The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, publishes a slick English-language magazine to justify its actions and exhort jihadists to support it financially, through attacks, and other ways. It also serves as a recruitment tool.
At the same time, it serves as a glimpse into the minds of the terrorist group/growing military threat in Iraq and Syria.
Here is the third edition of Dabiq: A Call to Hijrah, in full. “Hijrah” means “the path to jihad.”
It includes a longer statement from James Foley than was included in the IS execution video. That begins on page 39. The magazine blames that beheading on the US airstrikes that began on August 7. Dabiq calls President Barack Obama an “apostate” and a “crusader.” It depicts its jihadists as happy warriors, and its enemies as dead or shortly to be killed.
Government watchdog Judicial Watch published a post today that the group says is based on conversations with multiple government officials.
Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.
Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.
El Paso is Texas’ sixth-largest city.
The Texas-Mexico border has been overrun with thousands of illegal aliens, mostly from Central America, over the past several months. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called for the Obama administration to provide more border security. Instead, President Obama is threatening to grant amnesty to about 5 million illegal aliens who are already in the US, a move that is sure to attract even more to cross illegally. If children can cross, so can others.
There have been rumors and suggestions in the past that Islamic terrorist group Hizballah is operating in the border region over the past several years. Hizballah is confirmed to have operations in South America, in the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
A former deputy sheriff in the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department told me in 2012 that captured Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan, where he served in the United States Army, had confessed that they were training operatives from drug cartels in Mexico.
Judicial Watch’s report says that “Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to ‘carry out an attack on the border,’ according to one JW source. ’It’s coming very soon,’ according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron raised the United Kingdom’s terrorism threat to “severe” earlier today. During a press conference Thursday, President Obama admitted that he has “no strategy yet” for dealing with ISIS in Syria, its home base and where it is establishing a capital city in Raqqa. The president will spend the Labor Day weekend attending Democratic Party fundraisers and a wedding.
Two American citizens have recently been killed fighting with ISIS. They were among the hundreds of ISIS fighters who hold western passports.
Update: Fox reports on a Texas Department of Public Safety bulletin on the threat.
“A review of ISIS social media messaging during the week ending August 26 shows that militants are expressing an increased interest in the notion that they could clandestinely infiltrate the southwest border of US, for terror attack,” warns the Texas Department of Public Safety “situational awareness” bulletin, obtained by FoxNews.com.
“Clandestinely infiltrate..?” They could just walk right across the border. Kids literally do it every day.
“Social media account holders believed to be ISIS militants and propagandists have called for unspecified border operations, or they have sought to raise awareness that illegal entry through Mexico is a viable option,” states the law enforcement bulletin, which is not classified.
It has been a viable option for years. The Texas-Mexico border is 1,200 miles long. Much of it is barely guarded wilderness. The Rio Grande is a large, placid creek in many places.
The Fox and Judicial Watch stories contain far more specific pointers than the pre-9-11 memo that liberals made a huge issue of during the entire Bush presidency. Yet Barack Obama is not only not taking any known action to curb the threat. He is actively making the border less secure with his amnesty threat.
More: A laptop was found in Syria in January. It belonged to an Islamic State operative who had studied physics and chemistry at two Tunisian universities. It contained 146 gigabytes of information, some of that on the subject of creating and deploying biological weapons on the cheap.
While President Obama dithers over a strategy and considers cobbling a coalition together to implement it, the Islamist State in Syria is entrenching and enforcing its barbaric law on the local inhabitants, reports Bloomberg.
In the Syrian city of Raqqah on the banks of the Euphrates River, Islamic State militants are busy building a capital fit for their followers.
Human rights observers say they have stoned women to death for adultery, while residents report that religious textbooks have been imported for schools and the market flooded with black cloaks for girls as young as 6 years old. Even as it wages war on multiple fronts, the group has had time to focus on the details, recruit thousands into its forces and celebrate victories by parading the heads of its enemies.
This is not a passage in a history book about some band of savages who pillaged their way across territory a thousand years ago. It’s happening right now.
The local victims mostly dislike the Islamic State’s hyperviolence and radicalism. The Islamic State and its leaders and street thugs don’t care. There is no force nearby that’s capable of overthrowing them.
Mohammad, a Raqqah resident who declined to give his full name because of fear of reprisals, said people are unhappy with the strict social codes imposed by the Islamic State.
Women cannot leave home without a male guardian, shops have to close five times for prayer and people accused of theft have their hands cut off in public, he said. “People yearn for the pre-war days,” he said after arriving in Beirut. “But they’re too intimidated to speak out.”
President Obama and his national security advisers keep insisting that the Islamic State doesn’t have any ideology beyond violence. That’s not correct. The Islamic State has an ideology, based on the Muslim Brotherhood’s desire to return Islam to its roots and the Koran. They are an expression of the Islamic revival that has been underway for about 30 to 40 years now, across the Islamic world. They’re the most radical expression of that revival so far, but they are an expression of it.
By “revival,” I’m using Christian terminology but this is nothing like a Christian revival, except in one sense. Christian revivals are efforts to bring believers back to what the New Testament actually says, about sin, about grace, about living the Christian life, about the Revelation. The New Testament never teaches war against anyone (the Old Testament does in some passages, but Christians revivals are almost always about the New Testament). It teaches peace, submission to even ungodly authorities, and many other things, but not violence.
The Koran teaches violence against non-Muslims, mainly Jews and Christians, in the portions thought to have been written after Mohammed had won secular power in warfare. Therefore an Islamic revival will not bear many similarities with a Christian revival. If both faiths have revivals aimed at getting them back to what their written teachings say, it matters a great deal what those teachings actually say. Contrary to soft beliefs that all religions basically teach the same things, they don’t.
If the Obama administration’s rhetoric that ISIS has no ideology is aimed at creating a split between IS and other Muslims, then it might be worthwhile as public relations. But this administration has had a cozy relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood for years. The Muslim Brotherhood started the Islamic revival. Even if the administration views the IS as too radical to have an ideology, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology seems to be seeping into the administration’s strategic thinking — to the extent that there is any.
The strongest public relations with the most impact would be to destroy IS root and branch and therefore discredit them. But that doesn’t appear to be the goal, at least not in any meaningful way.
I’ll end this post with this shoutfest between Sean Hannity and terrorist imam Anjem Choudary from Fox Wednesday night. Choudary is an Islamic supremacist who supports terrorism and any other means to further what he sees as Islam’s war against the rest of the world.
Most of the discussion is useless shouting, but near the end, Hannity gets Choudary to admit that the end game for him and al Qaeda and ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood is the same — to impose Islamic sharia law on the whole world.
That’s an ideology, as extreme an ideology as the world has ever seen. Sharia is the Islamic law behind everything from forcing women to cover themselves head to toe, to forcing all non-Muslims to pay a tax and live under repression, to beheading journalists and selling non-Muslim women into sex slavery. ISIS believes that its actions are in accord with sharia.
Most Muslims do not support the likes of ISIS or Choudary. But millions do support the global imposition of sharia, as part of the overall Islamic revival.
Anjem Choudary doesn’t live in Syria and isn’t taking up a gun to fight for the cause. He lives in London on welfare. He encourages other Muslims to live on welfare in the West and turn it into a “jihadi allowance.” His weapon is his mouth. He may have radicalized the British Muslim rapper who joined ISIS and is believed to have beheaded James Foley.
Does Anjem Choudary have an ideology?
Despite how unsavory and barbaric Islamic groups and persons around the world have been behaving—whether Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Mesopotamia’s Islamic State, Somalia’s Shabaab—perhaps few things are as disgusting and cowardly as the Muslim rape of nuns: defenseless Christian women who sacrifice much of their lives to help sick and needy Muslims.
The latest such attack comes from Bangladesh, which is over 90% Muslim in population. In early July, dozens of men armed with machetes, knives and iron rods attacked the convent of PIME (Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions nuns in Boldipuku), a village mission in north Bangladesh.
“The nuns were beaten and molested, ending when police arrived,” reported Bishop Sebastian Tudu.
Catholic Online has the complete story:
[S]ome 60 men attempted to loot the building and rape the nuns… The attackers first tied the hands and legs of the mission’s two night watchmen and gagged them in the early morning hours. They then broke down the door of the room where the assistant pastor Father Anselmo Marandy was sleeping. They then raided the convent located in the mission campus…. Three PIME nuns suffered attempted rape and were sent to their provincial house in Dhaka, the national capital where they are trying to overcome the shock and mental suffering. “It’s very sad that the sisters cannot continue to work for the people, but our sisters are no longer safe,” Rosaline Costa, a Catholic human rights activist lamented. Local Christians are currently living in fear since the attack. Christians form only 0.8 percent of Dinajpur district’s three million people.
Although some of those quoted in the Catholic Online report portray this attack is “unprecedented,” the fact is, nuns raped by Muslims is a phenomenon that goes back centuries. According to Muslim historian Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi (1364-1442), during his raids on then Christian-majority Egypt, Caliph Marwan II (r.744–50) “made captive a number of women from among the nuns of several convents. And he tried to seduce one of them.”
The account describes how the enslaved nun tricked him into killing her, by claiming she had a magic oil that make skin impenetrable: “She then took some oil and anointed herself with it; then stretched out her neck, which he smote with the sword, and made her head fly. He then understood that she preferred death to defilement.”
Writing in the tenth century, the Coptic chronicler Severus ibn Muqaffa records that “the Arabs [i.e., Muslims] in the land of Egypt had ruined the country…. They burnt the fortresses and pillaged the provinces, and killed a multitude of the saintly monks who were in them [monasteries] and they violated a multitude of the virgin nuns and killed some of them with the sword.”
After the Islamic conquest of Constantinople in 1453, according to eyewitness accounts, “Monasteries and Convents were broken in. Their tenants were killed, nuns were raped, many, to avoid dishonor, killed themselves. Killing, raping, looting, burning, enslaving, went on and on according to tradition.”
Such is history—expunged as it is in the modern West—even as it repeats itself today. Thus, in August 2013, after torching a Franciscan school in Egypt, “Islamists,” in the words of the AP, “paraded three nuns on the streets like ‘prisoners of war’” and “Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.”
Indeed, the rise in attacks on Christian nuns throughout the Islamic world further demonstrates that they are no more inviolable than other “infidel” women:
- Somalia: In response to Pope Benedict’s historical quotes which, like so many other things so enraged the Islamic world, Muslims in Somalia shot Leonella Sgarbati—a 66-year-old nun who had devoted 30 years of her life working in Africa—in her back. Her last words before dying in hospital were: “I forgive; I forgive.”
- Pakistan: In September 2012, gunmen on motorbikes dressed in green (Islam’s color) opened fire on the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral in Hyderabad, murdering at least 28 people. Their immediate target was a nun, Mother Christina.
- Libya: In February 2013, after the fall of Col. Gaddafi, Islamic rebels threatened nuns into fleeing the nation. They had been there since 1921, focused primarily on helping the sick and needy.
- Palestinian Authority: Last year, nuns of the Greek-Orthodox monastery in Bethany sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to respond to the escalation of attacks on the Christian house, including the throwing of stones, broken glass, theft and looting of the monastery property.
- Philippines: In an article discussing a Christmas Day church bombing in a Muslim-majority region, we learn that the jihadi group responsible “has been blamed for several bomb attacks on the Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo since the early 2000s and for kidnapping priests and nuns.”
- Guinea: In June 2013, during a mob-led frenzy, Christians and their churches were savagely attacked in the Muslim-majority nation—with some 95 Christians slain and 130 wounded—including “the quarters of the nuns, [which] was looted before being torched.”
- Syria: Islamic rebels forcibly abducted 13 Christian nuns and three maids, holding them captive for three months. They were finally released after the Bashar government agreed to release some 150 female criminals in exchange.
The above examples come from several countries that have little in common with one another—neither race, language, culture, nor economics—only Islam.
That alone should say something.
But no matter. Far from discussing Islamic history and doctrine, and how they tie to current events—especially the subhuman treatment of non-Muslim “infidels”—the predominant Western mentality simply dismisses Muslim violence as the West’s fault, or, in the words of ex-nun Karen Armstrong and Islamic apologist extraordinaire, “We did this.” Armstrong—who quit the nunnery only to engage in pro-Islamic mummery—insists that what’s needed is for us to focus more on “Muslim pain, Muslim suffering.”
Such, according to the leftist mentality, are the “real” reasons why, wherever Muslim-majorities live near non-Muslim minorities, from the dawn of Islam till today, the latter are being attacked into extinction.
Al Qaeda reminds the United States and the world that just because one “jayvee” terrorist group has gone varsity, doesn’t mean another one isn’t still gunning to top the table.
The online publication, called “Palestine-Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience Al-Malahem” and put out by the media arm of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, calls for Muslims around the world to follow “the recipe” provided to set off car bombs in crowded venues. It includes a timeline of “selected jihadi operations” that the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which first flagged the slickly-produced latest edition of the terror publication, finds chilling.
“The timeline concludes with the date 201?’ and blank spaces and question marks for the photo and information of the next attack — implying that it is coming soon.” said MEMRI Executive Director Steve Stalinsky.
There is a suggested list of targets for lone-wolf, or individually executed, terror attacks, including New York’s Times Square, casinos and night clubs in Las Vegas, oil tankers and trains, the Georgia Military College, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and General Atomics defense contractor in San Diego.
The magazine also includes a list of targets in Britain, and a guide, “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.” That’s a guide to make a pressure cooker bomb similar to the ones that the Tsarnaev brothers used in Boston.
A second American is reported to have died fighting for ISIS in Syria. That’s the kind of publicity that even al Qaeda’s own magazine can’t buy these days.
Do you want to know why I tend not to post the Hero of the Day story that everyone else on the Internet runs with? Because these days, they usually fall apart within 48 to 72 hours. I just skip their arc from fame to infamy to the dustbin of pop culture history.
USC football player Josh Shaw admitted to USC officials that his story about heroically rescuing his nephew is a lie.
In a statement, USC says … “Shaw came to USC athletic department officials this afternoon (Wednesday, Aug. 27) and admitted that he had lied about how he suffered his ankle injuries over the weekend.”
“He said that the story he told of rescuing his nephew in a pool in Palmdale, Calif., was a complete fabrication. He apologized for misleading his coaches, teammates, athletic department officials and the public.”
I guess we’ll get one of these cynicism-building college football scandals every year or two from now on. Last year it was Manti Te’o and the fake dead girlfriend. This year it’s a guy who lies about saving his drowning nephew. Plus the usual assorted shoplifting and alumni gift stories.
Anyway, Miley Cyrus stunned America, with her touching tribute to homelessness. But it turns out that “Jesse” is a wanted man. His choices led to his being domicile challenged.
Tuesday, the world learned a little about “Jesse” and how he ended up on the streets of Los Angeles. Here’s a synopsis via Billboard:
Not long after the VMAs, his mother confirmed to The Oregonian that Miley’s Jesse was her son, Jesse Helt, a native of Salem, Oregon. And on Tuesday, Inside Edition spoke with an Oregon court official who revealed that Jesse Helt was arrested for attempting to break into an apartment four years ago. Billboard contacted the Salem police department and confirmed the 2010 incident.
Courts documents obtained by Inside Edition and shared with Billboard detail Helt’s attempt to break into a Salem apartment in Oct. 2010. Helt was charged with criminal trespassing and criminal mischief. According to the AP, a warrant is currently out for his arrest.
Months later, Helt’s probation officer filed documents stating that Helt skipped a probation check-in appointment and failed a drug test. Helt admitted to smoking marijuana, writing and signing a statement in March 2011 concerning his probation violation. The statement ended with the following promise: “For the sake of my freedom I have chosen to stop smoking weed and from now on I will not violate my probation.”
Since then, Spin reports that he briefly attended community college and worked at the Oregon State Fair. While attempting to start a modeling career in Los Angeles, the AP reports that Helt lived on the streets.
So Jesse has a criminal record, an open warrant for his arrest, a drug problem, and is homeless because he took the brilliant career path into the safe and secure world of modeling.
The intended lesson of Miley’s charity, there but for the grace of God goes you, eh, isn’t all that.
Want another lie exposed? Another downer for the day? Ok, try this: Hello Kitty isn’t even a cat.
Or, if it’s a cat, since it owns a pet cat, Hello Kitty is really Hello Slavery. But it’s not a cat.
According to Sanrio, Hello Kitty — whom you have seen on literally every consumer product at an increasing rate over the past 40 years — is in fact a human child.
“Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”
Thank goodness that Hello Kitty is not in fact a cat. Because that would be awk-ward.
Let’s end on something a little less shocking, a little more predictable.
Remember the Boston bomber brothers? Their sister got picked up for…prepare not to be shocked…making a bomb threat.
A spokesman for the Peshmerga told CNN today that the Kurdish forces had received “some weapons from the United States,” but “it’s not enough, very little” to be able to defeat ISIS.
Brig. Gen. Hazhar Ismail said they are now “gaining ground” again versus the Islamic State in part thanks to U.S. airstrikes intended to protect Irbil.
“It’s very little, but it helped us a lot. So now, day by day, we are gaining ground, and we have a plan to re-control and defeat our enemy, our common enemy, the international enemy, is, and all the area, to save the area from is. You know they are threatening the civilian people,” Ismail said. “They killed many peoples in Sinjar, in Sinjar Mountain. They kill Christian, Yazidi, Kurd, Arab. There is no difference. So we have a plan with help and support with our friend, the U.S., and some countries.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday that “in addition to support from the U.S., and the central government of Iraq in Baghdad, seven additional nations – Albania, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom – have committed to helping provide Kurdish forces urgently needed arms and equipment.”
“Operations have already begun and will accelerate in the coming days with more nations also expected to contribute,” Hagel said in a statement. “…This multinational effort, which is being coordinated with the Government of Iraq in Baghdad, will greatly assist Kurdish forces in repelling the brutal terrorist threat they face from ISIL.”
Ismail said Baghdad is stalling shipments, saying it wants to check everything going to the Kurds first.
“For a week, we did not receive anything from U.S. or from other countries. The problem, Baghdad. So we need U.S. and other countries to tell Baghdad, you have to solve some bad policies you’re created in the past. It is a good chance to solve the problems now,” he said.
He stressed that the U.S. arms that did get through “helped us a lot to stop ISIS and to re-control the area.”
“But believe me, it’s not enough, because we have a very long border with ISIS. We have 1,050 kilometer border with ISIS. We’re fighting terrorist country, not terrorist organization or small group. So we need to have weapons, ammunition, equipment, everything as army,” Ismail said. “We are part of Iraqi defense system, but unfortunately, they did nothing for us, with budget, with training, with weapons, with ammunition, with everything. So even for eight years, they did not pay the Peshmerga forces even $1.”
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Congress can’t even begin to speculate what it can do to aid the fight against ISIS until President Obama comes up with a strategy to “destroy” the Islamic State.
“ISIS is a clear and present threat to our allies across the Middle East and to the United States. There is no negotiating with ISIS or deterring it. It must be defeated and destroyed,” chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement today. “Doing so demands a comprehensive strategy combining diplomatic, political, and military efforts, and the contributions from a broad coalition of countries. Such a strategy will require time, commitment, and leadership that America is uniquely suited to provide.”
“This comprehensive approach may well require additional authorities from Congress, but speculation about that before the president has even offered a strategy is putting the cart before the horse,” he continued. “We need the president to explain to the American people what is at stake, what our objectives are, and the strategy for how to achieve them. Only after we understand all this can we contemplate what new authorities might be needed.”
McKeon, who is retiring at the end of this term, challenged Obama “to engage Congress.”
“I’m willing to work with him, and I would offer a few factors for him to keep in mind,” the chairman continued. “First, ISIS is an urgent threat and a minimalist approach, that depends solely on FY15 funding or pinprick strikes that leave fragile forces in Iraq and Syria to do the hard fighting, is insufficient to protect our interests and guarantee our safety in time.”
“Second, good strategies keep options on the table and keep an adversary guessing, instead of telegraphing what we won’t do. No leader ever won a conflict by first declaring what steps he was unwilling to take – or, for that matter, leaking details about steps he actually is taking.”
Third, McKeon stressed, “the ISIS threat was allowed to build and fester over a period of time.”
“They are not likely to be decisively defeated quickly, but will have to be faced by this president and his successors,” he said. “Therefore, strategy and decisions made by the president now should preserve future options, not foreclose them. Finally, this enemy must be defeated, but if we are not going to adequately resource our effort, we will only make a very complex security situation worse.”
President Obama lauded the U.S. for being a leading force for peace and security in the world while assuring that pulling out of Afghanistan wouldn’t let the country become a haven for terrorists.
Obama told the American Legion convention that “the United States is better positioned to lead in the 21st century than any nation on Earth.”
“It’s not even close. We have the most powerful military in history. That’s certainly not close. From Europe to Asia, our alliances are unrivaled. Our economy is the most dynamic. We’ve got the best workers. We’ve got the best businesses. We have the best universities and the best scientists,” he said.
“…Nobody else can do what we do. No other nation does more to underwrite the security and prosperity on which the world depends. In times of crisis, no other nation can rally such broad coalitions to stand up for international norms and peace. In times of disaster, no other nation has the capabilities to deliver so much so quickly. No nation does more to help citizens claim their rights and build their democracies. No nation does more to help people in the far corners of the Earth escape poverty and hunger and disease and realize their dignity.”
The president continued by noting “even countries that criticize us, when the chips are down and they need help, they know who to call.”
“They call us. That’s what American leadership looks like. It’s why the United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world,” he said. “Now, sustaining our leadership, keeping America strong and secure means we have to use our power wisely. History teaches us of the dangers of overreaching and spreading ourselves too thin and trying to go it alone without international support or rushing into military adventures without thinking through the consequences.”
“And nobody knows this better than our veterans and our families, our veteran families because you’re the ones who bear the wages of war. You’re the ones who carry the scars. You know that we should never send American sons and daughters into harm’s way unless it is absolutely necessary and we have a plan and we are resourcing it and prepared to see it through.”
He added the U.S. “has to lead with strength and confidence and wisdom.”
“And that’s why after incredible sacrifice by so many of our men and women in uniform, we removed more than 140,000 troops from Iraq and welcomed those troops home. It was the right thing to do,” Obama said.
He praised his administration’s drive against “al-Qaeda’s leadership in the tribal regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” and stressed that the war would be coming to a close for the U.S. in four months with the pullout from Afghanistan.
“And now, as Afghans continue to work towards the first democratic transfer of power in their history, Afghan leaders need to make the hard compromises that are necessary to give the Afghan people a future of security and progress. And as we go forward, we’ll continue to partner with Afghans so their country can never again be used to launch attacks against the United States.”
He waited for applause after this line; he got a smattering of claps after the pause.
Obama said he’s “always made clear” that “the blows we’ve struck against al-Qaeda’s leadership don’t mean the end to the terrorist threat.”
“Al-Qaeda affiliates still target our homeland. We’ve seen that in Yemen. Other extremists threaten our citizens abroad, as we’ve seen most recently in Iraq and Syria. As commander in chief, the security of the American people is my highest priority, and that’s why, with the brutal terrorist group ISIL advancing in Iraq, I have authorized targeted strikes to protect our diplomats and military advisers who are there,” he continued.
“And let me say it again, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq. We’ll not allow the United States to be dragged back into another ground war in Iraq. Because ultimately, it is up to the Iraqis to bridge their differences and secure themselves.”
The president referenced the parents of American journalist James Foley, stressing prayers were with them.
“But our message to anyone who harms our people is simple: America does not forget our reach is long. We are patient. Justice will be done. We have proved time and time again we will do what’s necessary to capture those who harm Americans to go after those who harm Americans. And we’ll continue to take direct action where needed to protect our people and to defend our homeland. And rooting out a cancer like ISIL won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick,” Obama said.
“But tyrants and murderers before them should recognize that kind of hateful vision ultimately is no match for the strength and hopes of people who stand together for the security and dignity and freedom that is the birthright of every human being.”
Always late to the party, except when it’s an actual party.
The U.S. has started flying surveillance drones over Syria after President Obama authorized the missions, two senior Defense officials told Fox News, in a move that could pave the way for eventual airstrikes against Islamic State targets in the country.
A decision still has not been made, at least publicly, to launch airstrikes in Syria. But the Obama administration would likely need additional intelligence on possible targets should the president take that step.
Sources told Fox News that Obama approved surveillance missions in Syria for the first time over the weekend; they have since begun.
Why is Obama just now doing this? Or, why is he publicizing that he is just now doing this? He is letting the PR get ahead of strategy, supposing that there is a strategy. The world doesn’t need to know when the US is conducting drone flights over ISIS and when it isn’t. But a president with flagging poll numbers who is even taking golf grief from Maureen Dowd needs to look like he’s working on something other than his tee shot.
The ISIS crisis is headed to a bizarre probability — that the United States will end up conducting airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria that will aid the Assad regime that Barack Obama declared “had to go” not too long ago.
Of course, Obama wanted to intervene in Syria’s civil war early on, to oust Assad, an intervention which would have ended up helping the Islamists — some of whom are now ISIS.
Matti Friedman, a former AP Correspondent, has written a brilliant, must-read analysis of why the mainstream media’s reporting on Israel is skewed, biased, and downright reprehensible:
The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.
While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
The 3 page story explains a number of popular misnomers that are the result of mainstream media reporting techniques, including:
- In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.
- The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
- Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story. In addition, reporters are under deadline and often at risk, and many don’t speak the language and have only the most tenuous grip on what is going on. They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both. Reporters don’t need Hamas enforcers to shoo them away from facts that muddy the simple story they have been sent to tell.
Concluding with, “Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality,” the story is a must read for anyone willing to confront the mess of mainstream media and the reality of life in Israel and the Middle East.
The Islamic State may have achieved something that no terrorist group before them has managed — they may be a fully fledged combined-arms capable fighting force powered by the use of indigenous natural resources it controls.
Over the past few months, as if to defy President Barack Obama’s characterization of them as “jayvee,” ISIS spread swiftly from Syria deep into Iraq, sweeping through territory that had been controlled or at least patrolled by the Iraqi army.
That army proved to be so weak that its personnel fled their posts. ISIS scooped up American vehicles and weapons left behind by the Iraqi security forces. By July, the Islamic State had reportedly taken 52 155mm M198 Howitzer artillery guns. They have a range of up to 20 miles and can be used in conjunction with GPS for fine targeting. US airstrikes in recent weeks have focused on ISIS artillery, among other things, suggesting that US airmen are targeting some of those former US guns.
It’s also possible that in addition to picking up US vehicles and weapons, ISIS picked up some undeclared Syrian chemical weapons.
Over this past weekend, ISIS attacked and took over a Syrian air base in Raqqa. That has been widely reported. What has not been widely reported is that leading up to the assault, ISIS used drone aircraft for surveillance of the base. Whether or not ISIS captured any usable aircraft at the base (and apparently, they did), and whether they have any trained pilots to operate them or not, the Islamic State already has drone aircraft at its disposal.
The success of the mission in Syria shows that ISIS can coordinate the movements of its ground troops on foot and in vehicles, and its airborne drones. That is a combined-arms capable force. They only thing they’re missing is a navy, but they don’t need that where they are currently operating. If things continue on their current path, ISIS could steal a navy either from Iraq or Syria.
In addition to all of that, ISIS now controls an area that is larger than Britain. It is sparsely populated compared to Britain — about 4 million in ISIS territory versus about 64 million in Britain — but ISIS territory is oil-rich.
A Businessweek article compares ISIS to the “Taliban with oil fields.” The Islamic State may be raking in $2 million a day in revenue from oil sales alone, making it a self-financed and largely self-sufficient terrorist entity that happens to be armed chiefly with captured American-made weaponry. Additionally, ISIS is not as vulnerable to sanctions as previous terrorists groups have been.
“The Islamic State is probably the wealthiest terrorist group we’ve ever known,” said Matthew Levitt, a former U.S. Treasury terrorism and financial intelligence official who now is director of the counterterrorism and intelligence program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They’re not as integrated with the international financial system, and therefore not as vulnerable” to sanctions, anti-money laundering laws and banking regulations.
In contrast, the late al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was from a wealthy family and enjoyed a network of foreign patrons, and his funding sources were squeezed by financial intelligence officers. The Islamic State “makes their money primarily — if not entirely — locally,” said Patrick Johnston, a counterterrorism specialist at the Santa Monica, California-based Rand Corp.’s Pittsburgh office and co-author of a forthcoming analysis of declassified documents on the Islamic State’s finances.
In addition to all that, an unknown number of ISIS fighters are citizens of the West and carry western passports.
In what many are viewing as a walkback from last week’s comments warning of ISIS’ “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters en route to Afghanistan over the weekend that he would recommend military action against the group only when a threat to the U.S. is substantiated.
Dempsey said, according to the Associated Press, that U.S. officials have seen no ”active plotting against the homeland, so it’s different than that which we see in Yemen.”
“I can tell you with great clarity and certainty that if that threat existed inside of Syria that it would certainly be my strong recommendation that we would deal with it,” said Dempsey. “I have every confidence that the president of the United States would deal with it.”
This morning, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told Fox that Dempsey wasn’t told by the White House to soften last week’s tone about the threat.
“There’s been no direction from — from the White House or anybody else to tone down the way we’re speaking about ISIL. And I think we’ve all been very consistently talking about the very real and growing threat that ISIL poses,” Kirby said.
“ISIL is a growing network. They are well resourced. They’re well led. They do pose a regional threat. And to the degree that they are supported by foreign fighters from nations all over the world, including the United States, there is an immediacy to the threat that they pose,” he said. “While, you know, while I think the general feeling is they’re not capable of a 9/11- like-style attack on the homeland right now, they certainly could through the use of foreign fighters impact Western targets, including American targets, if they so choose.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) accused President Obama of ”becoming derelict in his duties as commander in chief to protect our homeland by not aggressively confronting ISIL wherever they reside, including Syria.”
“The White House is trying to minimize the threat we face in order to justify not changing a failed strategy,” Graham said in a statement this afternoon. “I fear their foot dragging in confronting increased radical Islamic threats is setting the stage for the creation of an even more powerful ISIL which further terrorizes the region and poses even graver threats to the American homeland.”
“I also fear political pressure is being applied to the military and others to justify President Obama’s reluctance to aggressively confront the threat.”
Graham stressed that Dempsey’s change in tone is “demoralizing to our friends and allies in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel who are worried about the continued strengthening of ISIL.”
“The case has been made. ISIL is a direct threat to the American homeland,” he said. “They must be defeated and they cannot be beaten without attacking their safe haven in Syria. To do otherwise is ignoring reality and placing the American homeland at risk. The stronger they grow over there, the more in danger we are over here.”
At last week’s press conference, Dempsey said they think ISIS “can be contained, not in perpetuity.”
“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated. To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border,” Dempsey continued.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that the Islamic State is “beyond anything that we’ve seen.”
“ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded,” Hagel said. “…So we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely, hard look at it and– and — and get ready.”
Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, before the “Arab Spring” and the plight of Christians became much of a topic, I wrote an article titled “The Silent Extermination of Iraq’s ‘Christian Dogs.’” Revisiting it is useful, as it highlights some important points. The article follows below in italics, with new observations interspersed in regular font:
Last week [April, 2011] an Iraqi Muslim scholar issued a fatwa that, among other barbarities, asserts that “it is permissible to spill the blood of Iraqi Christians.” Inciting as the fatwa is, it is also redundant. While last October’s Baghdad church attack which killed some sixty Christians is widely known—actually receiving some MSM coverage—the fact is, Christian life in Iraq has been a living hell ever since U.S. forces ousted the late Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The important point here is that the plight of Iraq’s Christians did not just begin under the Islamic State, as many seem to believe, but rather from the very first day the (secular) autocrat was removed.
Among other atrocities, beheading and crucifying Christians are not irregular occurrences; messages saying “you Christian dogs, leave or die,” are typical. Islamists see the church as an “obscene nest of pagans” and threaten to “exterminate Iraqi Christians.” John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, summarized the situation well in a recent letter to President Obama:
“The threat of extermination is not empty. Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, more than half the country’s Christian population has been forced by targeted violence to seek refuge abroad or to live away from their homes as internally displaced people. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, over 700 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 61 churches have been bombed. Seven years after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk reports: ‘He who is not a Muslim in Iraq is a second-class citizen. Often it is necessary to convert or emigrate, otherwise one risks being killed.’ This anti-Christian violence is sustained by a widespread culture of Muslim supremacism that extends far beyond those who pull the triggers and detonate the bombs.”
Again, more confirmation that the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq—including recent acts of genocide and expulsions—is not a product of the Islamic State, but rather something more homegrown, more—how shall we say?—integral to Muslims unloosed from the grips of secularized dictators?
The grand irony, of course, is that Christian persecution has increased exponentially under U.S. occupation. As one top Vatican official put it, Christians, “paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship” of Saddam Hussein.
What does one make of this—that under Saddam, who was notorious for human rights abuses, Christians were better off than they are under a democratic government sponsored by humanitarian, some would say “Christian,” America?
Although I first suggested over three years ago that Christian minorities are the first to suffer whenever the U.S. intervenes in Islamic nations—evincing the types of people the U.S. ends up empowering—this notion is now an ironclad fact, with other examples to add to Iraq, including Libya, Syria, and Egypt under Obama allies, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Like a Baghdad caliph, Saddam appears to have made use of the better educated Christians, who posed no risk to his rule, such as his close confidant Tariq Aziz. Moreover, by keeping a tight lid on the Islamists of his nation—who hated him as a secular apostate no less than the Christians—the latter benefited indirectly.
Conversely, by empowering “the people,” the U.S. has unwittingly undone Iraq’s Christian minority. Naively projecting Western values on Muslims, U.S. leadership continues to think that “people-power” will naturally culminate into a liberal, egalitarian society—despite all the evidence otherwise. The fact is, in the Arab/Muslim world, “majority rule” traditionally means domination by the largest tribe or sect; increasingly, it means Islamist domination.
Either which way, the minorities—notably the indigenous Christians—are the first to suffer once the genie of “people-power” is uncorked. Indeed, evidence indicates that the U.S. backed “democratic” government of Iraq enables and incites the persecution of its Christians. (All of this raises the pivotal question: Do heavy-handed tyrants—Saddam, Mubarak, Qaddafi, et al—create brutal societies, or do naturally brutal societies create the need for heavy-handed tyrants to keep order?)
Again, a reminder that it is not just the Islamic jihadis and other U.S. sponsored “rebels” that persecute Christians, but even the U.S. installed government of Iraq. Moreover, a few months after the above was written, the government of “liberated” Afghanistan destroyed the last Christian church—entirely under U.S. auspices.
Another indicator that empowering Muslim masses equates Christian suffering is the fact that, though Iraqi Christians amount to a mere 5% of the population, they make up nearly 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq. It is now the same in Egypt: “A growing number of Egypt’s 8-10 million Coptic Christians are looking for a way to get out as Islamists increasingly take advantage of the nationalist revolution that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in February.”
At least Egypt’s problems are homegrown, whereas the persecution of Iraq’s Christians is a direct byproduct of U.S. intervention. More ironic has been Obama’s approach: Justifying U.S. intervention in Libya largely in humanitarian terms, the president recently declared that, while “it is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs… that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.”
Indeed, and we have since seen what Obama’s “humanitarian” actions in Libya have led to—the empowerment of Islamists and jihadis, evinced from things like the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the dramatic rise of Christian persecution. Since Obama “liberated” Libya, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. And it’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was hardly the case under Gaddafi.
True, indeed. Yet, as Obama “acts on behalf of what’s right” by providing military protection to the al-Qaeda connected Libyan opposition, Iraq’s indigenous Christians continue to be exterminated—right under the U.S. military’s nose in Iraq. You see, in its ongoing bid to win the much coveted but forever elusive “Muslim-hearts-and-minds™”—which Obama has even tasked NASA with—U.S. leadership has opted to ignore the inhumane treatment of Islam’s “Christian dogs,” the mere mention of which tends to upset Muslims.
And now the job is largely done, as Christians and other religious minorities are being cleansed from large parts of Iraq, not to mention much of the Islamic world.
Nigeria-based terror group Boko Haram announced in a video released Sunday that it had carved up a town in the West African nation to be part of the new caliphate.
The al-Qaeda affiliate overran Gwoza, a city of about 275,000 in Borno state, the region where the kidnapping of Chibok schoolgirls touched off the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
Boko Haram terrorists have also been steadily taking towns near Gwoza, driving out Nigerian soldiers sent to guard the villages.
Last week, Boko Haram attacked the Mobile Police Training School. About three dozen policemen were missing after the raid.
“Following the attack launched by insurgents on the Gwoza Training camp of the Nigeria Police Mobile Force (PMF), the Inspector-General of Police, Ag. IGP Suleiman Abba has since ordered the tightening of security around all police facilities in the country in addition to efforts made to further protect the lives of all people in Nigeria and their properties,” Force Public Relations Officer DCP Emmanuel Ojukwud said in a statement.
“Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate,” Abubakar Shekau declared in a 52-minute video obtained by Agence France-Presse.
Shekau added that the Boko fighters wanted to someday make pilgrimage to Mecca, but not while the Saudis controlled the holy site.
The leader stressed that Gwoza now has “nothing to do with Nigeria.”
Nigeria has faded to the backseat in Washington as attention has been focused on the heart of the caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
Vice President Joe Biden met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been criticized for a slow response to the schoolgirls’ kidnapping in April. The majority of the girls are still missing.
The Obama administration has maintained that better economic opportunity in Nigeria will naturally halt the gains of the al-Qaeda affiliate. Activists have criticized the White House for glossing over the true nature of Boko Haram and the threats posed by the terror group.
“The Vice President welcomed the Government of Nigeria’s work to improve its business climate, which continues to attract U.S. investors. The President and Vice President agreed on the importance of deepening trade and investment, and the critical role that access to electricity—including through the advancement of Power Africa—plays in supporting that goal,” the White House said in a readout of the Biden meeting with Jonathan. “Lastly, the President and Vice President discussed Nigeria’s efforts to counter Boko Haram. The Vice President reiterated U.S. partnership in defeating the terrorist threat and the need to pursue holistic approaches that respect and protect human rights. The Vice President also underscored the importance of supporting Nigeria’s effort to improve the socioeconomic and security conditions in northern Nigeria.”
The best chance yet at a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and Gaza failed this week, when Hamas fired rockets at Israeli cities. They broke the ceasefire agreement, and so Israel retaliated with air strikes; and now, we’re back to square one.
You might think Qatar, with its ultra-wealthy skyscraper-clad cities, is far removed from the Gaza situation. Especially given there’s almost 700 miles between them, and that Qatar is a US ally, a seemingly westernized place, and a titan of globalized industry. But Qatar is wielding a lot of influence over Hamas and the negotiations.
According to the Washington Post: “An official from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement suggested Wednesday that Qatar torpedoed the peace talks. After signs of progress last week, Hamas negotiators returned to the table after consultations in Qatar with new conditions.”
Qatar is convincing Hamas to take a hard-line stance in talks with Israel.
So how do they have such influence? Well, for one, the Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal moved to Doha, Qatar, when he was exiled from Kuwait. He is one of the primary executives within the Hamas organization, and he lives in Qatar.
Meanwhile, in 2012, Qatar promised Hamas $400 million in aid. Their cause and terrorism activities have direct funding ties to the Government of Qatar.
Also, when Hamas took charge of Gaza in 2007, the Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was the first foreign dignitary to even visit the Palestinian territory. And, al-Thani even chartered a private plane to bring Hamas militant trainers to Doha to further their education, and experience life in the big city.
So the Qatari-Gaza relationship is strong and gives Qatar a lot of sway in cases such as this.
The reason Israel and Hamas haven’t come to a truce of some sort this go-round is the extreme demands that Gaza is putting forth. According to The Telegraph, “Hamas wants all restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza to be lifted.” This means that Israelis are supposed to let Gazans into their country, inside their sovereign borders, with no control.
So, when we hear that Qatar is bolstering Hamas’ more radical demands, we see that they are responsible for the negotiations falling apart. Because Israel wouldn’t meet these demands, Hamas left the table and fired rockets at Israel.
The Zionist Organization of America has called for a suspension of the $11 billion arms trade deal, that US Secretary of Defense Hagel made with Qatar this July. The Zionist organization wants Qatar named an International State Sponsor of Terror, which would also bar them from having FAA rights to have flights in or out of the USA, and it would allow people to sue Qatar for damages associated with the terror acts.
I agree with the ZOA’s call, but also want the international community to condemn Qatar on a broader level.
A little over a month ago, we just finished watching the FIFA World Cup, and many of us got really into it. Cheering on the US, which did better than anyone thought they could, laughing at “Tim Howard Saves” memes, and rooting for Germany or Argentina in the final round, was exhilarating. But, in 2022, the World Cup is supposed to be in Qatar.
There are already a lot of reasons why this was a bad choice. There is no soccer infrastructure there, and it gets very very hot. And it was uncovered that Qatari billionaires had set up slush funds to bribe many African and Asian leaders into supporting their bid, and even created a whole oil trade deal with Thailand to procure their vote. They have been treating their laborers, who were hired to build from scratch stadiums around their nation, very poorly, prompting World Cup sponsors like Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Visa to question their work conditions.
But now that we know more about Qataris involvement with the terrorist organization, Hamas, I think the US Government and US Soccer Association, as well as the World Cup corporate sponsors, should reinvigorate the call for the 2022 tournament to be competed elsewhere. The UK and the US have both been mentioned as possible replacement locales. The World Cup, and its millions of dollars in revenue, should not be in Qatar.
It’s time we show the world that there are real consequences for funding terrorism, and for going against our strongest allies, like Israel.
White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz was asked at today’s press briefing why the administration was unwilling to negotiate with terrorists in James Foley’s case, yet traded five Taliban for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
“I think, again, what the president made clear at the time of the Guantanamo transfer was that his commitment to the men and women that serve overseas is a bedrock one, that we will leave no man or woman behind. That’s what he was keeping faith with, and that’s something that’s unshakeable for him,” Schultz said.
“As we’ve made previously clear, the administration determined that it was lawful to proceed with a transfer in order to protect the life of a U.S. servicemember held captive and in danger for almost five years, notwithstanding that Congress did not receive the 30 days’ notice. Again, we disagree with GAO’s conclusion and we reject the implication that the administration acted unlawfully.”
A brother and sister of the slain journalist told Katie Couric that the U.S. could have done more to free Foley, including considering a $100 million ransom demand made by ISIS before his death. But Michael Foley also appeared to reference the Bergdahl swap.
“We are sitting on prisoners for example in Guantanamo. It doesn’t have to be financial,” he said. “There’s ways to do it… I just feel strongly that more can be done, moving forward.”
Before Schultz delivered the regular briefing, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes delivered probably the strongest administration assessment of Foley’s beheading, calling it a “terrorist attack.”
“When you see somebody killed in such a horrific way, that represents a terrorist attack. That represents a terrorist attack against our country and against an American citizen, and I think all of us have the Foley family in our thoughts and prayers,” Rhodes said.
“The fact of the matter is, we’ve actually seen, you know, ISIL seek to advance too close to our facilities, certainly for our own comfort. And so the president’s decision to take military action a number of weeks ago was out of direct concern that if they were able to get into Erbil, that they could pose a threat to our personnel and our consulate there. So, we have seen them posing a threat to our interests in the region, to our personnel and facilities in the region, and clearly, the brutal execution of Jim Foley represented an affront, an attack, not just on him, but he’s an American and we see that as an attack on our country when one of our own is killed like that.”
The formation and execution of foreign policy can be complicated. Yet, the principles which inform those tasks are not. Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson reports on the awkward relationship emerging between the United States and the Assad regime in Syria as both find a common enemy in the Islamic State (ISIS):
“The Obama administration can’t partner with Assad overtly at this time, but the logic and trajectory of White House policy in Syria leads in that direction,” Tony Badran, a research fellow specializing in Syria and Hezbollah at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News. “White House policy in Syria is predicated on preserving so-called regime institutions.”
In public, the administration is not changing its position on Assad. And State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf disputed that the U.S. and Syrian governments share a common goal in defeating ISIS.
“I would strongly disagree with the notion that we are on the same page here,” Harf said on Monday, while later admitting to Fox News, “We may be looking at some of the same targets.”
We need not wring our hands with concern over whether action taken against ISIS in defense of American lives places us in alignment with Assad on certain objectives. Moral clarity can be found by recalling the proper role of our armed forces in defending American citizens. Anxiety over “helping” Assad by undercutting his opposition in ISIS seems based primarily on concern over the death of innocents in Syria. But if ISIS presents a threat to American citizens, then failure to neutralize the aggressive Islamic totalitarian horde potentially sacrifices Americans for the sake of Syrians. That’s not a trade our government may properly make.
The other way to potentially view this, if we conclude that Assad also presents a threat to America, is that fighting the enemy of an enemy does not necessarily make friends. Certainly, when we recall the inclusion of the Soviet Union in the Allied Forces rallied to defeat the Axis, we would not in retrospect claim that common purpose made us lasting friends.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took questions from the media today regarding the mission that the US military mounted to rescue hostages captured by the Islamic State.
Word of that mission leaked after IS terrorists beheaded American journalist James Foley.
Hagel described the mission as “flawless” despite the fact that it failed to rescue any hostages.
CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: As to your question as to whether this was a failure of intelligence. No. The fact is you all know intelligence doesn’t come wrapped in a package with a bow. It is a mosaic of many pictures of many factors. Te enemy always has a say in everything. The fact is, you have to work that reality in to any decision you make, but the underlying objective was to do everything we could as the president has said to rescue these hostages, knowing their lives were in danger, clearly in danger. It’s the responsibility of our government and our leaders to do all we can to take action when we believe there might a good possibility or chance to make a rescue effort successful. This operation, by the way, was a flawless operation but the hostages were not there.
As many pointed out on Twitter, the fact that the terrorists had already moved the hostages is a pretty large flaw in the operation. The intelligence was behind events on the ground.
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee today called for an investigation into the leak that led the Obama administration to say that it attempted a rescue of ISIS hostages earlier this summer.
The Pentagon and White House released details of the operation reportedly to beat some news stories that were expected on it.
“Earlier this summer the president authorized an operation to attempt the rescue of American citizens who were kidnapped and held by ISIL against their will in Syria,” Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “The president authorized action at this time because it was the national security team’s assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in ISIL custody.”
“The U.S. Government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the president authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens,” Monaco said in the statement. “Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present.”
Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement this afternoon that he, “like all Americans,” continues to be “shocked and outraged at the brutal execution of James Foley at the hands of ISIS terrorists.”
“I commend the bravery of our forces who attempted to rescue him and other American captives earlier this summer. They put their lives on the line for people they’d probably never met, and we are forever blessed to have such men and women in service to our country,” McKeon said.
“Successful or not, such operations are incredibly sensitive, even after they have concluded. Disclosure of these missions puts our troops at risk, reduces the likelihood that future missions will succeed, and risks the lives of hostages and informants alike.”
The chairman said while he found it “unwise for the White House and Department of Defense to formally acknowledge this operation, it is outrageous that someone would be so selfish and short sighted to leak it to the media.”
“Secretary Hagel should investigate this matter immediately and thoroughly to determine who, if anyone, at the Department of Defense was the source of this damaging leak,” McKeon said. “Likewise, the heads of the other agencies involved should take similar steps.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to address the media at 3:30 p.m. EST.
The Government Accountability Office has handed down its verdict over whether the swap of terrorists for Bowe Bergdahl was legal. The question centers on whether the administration was in the right, legally, when it failed to give Congress 30 days notice that terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay would be released.
The Department of Defense (DOD) violated section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014 when it transferred five individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the nation of Qatar without providing at least 30 days notice to certain congressional committees. Section 8111 prohibits DOD from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay unless the Secretary of Defense notifies certain congressional committees at least 30 days before the transfer. As a consequence of using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD also violated the Antideficiency Act.
Open and shut. Where’s the indictment?
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stressed that “failures of policies have consequences, and we’re paying those consequences in enormous… cost of human blood.”
“The president wanted out of Iraq. We predicted — many of us predicted that this chaos would ensue. We did not predict the rapidity of the collapse of collapse of the Iraqi military, but certainly this was all predictable when the president of the United States — and he — he’s not telling the truth when he says that he wanted to leave a residual force behind. He did not. And that’s a huge mistake,” McCain said this morning on Fox.
“These things are not like earthquakes or hurricanes… And he still doesn’t get it.”
“He gave a very moving statement about Mr. Foley which all touched us. And then what? He said we have to contain ISIS. We don’t have to contain ISIS. We have to defeat ISIS. And we have to do whatever is necessary. And ISIS is in Syria. And they have obliterated the — the boundary between Iraq and Syria. And we have to go in, and it’s more than pinprick air strikes. And we’re going to need more boots on the ground. And that does not mean combat troops, but it does mean a significant increase,” McCain continued.
“And rather the incrementalism that we are — that they are now practicing, we need a comprehensive strategy that can be explained to the American people, which is designed to defeat ISIS wherever they are. And I hope that this tragic thing that happened with — with Foley will serve to — as a — as a strong message to the United States of America that these people are going to attack us, and they’re going to attack us in the United States of America.”
He reminded all of the words Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — now the self-styled caliph — said when he left U.S. custody at Camp Bucca in 2004: “See you in New York.”
McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) issued their first statement on the execution of journalist James Foley after President Obama’s statement yesterday.
“We agree with the President that America must take the necessary actions against ISIS to protect our people, but ISIS is not just a threat to our personnel serving in Iraq. It is a threat to our nation, as all of our top military, national security, and intelligence leaders have clearly stated. America and our allies and partners will only be secure when ISIS is defeated. That means we must get beyond half-measures, tactical responses, and defensive actions. We need to develop a comprehensive strategy – political, economic, and military – to go on the offensive against ISIS, both in Iraq and Syria,” they said.
The senators noted that Obama “did not articulate a commitment to the comprehensive strategy necessary to defeat ISIS.”
“We cannot allow the darkness to spread, and we must accept our share of the responsibility to stop it, for the sake of our people and the entire civilized world,” McCain and Graham added.
McCain reminded viewers on Fox that Obama previously said, ”It’s not a question of whether Bashar Assad will go, it’s a matter of when.”
“Another debacle, which is the 170,000 dead, 150,000 Syrians still in Bashar Assad’s prison. And the barrel bombs that are so horrendous are continuing to be dropped on innocent men, women and children,” the senator said. “This is an abject failure. And I get emotional about it, because I know these people, and what they’re going through is horrendous.”
ISIS members and supporters took over not just land in Syria and Iraq but a lot of Internet territory in their push to expand the Islamic State, advertise their operations, threaten the West and recruit new members.
Many of the accounts that spread like wildfire across Twitter, though, came under suspension Tuesday for tweeting photos or video of the beheading of journalist James Foley. Other Islamic State tweeters announced that they were voluntarily turning off their accounts for a few days until the storm passed, or resurfaced with altered account names.
A document posted on JustPaste.it, where ISIS has placed previous announcements such as photos posted Wednesday of its presence dangerously close to Aleppo, tells supporters and jihadists how to lay low online for the most effectiveness — including deceptively tweeting that they don’t support the bloody jihad of ISIS.
“The intelligence agencies specifically monitor the internet with the intention of dismantling anti-colonial narratives and attacking those who postulate them. Whether Muslim, radical socialist, anarchist, or anti-government activist, they want you. They want to know what you send, when you send it, to whom you send it to, why, and how to use it against you. They monitor your social media. Even if you never use your real name, post a picture, or leave any hints, they can track your IP address, know your identity, and jail you for a few online posts. They search for keywords such as ‘kafir’ in order to find specific individuals,” warns the paper, which begins with the verse, ”And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows.”
It stresses that the dangers posed online for jihadists aren’t a big deal in “South Africa or Sham [Syria],” but in the West, where the terror group wants to quietly maintain and grow its influence, “kafir intelligence agencies are particularly interested in entrapping young Muslims.”
“Is it lying to trick the kufar into thinking we live in different locations than we actually do, through words or otherwise, even if other Muslims may hear or see this?” the paper asks as a “minor issue,” before stressing that “war is deceit.”
“The people we are fooling are ones who have an open war with Allah, his messenger, our khilafah, and just about every sincere Muslim on this planet. You are engaging in war tactics so that you can spread the true dawah and discuss matters of jihad, to uncover news about your mujahid brothers, to dismiss lies. You are entering into a sort of psychological warfare with them, they do not take it lightly, and we do not take it lightly. Therefore, we can trick them and it is totally permissible.”
The paper was posted and pinned in a tweet by a user named Amreeki Witness, who is “dedicated to raising awareness about the upcoming conquest of the Americas, and the benefits it has upon the American people.” His avatar uses a State Department symbol and his Twitter cover photo is the White House with an Islamic State flag perched on top. He also posted the tips on remaining anonymous on a WordPress blog.
First, the tipsheet advises using a ghost VPN so “if the agencies attempt to track you, their search will lead them to a dead end,” and an Internet browser named TOR so “instead of simply placing you in one location, it sends you internet signal through nodes, or servers, across dozens of countries. That way, any searches will come up inconclusive.”
Users are then walked through how to create an encrypted email address “to confuse any spies who wish to uncover who sent what email to who” and install a TAILS operating system that runs off a flash drive instead of a hard drive. Instant messaging is encouraged only on Cryptocat or ChatSecure.
“One might be asking themselves if they can continue using their old social media on these. The answer is yes, but I do not recommend it whatsoever,” the paper continues. “If one feels they post things in which they would need this security, which is most Muslims upon haqq who are active online, then they should make a disclaimer saying something similar to, ‘I recant all opinions deemed dangerous or violent expressed on this page. This page was run for educational and analytic purposes only, to study the radical Muslim community for recreational purposes. I invite all those who follow this page to leave such corrupt ideology. I am not affiliated with any groups or organizations deemed terrorist or dangerous otherwise by any Western government or union of governments. I am a law abiding citizen in every regard.’”
“And then proceed to delete all other tweets/posts on the page and after leaving this up for a few minutes, simply delete the page. Make no indication that you have done this based on instructions. You are in a war with these people, we have discussed this earlier. Now, once you are on either TOR with a VPN, TOR, and/or TAILS OS, make a new bitmessage email. Make an alias. Sign-up for Twitter on TOR. Do not post pictures or any indication of who you are explicitly. If you feel the need to alter your writing style a bit, if you were a popular page, do so. You can make subtle indications that this is so and so, however, nothing that can be proven in a court of law. Allah’u must’a'n, may we never see inside one of those rooms for such a purpose.”
The writer asks Allah ”to hasten our venturing to the lands of jihad and hijrah, the lands in which there is no worry about people spying on private matters, in which the justice of Allah is supreme over the paranoia of men.”
A new Twitter account named @KhilafaHackers — Caliphate Hackers — also appeared online today, indicating that the Islamic State doesn’t plan on just playing defense against intelligence agencies trying to track them down.
“When it comes to Muslims in America i Quote Yasser Fazaga: The Less you Talk the more you Walk,” tweeted a user called @TheArabWitness today. “Too many informants. Keep it down.”
Early on in the latest Israel-Hamas war, which was started by the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, many on the medialeft tried their best to exonerate Hamas of that crime.
Hamas itself has now debunked that.
“There was much speculation about this operation, some said it was a conspiracy,” [senior Hamas leader] Saleh al-Arouri told delegates at the International Union of Islamic Scholars in Istanbul on Wednesday, according to a recording of the meeting posted online by organizers.
“The popular will was exercised throughout our occupied land, and culminated in the heroic operation by the Qassam Brigades in imprisoning the three settlers in Hebron,” he said, referring to Hamas’s armed wing.
“This was an operation from your brothers in Qassam undertaken to aid their brothers on hunger strike in (Israeli) prisons,” he added.
Jewish seminary students Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, were abducted while hitchhiking in the Israeli occupied West Bank on June 12 and killed.
So they did it. Case closed.
The White House said that it attempted to rescue U.S. hostages held by ISIS, including James Foley, who was beheaded in a video distributed by the terror group yesterday.
“Earlier this summer the president authorized an operation to attempt the rescue of American citizens who were kidnapped and held by ISIL against their will in Syria,” Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco said in a statement. “The president authorized action at this time because it was the national security team’s assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in ISIL custody.”
“The U.S. Government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the president authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens,” Monaco said in the statement. “Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present.”
She added that “given the need to protect our military’s operational capabilities, we will not be able to reveal the details of this operation.”
“But the president could not be prouder of the U.S. forces who carried out this mission and the dedicated intelligence and diplomatic professionals who supported their efforts. Their effort should serve as another signal to those who would do us harm that the United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to hold their captors accountable.”
Foley’s news outlet, the Global Post, received an email a week ago from ISIS stating their intentions to execute the photojournalist.
“We received an email from the captors on Wednesday night of last week stating their intention to execute Jim,” Philip Balboni, president of the online news service, told a Boston Fox affiliate.
“The email was full of rage. We pleaded (to his captors) for mercy, but to no avail,” he added.
The White House knew of the email. It released the statement about the attempted rescue op hours after the news that ISIS gave warning of Foley’s execution.
In a Pentagon statement, press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the operation “involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL.”
“As we have said repeatedly, the United States government is committed to the safety and well-being of its citizens, particularly those suffering in captivity. In this case, we put the best of the United States military in harms’ way to try and bring our citizens home,” Kirby said.
“The United States government uses the full breadth of our military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring people home whenever we can. The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will work tirelessly to secure the safety of our citizens and to hold their captors accountable.”
It has not been revealed exactly how many Western hostages are being held by ISIS, including journalists and aid workers.
At the end of the gruesome video of Foley’s murder, his executioner held journalist Steve Sotloff by the shirt and threatened to kill him next if Obama didn’t stop airstrikes against the caliphate.
“Obviously, the intelligence community is looking to get anything they can to possibly use from this video,” Harf said. “Obviously I’m not going to outline what tactical military or intelligence options are at our disposal to respond here and don’t want to get ahead of any discussions in that regard. But we have the ability to hold people accountable for what they’ve done. We have reserved the right to take action to protect our people, including when our people have been harmed. The principle will guide what we do going forward.”
The U.S. military conducted an additional 14 strikes around Mosul dam today, she said.
When asked if any sort of rescue operation was in the works to get Sotloff, Harf replied, “I’m not ruling anything in or out specifically. I don’t — I’m not going to have more specifics to share with you right now on that.”
“But I just want to be very clear that we — no effort is spared in trying to bring our people home. While we can’t always talk about it publicly for obvious security and safety reasons of the remaining people being held, I just want to make very clear that we are taking and will continue taking steps.”
Foley’s parents appeared outside of their Rochester, N.H., home today to speak of their son — and the cruelty of his death.
“It’s horrific,” said John Foley. “People can die in lots of different ways but this was the most horrific and it haunts me how much pain he was in and how cruel this method of execution is.”
His parents learned of their son’s beheading at the same time everyone else did — when ISIS posted the video on YouTube and distributed the link widely on social media.
“It testified to his courage. He was courageous to the end and I think he accepted his situation and I think he accepted God’s faith in him and his faith in God,” John Foley said.
James Foley’s mother, Diane, stressed that her son was ”a great American and he believed in the very best of this country.”
She said they pleaded with Obama to rescue Sotloff, and she asked people to pray for the president.
“How long are we going to tolerate this?” John Foley said of the terrorists’ crimes.
Maureen Dowd has finally cast her trademark dowdful eye on Barack Obama. In her latest New York Times op-ed, Dowd reflects on how the President’s admitted desire to be left alone is now leaving him lonely among political colleagues and voters alike.
First the president couldn’t work with Republicans because they were too obdurate. Then he tried to chase down reporters with subpoenas. Now he finds members of his own party an unnecessary distraction.
His circle keeps getting more inner. He golfs with aides and jocks, and he spent his one evening back in Washington from Martha’s Vineyard at a nearly five-hour dinner at the home of a nutritional adviser and former White House assistant chef, Sam Kass.
The president who was elected because he was a hot commodity is now a wet blanket.
Acknowledging the conservatives in the room, Dowd remarks on America’s political climate, which has “only gotten worse” since Obama took office, noting:
The man whose singular qualification was as a uniter turns out to be singularly unequipped to operate in a polarized environment.
Dowd’s complaints about Obama’s complete failure to address the racial tensions in Ferguson are hardly new observances. What makes her commentary notable, even intriguing, is the fact that she’s willing to use her platform as an unabashed liberal to criticize the President her party crafted into a god. For that reason alone, her commentary is strikingly refreshing, deserving more than a quick file into the “better late than never” column.
With her quick wit, the writer asks, “Why doesn’t he do something bold and thrilling?” Her suggestion is priceless:
Talk to someone besides Valerie Jarrett?
Tactical strikes are for military battles. This, Dowd acknowledges, is an ideological war in which taking prisoners is no option, leaving the entire Obama pantheon up for grabs. It starts to get ugly when the mob realizes their leader has let them down.
To be sure, there are still, and always will be, die-hard adherents. But apparently even they are no longer immune from the wrath of the disappointed liberal:
His boosters argue that we spurned his gift of healing, so healing is the one thing that must not be expected of him. We ingrates won’t let him be the redeemer he could have been.
Gorgeous. In two brief sentences Dowd manages to destroy the image of the messianic Supreme Leader the Obamaniacs have worked so hard to build. Dowd clearly defined Obama’s political, media, and voter following into a cult group fueled by the blind passion of idol worship. Sobered up, the dyed-in-the-wool liberal declares, let those still drunk on the Kool Aid be damned.
If you’re a fastidious pol who deigns to heal and deal only in a holistic, romantic, unified utopia, the Oval Office is the wrong job for you.
The right job? After reading this piece, I’m thinking something involving shoe sales and seminars on Hale-Bopp might be more appropriate. Or, perhaps, a retail job at the local golf shop just might do.
Secretary of State John Kerry offered remarks in reaction to the Islamic State’s murder of American journalist James Foley today. The State Department tweeted the highlights.
ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) August 20, 2014
For the record, yes, IS/ISIS/ISIL should be crushed. Tellingly, neither Kerry nor President Obama has offered a plan and they are not gathering a coalition of the willing to get the job done. Obama went back to golf this afternoon.
Crushing IS would be right. But it’s not a proportional response to the murder of one American.
Hamas routinely kidnaps Israeli citizens, murders them and leaves their bodies by the side of the road. Hamas launches rockets into Israel with the purpose of killing Israelis and creating the feeling of dread and terror among them.
The international community, of which Kerry and Obama are members in good standing, always calls on Israel to respond “proportionally” to Hamas terrorism and rocket attacks.
Responding proportionally to terrorism is…what, exactly? So far, it’s destroying tunnels and perhaps airstriking a few terrorist leaders, but the group itself is left intact enough to come back and wage terror war another day. It’s not effective in getting rid of the problem of terrorism.
In fact, if we take “proportional’ literally, Israel should respond to Hamas by kidnapping innocent Palestinians and by launching random bombs on houses, schools and hospitals in Gaza. But that’s not what the “international community” means.
No one in the “international community” is calling on the United States to respond to IS beheading an American “proportionally.” At least not yet.
Why not? Hm.
Doesn't sound like a proportional response. Or is that standard only for The JooooZ? RT @JohnKerry ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) August 20, 2014
If you guessed “the nearest tee box,” you know your president.
POOL REPORT: “Obama stepped to a podium and delivered his remarks… Afterward, the motorcade drove to the Vineyard Golf Club.”
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) August 20, 2014
Obama did deliver that statement and said that ISIS ought to be destroyed, but he didn’t offer a plan to do that. He didn’t offer to lead.
Perhaps he’s too busy concentrating on his bunker game.
File this story under politics, news, terrorism, and sports.
Obama: ‘ISIL Speaks for No Religion,’ Global Effort Should ‘Extract This Cancer So That It Does Not Spread’
President Obama condemned the beheading of journalist James Foley and ISIS in a strongly worded statement to reporters moments ago, but didn’t offer specifics on how the U.S. would react policy-wise to ISIS killing Americans.
“Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL. Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away,” Obama said from Martha’s Vineyard.
“…Earlier today, I spoke to the Foleys and told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.”
He added that “Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers.”
“Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages, killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declare their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people,” Obama said.
“So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim, out of expediency, that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is, they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.”
The president said “people like this ultimately fail.”
“They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy, and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him,” Obama continued. “The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.”
“And we act against ISIL standing alongside others. The people of Iraq who, with our support, are taking the fight to ISIL, must continue coming together to expel these terrorists from their communities. The people of Syria, whose story Jim Foley told, do not deserve to live under the shadow of a tyrant or terrorists. They have our support in their pursuit of a future rooted in dignity.”
He stressed that among “governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of these kind of nihilistic ideologies.”
“One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century,” said Obama. “Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday, and we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility.”
“That’s what Jim Foley stood for, a man who lived his work, who courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings and who was liked and loved by friends and family. Today, the American people will all say a prayer for those who loved Jim. All of us feel the ache of his absence. All of us mourn his loss.”
Obama, who did not take questions from reporters, did not mention the specific threat in the beheading video to kill journalist Steve Sotloff if strikes continue. “We keep in our prayers those other Americans who are separated from their families. We will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for,” he said. “Maybe God bless and keep Jim’s memory and may God bless the United States of America.”
I recently spent some time watching Shark Week on television. Being fascinated with large predatory fish, I’ve watched many shark programs throughout the years. And I’ve reached one conclusion: the “liberal” response one is accustomed to when the topics of Islam, Islamists, and their law, Sharia, come up—that they are misunderstood, that we need to respect their ways and be tolerant, that it’s our fault we get attacked—has become so embedded in the Western psyche that it now colors our understanding of the animal world as well.
Almost every shark program follows the same pattern: the large predators are portrayed in all their grandeur, roaming the seas; then we hear of several anecdotes of shark attacks on humans, often with the survivors recounting their experience.
The prevalent theme is this: it’s not the shark’s fault that it attacked and maimed this or that surfer, swimmier, or kayaker. Rather, humans are responsible for entering the shark’s domain, the ocean. If anything, then, it’s the human’s fault for getting attacked. Even great whites, so we are assured, only attack humans by mistake, never intentionally. Finally we get the speech about how sharks are in fact the one’s being mistreated by humans, etc.
To those familiar with the way liberal talking heads constantly whitewash the violence and intolerance of Islam, does this not all sound familiar? From the notion that “it’s our fault” we got attacked, and we “had it coming,” to the idea that we need to be more “understanding and respectful,” the “progressive” memes are all there.
Similarly, two types of survivors often recount their experiences. Most explain how they do not at all blame the shark that attacked them; more magnanimously, others say that, since they lost this or that appendage, they have dedicated their lives to protecting sharks.
The second, more atypical kind of survivors openly demonize sharks and come off less “enlightened.” Such was this one Australian survivor I watched, who seemed the quintessential “hillbilly”—missing teeth and all. He appeared on one of the programs emphatically declaring that all sharks are “evil.” In other words, he was something of an ignorant, bigoted “sharkaphobe.”
One important caveat: I am not “hating on” sharks, suggesting they are “evil,” or siding with this or that perspective. But as a rational person, I know that sharks—especially great whites, bulls, and tigers—are dangerous creatures. As animals of instinct, I do not believe they have the capacity to act “good” or “evil,” but I do not doubt that, given the chance and especially if hungry, they will attack and eat humans. (See this atypical article, for example, which suggests that “thousands of missing drowning victims actually die of shark attacks.”)
Rather, the point here is that this business of always apologizing for Islamic violence, insisting that it is some sort of misunderstanding, which “enlightened” Western persons should be patient of if not completely overlook, has so penetrated society that it has metastasized to almost anything and everything that is potentially dangerous, including ravenous sharks.
Nor does the analogy end here. When Western liberals hold Muslims to a lower standard than the rest of humanity—ignoring the beheadings, massacres, rapes, enslavements, and church burnings habitually committed by the likes of the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, et al.—are they not, in essence, placing such Muslims on a “subhuman” level? Are they not, in essence, saying that they are like brute and instinctive animals—sharks for instance—not to be held responsible for their actions?
In the end, however, the shark analogy fails. After all, sharks attack and kill for survival—like the rest of us carnivores—whereas the Islamists intentionally attack, torture, rape, massacre, mutilate, and incinerate humans simply for not being Muslim.
That is the definition of evil.
Mitt Romney, once again, proves himself unfit to be a candidate for president of the United States. That’s not to say he wouldn’t be a good president. We’ll never know.
Barack Obama, on the other hand (the left hand), has shown himself to be an excellent candidate, but a disastrous president.
With apologies to DC Comics, Romney is BizarrObama. Perhaps it’s more faithful to the Bizarro World storyline to say that Obama is BizarrOmney.
On the surface, Romney’s poll numbers climb with each step of Obama’s descending popularity. Where Romney demonstrates towering competence, Obama’s executive effectiveness inhabits the abyss–he’s abysmal. Romney sees the Russian threat clearly, and stands against it. Obama sends Putin a shiny red “Reset” button which, when pressed, reboots Soviet territorial ambitions.
But it goes deeper than that. Romney inhabits a spherical planet on the opposite side of the sun from Obama’s cube, leading him to say things like this…
I was not a big fan of the president’s policies, as you know, either domestically or internationally, but the results of his mistakes and errors, in my opinion, have been more severe than even I would have predicted.
The headline quote making the rounds is that Romney, at a West Virginia rally for GOP congressional candidates, said Obama is “a good deal worse than I ever expected.”
This can be explained only by positing the existence of Bizarro World, where everything is a flipped version of life on Earth. Otherwise, we’re left with the inexplicable scenario of a Romney who understands the darkness in the heart of Vlad the Impaler, but finds Barack Obama’s motives inscrutable.
A day after news broke that the Islamic State beheaded American journalist James Foley, NBC News’ senior foreign correspondent has grim news of the near-term future.
According to Engel, IS terrorists are going about capturing foreigners and trading for them, building a cache of foreign hostages. Engel says the group already has between 30 and 40 western hostages.
IS is still holding American Steven Sotloff. The group tweeted out images of him Tuesday, and warned that his life depends on what President Obama does next.
It’s not the first time the northwestern Syrian fig-and-olive-producing town of Kafranbel has cited President Obama in its famous signs — see Obama as Pinocchio and a genocide enabler — but it’s especially poignant in their touching tribute to slain journalist James Foley:
— Bridget Johnson (@Bridget_PJM) August 20, 2014
After being held for 45 days by pro-Gadhafi forces in Libya in April 2011, journalist James Foley told the magazine of his alma mater, Marquette University, how prayer had gotten him through the time in captivity:
Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli. Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic. My colleague, Clare, was supposed to call her mom on her birthday, which was the day after we were captured. I had still not fully admitted to myself that my mom knew what had happened. But I kept telling Clare my mom had a strong faith.
I prayed she’d know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.
I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.
Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.
Finally, 18 days into his captivity, Foley was allowed to call his mom, Diane.
I replayed that call hundreds of times in my head — my mother’s voice, the names of my friends, her knowledge of our situation, her absolute belief in the power of prayer. She told me my friends had gathered to do anything they could to help. I knew I wasn’t alone.
My last night in Tripoli, I had my first Internet connection in 44 days and was able to listen to a speech Tom Durkin gave for me at the Marquette vigil. To a church full of friends, alums, priests, students and faculty, I watched the best speech a brother could give for another. It felt like a best man speech and a eulogy in one. It showed tremendous heart and was just a glimpse of the efforts and prayers people were pouring forth. If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.
Foley was held captive for two years after being taken in Syria. Yesterday, ISIS released the barbaric video of his beheading. Foley closed his eyes during the terrorist’s speech, as if concentrating on prayer before he was murdered.
My two-word response to the beheading of James Foley and captivity of Steven Sotloff: Daniel Pearl. Americans still suffer under the delusion that oceans are borders. America is so physically huge that we can watch the riots in Ferguson the way we watch the rockets being fired from Gaza or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: From the comfort of our couch. Neither we, nor our families, nor our homes are physically in danger. In truth, we are disconnected. At best, those of us who do pay attention do so through screen media. We participate by commenting on internet forums or through social media, or perhaps writing a check to a charity to help those in need. But we should not confuse compassion or concern for actual awareness.
As I watch what is happening in my second home, Israel, I marvel at the reactionary comments I’ve seen from well-meaning Americans who are confident that if they lived next door to Hamas, they’d just go after the terrorists with Christianity-fueled faith in their Second Amendment rights. It’s so easy to see yourself as the next John Wayne from the comfort of your living room. It’s far more difficult when your family and your home are on the line. Much has been said about the right of those overseas to tell Israel how to run their military operations. From a writer’s point of view, I can remain at best pragmatic by saying that the surreality in which these armchair soldiers dwell is, at least, far more supportive than the stupor that plagues most Americans. For their sake, and the sake of America, I hope the bravado isn’t masking an army of summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.
I recall watching my friends collapse in horror on 9/11. As profoundly moved as I was by the horrific tragedy of that day, my response was simply: Intifada. The reality of countless suicide bombers trolling city streets, blowing themselves and countless civilians up at nightclubs, hotels, or on city buses had become a way of life for Israelis in the ’90s. Because I am so deeply connected to that land I felt that impact in a way most overseas do not. There was no shock in 9/11 for me, only awe at the sleeping America that responded to their alarm clock by repeatedly hitting snooze.