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The PJ Tatler

Chairman: What If Iran Takes Nuclear Inspectors Hostage, Too?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee mused what would happen if the U.S. inks a nuke deal with Iran and takes the nuclear inspectors hostage — just like the Americans held for years now.

The families of Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini and Bob Levinson will for the first time all testify before Congress on their families’ ordeals at a June 2 hearing.

Rezaian is a Washington Post reporter who was taken into custody last summer. Hekmati is a Marine veteran who was seized in 2011 while visiting extended family for the first time. Abedini was convicted in 2013 on charges that the Idaho pastor was trying to spread Christianity. Levinson was kidnapped eight years ago off the coast of Iran while working as a private investigator on a cigarette smuggling case.

Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) spoke with CNN yesterday as news came in that Rezaian’s trial proceedings on espionage charges would be extended to an undisclosed date.

“We should make it very clear to the Iranian government that if their intelligence community and their judicial system can’t protect someone, a journalist like Jason — and three other Americans, by the way, are being held there — if their intent is to duplicate, replicate what they did in 1979 by taking Americans hostages, then what guarantee do we have that, when inspectors, international inspectors go in there, that they’re not going to be taken captive?” Royce said.

“This needs to end now. And that is an old pattern. But to have the possibility of a death sentence for a journalist, this is nothing new in Iran either.”

Hekmati was originally sentenced to death in a closed-door trial, then given a prison sentence on charges that he conspired to commit espionage.

“We’re going have Jason’s brother testify in my committee next week and other family members representing the other three families that are held there. But can you imagine being held for 10 months in Evin prison, which is where some of the worst torturing has gone on, you know, against religious leaders, against students in Iran?” Royce continued.

“Our hearts go out here to the family members. And we hope we can secure his release.”

On Iran and the fight against ISIS, Royce said that “because Baghdad is perceived as being so close to Iran, the Iranian influence has been such that the weapons have not gone to the Sunni tribes.”

“The weapons have not gone to the Kurds,” he said. “In the National Defense Authorization Act, in the legislation we just passed, we addressed that issue by mandating that some of the aid that we put through Baghdad go directly to the Kurdish forces and to the Sunni tribes that are working there, because we know that the Shia-led government at this point has not only provided woefully inadequate officers, but have not provided the resources, the equipment necessary for the tribesmen.”

“…I have met with the leadership of the Sunni tribes when they came to Washington. They want to take back that province, but they say they need the equipment and support from Baghdad to do it.”

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Paul: ‘ISIS Exists Because of the Hawks in Our Party’

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said today that ISIS essentially exists because of his colleagues.

Paul was responding on MSNBC to comments by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that ISIS exists because of the party’s noninterventionists who didn’t want to intervene in Syria early on.

“I would say it’s exactly the opposite. ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS’ job even easier,” he said. “They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved — they loved Hillary Clinton’s war in — in Libya. They just wanted more of it.”

“But Libya’s a failed state, and it’s a disaster. Iraq really is a failed state or a vassal state now of Iran. So everything that they have talked about in foreign policy, they’ve been wrong about for 20 years, and yet they have, somehow, the gall to keep saying and pointing fingers otherwise.”

Paul also predicted that Jeb Bush would have problems because “the Bush legacy on war will destroy any hope we have of getting independent vote.”

“I’m asking some difficult questions of Republicans. Do you think the invasion of Iraq made it more stable or us more safe? We now have ISIS to contend with. Do you think the invasion of Libya made us more safe?” he said. “The interesting thing is people want to paint me as out of step with the Republican Party, but when you get outside the Beltway and go to America, the rest of America, I think is more in line with what I’m saying, because I think we do have to defend ourselves. I’m all for doing something to stop ISIS. I was all for going after 9/11 to go after bin Laden.”

“You know, I think the ultimate answer is getting Arab coalitions and boots on the ground that will stop them. You need Turks fighting. Turks need to have their army up on the board, and they need to fight… Also, Assad does really need to leave. When Assad leaves, there needs to be a government that we could support. Right now there are 1,500 groups, many of them bad people, including ISIS that hawks in our party have been arming.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a statement calling Paul’s comments “a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be commander in chief.”

“We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position,” Jindal said. “It’s one thing for Senator Paul to take an outlandish position as a Senator at Washington cocktail parties, but being commander in chief is an entirely different job. We should all be clear that evil and radical Islam are at fault for the rise of ISIS, and people like President Obama and Hillary Clinton exacerbate it.”

The governor, who is contemplating a presidential run, said the senator’s “illogical argument clouds a situation that should provide pure moral clarity.”

“Islam has a problem. ISIS is its current manifestation. And the next president’s job is to have the discipline and strength to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth,” he added. “It has become impossible to imagine a President Paul defeating radical Islam and it’s time for the rest of us to say it.”

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Crocker: Iran Meddling in Iraq ‘About the Worst Thing I Could Imagine’

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan warned that Iran’s involvement in Iraq “would be about the worst thing I could imagine, from the point of view of U.S. interest.”

Iran is insisting that it’s the only country serious about going after ISIS, backing Shiite militias to move in on ISIS strongholds.

“This is a thrust into the heart of Sunni Iraq, Anbar Province, the citadel of Sunniism in Iraq, if you will,” Ryan Crocker told CNN. “I cannot imagine anything more carefully calculated to permanently split this country apart, the country of Iraq apart, than a Shia-led military effort into a completely Sunni area.”

Iran even named their operation after Imam Hussein, a venerated Shiite figure, to spite the Sunnis.

Crocker said the key question to ask after the fall of Ramadi is where is the United States.

“I would simply note that Iraqi forces have been fighting out there for the last 16 months, since the beginning of last year. The city is almost fallen on a number of occasions. They’ve held on with their fingernails,” the ambassador said. “And I think we need to take that into account.”

“I think there are real questions about leadership and generalship in the Iraqi security forces. And I would ask, where are we? We used to be able to make a difference in decisions on command and control. I would suggest that part of the problem that Iraq is facing today is because we have been missing in action,” the continued.

“There is a very complex situation out there. What I am saying is that we have shown we can make a difference when we bring our influence together. This is ultimately a political situation, a political struggle. The politics are pretty badly messed up right now. We can make a difference in that. We’re not making that difference.”

Crocker stressed that “sustained engagement is what we need.”

“We have not had that for the last few years. We need it now. You know, a phone call is important. A visit is even more important,” he said. “And a string of visits and phone calls to demonstrate that this is of critical importance to the U.S., that we are going to make a difference, we are going to use our influence is what we need to demonstrate now.”

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Psaki: ‘If We Spent Every Day Worrying About What Iran Said, That’s All We Would Focus On’

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

White House communications director Jen Psaki said they’re just brushing off Iranian criticism about the fall of Ramadi, as they do most rhetoric from Tehran.

Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, said Sunday that the U.S. did nothing to stop the sacking of Ramadi and “there is no will to fight the ISIL” in Washington.

“If we spent every day worrying about what Iranians said about the United States, that’s all we would focus on,” Psaki told CNN this morning. “The fact is the proof is in the pudding. We have done thousands of air strikes along with our coalition forces. We’ve trained, we’ve equipped the Iraqi Security Forces, and we have taken steps to support them and their needs on the ground, and we are going to stay at that.”

“But the actions speak louder than words there. So we are not going to worry about the Iranian accusations. We’re going to focus on what more we need to do to help support the Iraqi Security Forces on the ground.”

Psaki said the situation is “more complicated than a line” — namely, the line from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter about Iraqis not having the will to fight in Ramadi.

“We have a terrorist organization that intends to do harm to the Iraqi forces and intends to do harm to the region, and even more broadly than that,” she said. “…Let me first say that what Secretary Carter said was consistent with what he was seeing and hearing from the ground. But also the Iraqi themselves acknowledge that there were some command issues, there were some issues on the ground, and it’s something they want to adapt to as well.”

“…But this is a case where the training began late last year. It wasn’t applicable or wasn’t, the Iraqi Security Forces who were fighting back in Ramadi didn’t have access to that. That’s something we need to continue. But then also I think it’s important for people to remember, the Iraqi security forces have also retaken 25 percent of populated areas from ISIL. There are going to be ups and downs here. We need to continue to adapt and we need to continue to prepare them and equipped them with what they need as does the international coalition.”

Psaki said President Obama has been “very clear” about boots on the ground in Iraq to counter ISIS.

“Of course as commander in chief he is constantly talking to his military advisers. We’re talking to our coalition partners. As I noted earlier, we just rushed 2,000 A-24s to the ground,” she said. “So of course we’re constantly making decisions and taking steps to make sure we’re adapting to the tactics that ISIL and others are using on the ground.”

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While D.C. Downplays Risk, U.S. Sees Shocking Rise in Terror Arrests This Year

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 - by Patrick Poole

The arrest of two southern California men last week who were planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State brings the number of U.S.-based individuals involved in international terror-related cases this year to 40. (UPDATE: with the arrest of Houston-area Asher Abid Khan late Monday for supporting ISIS, the tally is now 41.)

This number highlights the metastasizing Islamic terror threat in the American homeland. At the current pace, by the end of June — halfway through 2015 — the number of cases will exceed the number from the past two years combined (48).

The Islamic State, as well as al-Qaeda affiliates and other Islamic terror groups, have repeatedly called for supporters to conduct attacks inside the American homeland:

Recent evidence gives cause for concern. As I noted here at PJ Media, FBI Director Comey downplayed the number of Americans who had traveled to Syria to fight with ISIS and other terror groups before the midterm elections. He stated on 60 Minutes that “roughly a dozen” were fighting in Syria. But in February, senior officials corrected that number. They admitted that 180 had traveled to Syria. They also admitted that 40 had returned to the U.S. and posed a potential threat. FBI Director Comey then said they were investigating ISIS suspects in all 50 states.

Underscoring the failure to alert the public regarding the threat, concerned citizens have not been able to find a list of the 40 individuals arrested this year. Until now, a public list simply didn’t exist.

Here they are: the 40 U.S.-based individuals charged in Islamic terror-related cases in 2015.

(This list will undoubtedly grow. I will update with new information as it becomes available.)

May 22: Muhanad Badawi, 24, and Nader Elhuzayel, 24, both of Anaheim, California, were arrested on Thursday for planning to travel to join ISIS. Elhuzayel was arrested at Los Angeles International airport trying to board a flight that included a stopover in Istanbul, presumably where he would have left the flight and tried to cross the Turkey/Syria border. Both were active on social media praising ISIS. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

May 14: Bilal Abood, 37, of Mesquite, Texas, an Iraqi-born naturalized U.S. citizen who migrated to the United States in 2009, was arrested for lying to the FBI about his travel to Syria, where he planned to fight against the Assad regime. In March 2013 he was prevented from boarding a flight at Dallas Fort Worth International airport and was questioned by the FBI. The following month he transited to Mexico and flew to Turkey, returning in September 2013, when he was questioned again by the FBI. A July 2014 search of his computer found a pledge of allegiance to Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

May 3: Elton Simpson, 30, and Nadir Soofi, 37, both of Phoenix, Arizona, were killed in a gunfight with law enforcement outside a Garland, Texas community center where a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest was being held. As I noted here at PJ Media, Simpson had been communicating with known ISIS operatives on Twitter, and had been known to the FBI since 2006 due to his association with convicted terror operative Hassan Abu Jihaad. Soofi grew up in Pakistan and moved to the U.S. as a teenager. The pair attended a Phoenix mosque with previous terror connections. (PJ Media live blog.)

April 23: Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati, 24, of San Diego, California, was arrested on charges of lying to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Customs and Border Protection, and the FBI about his travels to Syria. As I reported here at PJ Media, Kodaimati was caught in a series of lies related to his work on behalf of a sharia court operated by Jabhat al-Nusra — al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria and a U.S. designated terrorist organization — and also about his role in mediating between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS in northern Syria. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

April 19: Six men from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota were arrested in Minneapolis and San Diego for conspiracy and material support for terrorism for their plans to travel to join ISIS. Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21, Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19, Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21, Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19, Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, and Guled Ali Omar, 20, had been planning to travel to Syria for more than 10 months, and continued their plan even after several of their associates had been arrested. On May 19, federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment with additional charges, including a previously arrested associate. It also stated that one of the men, Abdirahman Yasin Daud, had threatened to kill FBI agents if they tried to stop him. As I reported here at PJ Media, the federal judge in the case has said that he is considering releasing some or all of the men to a halfway house to participate in a local “deradicalization” program. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

April 24: Related to the previous case, an associate of the defendants, Mahamed Abukar Said, 19, was arrested for threatening to kill the U.S. attorney general, warning of a “massacre” if the Feds didn’t release his friends, and intimidating an informant in the case on Twitter.

April 10: John T. Booker (aka Muhammad Abdullah Hassan), 20, of Topeka, Kansas was arrested in a plot to detonate a car bomb targeting soldiers at the U.S. Army base at Fort Riley. As I reported here at PJ Media, in April 2014 the FBI publicly dismissed Booker as a terror threat after Fox News published an alert by military authorities warning that Booker intended to conduct an attack on U.S. military personnel. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

April 10: Related to the Booker case, Alexander E. Blair, 28, also of Topeka, Kansas, was charged with failing to report a felony for not informing authorities of Booker’s plans when he had advance knowledge of the plot. The FBI alleged that Blair, who shared Booker’s Islamic extremist views, had loaned Booker money to rent a storage unit to store bomb components. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

April 9: Joshua Van Haften, 34, of Madison, Wisconsin, was charged with trying to provide material support to ISIS by traveling to Syria to join the terror group. He was arrested by Turkish immigration officials in October, and arrested upon his return at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

April 7: Dilkhayot Kasimov, 26, of Brooklyn, New York, was charged for assisting others in traveling overseas to join the Islamic State. (DOJ press release. Complaint.)

April 4: Miguel Moran Diaz (aka Azizi al-Hariri), 46, of Miami, Florida was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the federal complaint, Diaz was an ISIS supporter who described himself as a “lone wolf” who intended to kill people and engrave the bullet shell casings so that law enforcement would “know there was a sniper in town.” (Complaint.)

April 3: Keonna Thomas (aka Fatayat Al Khilafah), 30, of Philadephia, Pennsylvania was arrested for planning to travel to Syria and martyr herself for ISIS. Thomas had applied for a passport and purchased an electronic visa for Turkey. Prosecutors claimed that she had been voicing support for ISIS on social media since at least August 2013. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

April 2: Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 29, originally from Texas, was returned from Pakistan and charged with recruiting others to kill U.S. military personnel. Leaving for Pakistan from Canada in 2007 and serving in a senior position within al-Qaeda, the Obama administration had discussed using a drone to kill Al-Farekh. (DOJ press release. Complaint.)

April 2: Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, both of Queens, New York, were arrested for plotting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction, and even discussed targeting a police funeral. When they were arrested, authorities found bomb-building materials including propane gas tanks, soldering tools, pipes, a pressure cooker, and fertilizer. The pair had previously been roommates, and Siddiqui had been in regular contact with al-Qaeda officials in Yemen, most notably with U.S. al-Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan. In 2009, one of her poems was published in al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

March 26: Hasan Rasheed Edmonds, 22, of Aurora, Illinois — a U.S. Army National Guard specialist –was arrested at Chicago’s Midway airport on a trip with the eventual destination of Syria to join ISIS. Also arrested was his cousin, Jonas “Yunus” Edmonds, 29, also of Aurora, Illinois, who was charged with planning a terror attack on an Illinois National Guard facility with AK-47s and grenades. He intended to use Hasan’s uniform to enter the facility after his departure. (DOJ press release. Complaint.)

March 18: Tairod Pugh, 47, of Neptune, New Jersey, was charged with material support for a terrorist organization following his attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIS. In January, he flew to Turkey from Egypt, but was sent back by Turkish authorities. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Pugh had expressed on his Facebook page and elsewhere his dislike for America and his allegiance to the jihadi cause. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

February 27: An unnamed 17-year-old from Woodbridge, Virginia was arrested and charged with assisting others trying to join ISIS. As the suspect is a juvenile, the indictment is sealed. However, federal prosecutors have said they intend to charge him as an adult. The teen reportedly wrote for several websites, and published articles in defense of slavery in Islam.

February 24: Three men living in Brooklyn, New York, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30, were arrested for planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Juraboev and Habibov are from Uzbekistan, and Saidakhmetov is from Kazakhistan. Two other individuals – one in Brooklyn, the other in Norfolk, Virginia – were arrested on immigration charges related to the case. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

February 11: An unnamed 16-year-old inspired by ISIS was arrested in York, South Carolina on gun charges. Prosecutors claimed that the teen conspired with another unnamed North Carolina resident to rob a Raleigh gun store, and then use the weapons to shoot up a U.S. military base. In April, he was sentenced to serve five years in juvenile prison until he is 21. Because of the suspect’s age and the lack of a state terrorism statute, he could only be charged with weapons-related offenses. His accomplice in North Carolina has not been named or apparently charged. Local officials claimed they kept the case quiet for “public safety” concerns.

February 6: Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis, Missouri, Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, N.Y., Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34, of Schiller Park, Ill., and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois — all Bosnian immigrants — were indicted following a two-year investigation for funneling money, guns, and military hardware to ISIS operatives in Syria. Their support included aiding Abdullah Ramo Pazara, also of St. Louis, who traveled to Syria in 2013 just months after becoming a U.S. citizen, and became a top deputy to ISIS commander Omar al-Shishani and was reportedly killed last year. Rosic was arrested on his way to Syria. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

February 5: Hamza Ahmed, 19, of Minneapolis, Minnesota was charged with lying to the FBI after being stopped from boarding a flight in New York intending to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Ahmed was part of a group of four men who traveled by bus to New York in November. He denied knowing the men he traveled with in an interview with FBI agents. Ahmed had been active on Twitter supporting ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, which kept him in jail following his arrest. Earlier this month, he was charged in a superseding indictment in the case of six other Minneapolis men who were planning to join ISIS. He and another suspect are charged with fraud for using federal student loans to finance their trip. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

February 2: Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 26, of Columbus, Ohio, was arrested on state terror charges for traveling to Syria and fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. In April, Mohamud was indicted on federal charges for plotting terror attacks in the U.S. targeting military and police officials. His brother was reported killed fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra in June 2014. Mohamud reportedly had been conducting weapons training with others after his return from Syria at a local Ohio gun range. As I noted here at PJ Media, he applied for his passport to travel to Syria just a week after becoming a U.S. citizen and days after being caught lying to the FBI. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

January 14: Christopher Lee Cornell (aka  Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah), 20, of Green Township, Ohio, was arrested leaving a Cincinnati-area gun store, where he had purchased two semi-automatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition. Federal prosecutors allege that Cornell planned to set off pipe bombs around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and then to shoot fleeing government workers. During a jailhouse interview with a local TV station, Cornell said that he would have also attacked the Israeli embassy and put a gun to President Obama’s head. Earlier this month he was also charged with material support for ISIS. (FBI press release. Complaint.)

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As the Heritage Foundation notes, since 9/11 there have been 68 Islamic domestic terror plots; 57 involved homegrown operatives.

The attempted terror attack this month in Garland, Texas was only averted due to luck and the work of local law enforcement authorities who took the potential threat seriously.

With the number of homegrown Islamic terror operatives increasing rapidly and the calls by Islamic terror groups overseas for attacks on the American homeland coming more regularly, it seems to be only a matter of time before we see another successful attack on American soil in the manner of the Boston bombing, the Fort Hood massacre, and the Little Rock Army recruiting center killing. Or perhaps a larger scale attack, as in Mumbai in November 2008.

When that future attack happens, it will come at a time when the credibility of our counter-terrorism and national security apparatus in speaking honestly about the nature and scope of the threat is at its lowest.

If the jihadist terror attacks in the West over the past year are any indicator, the next domestic terror attack will most likely be by what I have termed a “known wolf” – someone who is already known to law enforcement authorities.

It’s only a question of who, where, and when, and of how many Americans will die.

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Was the Iraq War a Mistake? Let’s Ask the Democrats, Too!

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

I happen to think it was. But not because “Bush lied,” as Bob Woodward has noted, but because Bush neither finished the job nor ensured a plausible successor to do so. But just for the hell of it — and as long as the Democrat Media is peppering GOP candidates to call the game after it is over — let’s hop in the Wayback Machine and see what the Dems were saying at the time:

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There.  Feel better now, media?

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White House Graduates Sacking of Ramadi from ‘Setback’ to ‘Not Unsubstantial Setback’

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House was calling the sack of Ramadi last week a “setback” in the war against ISIS, and got roundly criticized by some lawmakers on Capitol Hill for downplaying the ISIS victory.

Today, it was still a setback — just with a few qualifiers.

“I think there are a variety of contributors to what happened in Ramadi,” press secretary Josh Earnest said when asked about Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s contention that the Iraqi army showed no “will to fight” and essentially ran from Ramadi. “The first is that there — the Iraqi security forces, who were fighting in Ramadi, and have been fighting in Ramadi for a year and a half, didn’t have the benefit of the training of the United States and our coalition partners. There were clearly, as the Iraqis have indicated, some military command and planning problems that occurred. And we saw a pretty effective tactic used by ISIL. And all of that led to a not unsubstantial setback in Ramadi.”

The lack of “will to fight,” Earnest said, “certainly has been a problem that we’ve see in the past.”

“That’s what allowed ISIL to make such significant gains last summer. And so what the United States and our coalition has been focused on is making sure that we can enhance the capacity of the Iraqi security forces and supporting the Iraqi central government as they try to unite that country and build a multisectarian security force to face the threat that they — that is posed by ISIL,” he said.

The U.S. is trying to shut down the flow of foreign fighters and funding to Iraq, but taking the fight to ISIS within Iraq, Earnest added, is “not the something that the United States is willing to do for the Iraqi people.”

“And the Iraqi central government, Prime Minister Abadi, has made crystal clear on a number of occasions he doesn’t want anybody to step in and do this for them,” he said. “He’s prepared to unite that country, to bring that country together, and to mobilize a multi-sectarian security force to face down the security threat in his country. And that’s what the United States and our coalition partners stand ready to do.”

Still, Earnest insisted that the administration is “pleased with the progress that’s been made” against ISIS.

“There are going to be days of progress and there are going to be periods of setback… the sophistication and capability of some of these ISIL forces is not particularly surprising,” he said of the onetime JV team. “We’ve long acknowledged how dangerous they are. And that said, we also know that there are tools and techniques that can be used to counter and defeat them.”

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ISIS Likes to Talk About Sex, Baby, as a Terror Tactic

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Zainab Bangura headed a United Nations unit of sex crime investigators that recently completed a five year study of “the world’s war zones for evidence of forced marriages, slavery and mass rape.” Guess which area not only topped, but set new “standards” for gross crimes against women? The region infiltrated by ISIS. Bangura remarks:

During my recent five-country Middle East visit, I met officials, frontline workers and survivors. My focus was IS’s war on women, including from Yazidi, Christian and Turkmen Shia minorities.

After attacking a village, IS splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.

There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.

We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his ‘property’.

For ISIS, “sexual violence” and the “brutalization of women and girls” isn’t just an ideological focus. It is also a “‘tactic of terrorism’ to advance key strategic priorities, such as recruitment, fundraising, to enforce discipline and order – through the punishment of dissenters or family members – and to advance their radical ideology.” 

And what will happen with all this research? It is set to be compiled into a UN report.

Sorry, ladies.

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‘No Will to Fight’ Iraqis Faced Multiple Oklahoma City-Sized Bombs in Ramadi Fall

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

A former military planner in Iraq said that Baghdad has a right to react indignantly to Washington’s suggestions that they ran away from Ramadi in the face of the ISIS assault.

“What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told CNN in an interview aired Sunday. “They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight, they withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.”

Lt. Col. Douglas Ollivant (Ret.), who served on the National Security Council under presidents George W. Bush and Obama, told PBS “there are clearly problems with the Iraqi army; they need to be addressed, but the counterpoint is also true.”

“The Iraqi army was in Ramadi for a year-and-a-half and did fight off the Islamic State there for a year-and-a-half, and, if we’re to believe the accounts, really were at the receiving end of a well-planned, well-executed attack by the Islamic State that involved a number of very, very large explosive car bombs, some of which were said to be the size of those in the Oklahoma City bombing, literally kind of leveling blocks or at least large buildings, an assault that any military force would have a hard time with,” Ollivant said.

“So there is some truth to what the secretary is saying, but at the same time, the indignation on the part of the Iraqis is very valid. Some of these soldiers have fought very well.”

Ollivant acknowledged that the Iraqi troops have received support from the United States in terms of training, but rumors persist that soldiers have not been paid by the Iraqi government.

He opined that the Iraqis can take back Ramadi in four to eight weeks, similar to Tikrit.

“The Iraqi forces that were in Ramadi didn’t have the anti-tank missiles that they needed to stop these vehicle-borne, these explosive car bombs from attacking their positions. It wouldn’t hurt to have more unarmed surveillance drones. If we were to push those, then the Iranians wouldn’t have to provide them. That’s a way for us to kind of use a chess move against the Iranian influence in Iraq, which we do need to be concerned about,” Ollivant said.

“So there are a series of things we can do, but essentially it’s more of what we’re doing, more training, more equipping, more intelligence support.”

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The 33 Radical Islamic Problems Obama Chooses to Ignore

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In need of a little light reading on Islamic terror at home and abroad? Check out the ZOA’s litany of incidents of radical Islamic terror at home and abroad that President Barack Obama has openly chosen to ignore in favor of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and several rounds of golf. Highlights include:

Why has President Obama ordered all official military and U.S. government documents to delete and never use terms such as “Islamic terrorism,” “jihad,” “Islamist,” or “radical Islam”?

Why did President Obama officially call the attack at Ft. Hood by psychiatrist Nidal Hasan – resulting in the murder of 13 U.S. soldiers and injuries to 31 others – “workplace violence” instead of an act of Islamic terrorism, even though Hasan’s business card stated “Soldier of Allah” and he screamed “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great) during the massacre?  Hasan also stated he wanted to become a member of ISIS.

Why did President Obama release numerous Islamic terrorists from Guantanamo prison despite their designation by experts as “high risk” to commit repeated terrorist attacks?

Why have members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic terrorist group,  and their front groups been invited to numerous meetings at the White House, the State Department, and the National Security Council? The Obama White House even helped clear their path to avoid standard airport inspections as they landed in the United States.

Why did President Obama talk about the “legitimate claims of terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas,” both of whom are responsible for numerous deaths of Americans and Israelis?  He made this statement during his 2008 campaign for president.  (May 16, 2008, New York Times.)

Can you think of any to add to the list? Log them into the comments section below.

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Touching Reunion Between Teen and the Soldier Who Saved Her Life

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Once in a while among the horror stories of war, we hear stories that touch the heart. One of those occurred last week in a suburb of Atlanta when a former soldier reunited with the infant he rescued from Iraq in 1996.

Awaz Barwari found her name on Saddam Hussein’s kill list in 1996. The United States allowed her to escape the country, but her infant daughter Lava was not on the list. Baby Lava would have had to stay behind had soldier Greg Peppin not intervened.

Peppin “renamed” the baby after himself and smuggled her out of Iraq. He and the Barwaris had not seen each other since — until last week, when Baby Lava graduated from high school.

“I said, ‘My name is Greg, so if the baby’s name is Greg it’s got to be a relative and that means she can go,’” Peppin said.

Mom and baby ultimately made it to the Atlanta suburbs where Lava would rise through the Gwinnett County school system.

Peppin went on to become Vice President of Boeing International.

The families never saw each other again, but as Lava planned her graduation, she decided she had to track Peppin down.

“It was the first story I ever heard. She’s always told me about the man who saved my life,” Lava told WSB-TV’s Tony Thomas.

“The day I got Lava’s email was one of those signature days that kind of make your life worthwhile,” Peppin said.

And a reunion 18 years in the making finally happened Thursday between Peppin and “Baby Lava.”

“I’m happy you tracked me down. I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Peppin told Lava.

At Lava’s graduation Thursday night, that man who saved her life planned to be there, too.

“It was worth it… it was! Absolutely,” Peppin said.

Featured image courtesy of WSB-TV

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Defense Sec at Arlington: ‘Troops of Such Caliber’ Have ‘Great Leader’ in Obama

Monday, May 25th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

At today’s Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Day observance, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said “troops of such caliber demand great leaders, and there’s no doubt they have one in our commander in chief.”

“I see that every day,” continued Carter, who assumed his post in February. “He knows well the challenges we must face, the obligations we must meet, and the opportunities we must seize in order to keep our nation safe and to make a better world for our children. And I see that he cares deeply about the safety, welfare, and dignity of our men and women in uniform and their families.”

“For all that, and so much more, I am tremendously proud to serve as his secretary of Defense,” he added.

Carter named Fallujah among the battles that left “a legacy that has made our military the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”

A decade ago in the first and second battles of Fallujah, 134 coalition soldiers lost their lives. The city fell to ISIS in February 2014, and nearby Ramadi fell this month.

“On a day set aside for Americans to honor and remember those who perished while serving our country, our obligation and our opportunity are one and the same. Our obligation is to give voice to the fallen, honor them, and share their stories of sacrifice and heroism,” Carter said. “Our opportunity is to use this day to inspire new generations to understand the freedom they have been given, to grasp how and why it is theirs, and to dedicate themselves to pass it on to generations unborn.”

President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns this morning before the Arlington ceremony attended by about 5,000, including Gold Star families.

“For many of us, this Memorial Day is especially meaningful; it is the first since our war in Afghanistan came to an end. Today is the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war,” Obama said. “So on this day, we honor the sacrifice of the thousands of American servicemembers — men and women — who gave their lives since 9/11, including more than 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.”

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said on the Senate floor Friday that “we should say a special prayer for the parents of young Americans who fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan and the current wars today.”

“We had a tragedy with the fall of Fallujah, we had a tragedy with the fall of Ramadi, we need those parents to know their sons and daughters did not die in vain,” Isakson said.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), an Iraq war veteran, told CNN on Sunday that Obama is wrong when he says the U.S. is not losing the war against ISIS.

“Clearly, ISIS has gained momentum, in particular over the last week, as we have seen the ground that they have gained both in Iraq and Syria,” Gabbard said. “…You have this solution. You have got the Kurds, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and you have Sunni tribesmen who are literally begging — I met with a Sunni tribal leader last week in Washington — they are begging for arms, heavy weapons, ammunition, to be able to fight against ISIS to protect their families and their tribal lands and their territories, but still to this point, both the U.S. and the central Iraqi government is failing to provide that, and, therefore, ISIS continues to be able to grow.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), also an Iraq veteran, said “you are not losing and you are not winning because we are not really engaged in this fight.”

“In essence, what the president did was say, look, we need to destroy ISIS, until that takes boots on the ground, in which case the existence of boots on the ground is worse than the existence of ISIS,” Kinzinger said.

“This is not just a situation where, if the house catches on fire, it will burn down and then we just look at a burned-down house. This is now a house on fire in a densely packed neighborhood, where this is going to spread to other places.”

The White House said Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi today “to reaffirm U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIL.”

“The vice president recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere,” the administration readout said. “The vice president welcomed the Council of Ministers’ unanimous decision on May 19th to mobilize additional troops, honor those who have fallen, and prepare for counter-attack operations. The vice president pledged full U.S. support in these and other Iraqi efforts to liberate territory from ISIL, including the expedited provision of U.S. training and equipment to address the threat posed by ISIL’s use of truck bombs.

 

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Obama’s Big Brass Clanging Tablets on Display at D.C. Synagogue

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: This Friday, hours before Shabbat is set to begin and one day before the holiday of Shavuot starts, President Obama walked into a D.C. synagogue and proceeded to tell Jews that their religious texts and traditions compel them to give away Israeli land for the creation of a Palestinian state.

That’s some big, clanging brass you-know-whats on display right there. It’s one thing to use a prayer breakfast to rip Christians a new one. Would he have the guts to walk into a church and do the same thing, hours before a holy day, one day before a holiday no less? Are we Jews that nice? That pathetic? Do we give the impression of being such pushovers that we turn our pulpits over to world leaders who crap on our identity and manipulate our covenant with God to suit their own personal political agendas?

There is no doubt that Obama created Jewish American Heritage Month and participated in today’s keynote event simply to smooth over his relationship with the Jewish American community in the wake of his aggressive negotiations with Iran and the Gulf states. We are no longer the fiddlers. We are merely the fiddles being played by a political performer who has no problem proclaiming that he knows us better than we know ourselves.

On Shavuot we will celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is, in effect, the anniversary of our entering into our covenant with God. This is the very holiday that marks the making of us as a people. A key element of that covenant is the land on which the nation of Israel is to be established. And today, 1,000 attendees at Adas Israel anxiously clapped away that promise in favor of the pervading moral relativism of the White House.

They aren’t bad Jews because they vote liberal. They aren’t bad Jews because they vote Obama. They are bad Jews, as we all are, for ignoring, belittling, dismissing, and forgetting the covenant we made with God. The covenant that crafted us into who we are and showed us what we could be. Come on, people. We’re better than that.

 

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Obama Explains How It’s Acceptable to Broker Deal with Regime That Wants to Annihilate Jews

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama told The Atlantic that ISIS is not winning, but “the training of Iraqi security forces, the fortifications, the command-and-control systems are not happening fast enough in Anbar, in the Sunni parts of the country.”

“I don’t think we’re losing,” Obama said. “There’s no doubt there was a tactical setback, although Ramadi had been vulnerable for a very long time, primarily because these are not Iraqi security forces that we have trained or reinforced.”

Obama spoke with Jeffrey Goldberg on Tuesday, after the fall of Ramadi and well into the White House spin operation on the ISIS gain.

“I know that there are some in Republican quarters who have suggested that I’ve overlearned the mistake of Iraq, and that, in fact, just because the 2003 invasion did not go well doesn’t argue that we shouldn’t go back in,” he said. “And one lesson that I think is important to draw from what happened is that if the Iraqis themselves are not willing or capable to arrive at the political accommodations necessary to govern, if they are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them.”

Obama also assured the magazine that the Iran nuclear deal will be good because of his “personal interest in locking this down.”

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing,” he said. “If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this.”

He also contested Goldberg’s suggestion that the anti-Semitic regime in Iran is not a rational negotiating partner.

“Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival,” Obama said. “It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations. You know, if you look at the history of anti-Semitism, Jeff, there were a whole lot of European leaders—and there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country—”

Goldberg interjected that European anti-Semitic leaders had, indeed, made irrational decisions.

“They may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool. At the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what we’ve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have,” Obama retorted.

“That’s what the sanctions represent. That’s what the military option I’ve made clear I preserve represents. And so I think it is not at all contradictory to say that there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime, but that they also are interested in maintaining power, having some semblance of legitimacy inside their own country, which requires that they get themselves out of what is a deep economic rut that we’ve put them in, and on that basis they are then willing and prepared potentially to strike an agreement on their nuclear program.”

Obama also said that the African-American experience has a parallel to Israel’s right to exist. “There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law,” he said. “These things are indivisible in my mind.”

“…I consistently received overwhelming majority support from the Jewish community, and even after all the publicity around the recent differences that I’ve had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the majority of the Jewish American community still supports me, and supports me strongly.”

Obama appeared in the Oval Office today with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, but did not take any questions from the media.

He’s scheduled to deliver remarks at Congregation Adas Israel in D.C. tomorrow for Jewish American Heritage Month.

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Top Intel Dem: ‘No Sugarcoating’ Gravity of Ramadi Seizure by ISIS

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said there can be “no sugarcoating” the fall of Ramadi despite administration assurances that the ISIS victory isn’t as serious as it appears.

“It’s a serious setback… It means, I think, we really have to redouble our efforts to get the Baghdad government to incorporate the Sunnis more fully in the military, to help better arm the Sunni tribes and give them more encouragement to rise up and challenge ISIS,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told CNN.

“I don’t think the answer is more Iranian-backed Shia militias. And I don’t think the answer is American boots on the ground, but rather addressing some of the sectarian problems that have yet to peel the Sunni tribes away from ISIS.”

The Iran-backed militias have moved in on the area between Ramadi and Baghdad but ISIS has been pressing its offensive east instead of keeping its forces concentrated in the city.

“But I think we also have to look at how ISIS has exploited this, because it wasn’t just Saddam who kept a lid on this. It’s also the fact that ISIS purposely went out and tried to stir up these sectarian instincts and frictions and divisions by blowing up Shia mosques, by antagonizing and killing the Shia,” Schiff said.

Ramadi’s fall is “harmful to the cause, and it’s something we’re going have to overcome,” he said. “And it’s part of the seesaw nature of this conflict. I think, as Ambassador Rice points out, this is going to be a long slog.”

“When you look at it overall, we have shrunk the amount of territory in Iraq that ISIS controls. That’s positive. But yet, at the same point, we’re way far away from any kind of a retaking of Mosul. And now we have got to retake Ramadi. And the challenges are extraordinary. But I don’t think that means we can back away from a commitment to the Iraqi government and helping to arm these Sunni tribes to combat the scourge.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told MSNBC today “there’s no way to say this is a success.”

“And the fact that we’re in the 10th month of a war that the U.S. started August 8th and there hasn’t been any meaningful debate in the House and, save for one committee vote in the Senate in December, there’s not been any meaningful debate about Congress trying to work with the executive to scope U.S. involvement and define the mission, so we can support the troops there risking their lives,” Kaine added. “What this last weekend showed is that, with urgency now, Congress should be addressing this.”

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ISIS Seizes One Third of the Ancient Syrian City of Palmyra (Video)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

palmyra

Islamic State fighters seized part of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra on Wednesday after heavy clashes with the Syrian military and allied combatants.

They are now, the New York Times reports, “within blocks of one of the world’s most magnificent ancient sites.”

As they have swept across Syria and Iraq, the extremists have destroyed or damaged numerous ancient sites and major cultural artifacts, condemning them as idolatry, even as they pillage and sell off more portable items to finance their activities. The militants’ approach to the ruins of ancient Palmyra, with their grand 2,000-year-old colonnades and tombs, has raised fears both locally and internationally that they too may be destroyed.

Modern Palmyra, also known as Tadmur, is a relatively remote desert outpost of 50,000 people, but it sits astride the main road from the Islamic State strongholds in the east to the more populous west of Syria. It is also near gas fields that the militant group has repeatedly attacked, and last week managed to partially seize. Syrian government forces held the militants out of the city for several days, but withdrew from some checkpoints on Wednesday, residents said.

It is feared that the jihadists will destroy the ancient ruins  if they take control of the city.  

“IS fighters seized the northern parts of the city, which amount to a third of Palmyra,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Regime forces fled from these neighborhoods,” he added.

On Friday, as they advanced toward the city, the ISIS terrorists executed at least 23 civilians –  nine of them children.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine children were among the 23 shot dead by ISIS militants near the Unesco world heritage site.

“The Islamic State group executed by gunfire 23 civilians, including nine children, in the village of Amiriyeh, north of Tadmor,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Palmyra, which means City of Palms, is known in Arabic as Tadmor, or City of Dates.

Abdel Rahman said family members of government employees were among those murdered.

CNN reported that about “100 to 150 ISIS fighters were in the area Wednesday and were as close as 700 meters” from the ancient site.

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Some of the artifacts have been relocated for safekeeping according to the NYT:

Khaled al-Homsi, an activist who opposes both the government and the Islamic State and closely monitors the Palmyra ruins, said that government workers removed artifacts from the museum near the site on Wednesday, and that other objects were taken away earlier for safekeeping. Syria’s chief antiquities official told Reuters that hundreds of statues had been relocated.

He said that in recent days, strikes by Syrian government warplanes had come dangerously close to the site’s medieval citadel. Islamic State fighters were moving farther into the modern city on Wednesday afternoon, he said, but had not yet reached the ancient site.

The UNESCO world heritage site of Palmyra is considered “an archaeological gem,” CNN’s Nima Elbagir reported. The “so-called Venice of the sands” has been threatened by the advance of ISIS.

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Taliban Launch ‘Free Morsi’ Movement After Former Muslim Brotherhood President Sentenced to Death

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The Taliban is calling upon every “influential” Muslim to try to save Mohamed Morsi from the death penalty in Egypt.

The former president, along with 105 other defendants, was sentenced for the bloody Natroun jailbreak after the 2011 revolution, which allowed Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah prisoners to escape — one of those was Morsi. After he was overthrown in 2013, a fresh investigation was launched into the prison break.

The verdict goes to the grand mufti for non-binding review before final sentencing on June 2. If his death sentence in the jailbreak case stands, he will be put to death by hanging. He’ll also be the first Egyptian president ever to face capital punishment.

Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie was sentenced to death along with Morsi.

The Taliban statement today said they “strongly condemning this cruel decision” and call “on all international and local human right organizations, the United Nations, especially Muslim countries and Islamic Conference as well as all influential individuals of the Islamic world to fulfill their humane and Islamic duties from the point of human sympathy and Islamic brotherhood in order to challenge this harrowing ruling and prevent the coup d’é·tat regime of Egypt from carrying out such illegal unethical and inhumane actions.”

“It is absolutely astonishing that the western world and those that shout equity, justice, human rights and even animal rights have either adopted complete silence in this issue or are indifferent to the extent of only limiting their response to mere condemnation without feeling any other sense of responsibility. Would the western world especially America have ever tolerated such barbarism towards any of its own citizens? No they would have never. It is from here that the hypocrisy of claimants and thespians of ‘Rights’ and ‘Justice’ is being further exposed to the world and nations.”

The Taliban, operating under the name the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, said “fair-minded nations especially people of the Islamic Ummah and Muslims must take to the streets to force the power bearers of feeling responsibility towards this and other such inhumane decrees and take practical preventative steps.”

Terrorist attacks have already increased in the restive Sinai peninsula since Morsi’s sentencing.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters Monday that they are “deeply concerned by yet another mass death sentence handed down by an Egyptian court to more than 100 defendants, including former President Morsi.”

“We have consistently spoken out against the practice of mass trials and sentences which are conducted in a manner that’s inconsistent with Egypt’s international obligations and which are frequently used against members of the opposition and nonviolent activists. This practice, which in this instance was directed against, among others, a former elected president, is unjust and undermines confidence in the rule of law,” he added.

The U.S. has lobbied for an “inclusive” Egyptian government that includes the Muslim Brotherhood, and protested Morsi’s overthrow.

“We have made our views and we continue to make our views clear to the Egyptian Government. We believe that all Egyptians, regardless of their political affiliation, are entitled to equal and fair treatment before the law,” Rathke said. “That includes full respect for their rights to due process, and we remain opposed to politicized arrests and detentions.”

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Headline of the Month: ‘Fall of Ramadi Raises Doubts About US Strategy in Iraq’

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

What strategy?

The Islamic State group’s capture of Ramadi, a key provincial capital in western Iraq, calls into question the Obama administration’s strategy in Iraq.

Is there a Plan B?

The current U.S. approach is a blend of retraining and rebuilding the Iraqi army, prodding Baghdad to reconcile with the nation’s Sunnis, and bombing Islamic State targets from the air without committing American ground combat troops. But the rout in Ramadi revealed a weak Iraqi army, slow reconciliation and a bombing campaign that, while effective, is not decisive.

Enough of this horsepuckey; it’s Vietnam all over again, this time as face. Bombing does not win wars. Artificial metrics do not win wars. Training Third World savages with a history of cowardice in battle does not win wars. Pulling American troops out and simply declaring victory does not win wars. Only absolutely victory and unconditional surrender of the enemy win wars.

Two successive Bush presidents started wars in Iraq — a useless, imaginary, non-strategic “country” — and didn’t finish them. The second Bush bequeathed us Obama. What did you expect? The upper brass is a cadre of lickspittle throne-sniffers, incapable of winning a street fight much less a way against primitives that could easily be won with the proper application of military and will power. But no:

On Monday, administration officials acknowledged the fall of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, as a “setback.” They still maintained, however, the campaign would ultimately bring victory. They counseled patience and said periodic setbacks are to be expected in confronting the Islamic State.

But anything close to a victory appeared far off. In gaining control of Ramadi over the weekend, Islamic State fighters killed as many as 500 Iraqi civilians and soldiers and caused 8,000 people to flee their homes. On Monday the militants did a door-to-door search looking for policemen and pro-government tribesmen.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a written statement Monday that suggested Ramadi will trigger no change in the U.S. approach. ”Setbacks are regrettable but not uncommon in warfare,” Dempsey said. “Much effort will now be required to reclaim the city.”

The next president will have his work cut out for him: fire this idiot and everybody like him, make rapid promotions among the mid-level officers’ corps, and put people in charge who know how to fight, kill and win. Unless the next president is another Democrat, in which case everything is proceeding according to plan.

 

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Huge ISIS Convoy Parades Out in the Open in West Anbar Province in Iraq, Providing Target-Rich Environment for Coalition

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

According to a Twitter account that explores  ”the domestic and regional challenges facing Iraq’s security,” a massive convoy of ISIS fighters paraded out in the open desert in Western Anbar on Monday, providing a target rich environment for the U.S.-led coalition. But where was the coalition? 

That is what you call a perfect target for some serious air power — B-52s or warthogs doing area saturation bombing — but it looks it was another missed opportunity for the coalition.

@IraqiSecurity later tweeted that the coalition destroyed 12 vehicles near Habbaniyah, E. of Ramadi — which is on the Eastern side of Anbar.

#Iraq; Reports that coalition airstrikes destroyed targeted a Da’ish convoy trying to enter Habbaniyah, E. of Ramadi. 12 vehicles destroyed.

— حيدر سومري (@IraqiSecurity) May 19, 2015

A coalition spokesman said Monday afternoon that the U.S.-led coalition  ”has conducted 19 air strikes in the vicinity of the Iraqi city of Ramadi over the past 72 hours.”

The strikes targeted Islamic State fighting positions, armoured and technical vehicles, and buildings they control.

Obama allegedly has a coalition of 60 nations fighting ISIS with us and they only managed 19 airstrikes in a three-day period.

During the Gulf War’s “Shock and Awe” campaign, the U.S. rained down 300 to 400 cruise missiles a day on Iraq for two consecutive days. At the beginning of the Iraq War, the U.S. unleashed 800 cruise missiles in two days.

After ISIS took over Ramadi, the Obama coalition of the willing could only squeak out a paltry 6.33 missiles a day at some buildings and vehicles. And they completely missed the huge convoy parading out in the open desert on the other side of the province.

The reason for this failure was explored by the Daily Beast last October.

Within the U.S. Air Force, there’s mounting frustration that the air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is moving far more slowly than expected. Instead of a fast-moving operation with hundreds of sorties flown in a single day—the kind favored by many in the air service—American warplanes are hitting small numbers of targets after a painstaking and cumbersome process.

The single biggest problem, current and former Air Force officers say, is the so-called kill-chain of properly identifying and making sure the right target is being attacked. At the moment, that process is very complicated and painfully slow.

“The kill-chain is very convoluted,” one combat-experienced Air Force A-10 Warthog pilot told The Daily Beast. “Nobody really has the control in the tactical environment.”

A major reason why: the lack of U.S. ground forces to direct American air power against ISIS positions.

These problems don’t seem to have improved at all since last fall.

As the Islamic State takes over more territory and advances toward Baghdad, I’m afraid we’ll continue seeing  more of this weak and ineffective air campaign.

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As Ramadi Falls to ISIS, POTUS Goes Golfing, Gets New Twitter Account

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

As ISIS fighters were storming Ramadi, seizing U.S. military equipment, including missile launchers and tanks – enough to  “take 3 more Mosuls and about 10 Ramadis,” according to one ISIS supporter – the president of the United States was enjoying some “me-time” on the Andrews Air Force Base golf course.

During the Iraq War, the United States paid a terrible price to secure Anbar province from terrorists.  Between April of 2004 and September of 2007, 1,335 Americans and nearly 9,000 Iraqis died in the battle for Fallujah and Ramadi. But by 2008, the battle had been won — and liberated Iraqi citizens could again walk the streets without fear.

Now Ramadi and Fallujah are back in the hands of terrorists.

But never mind that, the big news today is that POTUS has a new Twitter account, you guys!

NEAT!

Liz Cheney had a question for the president yesterday:

Since Obama got his new Twitter account today, I went ahead and retweeted Cheney’s question to @POTUS.

I’m not really interested in Obama’s answer because I already know that it will be about 5,000 words long, won’t answer the question, and would put me to sleep. I just want to hear someone from the MSM ask him the question.

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Kerry: Don’t Worry About Fall of Ramadi, ‘Daesh Has Been Driven Back’

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
isisiraqramadi

One of the photos released by ISIS of vehicles abandoned or seized from Iraqi security forces in Ramadi

Secretary of State John Kerry said today not to worry, we’ll probably get Ramadi back from ISIS.

ISIS took the city 80 miles east of Baghdad on Sunday despite a campaign of coalition airstrikes.

Kerry said at a joint press conference with South Korea’s foreign minister today that the administration has “always said from day one that the campaign against Daesh is a long one.”

“It’s going to take a long time. We’ve always said that. And particularly in Anbar, where you don’t yet have the presence of the Iraqi Security Forces in the full numbers necessary to take the fight to Daesh everywhere yet — I underscore yet — there are targets of opportunity like or somewhere else where Daesh has the ability to inflict great damage,” he said. “Notice what they’ve done. They’ve destroyed. They’ve sent in huge numbers of vehicle-borne IEDs, big trucks, massive amounts of explosion, and they’ve destroyed the place. That’s hardly a future.”

ISIS reportedly seized an untold amount of U.S. military equipment when it overran the Iraqi 8th Army Brigade in Ramadi.

“And I am convinced that as the forces are redeployed and as the days flow in the weeks ahead, that’s going to change, because overall in Iraq, Daesh has been driven back,” Kerry claimed. “As much as 30 to 30-plus percent of the area they once controlled they no longer control.”

As government struggle to keep with up ISIS’ domination of the social media sphere, Kerry added “their communications have been reduced, their funding and financial mechanisms have been reduced, and their movements by and large, and most certainly where there are air patrols and other capacities, have been reduced.”

“But that’s not everywhere,” he then admitted. “And so it is possible to have the kind of attack we’ve seen in , but I am absolutely confident in the days ahead that will be reversed. Large numbers of Daesh were killed in the last few days and will be in the next days, because that seems to be the only thing they understand. There is no negotiation. There is no proposal whatsoever to educate a child or build a school or a hospital or do something positive. And I think the people of Iraq and the people of the region understand that, which is why every single country in the region, bar none, is opposed to Daesh and is engaged in fighting them.”

Kerry added that he’s “confident about the longer road.”

“But yes, there will be moments like yesterday in Ramadi and there will be some difficult challenges ahead,” he added. “Part of the challenge is also dealing with Anbar and the tribes, which need more resources, more training, more initial cover from the Iraq Security Forces. And that will be, I am sure, the subject of much conversation over the course of the next few days.”

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Evangelicals to Bring Christian College Students to Israel

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Christian? In college? Want to go to Israel for $500? Haaretz reports:

Conservative Jewish funders and Christian donors of Hobby Lobby fame have joined forces to launch a Christian Birthright trip, modeled after the successful program that has taken thousands of Jewish young adults to Israel for the past 16 years.

Covenant Journey, a subsidized evangelical 11-day trip to Israel that was officially announced May 8, will bring 250 students to the Holy Land by the end of the summer. It aims to bring thousands more in the upcoming years.

Just like the Taglit-Birthright Israel program it is modeled after, Covenant Journey seeks to strengthen American students’ love for Israel. But instead of having them mingle with young Jewish soldiers, participants walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and visit Christian holy sites. According to the program’s founder, the results from a recently launched pilot tour were encouraging. Participants in the trip were transformed into enthusiastic pro-Israel advocacy messengers.

…The Philos Project, a pro-Israel group with a stated mission of promoting “positive Christian engagement in the Middle East,” offered its backing early on. The group’s board includes Richard Lang, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary; Mark Tooley, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, which is a conservative religious think tank, and Republican Jewish activist Dan Senor, who served as spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, in Iraq, during the administration of George W. Bush. The group’s main funder is Paul Singer, a Jewish hedge fund billionaire who is also one of the single largest donors to Republican politics.

Politically it’s a smart move. With anti-Semitism on the rise on college campuses and Obama stacking the decks against the Democrats when it comes to the pro-Israel vote, subsidized Israel trips are yet another great way to solidify bonds with Israel’s Christian supporters who vote in America. Targeting the millennial generation is more than a wise idea. These young adults are the ones who have been the most exposed to an anti-Israel, anti-Zionist agenda in the history of public education. What’s more, whether it is in the form of BDS, Christ at the Checkpoint, the Soros-backed Telos Group, or Palestinian Liberation Theology, the Christian community is far from immune to anti-Zionist influences.

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Ramadi Falls, More U.S. Weapons Seized: See the Gains ISIS Made in Just Two Days

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

ramadi051515

Via Islamic World News, this was Ramadi on Friday. The red represents Iraqi forces, the dark gray ISIS, and the magenta areas, including bridges, were contested.

On Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey was asked about Ramadi’s imminent fall. “The city itself is — it’s not symbolic in any way. It’s not been declared, you know, part of the caliphate, on the one hand, or central to the future of Iraq. But we want to get it back. I mean, the issue here is not — is not brick and mortar. It’s about defeating ISIL. So, as I said, this — I — you know, I would much rather that Ramadi not fall, but it won’t be the end of the campaign should it fall. We got to get it back. And that’s tragic for the people, as have — as we’ve seen along the way,” Dempsey told reporters at the Pentagon.

In a Friday teleconference, Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley (USMC), chief of staff for Operation Inherent Resolve, said the coalition has conducted 420 airstrikes total in the Fallujah-Ramadi area, including 165 in support of Iraqi Security Forces in Ramadi just over the past month, “which have destroyed operational resources and facilities such as Daesh-controlled buildings, fighting positions, armored and technical vehicles.”

“After a period of relative stability in the tactical situation, Daesh executed a complex attack on Iraqi Security Forces today. These forces were able to repel most of these attacks, but some gains were made by Daesh in previously contested areas,” Weidley said. “At this point, areas of Ramadi remain contested as Daesh terrorists attempt to consolidate and defend some of their recent temporary gains in the east and south of the city. Iraqi Security Forces, as well as federal and local police, continue to control most of the key facilities, infrastructure and lines of communication in the area. Ramadi is a major population center, the provincial capital of Iraq’s largest province, and a location where Iraqi Security Forces, police and local tribes have been working together for nearly a year to defend.”

Today, two days after the commander’s statements, Ramadi, 80 miles west of Baghdad, fell.

Here’s the updated map via Islamic World News:

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 4.50.25 PM

The red area bearing the Iraqi flag, home of the 8th Army Brigade, was stormed by ISIS fighters today. Within the compound they reportedly captured more U.S. military equipment, including missile launchers and tanks.

As one ISIS supporter tweeted, they found enough arms inside the base to “take 3 more Mosuls and about 10 Ramadis.” ISIS members also tweeted rough video of celebrations in Mosul.

On Friday, Weidley also dismissed ISIS gains as “episodic temporary successes” and maintained “Daesh does remain on the defensive.”

“These typically don’t materialize into long-term gains. We’ve seen similar attacks in Ramadi over the last several months of which the ISF has been able to repel. And we see this one being similar to those, where the ISF will eventually take back the terrain that’s been lost at this point,” he said.

A tribal leader who had fled to Baghdad told the New York Times today that “men, women, kids and fighters’ bodies are scattered on the ground” in Ramadi, and “all security forces and tribal leaders have either retreated or been killed in battle. It is a big loss.”

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Obama to Arab World: Negotiations With Iran Are Useless

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In the wake of this past week’s summit with Arab States at Camp David, President Obama granted his first-ever interview to an Arabic language newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, a pan-Arab daily headquartered in London that publishes in 14 locations worldwide. In his attempt to pander to his Arab audience, Obama reveals the inefficacy of negotiations with Iran:

…President Obama concurred that “the countries in the region are right to be deeply concerned about Iran’s activities, especially its support for violent proxies inside the borders of other nations.”

…He explains his reasoning for extending an invitation to the leaders of the GCC, saying it is part of an effort to “further strengthen our close partnerships, including our security cooperation, and to discuss how we can meet common challenges together. That includes working to resolve the conflicts across the Middle East that have taken so many innocent lives and caused so much suffering for the people of the region.”

…”When it comes to Iran’s future, I cannot predict Iran’s internal dynamics. Within Iran, there are leaders and groups that for decades have defined themselves in opposition to both the United States and our regional partners. I’m not counting on any nuclear deal to change that.”

In other words, what is the point of negotiating with Iran? Especially in light of the fact that America’s Arab allies in the region reject the idea of negotiations to the point of forming a United Arab Army? Given that the conclusion of the appeasement summit was a statement assuring US financial and military backing in order to defend these nations, it would appear that Obama is negotiating the next Arab (or worse, Arab-Israeli) war in the Middle East.

So much for “peace in our time”.

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Did the U.S. Just Agree to Support Arab Forces in a War Against Israel?

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

On Thursday, the White House released the rather long-winded “U.S.- Gulf Cooperation Council Camp David Joint Statement” as an appeasement to our Arab allies in the region in the wake of negotiations with Iran. Mainstream outlets reported the statement using the following language:

President Barack Obama has vowed to back Gulf allies against any “external attack,” seeking to reassure them of Washington’s commitment to their security amid Arab anxiety over US-led efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama, hosting the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council for a rare summit at the Camp David presidential retreat, pledged that the US would cooperate with them to address what he called Iran’s “destabilizing activities in the region.”

While the American press largely ignored the entire event, the Washington Post did declare the summit to have an “upbeat ending,” with David Ignatius concluding:

For once, in the theater of the Middle East, the Arabs have opted to be the good guys, compared to an unyielding Israeli government. And Obama has responded with the sentiment conveyed by the Arabic expression, “Ahlan wa Sahlan.” You are welcome.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, of Israel’s Independent Media Review Analysis, begs to differ. Publishing the entire text of the statement, Lerner notes the following language [emphasis mine]:

In the event of such aggression or the threat of such aggression, the United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to determineurgently what action may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force, for the defense of our GCC partners.

As with Operation Decisive Storm, GCC states will consult with the United States when planning to take military action beyond GCC borders, in particular when U.S. assistance is requested for such action.

…The United States and GCC member states strongly affirmed the necessity of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a just,
lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that results in an independent and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.

Lerner then says what American and Arab media sources dare not:

 So the US doesn’t exactly commit to using force - just discussing the possibility.

There is a CALL FOR ISRAEL TO BE SPLIT IN TWO so that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are “contiguous Palestinian state”.

Also in the call to Israel and the Palestinians “urgent need for the parties to demonstrate—through policies and actions—genuine advancement of a two-state solution” we have missing any explicit call for the Palestinians to HONOR THEIR EXISTING COMMITMENTS. What commitments? Well, for starters, The thousands of rockets in the Gaza Strip are in complete and total violation of the agreements signed already! So are the Fatah armed militias in the West Bank!]

The reality of the language of this latest agreement is simple: It paves the way for a US-backed military war against Israel in order to create a Palestinian state. Whether or not that language will ever be realized will hopefully not be a story for another day.

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Egyptian Court Sentences Morsi to Death

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Cairo’s Criminal Court has decided that former President Mohamed Morsi, along with 105 other defendants, should die for setting free thousands of Islamists after the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

The bloody Natroun jailbreak allowed Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah prisoners to escape — one of those was Morsi. After he was overthrown in 2013, a fresh investigation was launched into the prison break.

Al-Ahram reported that the verdict goes to the grand mufti for non-binding review before final sentencing on June 2.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders Mohamed El-Beltagy and Khairat El-Shater, along with 14 others, also received death sentences for spying for Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Morsi was also charged in that case, but his sentence won’t be announced until June 2.

If his death sentence in the jailbreak case stands, he will be put to death by hanging. He’ll also be the first Egyptian president ever to face capital punishment.

Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie was sentenced to death along with Morsi.

Islamist Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the ruling shows “Egypt is turning into ancient Egypt.”

“[Abdel Fatah al-Sisi] cannot be confronted. The West does not display a stance against Sisi the coup-maker,” Erdoğan said today.

The White House, which was displeased by the 2013 overthrow, had no immediate reaction.

After Morsi received a 20-year sentence last month for torturing protesters against his rule, press secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration was “concerned” by the sentence.

“Mr. Morsi, like all other defendants, must be afforded the basic legal right of due process. And the United States continues to be strongly opposed to politicized arrests and detentions,” Earnest said. “The United States will also continue to engage the Egyptian government on its political trajectory, and to raise human rights and political reform issues. There should be no doubt that these issues remain significant bilateral priorities for the United States.”

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Another Obama Triumph: Retired USMC General Mattis Warns of ‘Strategic Atrophy’

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

That’s one thing to call it. Another is incompetence. Still another is a betrayal of everything our troops fought for after 9/11. Take your pick:

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis said the U.S. is suffering “strategic atrophy” that will threaten the long-term security of the nation. The retired general and former Central Command (CENTCOM) commander made the remarks while speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. “The perception [among allies] is we’re pulling back,” Gen. Mattis said, the U.S. Naval Institute reported Thursday.

That;s one way to look at it. Another is that we’re retreating. A third is that we’re fleeing the battlefield with our tails between our legs; which, by the way, is how the Arabs and the Iranians and the Russians see it.

The conversation with Gen. Mattis covered a variety of topics, including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire “to break NATO apart,” to China, which “is doing a pretty good job of finding friction points between our allies,” USNI reported. Gen. Mattis praised the United Arab Emirates and Jordan for aiding the U.S. coalition in its fight against the Islamic State group. He added that he has “no doubt” that any foreign policy missteps can be rectified with the right leadership.

Right… Jeb? Hillary!? Huckabee?

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Smartest Guy Ever to Become President Blows It Again

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
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You’d think a fellow named Barack Hussein Obama would at least get this sort of thing right:

Yesterday, two Saudi crown princes arrived to meet with President Obama at the Oval Office, after King Salman refused to meet Obama at the Gulf summit or at the White House.

White House officials should have been careful to make sure everything with the two top Saudi officials went smoothly — but instead, Obama flubbed on the deputy crown prince’s name and the name of the king who forged America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud. The prince sat stony-faced as Obama makes the error.

Mistake #1: The deputy crown prince’s name is actually Mohammed bin Salman (bin means son of in Arabic); his father’s name is Salman.

Mistake #2: The King whom President Obama called King Faisal is actually King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, who met with Roosevelt. That king’s son was named Faisal.

Getting the names wrong “will deepen the sense in the Gulf and the wider Middle East that the president of the United States does not know what he is doing in their region,” said Elliott Abrams from The Council on Foreign Relations.

As I’ve wondered before: did the White House fire its protocol officer? Or is it just that Barry is a better protocol officer than his protocol officer? He looks more like what he actually is: an in-over-his-head college kid who was up late partying the night before, furiously vamping in order the snow the teacher.

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Obama Grilled on His Rwanda, Says He Didn’t Want to Violate International Law

Friday, May 15th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama got slammed on his Syria inaction — with an Al Arabiya interviewer asking if it will go down as his Rwanda — and claimed yet again that he disposed of Assad’s chemical weapons in a sit-down interview after his Camp David summit with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

When asked exactly what he meant by vowing to come to the military aid of Gulf countries if needed, Obama went straight to citing an action of President George H.W. Bush: “We’ve seen in the past what happened in Kuwait when Saddam invaded.”

Obama divided the aid into “traditional” military assistance, such as joint exercises and assessing military capability, and non-traditional issues such as distinguishing terrorism from “legitimate political activities.”

When asked why he wouldn’t put his assurances to the Gulf countries in writing, Obama replied that “the treaty process is very cumbersome.”

“It requires congressional approval and it’s not necessary in this situation,” he said.

Al Arabiya Washington correspondent Nadia Bilbassy noted that the security arrangement discussed with the GCC does not confront the true nature of the Iranian threat, to which Obama told her, “Well, actually it does.”

He offered as an example “making sure Iran is not pouring arms into Yemen …obviously there’s a long history of political instability inside of Yemen and their own indigenous history inside of Yemen,” but if Iran starts threatening the Saudi border “that then becomes a source of concern.”

“Keep in mind the United States has been very clear that a nuclear-armed Iran would be potentially even more reckless and dangerous and so it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and that we provide a pathway for Iran to engage in positive behavior, commerce and trade and education and scientific exchange. That’s the path that we hope they take,” Obama said.

He added that “just because we’re able to resolve the nuclear issue” doesn’t mean there isn’t the problem of Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism and “their potential for mischief.”

Bilbassy asked if Obama was just engaging in a “wishful strategy” with the Iran deal.

“I don’t think it’s a wishful strategy,” he replied. “… We cannot simply trust the Iranians to abide by the deal, it has to be verifiable.” He said the verification process “extends for a very, very long period of time.”

“Often you talk about Iran with admiration,” his interviewer noted, asking him if he’s thus putting down the Sunni countries in the region.

“Al Arabiya’s going to have to do a better job delivering my message,” Obama shot back. “Our closest friends in the region are the Gulf countries.”

“Many people believe that Syria is your Rwanda, it might haunt you for years to come — more than 200,000 people dead, 9 million people displaced, the worst humanitarian crisis in the 21st century. Are we going to see the end of the bloodshed before you leave office, Mr. President?” Bilbassy asked.

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Obama to Gulf Allies: Please Back Iran Nuke Deal, We’ll Arm You Against ‘External Aggression’

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama lobbied Gulf representatives at Camp David today on the P5+1 nuclear deal being forged with Iran — and tried to butter up allies by smoothing the way for arms deals that they may, ironically, use to defend themselves against Iran.

Attendees at the meetings included Sheikh Tameem bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Oman Deputy Prime Minister Sayyid Fahad bin Mahmood Al Said, and Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

In a lone press conference after the day’s meetings, Obama said they all agreed “that a comprehensive, verifiable solution that fully addresses the regional and international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, is in the international — is in the security interests of the international community, including our GCC partners.” He didn’t elaborate on whether the Gulf partners like his solution.

“Of course, whether we reach a nuclear deal or not with Iran, we’re still going to face a range of threats across the region, including its destabilizing activities, as well as the threat from terrorist groups. So, we’re going to work together to address these threats and much of the enhanced security cooperation that I have outlined will allow us to do precisely that,” he added. “But I want to be very clear, the purpose of security cooperation is not to perpetuate any long-term confrontation with Iran or even to marginalize Iran.”

Obama promoted a “broader dialogue” with Iran and its GCC neighbors, with a rosy optimism: “We welcome an Iran that plays a responsible role in the region: one that takes concrete, practical steps to build trust and resolve its differences with its neighbors by peaceful means and abides by international rules and norms.”

Questioned on whether the Gulf countries were suddenly buying into his Iran deal, Obama replied, “We didn’t have a — a document that we presented to them to sign on the bottom line, will you approve of this nuclear framework deal, because the deal’s not completed. And in the same way that I wouldn’t ask the United States Senate to — or the American people to sign off on something before they’ve actually seen the details of it. And given that I’m not going to sign off on any deal until I’ve seen the details of it, I wouldn’t expect them to either.”

“What I did hear from our GCC partners was their agreement that if we can get a comprehensive, verifiable deal that cuts off the pathways to a nuclear weapon, that that would be in their interests and the interests of the region, as well as the world community,” he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sat in on the meetings to try to convince the GCC to go along with the Iran negotiations. “A number of them did express the concern that with additional resources through the reduction in sanctions, that was it possible that Iran would siphon off a lot of these resources into more destabilizing activity,” Obama acknowledged.

“So it’s not to deny the concerns that were there about what happens when sanctions are reduced. But it was to emphasize that what matters more is the things that we can do now to ensure that some of this destabilizing activity is no longer taking place.”

The joint statement released by the parties after the meeting said under the Iran heading that “the United States will work in partnership with GCC member states to build their capacity to defend themselves against external aggression, including in terms of air and missile defense, maritime and cybersecurity, as GCC member states take steps to increase the interoperability of their military forces and continue to better integrate their advanced capabilities.”

“At the same time, the United States and GCC member states reaffirmed their willingness to develop normalized relations with Iran should it cease its destabilizing activities and their belief that such relations would contribute to regional security,” the document adds.

Obama stressed that the United States “stands ready to work with our GCC partners to urgently determine what actions may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force for the defense of our GCC partners.”

“And let me underscore, the United States keeps our commitments,” he said, minutes before answering a question about the Syria red line.

UAE’s Gulf News reported that Shaikh Mohammad stressed the GCC position on the need to keep the region safe security threats in case the final nuclear agreement with Iran does not include “clear standards and commitments in terms of availability of legal guarantees and international commitments sufficient to curb the nuclear ambitions of Iran in the region and its regional hegemony, as well as measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms.”

As the parties met today, four Iranian naval vessels fired warning shots at a Singaporean cargo ship passing through international Gulf waters. The ship called the UAE for help, whose coast guard scared off the Iranian ships before escorting the cargo vessel to port.

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ISIS Releases New Baghdadi Message Calling for ‘Every Muslim to Fight in His Land’

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

ISIS’ Al-Furqan media today released new audio of an address by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with written translations in English, Russian, Turkish, French and German.

The release comes as rumors of the caliph suffering a debilitating injury in a coalition airstrike have been circulating.

In the speech, Baghdadi calls on “every Muslim in every place to perform hijrah to the Islamic State or fight in his land, wherever that may be.”

“Do not think the war that we are waging is the Islamic State’s war alone. Rather, it is the Muslims’ war altogether. It is the war of every Muslim in every place, and the Islamic State is merely the spearhead in this war. It is but the war of the people of faith against the people of disbelief, so march forth to your war O Muslims,” he says. “March forth everywhere, for it is an obligation upon every Muslim who is accountable before Allah. And whoever stays behind or flees, Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) will be angry with him and will punish him with a painful torment.”

Baghdadi stresses that “whoever thinks that it is within his capacity to conciliate with the Jews, Christians, and other disbelievers, and for them to conciliate with him, such that he coexists with them and they coexist with him while he is upon his religion and upon tawhīd (monotheism), then he has belied the explicit statement of his Lord.”

“Islam,” he adds, “is the religion of war.”

“And if the Crusaders today have begun to bother the Muslims who continue to live in the lands of the cross by monitoring them, arresting them, and questioning them, then soon they will begin to displace them and take them away either dead, imprisoned, or homeless. They will not leave anyone amongst them except one who apostatizes from his religion and follows theirs,” Baghdadi continued, adding Americans “claim to defend Islam and the Muslims” but “indeed, they lie.”

He referred to America’s Arab allies — as President Obama meets with GCC representatives at Camp David — as “slaves, servants, and guard dogs” of the “Jews and Crusaders.” He derides rulers on the Arabian Peninsula as “people of luxury and extravagance, people of intoxication, prostitution, dances, and feasts” who “have become accustomed to the defense of the Jews and Crusaders for them and their hearts have drunk humiliation, disgrace, and subservience.”

“This war is only against you and against your religion. Has the time not come for you to return to your religion and your jihād and thereby bring back your glory, honor, rights, and leadership?” Baghdadi says in a broader call to Muslims. He urged Sunnis who fled their homes and sought refuge among “Kurdish atheists” to return so ISIS can give them “salvation from Hellfire.”

“Your repentance is more beloved to us than killing you or expelling you. Repent for we do not call you out of weakness. Rather, we call you while our swords are at a distance of two bow lengths or nearer from your necks. If you repent, you will not find from us anything except good and kindness.”

He told ISIS fighters to “be patient, because the Crusaders are bleeding to death, the Rāfidah [Shiites] are faltering, and the Jews are horrified and in dread.”

Baghdadi gave shouts out to ISIS fighters in various areas of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, West Africa, and Yemen.

He said that Muslims are not being called to “march forth” for the Islamic State “out of weakness or incapability” — the address was titled “March Forth Whether Light or Heavy” — but “because the battle is one between the allies of the Merciful and the allies of Satan.”

Baghdadi, an ISIS e-book published this year claimed, is dressed like a regular mujahid in public, paranoid about carrying a cell phone or using electronic communications, and “always cautiously on the move for security reasons… hiding is comfortably possible compared to Osama bin Laden who had less security, more spies against him and less places to hide.”

“Unlike the medieval times when a king was safe in a guarded castle, leaders today cannot have one central location. Khalifah Ibrahim is always on the move in a convoy of cars, with loyal bodyguards who he knows since the American invasion in the mid 2000s. The secret is not to have too much cars which will give the impression (to local people and even drones) that an important person is in one of the cars. But not to have too less cars either, in case of ambush.”

Rumors were spreading in February that Baghdadi and/or other high-ranking leaders had been killed in airstrikes, but those turned out to be unsubstantiated.

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Christians in Yemen Face ‘Terrible’ Conditions

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Since tensions flared up in Yemen this spring, Christians in the city of Aden have faced what the Anglican bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf has referred to as “terrible” conditions, even as tensions appear to have died down.

More than 600 people have been killed in the city and 3,000 wounded, while 22,000 residents had been displaced since the Iran-backed Houthi rebels first pushed into the city on March 25.

Fighting in the city has seen damage to the city’s Christ Church and its associated clinic, Ras Morbat.

Rt Rev Michael Lewis wrote in a prayer letter that the buildings’ windows had been blown out as a result of blast waves from sustained shelling. However, he added, “we are told that all our staff are safe so far, and for that we thank God”.

He said: “The general state of Aden is terrible: lack of fuel means lack of electricity, and telecommunications and even basic movement around the large city have become hugely difficult. Food is limited, and money to buy it even more so.

“Our administrator is very thankful for the many prayers that he knows have been made for him, for all who work at Ras Morbat, and for the people of Aden and the Yemen as a whole, a country sorely abused by those with the power, if they chose to use, to promote the common good to the glory of God.”

A coalition of Middle East nations have bombed Houthi army units and other rebel strongholds, while Sunni-led Saudi Arabia believes that Shi’ite Iran is behind the rebels, who have taken control of much of the country since late March. The coalition seeks to restore Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

A five-day cease fire, which began earlier this week, appears to be holding steady, though locals do not expect it to lead to a lasting peace.

Aid agencies said the five-day break in fighting to allow fuel, medicine, food and aid workers to enter Yemen could be a “lifeline” for civilians trapped in conflict zones.

The United Nations believes 828 civilians, including 182 children, have been killed across Yemen since March 26.

Aden locals expressed doubts that the ceasefire would last.

“Aden needs a humanitarian truce so badly, given the lack of food, fuel and everything else. But we question the intentions of the Houthis and believe they will take advantage of the truce to take more areas,” said Hassan al-Jamal, a resident of Aden.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / patrice6000

 

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Here Comes the Red Line Again as Syria Found Lying About Sarin

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House expressed no eagerness today about coming up against — again — President Obama’s red line on chemical weapons in Syria.

The administration repeatedly asserts that President Bashar al-Assad disposed of his chemical weapons stockpile in a deal brokered by Russia to avoid military action at the last red line, when more than 1,400 people were killed in a Damascus suburb with sarin delivered via rockets. For example, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told the J Street conference in March that they “peacefully removed Syria’s entire declared stockpile of chemical weapons.”

Assad has turned to chlorine gas as his chemical weapon of choice, with repeated deadly attacks on civilians as the administration has continued counting the red-line avoidance as a foreign policy success.

Reuters reported Friday that Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons inspectors found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site that was not declared as a chemical weapons storage or production facility.

“This is a pretty strong indication they have been lying about what they did with sarin,” one diplomatic source told Reuters. “They have so far been unable to give a satisfactory explanation about this finding.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today the administration is “aware that the OPCW continues to receive credible allegations that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is still taking place.”

“Attempts by the OPCW to resolve some gaps and inconsistencies in Syria’s declaration of their chemical weapons have gone unresolved,” Earnest said. “And we’re also concerned that progress toward destroying all remaining chemical weapons reduction facilities in Syria have been agonizingly slow.”

Earnest acknowledged the Assad regime “continues to not abide by international standards and norms, including the Chemical Weapons Convention and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2118 and 2209.”

“But as has also been well documented, the Assad regime continues to terrorize the people of Syria through indiscriminate airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention and other gross acts of violence that are committed against their own people,” he added.

Asked what the response would be from the White House upon another crossing of the red line, Earnest replied, “Well, this is something that, you know, we obviously are very concerned about and closely monitoring. And we’re aware of these allegations and we believe it’s important for the OPCW to investigate them fully.”

At the end of March, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) urged Obama to act swiftly against Assad’s chlorine gas attacks.

“Bashar al-Assad and those forces backing his regime, including the government of Iran and its proxy force, Hezbollah, are once again challenging the world and testing the boundaries of the will of the international community to respond,” Menendez wrote.

In September 2013, Menendez’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed an Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons.

“It is clear,” he said, that the administration’s agreement with Assad to prevent military action “has not prevented the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, nor has international pressure changed Assad’s calculus with respect to murdering his own people.”

“Worse, Assad’s supporters, including the Iranian regime, the Russian government, and Hezbollah have actually increased their support for the regime as these attacks have continued and increased in nature and scope,” Menendez wrote. “All options for response must be explored. We must send a clear signal to Assad and his backers that the international community will not tolerate further such attacks.”

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ISIS Warns Female Social Media Supporters to Stop Tempting Their Jihadis

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

ISIS has warned the group’s online female admirers not to praise their jihadi studs too much lest the guys get all lusty.

A message online signed by Abu Sa’eed Al-Britani, believed to be a onetime supermarket worker in south England who ran off to join ISIS, draws from his video “Message Of A Mujahid.”

Addressed to “sisters on social media,” Abu Sa’eed notes “every man needs the comfort of a woman besides him, so praising a Mujaahid online does more damage than good.”

“If you really love and respect the Mujaahideen then do du’aa for their success in the last hours of the night, in sujood, etc. But do not praise him to his face.”

The issues with women continue, as he claims “the biggest fitnah for a man is a woman.”

“Just having a sister follow you on Facebook or Twitter is a fitnah which triggers waswasah [whispers of Satan] in his mind. Even if a man was married to four women, a fifth can also cause him fitnah. Imagine being the cause for a Mujaahid slipping in his intentions. Even a passing thought of riya [showing off] is sufficient to damage all his good deeds. So my sisters, please be considerate when following Mujaahideen online.”

Abu Sa’eed acknowledges that “sometimes a sister may be completely innocent and pure hearted when she speaks to a Mujaahid and expresses her admiration of him, however man was created weak, and is easily inclined towards the tenderness of a female.”

After all, he said, the longer a guy jihads, the more he wants some female company.

“And if a Mujaahid sees a glimmer of this from a sister online, it can distract him and blur his vision and mindset. Indeed, it can effect his intention, and land him in Hell,” Abu Sa’eed said.

“And imagine the feeling on the Day of Judgement knowing a pious brother, a Mujaahid, entered the depths of hell because of you? So my dear sisters, do not distract him from his goal, instead help the Mujaahideen by doing dua for them at the last third of the night. A simple dua behind his back can have much more effect than praising him to his face.”

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Pulitzer Prize Winner Hawks ‘Protocols of the Elders of the Anti-Islam Movement’ in the New Yorker

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Patrick Poole

A document entered into court evidence by Justice Department prosecutors in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history, and later cited affirmatively by the federal judge in the case and cleared by the federal appeals court, would seem an unlikely target for a former journalist to try to spin a conspiratorial tale around, namely slandering others of hawking a racist/”Islamphobic” “Protocols of the Elders of Islam.”

And yet that is what David K. Shipler, a former New York Times reporter and winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, is now trying to do.

Clearly upset that so-called “Islamophobes” have been successful using the document – again, discovered by the FBI, submitted into the evidence by federal prosecutors and approved as genuine by the federal court – to expose the Muslim Brotherhood roots of some of America’s largest Islamic organizations, Shipler wields his “Islamophobia” harpoon like Ahab at his “anti-Islam industry” Moby Dick.

He makes his dubious case in a new book out this week, entitled “Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword” (Alfred A. Knopf), which includes an entire chapter on the subject, and summarizes it in an article published on Tuesday in The New Yorker, “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement.” The book received a very lukewarm review in the New York Times this past Sunday.

In the New Yorker article, Shipler claims:

Virtually all the alarm over the coming Islamic takeover and the spread of Sharia law can be traced back to an old document of questionable authority and relevance, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” Dated May 22, 1991, it was found in 2004 by the F.B.I., buried in one of a large number of boxes uncovered during a search of a house in northern Virginia. (I reported on the discovery and the use of the document for my book “Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword.”) It is cited on numerous Web sites, and in articles, videos, and training materials, which quote one another in circular arguments. Its illusion of importance was enhanced by federal prosecutors, who included it in a trove of documents introduced into evidence in the 2007 trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charitable organization ultimately convicted of sending money to Hamas.

The memo, however, is far from probative. It was never subjected to an adversarial test of its authenticity or significance. Examined closely, it does not stand up as an authoritative prescription for action. Rather, it appears to have been written as a plea to the Muslim Brotherhood leadership for action, by an author we know little about, Mohamed Akram. He is listed elsewhere as a secretary in the Brotherhood, but he writes in the tone of an underling. Islam watchers do not quote his appeal that the recipients “not rush to throw these papers away due to your many occupations and worries. All that I’m asking of you is to read them and to comment on them.” These lines reveal the memo as a mere proposal, now twenty-four years old. No other copies have come to light.

Two features of the memo are highlighted by the Islam watchers: first, its assertion that “the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” and, second, “a list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” [emphasis added]

What’s remarkable about Shipler’s treatment of the Explanatory Memorandum in his article and in his book is how much he is willing to quickly dismiss facts that completely undo his case, and how he pays no attention to the glaring contradictions he ends up wrapping himself into trying to debunk the document. At major points he contradicts himself. He breezes over the mountain of evidence that he has to overcome, but that means he can’t plead ignorance of it. One is only left with the conclusion that he’s being intentionally mendacious.

I beg the reader’s indulgence, for I will quote lengthy passages and on occasions paste screenshots from the court documents themselves so you know I’m not engaged in anything dodgy. Tellingly, most of these quotes never appear in Shipler’s book, and if so, only in selectively edited form.

So let’s start with the evidence.

The document he is trying to cast doubts on is known generally as the “Explanatory Memorandum,” but it’s actual title is “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group in North America.” The document is dated May 22, 1991, and was entered into evidence as “Elbarasse Search – 3″ by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial in 2008.

Helpfully, the federal court overseeing the case in an unusual move posted the trial evidence on their own website. The Explanatory Memorandum and the FBI translation of the document can be found here.

At this point, we can turn to what the Justice Department said in federal court about the Explanatory Memorandum. In one court filing, available on the ACLU’s website, federal prosecutors state (p. 12):

The evidence introduced at trial, for example, established that ISNA and NAIT were among those organizations created by the U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood.8 Govt. Exh. 3-64 (seized from the home of HAMAS leader Ismail Elbarasse); Govt. Exh. 3-3 (Muslim Brotherhood document noting that ISNA was founded by the US-Muslim Brotherhood) ; Govt. Exh. 3-85 (1991 memorandum authored by U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni, recognizing ISNA and NAIT as Muslim Brotherhood organizations.) Government’s Exhibit 3-85, entitled An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group, described the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as a kind of “grand Jihad”:

The Ikhwan must understand that their role in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious…. [emphasis added]

So the Justice Department states that:

1) Two Islamic organizations – the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) – were created by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood (based on other trial evidence as well as the Explanatory Memorandum);

2) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni;

3) That the memo describes the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western Civilization from within.”

Now please note that these claims were not made by “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement” but the Justice Department in a federal court filing. He can tilt at all of the “anti-Islam” windmills he wants, but fundamentally he still has to explain away the court evidence.

And as stated earlier, much to the consternation of Shipler, the federal court agreed in a published opinion with the Justice Department’s analysis of the document when Judge Jorge Solis ruled on motions from three separate organizations named as unindicted co-conspirators in the trial — ISNA, NAIT, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — asking to be removed from the Justice Department’s co-conspirator list. The judge’s ruling against removing the groups from the unindicted co-conspirator list was unsealed in 2010.

In that ruling, Judge Solis states (p. 15):

Government Exhibit 3-85 is titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America,” authored by Mohamed Akram of the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood and dated May 22, 1991. (Gov’t Ex. 3-85 (Elbarasse 3) at 21.) The “Explanatory Memorandum” includes a section titled “Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America,” which states that the work of the Ikhwan in the United States is “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” (Id.) Also contained in that document is a list of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” which includes ISNA, NAIT, the Occupied Land Fund (“OLF”) (HLF’s former name), and the United Association for Studies and Research (“UASR”). (Id. at 32.)

So Judge Solis found that:

1) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by Mohamed Akram of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council;

2) That the document describes the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within”;

3) That the document lists the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” including ISNA and NAIT.

At this point Shipler laughably believes he has room to maneuver. In the New Yorker article and in his book, he makes three general claims:

1) That the judge blindly accepted the Justice Department’s argument about the origins and importance of the memo and never allowed adversarial challenges to its provenance;

2) That the Explanatory Memorandum was admitted as hearsay, meaning that the groups named in the memo were never allowed to challenge in court;

3) That the judge failed to distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.”

Let’s take these in order.

1) Judge Solis accepted the Justice Department’s description of the Explanatory Memorandum unquestioningly and never allowed adversarial challenges.

In discussing the order by Judge Solis in response to the motions of the three Islamic organizations, Shipler states in his book (p. 190):

CAIR and two other groups moved to have themselves removed from the list of unindicted co-conspirators, but the effort backfired and gave Islam watchers more ammunition. Not only was their motion denied by Judge Jorge Solis, who presided over the retrial, conviction, and sentencing of the five Holy Land Foundation defendants (the first trial had ended in a hung jury). He also accepted the government’s assertions by citing the seized Elbarasse documents, including the Explanatory Memorandum, without testing their accuracy in an adversarial proceeding. He did not distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.” He ruled, “The Government had produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA [Islamic Society of North America], and NAIT [North American Islamic Trust] with HLF [Holy Land Foundation], the Islamic Association of Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.” [emphasis added]

Remarkably, Shipler contradicts himself just a few pages later, quoting a defense attorney for the Holy Land Foundation defendants who said that the Elbarasse documents had, in fact, been challenged by the defense team (p. 198):

The defense team lodged vigorous objections to the introduction of this and the other documents from the Elbarasse search, and two attorneys on the defense team, Nancy Hollander and Marlo Cadeddu, scoffed at Guandolo’s statement. “There was no such stipulation by the defense,” said Cadeddu. “Nor would we ever have stipulated to any such thing. Any claims to the contrary are simply untrue.” Indeed, after the five Holy Land officials and fund-raisers were convicted, their lawyers argued specifically, in an unsuccessful appeal to the Fifth Circuit, that the trial judge had erred in admitting the documents, which the attorneys branded hearsay, irrelevant to the charge that the defendants had funneled money to Hamas. [emphasis added]

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