarous act.”
MSNBC host Chris Hayes then asked, “Is ISIS, ISIL evil?” — adding that there seems to be “a widespread feeling what they’re doing is just monstrous and evil.”
Hayes then said “the situation seems to have gotten better” around Mount Sinjar, where ISIS laid siege to fleeing Yazidis, and questioned whether we’re now at war with ISIS.
“The mission has broadened. It began to protect American citizens as well as the humanitarian crisis you mentioned. It then expanded to protecting critical information, the Mosul dam,” Schiff said. “And it’s a very treacherous and slippery slope, particularly when you talk about a long-term strategic plan of aiding the Iraqis and helping to defeat ISIL. We may not have declared it a war, but when we’re dropping bombs and they’re apparently beheading our citizens, it certainly looks like war.”
“So this is, you know, a very precarious situation. America doesn’t want to be dragged back in. At the same time, this is a group if left to its own device has made it clear they intend to attack us in the homeland.”
“Is this an attempt to bait America into war? Or is it an attempt to warn America away from continued airstrikes?” Hayes asked of the beheading of journalist James Foley.
“I think it may be at a bit of both. This is their way of trying to deter, on the one hand, America from engaging these airstrikes which have really set ISIL back for the first time,” Schiff said. ”At the same time, part of what al-Qaeda has done, part of what ISIL wants to do, is they want to pull us in. These are conflicting objectives. Maybe they see it as a win either way for them. But part of what they’re trying to get is the reaction, part of what they want is a fight against the infidels, and we are apparently the greatest infidel of all.”
“So, I think they have those twin objectives. Maybe most immediately, they want to halt the airstrikes, but that’s simply no going to happen.”
A Congress in recess began to react late Tuesday to the horrific beheading of journalist James Foley, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) stressing that Foley won’t be the last American to die at the hands of ISIS unless the Islamic State is stopped.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who represents Foley’s native state and where his parents live, said in a statement that ”our hearts are broken for the Foley family.”
“James was an innocent civilian who was bravely performing his job as a journalist,” Ayotte said. “This barbaric and heinous act shocks the conscience and highlights the truly evil nature of the terrorists we confront, who must be defeated. My thoughts and prayers are with James Foley’s family at this extremely difficult time.”
Ayotte replaced Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) as the third senator in the powerful national-security trio including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Neither McCain nor Graham has yet spoken on the Foley murder, but they have been the loudest voices in the upper chamber for some time warning that President Obama let ISIS get out of hand. “Our senior military, intelligence, and national security leaders have all stated that ISIS is a direct threat to the United States, and we should delay no further in taking the necessary actions to counter it,” they said in a joint statement the day before the gruesome execution video was released by ISIS.
Five days ago, an MSNBC piece accused Graham of “fear-mongering” on the Islamic State.
Foley’s other home-state senator, Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), noted that Foley “was a respected and accomplished journalist who devoted his life to one of our most important freedoms – the freedom of press.”
“Everyone who knew him recognized his dedication to his work and his commitment to sharing his eye-witness reporting of world events,” she said in a statement late Tuesday on her Facebook page. “His murder was a cowardly act of terrorism and underscores the threat that ISIL poses to the freedoms we hold dear. My thoughts are with the Foley family and everyone who knew and loved James, both in New Hampshire and around the world.”
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R-N.H.), who’s aiming to unseat Shaheen this November, quickly issued a one-sentence statement after the devastating news: ”If anyone needed further evidence of the utter inhumanity of Islamic terrorism, this is it. ISIS is pure evil, and they must be stopped.”
Rubio issued a lengthy statement around midnight calling the murder “the latest example of the evil and barbarism of these terrorists.”
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Foley family and with other Western hostages who at this hour are still being held.”
The Daily Beast reported in January that terrorists hold a cache of journalists and aid workers, and moved them east and away from the reach of the Free Syrian Army when they expanded the Islamic State.
“Just as Al Qaeda’s initial killings of Americans abroad foretold the carnage they would unleash within our borders, this barbaric beheading of a defenseless hostage is the clearest indication to date that ISIL has declared war on the United States, on the American people, and on freedom loving people everywhere,” Rubio said. “For more than a year, ISIL has been murdering civilians, raping women and young girls and enslaving them, and carrying out a systematic genocide of anyone who does not share their warped and extremist Islamist views. ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their view of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.”
Rubio added that he remains “deeply concerned that despite the preponderance of evidence that proves ISIL is a fundamentally evil and dangerous terrorist threat to the United States, President Obama continues to appear unwilling to do what is necessary to confront ISIL and communicate clearly to the American people about the threat ISIL poses to our country and to our way of life.”
“ISIL is not a problem for only Iraqis or Syrians to solve. A piecemeal approach will not eliminate the growing threat to the United States and our allies. If we do not do more to assist our Iraqi partners and those moderate Syrians who are fighting ISIL and directly target ISIL’s leadership and networks in Iraq and Syria, I fear that James Foley will not be the only American to die at their hands.”
The Islamic State kidnapped American journalist James Foley on November 22, 2012.
Foley was a freelance photo journalist covering the civil war in Syria at the time.
IS has held him ever since, but today they tweeted out video of his beheading.
They want publicity from this barbaric act, and I’m loathe to give it to them even by writing a few words about it.
But their barbarity needs to be exposed.
President Obama is reluctant to do anything about the Islamic State’s spread, other than to order airstrikes. Over the past few days, those airstrikes have helped the Kurdish and Iraqi forces fight IS. Iraqi forces recaptured the strategic Mosul dam.
But IS is far from broken. They still hold Mosul and several other Iraqi and Syrian cities. They are still capturing Iraqi Christians and Yazidis and reportedly selling captured women into sex slavery. They are murdering people by the dozens, by the hundreds. IS has designs on consolidating its power in Iraq and Syria and using that as a springboard to attack the United States and Europe. Tellingly, the murderer in the IS video of Foley’s execution — which I won’t post here — has a British accent.
IS is still holding American journalist Steven Sotloff. They have tweeted photos of him kneeling in an orange jumpsuit, next to a probable executioner, and declared that his life depends on what President Obama does next.
More: This is a frame from video that aired on CNN last night, from Ferguson, MO.
— AlexaShrugged (@AlexaShrugged) August 19, 2014
Yezidi girl carries an assault rifle to protect her family against ISIS pic.twitter.com/fKdSG7UZnY
— Chady Abou Jaoude (@ChadyAJ) August 19, 2014
— kate preti (@TrmAnh19) August 19, 2014
— Assyrian Lindosh (@Lindosh78) August 18, 2014
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) August 19, 2014
— WARRIOR (@Warrior_mag) August 18, 2014
President Obama broke off his Martha’s Vineyard vacation today to address the situations in Iraq and in Ferguson, MO.
Responding to a question on Iraq and the possibility of “mission creep” there in an effort to deal with the Islamic State, Obama betrayed a lack of understanding of what the terrorist group is seeking in the short and long term.
QUESTION: Thank you. How do you avoid mission creep in Iraq? And how long do you think it’ll take to contain ISIL?
OBAMA: Well, I have been firm from the start that we are not reintroducing thousands of U.S. troops back on the ground to engage in combat. We’re not the Iraqi military, we’re not even the Iraqi air force. I am the commander in chief of the United States armed forces, and Iraq is gonna have to ultimately provide for its own security.
On the other hand, we’ve got a national security interest in making sure our people are protected and in making sure that a savage group that seems willing to slaughter people for no rhyme or reason other than they have not kowtowed to them, that a group like that is contained, because ultimately it can pose a threat to us.
The Islamic State has come to power a a self-declared caliphate despite the Obama administration’s protestations that such a thing would be “absurd.” The president evidently hasn’t learned from this failure to predict the enemy’s goals and actions.
In the quote above, Obama says that IS “seems willing to slaughter people for no rhyme or reason other than they have not kowtowed to them…”
That is not what IS is doing at all. They are not slaughtering “without rhyme or reason.” The Islamist army is targeting Christians, Yazidis and even fellow Muslims to eliminate them as threats, to consolidate their own power, and to serve as warning to anyone who stands in their way. IS is conducting its massacres with a serious purpose, and that purpose is by no means limited to Iraq or the Middle East. As the administration is aware.
A congressional Democrat and Iraq veteran cautioned that the U.S. has a “real problem” if the current mission in Iraq isn’t to take out ISIS.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who in 2004 chose to serve in Iraq with the Hawaii National Guard over running for a second term in the state’s House of Representatives, appeared on ABC News on Sunday with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Air Force veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I think it’s important as we talk about whether or not there should be troops or exactly what tactical strategy should be used moving forward we’re missing a critical question here, which is what is our mission? What is the United States’ mission. What are we trying to accomplish here?” Gabbard said.
“You know, Adam and I both enlisted, joined the military after 9/11 because we heard our nation’s leaders say after that attack that we would go and take out these Islamic extremists wherever they are. We would fight against those who are waging war against the United States,” she said. “That stated mission after 9/11 has been lost… and as we heard from White House officials last week, they said, and I quote, these airstrikes are not an authorization of a broad based counter terrorism campaign against ISIS, end of quote.”
“So if our mission is not to take out the Islamic extremists who continue to threaten and wage war against us, then I think we’ve got a real problem here. If we focus on that mission, which I think we should, then we can look at what are the tactics that we need to take them out.”
Gabbard stressed that “we need to arm the Kurds with heavy weapons, because they are doing the hard work on the ground, they are fighting against ISIS. And we can augment that and support that wit hour targeted air strikes.”
Kinzinger called the situation on the ground “the worst-case scenario.”
“Back in January I called for air strikes against ISIS, in fact, on this show. When they were just about 1,000 or 2,000 people. Today we see them in the tens of thousands and they are only continue to metastasize,” he said.
“I think what we begun doing is very good, but I think we have to get even bigger and realize that the crushing and the pushing back of ISIS, not just in Iraq, but also in Syria, is utmost priority. And allowing the Free Syrian Army who now finds itself in Syria surrounded by both the regime in Syria, al Nusra, and ISIS, has got to be emboldened to be able to fight them back. They need the equipment and the weapons.”
The congressman added, “At the end of the day I think the defeating of ISIS is the mission. And so I think everything has to be on the table for that end result.”
“The reality is they have made it very clear that they want to strike us in the United States of America. They’ve made it clear that they want to strike Europe. And they have the means to do it,” Kinzinger said. “So they have the intention and they have the means, the means being, you know, passports and westerns fighting with ISIS with the ability to get back into the United States or to get back in Europe. I think we have to have a goal of saying, we need to crush ISIS.”
“…I understand that the American people are war weary. I mean, I hear it a lot. But the reality is, is after World War II, Harry Truman didn’t look at the American people and say I know you’re war weary, so Russia is Europe’s problem. He talked about the bigger issue of what American strength means and what it means for security of our land. And he said we’re going to leave troops in Europe.”
Obama, the congressman stressed, “has got to stand up in front of the American people and say, look you may be war weary, but in five or 10 years we don’t want to look back and say that we missed all the signs, all the signals of the intention of these extremists and this is — it’s definitely there and it’s very serious.”
As the White House declared mission accomplished for saving the Yazidis under siege by ISIS fighters on Mount Sinjar, activists and leaders from the sect tell Kurdish news outlet Rudaw that about 2,000 Yazidis remain unaccounted for — in the hands of ISIS.
Rudaw reported today that one of its writers received a call from a Yazidi girl being held in a group of 200 others by the Islamic State in a prison hall in Mosul province.
The chilling details:
Every day, IS fighters visit the prison hall to pick out the prettiest for their emirs, said the girl, who is 24 and whose name is being withheld by Rudaw for her safety.
“Three to four times a day they visit the hall. The girls plead with them for a bullet in the head to put them out of their misery,” she said in between sobs in a secret phone call to a Rudaw reporter.
…“We were in Gir Azair district where IS fighters appeared so suddenly that we were unable to flee. They started arresting everyone — men, women and children. Later, they took us to Shingal county, where they separated women from men.”
“We were about 200 girls together. Later, we were taken by pick-up trucks to another location close to Baaj district,” she added.
In weeping tones, the girl repeatedly gave the location of their prison, pleading for fighter jets to pound the place so they could all rest in peace.
…“Every day the fighters come and look among us,” she said, hardly able to control her emotions. “They pick two or three pretty girls. When the girls return they are in tears, exhausted and humiliated. The fighters take the girls to their emirs, and the emirs assault them sexually.
One phone conversation was suddenly interrupted when she hurriedly whispered, “Hang up, hang up, they are coming.”
In another call she said that conditions, including the food, were bad. “So far, a number of girls have committed suicide. Today, one girl hanged herself with her headscarf and died,” she recounted, pleading for help.
“Rescue us, rescue us,” she begged. “Anyone who can hear our voice — US, Europe, anyone — please help; rescue us.”
President Obama sent to congressional leaders on Sunday a notification under the War Powers Resolution that his original operation to protect Irbil and provide aid to refugees on Mount Sinjar had been extended to fighting around a key dam along the Tigris taken by ISIS.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces said today that the Mosul Dam is now back in their hands. The Islamic State said it still had control of the key water and power facility.
“On August 14, 2014, I authorized the U.S. Armed Forces to conduct targeted air strikes to support operations by Iraqi forces to recapture the Mosul Dam. These military operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to support the Iraqi forces in their efforts to retake and establish control of this critical infrastructure site, as part of their ongoing campaign against the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” Obama said in the letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate President Pro Tempore Pat Leahy (D-Vt.).
“The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace. Pursuant to this authorization, on the evening of August 15, 2014, U.S. military forces commenced targeted airstrike operations in Iraq,” Obama continued.
“I have directed these actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. These actions are being undertaken in coordination with the Iraqi government.”
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said reiterated that the strikes were “limited in their nature, duration, and scope and are being undertaken in coordination with and at the request of the Government of Iraq.”
“The Administration will continue to consult with the Congress on the way forward in Iraq and our efforts against ISIL, and we will continue to provide appropriate reports to the Congress consistent with the War Powers Resolution,” Hayden added.
Tweets indicated that the battle was still continuing Monday morning.
IS pushed back from positions on road to Mosul Dam last night. Wrecked vehicles and airstruck houses line road. pic.twitter.com/KMsgTHoEL9
— aris roussinos (@arisroussinos) August 18, 2014
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) August 18, 2014
Golden Division of ISF special forces, at the Mosul Dam today pic.twitter.com/MtBYwVoYxT
— Sajad Jiyad سجاد (@SajadJiyad) August 18, 2014
— Kate Benyon-Tinker (@katebt3000) August 18, 2014
IS posns burning near Mosul Dam. Constant Pesh mortar fire, just 1 IS mortar in response. 2 jets circling overhead. pic.twitter.com/HItocuVY2c
— aris roussinos (@arisroussinos) August 18, 2014
Via Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, a report from the UN News Centre:
Two senior United Nations officials today condemned in the strongest terms the “barbaric acts” of sexual violence and “savage rapes” the armed group Islamic State (IS) has perpetrated on minorities in areas under its control.
…“We are gravely concerned by continued reports of acts of violence, including sexual violence against women and teenage girls and boys belonging to Iraqi minorities,” Ms. Bangura and Mr. Mladenov said.
“Atrocious accounts of abduction and detention of Yazidi, Christian, as well as Turkomen and Shabak women, girls and boys, and reports of savage rapes, are reaching us in an alarming manner,” Ms. Bangura and Mr. Mladenov stated, pointing out that some 1,500 Yazidi and Christian persons may have been forced into sexual slavery….
While Iraqi women jump from cliffs to avoid becoming the next sex slaves of the Islamic State, American feminist publications spent their time focusing on male celebrities who’ve embraced the feminist demand that biology doesn’t matter:
This week, Joseph Gordon-Levitt pretty much nailed the definition of feminism…“What [feminism] means to me is that you don’t let your gender define who you are—you can be who you want to be, whether you’re a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, whatever,” Gordon-Levitt said.
And complaining about university sexual harassment policies that still aren’t strict enough, even if they include the following caveat:
The school has also adopted an affirmative consent standard, defining consent as requiring “unambiguous communication and mutual agreement concerning the act in which the participants are engaging” and noting that “silence or absence of resistance is not the same as consent.”
Which leaves one to wonder if ISIS would be totally legitimized in their use of sex slaves if said slaves signed a waver of consent and mutual agreement beforehand. Feminists don’t believe in being defined by gender, so it’s not like those women jumping off the mountain in Iraq were due any unique respect for their biology. Not that American feminists would stop to notice the crisis of Iraqi women fleeing radical Islam’s sex trade, anyway: Lena Dunham got a new haircut and that’s taking up, like, all of their time.
While American feminists, by and large, do absolutely nothing to advocate for the sex slaves of ISIS, said slaves have done something amazing for the American feminist movement. Every time an Iraqi Christian woman jumps to her death to avoid becoming a sex slave of the Islamic State, she testifies to the fact that western feminism is nothing more than nihilism in a pretty dress.
The same article that praised Gordon Levitt for his anti-biology views also praised a myriad of actors for their pro-choice stance. How ironic that feminists who rail against absentee fathers praise an actor for saying, “It’s not about abortion being right or wrong. It’s about having that choice to decide what a person should do with their own body.” In their demand that biology be ignored, these women pursue the very behavior they claim to hate in the opposite sex: The right to irresponsibility.
Over 40 years ago feminists chose to walk away from their unborn babies. It should come as no surprise, then, that they are just as willing to walk away from their fellow women suffering now under ISIS. Because when you’re a nihilist, things like biology, sisterhood, and responsibility just don’t matter.
Ayaytollah Ali Khamenei has jumped into the Ferguson fray on his official Twitter account:
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 15, 2014
Look at how US govt treats black community! It’s not about 50-100 years ago but it’s about today! #Ferguson
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 15, 2014
Racial discrimination’s still a dilemma in US. Still ppl are unsecure for having dark skins.The way police treat them confirms it. #Ferguson
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 15, 2014
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 15, 2014
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 17, 2014
— Imam Khomeini (@IRKhomeini) August 17, 2014
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 17, 2014
Today like previous years, African-Americans are still under pressure, oppressed and subjected to discrimination. #Ferguson
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 17, 2014
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 17, 2014
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 17, 2014
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 17, 2014
It seems those rapprochement talks between Iran and the U.S. under the four-month extension are going… well.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 13, 2014
But this was a valuable #experience to learn that talks with US have absolutely no effect on reducing their hostility & are useless. 2/2
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 13, 2014
The Palestinian Liberation Organization are supposed to be the moderates among the Palestinians.
They say nice things about peace to Western ears. They say something else entirely to their friends in Iran, the Times of Israel reports.
The annihilation of the state of Israel has begun, said the official Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) envoy to Tehran, Salah al-Zawawi.
“The US and the western countries have created a fake regime in Palestine to get rid of it and have supplied it with the most advanced weapons and are seeking to create an Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates,” Zawawi, whose organization dominates the Palestinian Authority headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, was quoted as saying by the Iranian semi-official news agency Fars on Tuesday.
“Israel’s annihilation has begun and the new generation in Iran will certainly witness our victory over Israel,” he said during a gathering in Tehran in support of Gaza on Tuesday.
Hamas was there was as well, and called on the Iranians to help make their rockets more advanced.
Iraq’s troublesome PM is stepping down.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has resigned, in a move observers hope will end a political crisis in Baghdad.
Haider al-Abadi, a deputy speaker of parliament, has been asked by Iraq’s president to form a government.
Mr Maliki’s earlier refusal to resign after eight years in power had been blamed for deepening the crisis. The UN and US have welcomed his resignation.
The government has been unable to stop Islamist fighters from seizing vast areas in northern Iraq.
In addition to that, Maliki had deployed elements of the Iraqi army around Baghdad to protect his own hold on power. That opened the possibility of civil war, while the IS is still rampaging in the north.