A Bangladeshi-American secularist blogger who had received frequent threats from Islamists was hacked to death on a Dhaka street Thursday night.
Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh used its Twitter account to claim responsibility for the murder of Avijit Roy before its account, Ansar Bangla 7, was taken down.
“The target was an American citizen.. 2 in 1. #America recently martyred 2 of our brothers in #Khurasan & #Shaam. #Revenge+#Punishment,” read one of the tweets.
Roy is a dual U.S.-Bangladesh citizen who lived in Georgia and was in Bangladesh for a month, according to the Associated Press. He reportedly has a daughter currently attending school in the U.S. His wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonna, was with him at the time of the attack and was severely wounded, with one of her fingers severed by the pair of machete-wielding attackers.
Roy’s blog in the 90 percent Muslim country, mukto-mona.com, translates to “free thinking” and featured atheist, humanist and nationalist writers. He was also an author whose books included The Philosophy of Disbelief and The Virus of Faith — further stoking outrage of Islamists.
He and his wife had just left a book fair when they were attacked. Roy was struck in the head and died on the operating table at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Reporters Without Borders said.
“The measures so far taken have not led to the arrest and trial of the perpetrators and instigators of crimes of violence against journalists and bloggers. The police and judicial authorities need to focus on the right target,” Benjamin Ismaïl, head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk, said. “It is unacceptable for them to spend so much time searching news outlets, arresting journalists, censoring news and investigating bloggers, when the many attacks on bloggers are still unpunished.”
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki opened Friday’s briefing with the attack and said the administration “condemns in the strongest terms the brutal murder of Avijit Roy, which was horrific in its brutality and cowardice.”
“Avijit was a journalist, a humanist, a husband, and a friend, and we extend our condolences to his family and friends. He was taken from us in a shocking act of violence,” Psaki said. “This was not just an attack against a person, but a cowardly assault on the universal principles enshrined in Bangladesh’s constitution and the country’s proud tradition of free intellectual and religious discourse.”
“…Clearly, we know his background, which was why I outlined it, but don’t have anything to ascribe in terms of a motive in this case.”
But Islamists targeting secularist bloggers is sadly nothing new in Bangladesh.
In 2013, they put out a call for bloggers deemed blasphemers to be murdered. In January 2013, blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed by Islamists yet survived. On Feb. 15, 2013, Ahmed Rajib Haider, a blogger who also criticized Islamic fundamentalism, was hacked to death and no one was convicted in the attack.
Ansar al-Islam took credit for Haider’s slaying in a November Facebook post, and included Mohiuddin’s face on a hit list of future targets.
“We call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government to leave no stone unturned in investigating and prosecuting the attack on Avijit Roy and Rafida Ahmed Bonna,” Committee to Protect Journalists Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz said. “This attack is emblematic of the culture of impunity that pervades Bangladesh, where the lack of accountability in previous attacks on the press continues to spurn a deadly cycle of violence.”
Reporters Without Borders said 19 bloggers have been listed as targets on Islamist websites since the 2013 demonstrations.
Instead of going after the Islamists, the press-freedom group said, the Bangladeshi authorities began shutting down websites and arresting bloggers.
The U.S. Air Force has a quarter of the number of fighter squadrons it did 25 years ago and two-thirds of the active duty airmen, a drop that threatens U.S. air superiority, defense officials told lawmakers on Friday.
“Enough is enough,” Air Force Secretary Deborah James told lawmakers in the House of Representatives as she defended a Pentagon budget request that exceeds federal spending caps. “Given the state of the world … the number one thing we have to stop is this downsizing.”
But members of the defense appropriations subcommittee said President Barack Obama’s 2016 Pentagon base budget of $534 billion exceeded spending caps by nearly $35 billion and would have to be cut. Some $10 billion of that would have to come from the Air Force request, they said.
“The budget he (Obama) submitted … frankly is politically … a fantasy,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma. “It’s not going to pass, and he knows that.”
Cole said he hoped lawmakers ultimately would be able to reach a bipartisan deal to provide some relief from the spending limits.
The problem is that the Pentagon budget is treated as an equal to the other departments that are federally funded and it probably shouldn’t be. We’re not sending park rangers from Interior over to bomb ISIS, after all. Under the current plan that involves escalating air raids, the Air Force should be an obvious recipient of a budgetary bump and not be fighting to avoid cuts.
It might also help if the alleged adults in charge would admit to the protracted nature of this battle and stop acting as if it is a controlled skirmish that will be wrapped up on a predetermined date.
Declaring that “we have two more years of peril to go,” former UN Ambassador John Bolton focused his Conservative Political Action Conference speech on a searing criticism of Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary and her husband were a year ahead of me in law school,” Bolton told the crowd. “I have been burdened with them 20 years longer than the rest of the country… in short, I am ready for Hillary.”
“Her four years at the State Department demonstrate that she is not fit to be the president of the United States…. On national security issues Hillary’s record is indistinguishable from Barack Obama’s.”
To a conference renowned for putting foreign policy on the back burner, Bolton stressed “why national security issues must be at the center of the issues” in 2016. “I fully expect to play a role in that debate one way or the other.”
He called an impending nuclear deal with Iran “the biggest act of American appeasement in contemporary history.”
“President Obama has the worst relationship with Israel since the state of Israel was created in 1948.”
Luckily, our crack secretary of state, the Vietnam-era turncoat John Kerry, has assured us that Americans have never been safer, so this just must be one of those right-wing scare tactics we’re hearing so much about lately:
The Transportation Security Administration said it is unlikely to detect and unable to extinguish what an FBI report called “the greatest potential incendiary threat to aviation,” according to a classified document obtained by The Intercept. Yet despite that warning, sources said TSA is not adequately preparing to respond to the threat.
Thermite — a mixture of rust and aluminum powder — could be used against a commercial aircraft, TSA warned in a Dec. 2014 document, marked secret [PDF here]. “The ignition of a thermite-based incendiary device on an aircraft at altitude could result in catastrophic damage and the death of every person onboard,” the advisory said.
TSA said it is unlikely to spot an easy-to-assemble thermite-based incendiary device during security screening procedures, and the use of currently available extinguishers carried on aircrafts would create a violent reaction. The TSA warning is based on FBI testing done in 2011, and a subsequent report.
A thermite device, though difficult to ignite, would “produce toxic gasses, which can act as nerve poison, as well as a thick black smoke that will significantly inhibit any potential for in-flight safety officers to address the burn.”
No, really, John Kerry just said… oh, wait a minute. What’s that again, Mr. Clapper?
When the final accounting is done. 2014 will be the most lethal year in global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled. About half of all attacks including fatalities in 2014 occurred in just three countries, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee wielded a snowball on the Senate floor today to counter statements by the Obama administration that have ranked climate change as the greatest global threat.
“Despite a long list of unsubstantiated global warming claims, climate activists and environmental groups will cling to any extreme-weather related headline to support their case for global warming and to instill the fear of global warming in the American people,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said.
“President Obama is using a similar tactic in order to scare Americans into supporting his extreme climate change agenda. In a recent interview, President Obama agreed that the media overstates the dangers of terrorism while downplaying the risks of climate change. His press secretary, Josh Earnest, later reiterated that President Obama believes climate change affects far more Americans than terrorism,” he continued. “According to the President, the biggest challenge we face IS NOT the spread of Muslim extremists in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen or Nigeria.”
“It is not Russia aggression against NATO and the US as well as its invasion of Georgia and the Ukraine. It is not the expansion of Iranian influence and sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Middle East, or its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and a system to deliver it. It is not North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear weapon stockpile and improving their delivery systems to include the January 23 launch of a submarine launched ballistic missile called the KN-11. It is not the continued capture and killing of reporters, missionaries, businessmen, Christians, and other non-Muslims, in what has clearly been a religious confrontation being pursued by Islamic extremists.”
Obama’s position “that global warming is our biggest problem is underscored by the fact that he won’t even publicly state that the 21 Egyptians executed by ISIL were Coptic Christians,” Inhofe said. “And he goes out of his way to downplay the actions and dangers of ISIS, even though the group continues to terrorize the world.”
“…According to the president, our biggest threat is not the continued threats made by extremists against the United States and its citizens. It is not the successful attacks carried out in the United States in places such as New York, Boston, and Fort Hood or potential attacks of lone-wolves or sleeper cells against soft targets like the Mall of America, which is the most recent subject of an ISIL threat.”
Inhofe said that “even as these atrocities are taking place, President Obama is telling the world that climate change is a greater threat to our nation than terrorism.”
“This is just another illustration that this president and his administration is detached from the realities we are facing today and into the future.”
The snowball was allowed on the floor as a prop by unanimous consent. It was eventually chucked at Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who was presiding over the Senate, and caught by a page.
With a raised voice and rolled-up shirtsleeves, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker vowed to create more jobs and opportunity to a standing-room only crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference today.
He also fielded a handful of questions from the audience, including one on how he’d handle the threat of ISIS.
“Sometimes people in the media don’t understand that as a governor I get a threat assessment from FBI,” Walker replied, adding, “I want a commander in chief who will do everything in their power” to ensure that the threats posed by radical Islamists “do not wash up on American shores.”
“If I can take on 100,000 protesters I can do the same across the world,” Walker said, without offering specifics.
One of those opponents interrupted the speech, yelling “you suck” and something about American workers. “They come from Wisconsin as well,” Walker quipped, shouting down the protester and bringing the crowd to its feet.
His speech hinged largely on his successes as governor, but he touched briefly on foreign policy.
“We have a president…whose former secretary of State actually gave a reset button to the Russians! To the Russians!” Walker exclaimed.
“We need a president, a leader who will stand up and say we will take the fight to them and not wait” for ISIS to attack, he said. “…We need a leader who will stand with Israel.” Referencing next Tuesday’s address to a joint session of Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Walker said the country needs a leader who “understands” that when a prime minister visits to make a case on Iran’s nuclear threat “we should show him our respect.”
“We need to show the world that in America you have no greater ally and no greater enemy,” the governor said before reverting to domestic policy.
That was largely a message of liberation from government control.
“In America we celebrate our independence from the government, not our dependence on it,” Walker said, touting his accomplishments in Wisconsin on concealed carry, castle doctrine, and voter ID.
“Our school scores are better … because we put the power back in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers.”
In reference to a 2016 run — he stressed that his lawyers said he needed to note they’re still in the exploratory stage, something followed by chants of “run, Scott, run” — Walker said “we need to go back to look at the great founding principles of this country.”
“Not to go back in time… but to use that as a guide,” he said.
“They tried to recall me. They made me their No. 1 target,” Walker said of his electoral experience, adding that it would help “should we choose to run for the highest office in the land.”
“I’ve been running three times in the last four years.”
Hillary Clinton’s Charity Took Major Donations from Dirt-Poor Nations That Received U.S. Taxpayer Aid
Embattled presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is taking some rhetorical sniper fire for her charitable foundation, which received large contributions from several nations while she was secretary of State.
1) A potential presidential candidate becomes beholden to certain foreign nations.
2) A Secretary of State whose private foundation grows in prestige from foreign donations, while those same nations lobby the State Department for special treatment on human rights.
Both questions merit vigorous exploration, but for two of the Clinton Foundation’s “donor nations” there’s a third, perhaps more troubling, specter: taxpayer money laundering.
Algeria and the Dominican Republican each contributed to the Clinton Foundation, and both are recipients of U.S. development aid.
In the year 2010, Secretary Clinton’s foundation received $500,000 from Algeria designated to help Haiti in the aftermath of an earthquake. But the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reports that Algeria received from U.S. taxpayers a total of $8.58 million in development assistance that same year — three-quarters of it as “emergency response” money.
At the same time, as the Post reports, Algeria spent another $422,097 lobbying the U.S. government, largely to take the heat off for human rights abuses in the 99% Sunni Islamic North African country.
So, in effect, U.S. taxpayers gave Algeria money to pressure us to stop hassling it about human rights, and we also gave Algeria money to curry favor with Madame Secretary by buffing the global reputation of Hillary Clinton’s private foundation. (This is not to minimize any good work that the Clinton Foundation may have done in Haiti. That’s irrelevant to this question.)
The real issue: Should needy nations like Algeria make contributions to other needy nations, channeled through the charitable foundation of the sitting U.S. secretary of State, while needy nation #1 is also lobbying us over human rights abuses — all with U.S. taxpayer dollars?
Meanwhile, the perennially impoverished Dominican Republic (DR) also donated to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary’s stint at State. Meanwhile in 2010 the DR received $35.52 million in U.S. development aid.
No matter what kind of accounting gymnastics one might perform, the fact of the matter is that U.S. taxpayers gave the DR and Algeria money that they then channelled to, or through, the Clinton Foundation.
There are, certainly, more troubles soon to emerge for a presidential hopeful with a foundation laid on such shifting sands of geostrategic relationships.
For example, Ukraine’s second-richest billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, a steel king whose wealth flows from trade with Russia, is also a major donor to the Clinton Foundation. When President Hillary Clinton takes the 3 a.m. phone call from Mr. Pinchuk, how will she tell him that the United States stands with those who want an independent Ukraine, rather than a Russian puppet?
A man seen in multiple ISIS propaganda videos speaking with a British accent and beheading Western hostages had his identity revealed in the Washington Post this morning, and yet again the suspect is another case of what I have termed “known wolf” syndrome since he was already known to authorities before engaging in acts of terrorism.
The Washington Post reports:
The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked man with a British accent who has beheaded several hostages held by the Islamic State and who taunts audiences in videos circulated widely online.
But his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize.
But the article goes on to reveal that Emwazi had been detained by authorities not once, but twice:
Emwazi and two friends — a German convert to Islam named Omar and another man, Abu Talib — never made it on the trip. Once they landed in Dar es Salaam, in May 2009, they were detained by police and held overnight. It’s unclear whether the reason for the detention was made clear to the three, but they were eventually deported.
Emwazi flew to Amsterdam, where he claimed that an officer from MI5, Britain’s domestic security agency, accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab operates in the southern part of the country, according to e-mails that he sent to Qureshi and that were provided to The Post.
Emwazi denied the accusation and claimed that MI5 representatives had tried to recruit him [...]
In June 2010, however, counterterrorism officials in Britain detained him again — this time fingerprinting him and searching his belongings. When he tried to fly back to Kuwait the next day, he was prevented from doing so.
The Daily Mail adds that after that June 2010 encounter with law enforcement, Emwazi was put on the UK terror watch list:
They allegedly fingerprinted him and searched his belongings, and he was not allowed to fly back to Kuwait. Emwazi was put on a terror watch list and banned from leaving the UK.
The BBC added that Emwazi was part of a known network of jihadist sympathizers:
We don’t know when the British or the American security services worked out that the masked man in the killing videos was Londoner Mohammed Emwazi.
But we do know that he was a “person of interest” to MI5 going back to at least 2011 because he features in semi-secret court cases relating to extremism overseas and back in the UK.
Nobody in official security circles is going to comment on what they know and why they know it.
Emwazi has been previously described as a member of a network involving at least 13 men from London – and at least two of them were subjected to house arrest control orders or T-Pims. One absconded. The chances of Emwazi ever returning to the UK are vanishingly small.
So yet again, as we’ve seen in practically every recent terrorism case, the suspect was already known to authorities.
I’ve reported here at PJ Media on the long line of “Known Wolf” terror suspects who committed acts of terror:
- Earlier this month I reported that the Copenhagen shooter was Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, who had been convicted in a stabbing in December, and yet remarkably released by authorities despite being branded as “extremely dangerous.”
- Also this month I noted that Moussa Coulibaly, who stabbed three police officers outside a synagogue in Nice, France, had just days before been deported from Turkey for attempting to join ISIS.
- The two Kouachi brothers behind the massacre on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices last month in Paris had been long known to law enforcement, with one of them already having been in prison on terror-related charges, and yet they had been removed from the radar by authorities just last summer because they were deemed no longer a threat. They were also on the no-fly lists of both the U.S. and the UK.
- Man Haron Monis, aka Sheikh Haron, who in December took hostages at a chocolate shop in the heart of the commercial district in downtown Sydney, Australia, was not only known to law enforcement, but was out on bond on two separate cases and had previously been convicted of harassing the widows of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Authorities had been tipped off via their hotline to extremist statements Haron had been making on his website 48 hours before the attack.
- I first noticed this “Known Wolf” trend back in October after two separate attacks in Canada by Martin “Ahmad” Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, both of whom reportedly had their passports stripped by Canadian authorities because they were deemed “high risk” to travel overseas to join ISIS.
Yesterday, an interview I had with Erick Stakelbeck aired where I discussed the “Known Wolf” terror phenomenon (the first 11 minutes of the program):
Needless to say, if the currently growing track record of Western authorities missing these “known wolf” suspects is any indication, the next terror case will undoubtedly be a subject already known to law enforcement and intelligence authorities, but sufficient action not taken to stop their terrorism.
Secretary of State John Kerry was asked by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) at today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing whether he would define ISIS as “Islamic radical terrorists.”
“Well, I think many of them are. Not all of them. But many of them are. And certainly, the top leadership, al-Baghdadi and folks around him, are formulating their concept of the caliphate — of the caliphate on the basis of their interpretation of Islam,” Kerry said.
“To the degree they are establishing a caliphate and hanging some of their notions of — of organization and discipline and — and — and battle based on that, there is a component of it that is a distorted sense of — of — of Islam.”
“But also, there’re a lot of criminals and thugs and adventurers and thrill-seekers and — involved in this. There’s a kind of criminal anarchy in all of it, notwithstanding whatever basis they want to claim with respect to Islam.
And — and it is important in coming at this that you not empower them through the language we use to be able to make the argument to their people that, in fact, we’re at war with Islam and they’re building that up as a recruitment tool and we create our own problem. I think that’s what people are trying to be sensitive to here.
Now, when you get into the deep analysis, yes, there are clearly very distorted sense of radical extreme Islam being put forward. The victims are anybody who stands in their way or people who are different or who have different beliefs. They can be Christians. They can be Yazidis. They can be officers and police officers who are Sunni and — and trying to stand up for their village or their town, in Mosul.
I mean, they go out and kill the mayor. They kill young kids. They’ll kill, you know, people they think are apostates.”
Kerry was also asked why ISIS does what it does.
“They do this for power and for the extension of their — the leaders for their misguided notion of their caliphate and their desire to be the power that is defining not only their version of Islam but to have the power within that region to run the show,” he said.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) asked Kerry to “define ISIL.”
“Well, ISIS is self-defining. They are the combatants and those who have pledged allegiance to them who have formed a caliphate, fly a flag, wear their black uniforms and are engaged in a struggle both within Syria and Iraq, most directly, but also in what they call distant provinces as they try to establish their caliphate,” Kerry replied.
Federal officials today charged three New York residents on charges of trying to join ISIS, with one offering to assassinate President Obama for the Islamic State.
Two Uzbekistan citizens — Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, and Abror Habibov, 30 — were charged, along with one Kazakh, 19-year-old Akhror Saidakhmetov. Each faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The New York office of the FBI said authorities began watching Juraboev in August 2014 when he posted on an Uzbek-language jihadi website. He and Saidakhmetov forged a plan to travel to Turkey to join ISIS, and the latter was arrested today at JFK trying to board a flight to Istanbul.
Juraboev’s flight was scheduled for next month, and he was arrested today in Brooklyn. Habibov, who was allegedly helping finance their trip, was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla. All lived in Brooklyn.
Juraboev and Saidakhmetov are legal permanent U.S. residents, while Habibov visited legally and overstayed his visa.
“This is real. This is the concern about the lone wolf inspired to act without ever going to the Mideast or the concern of once they get to the Mideast acquire fighting skills, capabilities and then attempting to return to the country,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters today.
United States Attorney Loretta Lynch, whose nomination to replace Attorney General Eric Holder is stalled in the Senate, said in a statement the flow of fighters “represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies.”
“As alleged in the complaint, two of the defendants in this case sought to travel to Syria to join ISIL but were also prepared to wage violent jihad here in the United States. A third defendant allegedly provided financial assistance and encouragement. We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIL and those who support them,” Lynch said. “Anyone who threatens our citizens and our allies, here or abroad, will face the full force of American justice.”
Juraboev made this threat to kill Obama in the August 2014 web posts. Saidakhmetov expressed his intent, reportedly to an informant, to buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if they stood in the way of his plan to go join ISIS.
Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressman today to stop making fun of what State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
At this morning’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) asked Kerry about Harf’s comments last week, in which she said “we cannot win this war” by killing ISIS and job development was one facet of the plan to combat extremism.
In clarifying her comments on CNN, Harf then said her argument about getting to the “root cause” of terrorism “might be too nuanced an argument for some.”
“Harf espoused the interesting proposition that we should create a jobs program for people who might be inclined to support groups like ISIS, jobs for jihadists. She didn’t call it that, but I will,” Chabot said in his questioning of Kerry. “And just where will these jobs come from? I guess not at the mall. It’s apparently too dangerous to work there now. And are these shovel-ready jobs, or are they yet to be created, like Keystone Pipeline jobs?”
“And Mr. Secretary, did Ms. Harf consult with anyone else in the State Department, yourself or anyone, before announcing this new initiative? If not, who did she consult with?” the congressman continued. “I realize that according to Ms. Harf, many of us are not nuanced enough to grasp the wisdom of such an enlightened proposal, but I and, I’m sure, some of my colleagues would appreciate some insight on where in the heck this idea came from.”
Kerry said that’s not what the deputy press secretary was saying “if you take the full breadth of what Marie Harf was talking about.”
“In fact, what she was talking about is the notion that if all we do is have a military approach to the problem of violent religious extremism, whether it’s Islamic or other — or whether there’s violent extremists, we’re going to fail,” he said. “You will have the next secretary of State or the one thereafter, a continuum of presidents coming to you with new acronyms for new groups that are a new threat.”
“And everything that came out of our White House summit on violent extremism underscored the fact that there’s one component that you have to do for sure, which is the military. You have to take ISIS fighters off the battlefield the way we are, and that’s for certain. But if you don’t want them just replenished, like the three kids from Britain who just traveled ostensibly to Syria to join up.”
Kerry called it “a spreading cancer” that “is not going to be eliminated by just shooting at people once they finally get to the battlefield.”
“Everything that came out of the conference we just had the other day pointed to the need to deal with prevention,” he said, referencing last week’s conference on violent extremism hosted by the White House.
Chabot tried to get in another question, but Kerry interjected, “Don’t — don’t make fun — don’t make fun of what she was talking about.”
The senator behind the Assault Weapons Ban bill and a House Republican have teamed up for new gun-control legislation — to ban terrorists from buying guns.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 in the upper chamber with co-sponsor Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced the bill in the lower chamber with 14 co-sponsors, Feinstein’s office said.
“Under current law, known or suspected terrorists on terrorist watch lists are prohibited from boarding airplanes, but they are legally allowed to buy firearms and explosives anywhere in the United States. That makes no sense,” Feinstein said in a statement. “The Kouachi brothers, responsible for the attacks in Paris, were on U.S. terrorist watch lists, including the no-fly list. However, if the brothers had instead been in the United States, they would have been able to legally purchase weapons.”
“Sadly, this situation isn’t rare,” she continued. “Individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list who sought to purchase a weapon in 2013 and 2014 cleared the background check in 455 out of 486 attempts. We need to close this dangerous loophole and keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists.”
That report, which included individuals on no-fly lists, was compiled by the Government Accountability Office.
Studying a 10-year period from 2004 to 2014, the background check clearance rate was 91 percent of attempted transactions, or 2,043 of 2,233 times, according to the GAO.
The bill would give the attorney general discretion to “deny the transfer of a firearm” if he or she “determines that the transferee is known (or appropriately suspected) to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources for terrorism” and “has a reasonable belief that the prospective transferee may use a firearm in connection with terrorism.”
It includes international and domestic terrorism.
If someone thinks they were wrongly denied the ability to buy a weapon or explosives under the terrorism statute, he or she would be able to first complain to the Justice Department, then file a lawsuit against the DOJ.
In such a lawsuit, the Justice Department would be able to keep classified information deemed to compromise national security.
King said “common sense dictates that the federal government stop gun sales to suspects on the terrorist watch list.”
“Federal law already prohibits nine categories of dangerous persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, including the mentally ill and criminals,” he said. “Yet, after almost 14 years, we still allow suspected terrorists the ability to purchase firearms.”
With funding for the Department of Homeland Security running out at the end of the week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed he’s acquiescing to Democrats’ demands to break immigration demands off of the DHS appropriations bill.
A vote on a “clean” DHS bill isn’t scheduled yet, and it would then have to be approved by the House.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters after a closed caucus meeting today that he’s just “waiting for the Senate to act.”
“The House has done its job to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s overreach on immigration. And we’re waiting for the Senate to do their job. Senate Democrats have stood in the way now for three weeks over a bill that should have been debated and passed. So until the Senate does something, we’re in a wait-and-see mode,” Boehner said.
Asked if he’s concerned about “rebellion” from upset conservatives, he replied, “I’m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill.”
Asked what he thinks of McConnell’s plan, Boehner said, I”‘m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill. There’s a lot — I don’t know what the Senate is capable of passing. And until I see what they’re going to pass, no decision has been made on the House side.”
House Republicans aren’t publicly signaling much on which way they’d go if presented with a bill that excludes their effort to defund President Obama’s executive actions.
“We have a right to fund or not fund anything,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told MSNBC this morning.
“Every time somebody talks about a shutdown, they talk about the budget, they talk about everything, they always point to the of the purse. Well, the power of the purse says we want you to do and we will fund 100 percent of keeping America safe, we just won’t fund visas and work permits for illegal immigrants. It’s that simple,” Issa said.
“It’s a pretty straight forward understanding. He has no authority to grant work permits, therefore, we will not fund granting work permits for people who are unlawfully here. We’re happy to do immigration reform, but we have to have a willing partner.”
Issa added that “right now, the speaker has said that he’s staying with needing to make sure that the president’s unlawful act is not funded. And I realize there’s a federal judge in play, but again, the president would like funding for longer than that federal judge’s stay may be in effect.”
McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning that “later this week, the Senate will consider a bill from the senior senator from Maine that’s about as reasonable as you can get.”
“Obviously, President Obama was right to refer to the kind of overreach he took in November as ‘ignoring the law.’ And Senator Collins’ sensible bill focuses simply on preventing that most egregious example of executive overreach from taking effect. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “Her bill isn’t tied to funding for DHS either. So there are no excuses left. Democrats should join us in voting for this common-sense legislation.”
“In the meantime, we’ve offered Democrats the chance to prove they were serious about something else: funding the Department of Homeland Security.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Fox that “we’re not playing politics” if McConnell breaks up the bill.
“I told the Republicans I would support their movement. And I think that’s a rational way to move. You give them both to the House. And Democrats are afraid the House is going to do a different thing, basically play a gotcha game and make some amendments,” Manchin said.
“I don’t think the House would pass up the ability it to vote for a clean Homeland Security. If they do that and they put their immigration bill, basically repealing the president’s executive order, they’re truly playing politics at the highest level and putting their politics ahead of the security of our nation. I just don’t think good people will do that.”
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde followed Obama’s trendsetting “War on Muslims” narrative, thus failing the cause of women’s equality across the globe. The Feminist Fail started out on the right track:
Nations should remove laws that prevent women from working in order to increase the female labour supply and boost their economies, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said.
“In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active,” Lagarde wrote in a blog. “In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy.”
What exactly is this “insidious conspiracy” Lagarde is referring to? Don’t worry, she hasn’t taken the Patty Arquette pill, although she’s definitely drinking the Obama Kool Aid, because it’s all downhill from here:
But the IMF has to tread a careful line on this issue to avoid explicitly critiquing the laws in its 188 member countries, including states like Mali and Yemen, which have been among the worst performers on indices of gender equality.
Mali and Yemen, both Muslim-dominated states. Mali’s logo, “one people, one goal, one faith” is a contradiction in terms, at least when it comes to fostering economic growth, which is the only topic up for discussion on Lagarde’s watch:
The IMF has sought to couch its arguments in economic terms, saying in a previous study that having as many women in the labor force as men could boost economic growth by 5% in the United States, 9% in Japan and 34% in Egypt.
Note the radical climb in potential economic growth when the stats begin speaking to Muslim nations? Oops. Guess Lagarde’s staffers didn’t get the “War on Muslims” memo until after they prepared their findings, to which they quickly tacked on the following caveat:
“In recommending equal opportunities …this study does not intend to render a judgment of countries’ broadly accepted cultural and religious norms.”
Classy. Let’s talk about an obvious problem without directly drawing attention to it, since the problem is defended by radicalized terrorists. Is that called the White Elephant defense strategy?
The State Department this evening responded to ISIS’ mass kidnapping of Christians in Syria by stressing that the terrorists harm all religious groups.
Estimates of the number of kidnapped Assyrians from villages near Tel Hmar have ranged from at least 90 to as high as 200. Thousands fled with no possessions as ISIS attacked in the early morning hours. Members of the ancient community speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
The Assyrian Human Rights Network said ISIS moved the hostages to the Abdul Aziz Mountains region, where they fear the terrorists will use the Christians as human shields against Kurdish fighters.
Said State Department press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement sent to reporters tonight:
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms ISIL’s attacks yesterday on predominantly Assyrian Christian villages in the northeast Syrian province of Hasakeh, where they kidnapped dozens of civilians, including women, children, priests, and the elderly. Hundreds of other civilians remain trapped in villages surrounded by ISIL fighters, and clashes continue between ISIL and local forces defending their communities. ISIL burned and destroyed homes and churches, and the violence has reportedly displaced more than 3,000 people. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the civilians taken captive yesterday and of all those held by ISIL.
ISIL’s latest targeting of a religious minority is only further testament to its brutal and inhumane treatment of all those who disagree with its divisive goals and toxic beliefs. ISIL continues to exact its evil upon innocents of all faiths, and the majority of its victims have been Muslims. People of all faiths and many religious leaders throughout the region have united in condemning ISIL’s depravity, including its mass killings, rape, sexual enslavement, lashing, stoning, crucifixion, torture, and public murders of hostages.
Earlier this month, ISIS was ordering Assyrians to remove crosses from their churches. About 600 families are now sheltering at the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary in Al-Hasakah, suffering from “a significant lack of blankets, water, food and heating fuel,” the Assyrian Human Rights Network said.
The world’s most useless government bureaucracy (and the competition is stiff) has got to be the Department of Homeland Security. From its creepy name to its kluge of ill-fitting departments, this panicked overreaction to 9/11 is a disgrace to America. Now someone’s finally making the case against it:
Congressional Republicans are once again holding the government hostage against a budget authorization bill, this time threatening to put the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) into furlough. Maybe it’s time to call them on their bluff and go one step further: Let’s shut down the DHS. The agency is no longer relevant in an age where cyberterrorism may be the new normal, and it’s doing the United States more harm than good.
As Ashley Parker at the New York Times reports, obstructionist Republicans are so determined to get their way on immigration policy that they’re willing to let the agency’s funding lapse rather than authorize a bill that includes immigration provisions. “Some House Republicans,” she wrote, “have expressed a willingness to let the agency run out of money.”
And maybe we should. Permanently.
In retrospect, the Bush administration did almost everything wrong after 9/11: it attacked the wrong country (Iraq, instead of Saudi Arabia, which might actually have done some good, global-security-wise), it penalized honest Americans via the horrendous TSA instead of immediately closing the country to all Arabs and Muslims until we could sort them out; and it created a bureaucratic monster that, by definition, was ill-suited for the purpose for which it was allegedly established.
I agree with most of the points in the linked piece, including the fact that DHS’s nearly $40 billion budget is an absurd waste of money, especially on an agency that will not defend the country’s borders in any meaningful fashion. I also agree that law enforcement has become far too militarized (once again, punishing Americans for the crimes of foreigners) and that our surveillance culture is out of control. Where I part company with the author, however, comes with Point 5: “It’s time to end the war on immigrants,” when in fact it’s precisely time to start the war on “immigrants” — by which I mean “invaders” — and also with Point 7: “We need to focus on internal problems,” by which the writer means “domestic terrorism.”
Here’s the argument:
The DHS is an active participant in the war on immigrants in the United States—the very same issue that the president and the House are trying to tackle. Undocumented immigrants of all stripes are being treated like base criminals, from housekeepers trying to send money home to their families to hardened criminals with extensive records. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reports 315,943 “removals” for 2014, including those of people without criminal records.
Meanwhile, close to 450,000 immigrants are held annually across the United States, with many living in substandard, terrible conditions in crowded facilities while waiting for their day in immigration court. It can take months or even years to get to court, and because undocumented immigrants are not citizens, they are not entitled to the legal rights that would make such gross delays in justice a civil rights violation under the law. ICE and related agencies have created a logistical nightmare for the government and a terrifying reality for immigrants, not to mention a wildly expensive immigration tangle; the U.S. spent a reported two billion dollars on immigration detention in 2014.
Tough. If they can’t come here legally, the hell with them. And quoting the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is basically a Leftist hate group, does very little to advance one’s argument. Still, five out of seven ain’t bad.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said President Obama “seems more intent on telling us warnings about the Crusades, criticizing America” than fighting terrorism.
Jindal, the 2016 hopeful playing the most hardball lately, emerged from a governors’ meeting with Obama at the White House yesterday to declare the president “unfit to be commander in chief.”
“I take no joy in saying that,” said Jindal, in town for the National Governors Association meeting, to reporters. “I don’t say so for partisan or ideological reasons.”
Jindal elaborated on Fox this morning, saying Obama “disqualified” himself from being fit to lead the country and its military as he “refuses to identify one of the main military threats we face by name: radical Islamic fundamentalism.”
“You listen to those quotes from his own administration. Eric Holder says, ‘We’re not at a state of war.’ You’ve got the State Department saying, ‘We’re not going to kill our way to victory,’ at a time when these barbarians, they’re beheading Christians, they’re torturing, prosecuting Christians, Muslims, Jews, other religious minorities, they are — they killed over 100 schoolchildren, they’re actually killing editorials, because they don’t like their cartoons,” he said.
The governor also cited two “fundamental mistakes” Obama makes in his authorization of military force request to Congress.
“One, he puts an arbitrary timeline, a three-year deadline in there. We know we’ll be done when we’ve hunted down and killed these terrorists, not some political deadline. And then secondly, he bars the use of ground troops,” Jindal said.
“We need to enlist our military commanders. We need to go to them and say, ‘Give us a plan to hunt down, to kill, to eradicate these terrorists.’ We don’t need a president who’s trying to appease (inaudible), trying to be politically correct. He won’t even name the enemy we face, and now he’s refusing to give our military the tools — all the tools they need to go and win this war.”
He added that the 90-minute meeting Obama held with the governors is “more of the president talking to us than a real dialogue.”
“One, the president continues to say, ‘We’re not at war with Islam.’ Well, that’s obvious. That’s obviously true. But we are at war with radical Islam, and he needs to say it. You hear other foreign leaders say it. You hear the president of Egypt, the prime minister of France say it,” Jindal continued. “And secondly, the way that we win, the way we deny them the P.R., the recruiting tool is to hunt them down and kill them.”
“These — this political correctness is just — it’s not helping anything. It’s — it’s hurting our ability to actually go and win this fight. The way we deny them the P.R. tools is hunt them down and kill them.”
Jindal said political correctness is also making Obama “pretend like we’ll never send in ground troops.”
“The reality is we have allies willing to supply ground troops, including Turkey, if this president would be serious about being there to get rid of Assad,” he said of the dictator giving haven to terrorists in return for keeping him in power. “I think there’re a lot of allies worried that if they go after ISIS, it’ll create a vacuum for Assad. It’ll create a vacuum for Iran. So there are allies willing to supply the ground troops if they thought this president were more serious.”
“…This is one of the few times I think Congress needs to give the president more than he’s asked for. I almost never say that. I think they need to give him the ability to go win this war. He hasn’t asked for enough when it comes to the ability to win this war. They should give it to him.”
Obama needled governors eyeing his job in public remarks to the group. “So I’m in the fourth quarter of my presidency, or as some of you might call it — the kickoff for your campaign season,” he said.
The mayor who took down a knife-wielding terrorist on Sunday told Fox that “the residents of Jerusalem are part of me” and “the last thing you do is run away” from that situation.
Footage from the Jerusalem Municipality Emergency and Safety Department, above, shows an 18-year-old Palestinian from Ramallah attacking a 27-year-old Haredi man on a street corner in central Jerusalem’s Safra Square.
Barkat, in the white shirt, was passing by and jumped out of his car with his bodyguard.
“I was on my way to the office, and, coincidentally, we just were first at the light,” he said. “And my team sitting in the front of the car told me there’s something going on. And I exited the car with my bodyguard. And we slowly approached to figure out, what is going on? Is it a fight or anything? We weren’t sure what is going on.”
“And as we got close, we saw this terrorist with a knife in his hand, seeking, who else should he hurt? And so my bodyguard pulled his pistol and aimed at him. And he immediately froze and threw the knife on the floor.”
Barkat is seen on the video lunging first at the suspect, grabbing him and taking him down. “We tackled him on the ground and neutralized him. And then I looked around and I saw this wounded person and started treating him. And when we realize that there’s no more terrorists around, we realized that the situation is under control. And we wait for the police and the ambulances to come and clear out the place,” Barkat said.
The mayor said once they realized what was happening, there was no turning back. “Once we entered it, we’re in it, and then we had to figure out what the right thing to do is,” he said. “…I was a company commander in the paratroopers. And the DNA we have is to solve the problem.”
The father of four wounded in the attack, Avraham Goldschmidt, got the opportunity to thank Barkat at the hospital yesterday. “It was a humane thing, what you did,” Goldschmidt told the mayor, according to YNet News. “…God willing, I will be the last person to be wounded in a terror attack in Jerusalem.”
Barkat’s word of advice to Americans wanting to avoid terrorist attacks on U.S. soil? “The Iranians are the bad guys. They want nukes. They’re very radical and extremist people. Don’t trust them.”
The JTA reports:
More than half of current American Jewish college students have personally witnessed or experienced an anti-Semitic incident, according to a new study.
Some 54 percent of Jewish college students participating in the survey released Monday by the Louis D. Brandeis Center and Trinity College said they had experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism within the past academic year. The survey was taken in the spring of 2014, prior to the outbreak of hostilities last summer in Gaza.
The online survey of 1,157 students, conducted by Trinity College Professor Barry Kosmin and Associate Professor Ariela Keysar, found that percentages of students reporting encounters with anti-Semitism were relatively consistent across gender, religious outlook, and geographical region.
Students who affiliate with the Conservative and Reform movements were more likely to report such experiences than Orthodox students, with 69 percent of Conservative students, 62 percent of Reform students and 52 percent of Orthodox students responding that they had reported anti-Semitic encounters. Those who said they were always open about their Jewishness on campus were roughly as likely to have encountered anti-Semitism as those who said they were never open about their Jewishness, at 58 percent and 59 percent respectively.
According to the report, those taking the survey defined the term “anti-Semitic incident”. The organization Jew Hatred on Campus, a new organization established by the David Horowitz Freedom Center,
…compiled a list of the 10 U.S. campuses having the worst anti-Semitic activity in 2014. Universities included in the top 10 played host to numerous incidents of anti-Jewish acts, such as Israeli Apartheid Week (a week-long event that demonizes the Jewish state); interrupting university activities by staging mock “checkpoints” on campus; campus speakers that call for the destruction of the Jewish state; and verbal or physical harassment and violence against Jewish and pro-Israel students. These anti-Semitic incidents occur on university property, often with the support of university funds, despite the fact that such behavior is explicitly forbidden under campus codes of conduct.
From my own personal experience I’d add to the list a set of individual encounters with various students who questioned me as to why “there are so many of you in the media” and demanded my opinions about the”injustice” of the non-massacre at Jenin. In the case of these encounters, each oddly enough motivated by foreign students from Middle Eastern Muslim nations, the interrogators waited until we were alone with no witnesses before launching the “conversations”.
Perhaps it’s time campus Jewish groups start offering Krav Maga classes.
BREAKING: Islamic State Attacks Assyrian Christian Villages in Northern Syria, Taking Captives and Torching Churches
Breaking news late yesterday and this morning bring reports of an assault by the Islamic State in Northern Syria targeting Assyrian Christian villages along the Khabour River that began early yesterday morning. Other reports indicate that ISIS has taken captives and torched several churches, including one of the most ancient churches in Syria, and hundreds are fleeing the area downriver to Hassake. ISIS is meeting resistance from Christian and Kurdish militias.
European Syriac Union rights activist and journalist David Vergili reports:
Assyrian Christian villages along the Khabour river in the Hassake region are under heavy attacks of ISIS. Hundred of people left the region and number of women and children have been kidnapped by ISIS. Clashes continue between MFS, YPG against ISIS.
On Monday around 5am ISIS carried out an attack on the Assyrian villages in the Khabour region leaving casualties and another exodus of Christians from the region. ISIS attacks are concentrated in the Khabour villages of Til Hirmis, Til Shamiram, Qabre Shamiye and Til Khebish. Local sources confirm that there are ongoing clashes in all front lines against ISIS. Various reports suggest casualties of civilians and burning of churches.
A Demand For Action, another Christian rights organization, published this map to show the area of activity:
The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported late last night of captives taken and churches torched by ISIS (Warning: graphic images at link):
ISIS has abducted dozens of Assyrian men, women and children, including 12 from Tel Hurmiz, 15 from Tel Goran. They have been brought to Jabal Abdul Aziz. The residents of the villages of Tel Shamiran (approximately 50) and Tel Jazira (about 40) are being held captive in their own villages by ISIS.
According to a report by Newsweek, ISIS will use the Assyrian hostages for a prisoner swap with Kurdish fighters.
A number of churches have been destroyed, including the church in Tel Hurmiz, one of the oldest churches in Syria, the Mar Bisho church in Tel Shamiran, the church in Qabr Shamiy and the church in Tel Baloua.
The Newsweek report referenced above cited threats made against the lives of the captured Christian villagers if a prisoner exchange doesn’t happen:
The terrorist organization demanded a prisoner exchange with Kurdish fighters; they are seeking the release of ISIS members in exchange for the villagers. The exact number of prisoners ISIS is looking to swap for is not known. They have threatened the lives of the village men, estimated to be more than 100, if the swap does not go through.
A Reuters report published this morning provides a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that ISIS has taken at least 90 captives and notes the strategic importance of the area for Kurdish and Christian militias, as well as for ISIS:
Syrian Kurdish militia have renewed their assault on the militants, launching two offensives against them in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped from U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi peshmerga who have been shelling Islamic State-held territory from their side of the nearby border.
This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against Islamic State because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where last year the ultra-hardline group committed atrocities against the Yazidi community.
Tel Tamr, a town near the Assyrian Christian villages where the abductions occurred, has witnessed heavy clashes between Islamic State fighters and the Kurdish YPG militia, the Observatory said.
— Conflict News (@rConflictNews) February 24, 2015
— Eshu Polis (@EshuAssyrian3) February 23, 2015
— Save Assyria ن (@assyrian_anon) February 24, 2015
— steven nabil (@stevoiraq) February 24, 2015
— A Demand For Action (@DemandForAction) February 24, 2015
— steven nabil (@stevoiraq) February 24, 2015
~ PRESS RELEASE ~ pic.twitter.com/lnJG9CVA93
— EuropeanSyriacUnion (@esu_int) February 24, 2015
A new 50-page e-book released this month by ISIS gives directions to would-be jihadists and women wanting to join the Islamic State on everything from securing a safehouse in Turkey to packing enough underwear for the trip.
Maps in the book suggest flying into Şanlıurfa, Turkey, for a nearly 80-mile overland trip to Raqqa, Syria, the capital of the “caliphate.”
“People who leave to get to Syria do not tell anyone, not even family. Travellers to Syria usually want to reach Turkey. But for safety reasons, they buy a ticket for an indirect holiday country like Spain or Greece so their destination doesn’t seem suspicious,” the guide states, suggesting buying a return ticket to tamp down suspicion.
Upon arriving in Turkey, the person waits for a contact arranged through Twitter, important because “they will require protection in addition to not knowing where to go to, or who to trust.”
The old way of getting into Syria, the handbook said, was dressing in a non-religious fashion and hoping Turkish border guards let them past checkpoints, but the “updated method” is now looking for border guards and sprinting into Syria near Akçakale, Turkey. “Lately things have got harder at the Turkish border, so Islamic State members often meet new people in Turkey hotels and smuggle them across the border,” though the safehouses are “usually males only” and can only be accessed with “a paper signed by an existing member to show he is trustworthy.”
“The only reason members live in Turkey in some peace is because Turkey fears revenge attacks,” says the manual.
It also stresses that financial aid could be available, noting a group of Turkistanis (Kazakhstan) who were broke but had their trip arranged and paid for after sending a letter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
For the journey, ISIS recommends carrying no more luggage than a suitcase, a “tough” backpack with lots of pockets, and one “satchel-type bag” or fanny pack to stash passport and wallet along with other “vitals” including wet wipes, “a few pills (if you suffer from any condition),” a little flashlight and a “few band-aids.”
If a would-be jihadist can’t fit a full change of clothes into the backpack along with all of his electronics, “at least pack some clean underwear.” ISIS recommends packing tablet computers, MP3 players for lectures, external hard drives to stash jihadi material, unlocked WiFi modem, headlamp, and solar chargers to work around “erratic and interrupted” electricity in the Islamic State and not be “dirtying the Earth which belongs to Allah.”
The guide recommends bringing an electric hair trimmer. “If you’re a brother, this is the quickest way to trim your moustache here, and if you like the Talafi buzzcut or egghead-style, then bring a bigger hair clipper.”
For clothes, jihadists are advised to bring knee pads, running shoes, flip-flops, long johns, windbreakers, beanies, goggles, and lots of socks. The handbook on how much clothes to bring: “Bring only the strict minimum (okay, so some sisters fainted after reading this bit, but continue reading, in shā Allah).”
Also on the packing list, in addition to standard toiletries: “Skin lotion and hand lotion if you have dry skin” and utensils including a spork. The guide notes that “knives here are scarce” and low quality.
There’s a section on how to talk to Turkish authorities if stopped, including claiming the purpose of the visit is tourism or helping Syrian refugees along the border. “Make sure you have a good knowledge of the tourist attractions in Turkey. Go to a travel agent and get yourself some brochures on Turkey or buy a traveller’s handbook. This is important since if they question you, you can just brandish this in front of their noses and show them how serious of a tourist you are.”
It advises women to arrange contacts beforehand, to learn some conversational Turkish, not travel on the same plane in groups larger than three, buy a SIM card for a cell phone at the airport, and to “be chill to the airport officers.” Once at a hotel, the woman would call contacts for a ride to a home of an ISIS sympathizer in preparation to cross the border at night or dawn. It cautions that if you leave your luggage at the safehouse “they might steal your stuff.” The guide also recommends bringing an extra abaya in case a woman rips hers while crawling under barbed wire at the border.
After crossing into ISIS territory, newbies are advised to “be sure to take a breath of fresh air, ‘cause that’s how sharī’ah feels like.”
The handbook includes some testimonials from foreign fighters who made the trip, including a European jihadist who “hacked some Israeli credit cards” to cover the cost of his ticket.
One woman tells of sneaking off from her family to join the Islamic State yet being detained by Turkish authorities who didn’t buy her story of being an aid worker. ISIS “found out about our predicament and sent us a lawyer who worked some magic” and got she and other women released from Turkish custody after a week, she writes.
The guide includes a list of Twitter handles, some suspended, of contacts within the Islamic State, reminding would-be jihadis to reach out only through secure browsers and chat apps.
The White House made clear today that President Obama isn’t interested in attending the giant American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington beginning a week from Sunday.
Obama last addressed the conference in 2012, when he was stumping for re-election votes.
In 2013, Vice President Joe Biden address AIPAC. Biden is heading to Uruguay “the first week in March,” according to the White House, for their presidential inauguration and will also hold meetings in Guatemala.
The conference runs March 1-3 at the convention center in D.C. It coincides with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress. That’s also the lobbying day of the conference, when thousands of pro-Israel activists will flood Capitol Hill.
Netanyahu will also directly address AIPAC while in town.
Last week, the State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke at the conference last year, will be out of town at an undetermined location.
“We are still in discussions with AIPAC about what sort of administration representation they’ll have at the meeting,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today. “You’ll recall that, you know, there were previous — in previous years there have been administration representatives, including the president on at least one occasion I can think of off the top of my head, but we’re still evaluating the invitation and as soon as we have some more information about who will be available to speak to the group I will let you all know.”
Obama spoke to the conference as a senator in 2008, when he was stumping for votes, and as president in 2011 in addition to 2012.
Kerry speech’s last year, which received a lukewarm reception, extolled the brilliance of Obama’s Iran negotiating plans in an address that began 45 minutes late.
Asked directly if Obama was considering going to AIPAC this year, Earnest replied, “Not that I’m aware of.”
Democrats confirmed to speak at the conference this year include longtime supporters of Israel and critics of the administration’s policy on Iran and ISIS.
Dem Speakers include Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
After President Obama’s conference last week on violent extremism, Hawaii Dem Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said it’s clear the administration still doesn’t understand the threat.
“Understanding that this is not just people who are being motivated because they’re poor, or they are feeling alienated, or they’re looking for some kind of violence or excitement in their life,” Gabbard told MSNBC this morning. “This goes to a much deeper theological motivation, ideological motivation, and unless we defeat that as well as a strong military defeat, we’re going to continue to see more recruits popping up.”
Gabbard has been hammering the White House for weeks on its refusal to link “Islamic” with the extremism faced from groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.
The first Hindu member of Congress is a captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard and Iraq combat veteran. She is also a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.
“When we look at ISIS, what I believe the president and the administration needs to do is really understand the ideological motivation behind groups like ISIS, behind groups like al-Qaeda, and the fact that when you look at the 40 plus groups around the world who are committing these atrocious actions, the one common element is this Islamic extremist ideology that not only motivates them, but it’s their primary recruiting tool,” the congresswoman said today.
Gabbard said she thinks Obama “has good intentions, but I think it’s important for us to really look at all sides of this and understand at its core what’s the root cause and motivation of these people who are conducting these things, and how we stop their momentum, and how we defeat them.”
“Terror recruits,” she said, “look for some kind of purpose to their lives, and so when they look at what ISIS, and al-Qaeda, and these groups are offering them, they’re promising them, if you go and do these things, if you become a martyr, you conduct this jihad, then you will go to heaven, your family will be taken care of, and it’s a spiritual ideology that’s drawing them in, which is what has to be defeated.”
There is no “quick and easy way,” to defeat them, she said, “but the question of whether or not to deploy large amounts of U.S. ground troops is directly tied to the need to understand the enemy’s ideology, because if that were to happen, if we had large numbers of U.S. troops deploying, it would play directly into their recruitment propaganda which is this is, you know, the infidels in the West waging war against Muslims. And it would increase their ability and their strength to grow in the actions in — in their war that they are waging.”
“Which is why it’s so important for us to empower and arm the Kurds, empower these Sunni tribes, empower the Egyptians, the Jordanians, people who are on the ground and in the region who are eager and really begging for our help to go and fight against this enemy.”
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) February 21, 2015
By the time most folks at home had passed out from boredom, or gone to bed because they have real jobs to wake up for on Monday morning, Patricia Arquette sobered up enough to use her Best Supporting Actress win to preach to the choir about wage inequality.
Snort, blink, roll over, resume snooze.
The speech stood in stark contrast to host Neil Patrick Harris’s earlier joke about the $160,000 SWAG bags being given to those nominated in the Oscars’ top 5 categories. After saying that the bags were loaded with such goodies as two vacations and a $20,000 astrology reading, Harris joked that the bags also contained “an armored car ride to safety when the revolution comes.” The stars clad in gold and diamonds responded with appropriate Marie Antoinette-style laughs and gloved claps.
Having won the Oscar, Arquette won’t be getting any SWAG. Those bags are only for the runners-up. Perhaps that’s what she meant when she referenced wage inequality among the rich and famous. Shouldn’t all the beautiful people get $20,000 astrology readings for free?
92.5 million of the Oscars’ potential viewers are currently jobless. For Arquette’s reference, that’s boys as well as girls. Those 92.5 mil and their employed compatriots just spent a week listening to their president tell them he could solve the problem of terrorism (not Islamic, just terrorism) by offering ISIS members (ironically notably all Islamic terrorists) the power of job creation. While the men of ISIS would argue that they already have jobs, I bet the women that have been kidnapped by ISIS and forced into marriages/sex slavery would really dig some income equality right now. Or perhaps just some equality in general.
But hey, Hollywood women suffer. They don’t get paid “as much” and they definitely don’t all get the SWAG at the parties. Thanks, Patricia, for addressing the economic inequalities in our society that, much like the revolution preached and fostered by your fellow stars, is the responsibility of none other than Hollywood’s favorite politicians.
Had Arquette really wanted to bring a much-needed laugh to the boring ceremony, she would’ve threatened that Hollywood’s women would join ISIS if their wage issues weren’t resolved. If there’s anything that can’t wear down radical, non-descript terrorists, it’s the incessant whining of spoiled socialists.
On Saturday, I expressed serious skepticism here at PJ Media about the “Muslim Peace Ring” that surrounded an Oslo synagogue over the weekend. Here’s what I observed:
Now I’m not going to get into the motives of those involved today, but color me skeptical of these types of events for several reasons.
First, if you contact the international media to cover your event, forgive me if I question your sincerity. Your staged “Ring of Peace” photo op is really a “Ring of Propaganda.” Matthew 6:1-4 and all that.
Secondly, when you use actual victims (Jews) to try to make yourselves (Muslims) the victims by leading your chants with “No to anti-Semitism,” and then smuggling in your own “Islamophobia” narrative, I’m calling BS…
Thirdly, these Muslim “human chain” photo ops are never around when you actually need them.
I gave the example of the “Muslim human ring” around the Mar Girgis Church in Sohag, Egypt story that was circulated in July 2013, only to have the same church torched by the Muslim Brotherhood the very next month.
When Muslims formed a human chain around a church in Sohag, Egypt for photo op, they burned it down weeks later pic.twitter.com/KShm3harnL
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 22, 2015
But now it seems the media narrative on the Oslo “Muslim Peace Ring” couldn’t even last 24 hours.
As Haaretz reports, one of the event organizers had accused Jews (remember, this human chain was around a synagogue) of being behind the 9/11 attack:
Ali Chishti confirmed on Saturday in an interview with Verdens Gang, a highbrow Norwegian newspaper, that he delivered on March 22, 2008, in Oslo a speech on the alleged involvement of Jews in planning the 9/11 Twin Towers bombings in New York. The speech’s title was: ”Therefore I Hate Jews and Gays,” the paper reported, though Chishti said he was not the one who came up with the title.
“There were several thousand Jews away from work in the World Trade Center, and why there were more Jews in Mumbai when Pakistani terrorists attacked than usual?” he said then, repeating the conspiracy theory that Jews knew in advance of the attack that killed thousands. “Jews are a small group, but everyone knows that they have a lot of power,” he said.
In Saturday interviews, he retracted his words. In an interview with the daily Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, he said they were “anti-Semitic” and “unacceptable.”
“I was angry,” he told Verdens Gang. “I have since changed my views.” But he also said he “dislikes” people who support “an occupying force that has been condemned in several United Nations resolutions.”
“I think it is important to distinguish between being critical of Israel and anti-Semitism,” he also told Verdens Gang.
Eric Argaman, a pro-Israel activist and member of Norway’s Jewish community, said Chishti’s involvement “stained the event, which now feels more like a spin, on our backs, than a gesture of good will.”
Yeah, Eric, there’s a lot of that going around.
Needless to say, well-meaning supporters of the event felt deflated:
Well it was sweet while it lasted. Oslo synagogue 'peace ring' organizer blamed Jews for 9/11 http://t.co/zQZp3XaH0F
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) February 22, 2015
Some, however, were not deterred:
The courage of these Muslims is inspiring. Only Muslims can take back their religion. We must stand with them. http://t.co/8KbEwTVzsN
— Saul Singer (@saulsinger) February 22, 2015
Again, having already admitted my own skepticism of these publicity stunts, I find it difficult how anyone can describe a media event being covered by the international media hundreds of miles away (Oslo, Norway) from the actual site of last week’s synagogue attack (Copenhagen, Denmark) as some great act of courage. As I noted in my previous article, these Muslim “human chains” are never around when Jews or Christians actually need them.
But the media narrative on the Oslo event this weekend had not yet completely collapsed:
— Tzvi Zucker (@TzviZucker) February 23, 2015
That’s right. While the international media (AP, AFP, Reuters, et al.) all reported that there were 1000+ Muslims forming the chain around the Oslo synagogue, the reality was something quite different.
As Jordan Schachtel over at Breitbart reported yesterday:
The weekend’s feel-good story about a Muslim “ring of peace” formed to “protect” Jews at an Oslo synagogue turned out to be a complete fabrication by the mainstream media, according to an eyewitness report, local officials, and attendees’ photos.
According to a local eyewitness, only about 20 or so Muslims formed the “ring of peace” around the Oslo synagogue. In fact, pictures from multiple angles show that there wasn’t enough people to form a ring, so the locals instead formed a horizontal line in front of the synagogue.
A local news outlet explained how the media got to its “1,300 Muslims” number. “According to police, there were 1300 persons present in the event. Very many of them ethnic Norwegians,” read a translated report from Osloby.no.
Demonstrators also reportedly chanted, “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” conflating criticism of Islam and hatred of Jews.
Photos pulled off of social media appear to corroborate the narrative that only twenty or so people formed the “peace ring.”
So rather than 1000+ Muslims in front of the Oslo synagogue, there were at best a couple of dozen. Everyone else were just well-meaning non-Muslim supporters.
Meanwhile, as reported over at Twitchy, several hundred Danish Muslims attended the funeral of Copenhagen terror killer Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein on Friday, leading several of us to observe:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 23, 2015
— A.M.H. (@alimhaider) February 23, 2015
If not to put too fine a point on it:
Danish Muslims praying at the spot where the Copenhagen gunman was shot dead. pic.twitter.com/M0S6mYx4m7”
— Eli Tabori (@etabori) February 23, 2015
Consider this international media narrative busted.
The mayor of Jerusalem and his bodyguard took down a knife-wielding terrorist today, a takedown captured on Jerusalem Municipality Emergency and Safety Department footage.
According to YNet News, the 18-year-old Palestinian teen from Ramallah stabbed a 27-year-old Haredi man in central Jerusalem’s Safra Square.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, 55, was in his car nearby, jumped out of his vehicle along with his security guard, and rushed the suspect. They also gave first aid to the victim, who suffered “moderate” wounds, until paramedics arrived.
Barkat, who was a paratrooper during his six years of IDF service, is in the white shirt in the above security footage.
UPDATE: Looks like the victim is going to be OK.
PHOTO: Avraham Goldschmidt, married w/4 children from Betar Illit, stabbed & wounded by Arab terrorist in Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/Nm92X6YbZB
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) February 22, 2015
Al-Shabaab burst onto the documentary filmmaking scene this weekend with a new video explaining the grisly Westgate mall attack and suggesting shopping targets for other jihadists.
The 1-hour and 16-minute film is not only slickly produced but the Somali terror group’s video puts ISIS to shame with its high production value and splicing of interviews, news footage, graphics and photos to perfectly mimic a documentary.
The film was released in English and Arabic. The narrator on the English-language film, watched by PJM, has his face obscured by a balaclava and a fuzzy bar over his eyes. That move by Al-Kataib, the media arm of Al-Shabaab, could be in response to western intelligence’s claim to have identified ISIS spokesman and killer “Jihadi John” through his voice, eyes, and build.
The Shabaab narrator speaks perfect English with a Somali accent.
Beginning with a history of how Shabaab thinks the Kenyan “kuffar” have wronged them, the narrator doesn’t mention the September 2013 attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi until the 43-minute mark. “Westgate was perhaps the only natural response to blatant Kenyan aggression,” he says.
The Shabaab production rips security camera footage and interviews from the HBO documentary Terror at the Mall. It highlights bungles of the Kenyan government and security forces, from the number of terrorists claimed to have been inside the building and arrested or killed to allegations that Kenyan soldiers looted stores. It features exclusive audio reels of calls from the terrorists back to their Shabaab handlers.
The film is laid out as both a regional defense of aggression and a call for broader jihad against the “crusaders” worldwide. “Headed towards you are men who love death more than you love life,” the narrator warns.
At the conclusion of the film, he suggests targets with coordinates: the Mall of America in Minnesota, which is the largest mall in the U.S., and the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, which is the largest mall in North America.
He also suggests attacking shops along Oxford Street in London or any of the “Israeli-owned” Westgate malls worldwide, including Canada, Croatia, the UK, Singapore and six locations in the United States.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told ABC this morning that the video reflects the “new phase we’ve evolved in terms of the global terrorist threat and what we need to do in terms of counterterrorism.”
“Groups like ISIL, al Shabaab, AQAP are now publicly calling for attacks either through the internet, through videos, through publications, which means that we need to respond militarily, but we also have to have a whole of government approach through law enforcement, homeland security and frankly countering violent extremism efforts here in the homeland, in communities,” Johnson said.
He told CNN “we’re in an environment right now where I suspect these groups are competing for attention.”
“Any time a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we have got to take that seriously,” Johnson said specifically of the Mall of America threat. “And so, through our intelligence bulletins, through working with state and local law enforcement, through working with the FBI, we take this kind of thing very seriously.”
The Mall of America said in a statement that it’s “aware of a threatening video that was released which included a mention and images of the mall.”
“We take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately. We have implemented extra security precautions. Some may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t.”
Johnson said he thinks it’s safe at the mall, but everyone should be vigilant. “It’s all the more reason why I need a budget,” he added in a needle at Congress.
People are wetting themselves over on Twitter right now after Muslims formed a human chain around a synagogue in Oslo, Norway, yesterday following the terror attack this week at a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Here’s some of the reaction, beginning with GOP pollster Frank Luntz:
Norwegian Muslims form human shield around Oslo synagogue. http://t.co/YW1D4v64vh
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) February 22, 2015
In Norway, Muslims formed a human chain around a synagogue today chanting "no to anti-Semitism, no to Islamaphobia." pic.twitter.com/8j7pTR1VnU
— Tim Shorrock (@TimothyS) February 21, 2015
— Terrorism Updates (@terrorism_info) February 22, 2015
Now I’m not going to get into the motives of those involved today, but color me skeptical of these types of events for several reasons.
First, if you contact the international media to cover your event, forgive me if I question your sincerity. Your staged “Ring of Peace” photo op is really a “Ring of Propaganda.” Matthew 6:1-4 and all that.
Secondly, when you use actual victims (Jews) to try to make yourselves (Muslims) the victims by leading your chants with “No to anti-Semitism,” and then smuggling in your “Islamophobia” narrative, I’m calling BS.
As Reuters reported, this is what happened:
More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.
Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.
When you fail to leave your own agenda at home, this isn’t about protecting victims, it’s about you grinding your “Islamophobia” narrative.
Thirdly, these Muslim “human chain” photo ops are never around when you actually need them.
To emphasize that last point, let me tell you two stories.
The first begins in July 2013 in Sohag, Egypt. After Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was deposed following the largest protests in recorded human history, the Muslim Brotherhood staged a “human chain” photo op in Sohag saying they were going to protect the St. George Church as a show of interfaith solidarity, notwithstanding those filthy infidel Coptic Christians backing General (now President) Sisi for removing Morsi.
The MB’s “human chain” event in front of St. George Church also made international news, with this picture being widely circulated as evidence of interfaith cooperation:
It should be noted that the picture itself is watermarked by the pro-Brotherhood Rassd.com online news portal.
Alas, that’s not where the story ends. Several weeks after their “human chain” photo op, the Muslim Brotherhood torched the very same St. George Church in Sohag following the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood protests in Rabaa Square in Cairo.
Here’s a picture of the attack on the Mar Girgis church tweeted out by ABC News foreign editor Jon Williams:
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) August 14, 2013
And even AlJazeera reported on the looting and torching of St. George’s:
— AJE News (@AJENews) August 14, 2013
The second story takes place just weeks after the sacking of the church in Sohag.
On September 22, 2013, two suicide bombers killed 127 worshipers at the All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan. Nearly a month after the attack, Muslims staged yet another “human chain” to protest the Peshawar church bombing. Just as today in Oslo, the international media was there pushing all of the predictable progressive “interfaith” tropes:
— IFC (@IFCMW) October 21, 2013
Just one problem. Ignore the fact that this is nearly a month after the bombings. The Muslim “human chain” protest occurred in Lahore — 250 miles away from the church that was bombed in Peshawar — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed:
— Rakesh Lakhani (@rakesh_lakhani) October 14, 2013
So before we start declaring ISIS defeated after the staged event this weekend in Oslo, let me suggest that, as was the case in Sohag, when you burn the church down a couple of weeks after you stage your “Muslim human chain” you somewhat negate your message. Just saying.
And until we see these “Muslim human chains” form somewhere and at a time when it actually makes a difference (e.g. in Copenhagen where the synagogue was attacked, not in Oslo 300 miles away), please spare me your interfaith back-patting narratives. I’ll be more impressed if your human chain shows up when it matters.
UPDATE: So apparently Frank Luntz took umbrage at my calling him out on Twitter.
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 22, 2015
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) February 22, 2015
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 22, 2015
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) February 22, 2015
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 22, 2015
It’s not clear to me what Luntz is questioning. Both the human chain event and the sacking of the church in Sohag were both widely publicized. Here’s video of the torching of Mar Girgis in Sohag (the same site as the human chain):
And here’s video from the Sohag church’s Youtube channel showing the destruction and directly placing blame on the Muslim Brotherhood:
As I told Luntz, my 3-part series on my trip to Egypt, including touring the burned-out churches, monasteries and Coptic orphanages in Upper Egypt, will be published here at PJ Media shortly.
On Friday the U.S. Department of State’s blog unveiled a new graphic that came out of this week’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.
The multi-colored logo looks like it was recycled from a 1970s public housing project, but it probably came out of one of those ubiquitous conference brainstorming sessions attended by artistic types who were swilling Starbucks and drawing on their MacBook Pros. It boldly declares that “The Solution to Violent Extremism Begins in Your Community.”
The blog post highlighted Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement from the summit about ”the defining fight of our generation” and his declaration that battling “radical extremism” is a task for everyone, including civil society, the faith community, foundations and philanthropists, and the private sector.
While there’s nothing terribly wrong with the logo, it is noteworthy for its failure to communicate any useful information or deliver any action items. Its flaccid, half-hearted effort to motivate communities to fight terrorism with a Gandhian slogan is lost amid the boring visual appeal of the graphic design.
It’s interesting to compare the new counterterrorism logo with government-produced posters during World War II, which were used for many purposes, including warning the nation about the enemy and calling for unity during a time of war.
Here’s a 1942 recruiting poster for the United States Navy. It takes a fraction of a second to discern the main point of the message of this sign — it’s clear, concise, and leaves no room for ambiguity.
This 1942 poster was created by the Government Printing Office and warned about the dangers of the enemy. Note that there was no hesitation to name the enemy and to portray the Nazis as evil. Lidice was a Czech village that was obliterated by the Nazis in a 10-hour massacre. The attack became a symbol for Nazi brutality during World War II.
Instead of clarity about the nature of our enemies and the real threat to freedom and peace worldwide, the Obama State Department is saying we need jobs for jihadis. Our government is wasting valuable time and resources during a time of crisis on psychobabble about perceived grievances that lead to a culture of terror and on producing innocuous logos that allow a group of tongue-clicking elites at a White House summit to check a “did something that feels good” box.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told President Obama that the amount of information revealed about upcoming operations against ISIS is both unprecedented and dangerous.
In an extensive briefing Thursday with reporters, an official with U.S. Central Command said the planning to attempt to take Mosul from ISIS continues.
“The equipping that’s associated with those training sites is — is not free of challenges, but it is generally working on pace. As an example, it is our estimate that the amount of equipment that we have put between coalition contributions and U.S. contributions, in excess of about six brigades’ worth of equipment. And so it is generally keeping pace with those training sites and the effort to get ready for Mosul,” the official said.
The CENTCOM official said they’re shooting for an “April-May timeframe” for a Mosul offensive.
“There are still a lot of things that need to come together. And as we dialogue with our Iraqi counterparts, we want them to go in that timeframe, because as you get into Ramadan and the summer and the heat, it becomes problematic if it goes much later than that. But by the same token, if they’re not ready, if the conditions are not set, if all the equipment that they need is not physically there and they are trained to a degree in which they will be successful, we have not closed the door on continuing to slide that to the right.”
The official went further into detail about the forces expected to be involved. “What we know as of right now is there — in the attack force, there will be five Iraqi army brigades, there will be three smaller brigades that will comprise a reserve force, there will be three Pesh brigades that will help contain from the north and isolate from the west, and then there will be what we’re calling a Mosul fighting force, which will be compromised of largely police and tribal that are being put together right now of mostly former Mosul police, and then finally, a brigade equivalent of CTS forces.”
The official also went into detail about the training schedules for five brigades to take part in the attack, yet estimated “it’s going to take about 12 brigade equivalents to execute the Mosul operation, and we still kind of stand to that.”
McCain and Graham wrote a letter to Obama today calling it “deeply disturbing” that the CENTOM briefing “provided detailed operational information regarding coalition plans to retake Mosul from ISIL.”
“Never in our memory can we recall an instance in which our military has knowingly briefed our own war plans to our enemies,” added McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Graham, a member of the panel.
“These disclosures not only risk the success of our mission, but could also cost the lives of U.S., Iraqi, and coalition forces,” they continued. “Given the serious impact of these disclosures, we want to know who at U.S. Central Command was responsible for this briefing, and whether they had prior approval from the White House to divulge this information. Those responsible have jeopardized our national security interests and must be held accountable.”
Right on schedule; in the fantasy world inhabited by Democrats, we have met the real enemy and he is us:
They’re carrying out sporadic terror attacks on police, have threatened attacks on government buildings and reject government authority.
A new intelligence assessment, circulated by the Department of Homeland Security earlier this month and reviewed by CNN, focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists, and comes as the Obama administration holds a White House conference to focus efforts to fight violent extremism.
Never heard of the “sovereign citizens” movement? No problem! That’s because they just invented it! But don’t worry — you’ll be hearing plenty once the Democrat-Media Complex fog machine cranks up.
Some federal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to — and in some cases greater than — the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS, that garner more public attention.
The DHS report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks around the U.S. since 2010.
Pretty scary, huh kids? Um… not so much. Upon closer inspection, these deadly terrorists are just your basic idiots who don’t like getting stopped by cops:
The government says these are extremists who believe they can ignore laws and that their individual rights are under attack in routine daily instances such as a traffic stop or being required to obey a court order.
They’ve lashed out against authority in incidents such as one in 2012, in which a father and son allegedly engaged in a shootout with police in Louisiana, in a confrontation that began with an officer pulling them over for a traffic violation. Two officers were killed and several others wounded in the confrontation. The men were sovereign citizen extremists who claimed police had no authority over them.
Among the findings from the DHS intelligence assessment: “[Sovereign citizen] violence during 2015 will occur most frequently during routine law enforcement encounters at a suspect’s home, during enforcement stops and at government offices.”
If this is the best the useless Department of Homeland Security can come up with, we’re in even more trouble than we know. Especially when you read down into the story, looking for, you know, the usual suspects behind this sort of nonsense… and there they are! The Southern Poverty Law Center! (Yes, the same folks who just took Dr. Ben Carson off their “extremist” list.)
Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said by some estimates there are as many as 300,000 people involved in some way with sovereign citizen extremism. Perhaps 100,000 people form a core of the movement, he said. The federal government’s focus on the domestic groups waxes and wanes, Potok said, in part because the threat from foreign groups like al Qaeda and its affiliates.
Potok says sovereign citizen groups have attracted support because of poor economic conditions. Some groups travel the country pitching their ideology as a way to help homeowners escape foreclosure or get out of debt, by simply ignoring the courts and bankruptcy law.
You may now officially disregard the DHS report. That is all.
Qatar yanked its ambassador from Egypt after Cairo accused the state of supporting terrorism — and Egyptians aren’t exactly broken up by Doha’s departure.
The Gulf Cooperation Council is siding with Qatar, though, with secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani saying in a statement that he “rejects accusations by Egypt’s permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism.”
The accusations are “unfounded, contradict reality, and ignore the sincere efforts by Qatar as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states in combating terrorism and extremism at all levels,” he said, according to Al-Arabiya.
It all started at Wednesday’s Arab League session when Qatar criticized Egypt for its strikes against ISIS forces in Libya, upset that “unilateral” action was taken after the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians without consulting other Arab nations first.
Tarek Adel, Egypt’s representative at the Arab League, replied, according to the Middle East News Agency, “According to our reading in Egypt of the Qatari reservation, it is evident that Qatar is revealing its position that it is supportive of terrorism.”
Qatar’s news agency released a statement from their foreign ministry claiming Adel’s “tense statement… confuses the need to combat terrorism and the brutal killing and burning of civilians.”
Ousted former President Mohamed Morsi is currently on trial, accused of leaking state secrets to Muslim Brotherhood-supporter Qatar. Morsi could receive the death penalty if convicted.
Nasser Bin Hamad M. Al-Khalifa, the former Qatari ambassador to Washington, tweeted that his country objected to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s “behavior as it was violation of UN charter and international law resulting in killing and burning of innocent ppl!”
“After Sisi committed his crimes against Libyan children men and women in Derna, he tried to force Arab states to back him up after the fact,” Al-Khalifa wrote.
Top trending hashtag in Egypt now: Qatar, daughter of a bitch…Qatar recalled its ambassador in Egypt.
— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) February 18, 2015
— Yasmine El Bilbeissi (@samantousha) February 19, 2015
Now they are holding us back to present those criminals to justice #Qatar_supports_isis
— Yasmine El Bilbeissi (@samantousha) February 19, 2015
— S A Ⓜ E H (@samehabouelkhie) February 19, 2015
— S A Ⓜ E H (@samehabouelkhie) February 19, 2015
— Amina (@amina10000001) February 19, 2015
#Qatar_supports_isis Qatar help and protect terrorist criminals ran away from Egypt and refused to comply with interpol jurisdiction
— أحمد (@Al3askarY) February 19, 2015
— Asho (@ashrafthewand) February 19, 2015
Dem Senator ‘Understands Criticism Leveled at President’ Over Islam Semantics, But ‘They Missed the Point’
The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs Subcommittee accused Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) of trying to score “cheap partisan political points” off of the administration’s refusal to describe ISIS as Islamic.
On Fox last night, Cruz called the semantics battle and the State Department’s assertion that job opportunities will dissuade jihadists “idiocy.”
“This bizarre, politically correct, double speak is simply not befitting a commander-in-chief whose first obligation should be to protect the United States of America,” Cruz said. “…What undermines the global effort is for the President of the United States to be an apologist for radical Islamic terrorists, to analogize it to the Crusades from 700 years ago.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told CNN today that he’s “upset” with Cruz for taking on President Obama’s “simple but powerful point.”
“I don’t think this is very hard to understand or very complicated. ISIS is trying to characterize the United States and our allies as being at war with Islam, and ISIS is trying to characterize themselves as being the legitimate heirs of the prophet of Mohammed,” Coons said. “…What our president is saying is we’re not at war with Islam, we’re at war with people who have perverted Islam and who are claiming to be Islamic extremist, Islamic jihadists, in order to advance their own legitimacy.”
“I understand the criticisms that are being leveled at the president, but they missed the broader point. 20,000 foreign fighters, folks from the United States, from Great Britain, Germany, France are flooding into Syria and Iraq to join ISIS’ fight. We should not help ISIS by strengthening the perception that this is a war of Christianity against Islam. It’s not. It’s a war of the modern world against a group of medieval radical extremists who happen to be Muslims and are misclaiming a Muslim heritage and religious authority.”
Coons, who tweeted Monday that he was “horrified by the video of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded by ISIS terrorists, unspeakable hatred and unthinkable extremism,” said he thinks “we are dedicating far too much time to splitting hairs on this point.”
“They are Islamic, they are extremists,” the senator said. “They are Islamic, they are extremists. Our president is trying to be careful about not claiming that this is a war between Christianity and Islam. Does that make sense? It’s a simple, powerful point.”
Coons, though, stressed that he thought it was important to point out the faith of the Egyptian victims. In its original statement on the massacre, the White House called the Copts “Egyptian citizens.”
“I commend the president for convening a global summit on fighting extremism in all forms, but I do think it’s important to emphasize at times when ISIS’ victims are Christians, I called that out,” he said.
“And I point to the fact that it was Coptic Christians who were murdered in Libya. When they murdered the Yazidis in Iraq, which is another religious minority and Christians, I pointed out the fact that they were massacring religious minorities including Christians. It is important to emphasize that they claim to be legitimate Muslim jihadists, but their legitimacy has been rejected by every respected leader of the Muslim world.”
President Obama told a gathering of international dignitaries today that “all of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam, because that is a falsehood that embraces the terrorists’ narrative.”
He also called on Muslim clerics and organizations to “push back not just on twisted interpretations of Islam” but “on the lie that we are somehow engaged in a clash of civilizations.”
“Obviously, there is a complicated history between the Middle East, the West, and none of us I think should be immune from criticism in terms of specific policies, but the notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie. And all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility to reject it,” the president said.
“At the same time, former extremists have the opportunity to speak out — speak the truth about terrorist groups. And oftentimes, they can be powerful messengers in debunking these terrorist ideologies. One said, ‘This wasn’t what we came for, to kill other Muslims.’ Those voices have to be amplified.”
Among other components of his anti-extremism plan already outlined, including jobs and good governance, Obama stressed ensuring “that our diverse societies truly welcome and respect people of all faiths and backgrounds, and leaders set the tone on this issue.”
He noted “acts of anti-Semitism” in Europe, “or in some cases, anti-Muslim sentiment or anti-immigrant sentiment.”
“When people spew hatred towards others because of their faith or because they are immigrants, it feeds into terrorist narratives. If entire communities feel they can never become a full part of the society in which they reside, it feeds a cycle of fear and resentment and a sense of injustice upon which extremists prey,” Obama continued. “And we can’t allow cycles of suspicions to tear at the fabric of our countries.”
“So we all recognize the need for more dialogues across countries and cultures. Those efforts are indeed important. But what’s most needed today, perhaps, are more dialogues within countries, not just across faiths, but also within faiths. Violent extremists and terrorists thrive when people of different religions or sects pull away from each other and are able to isolate each other, label them as ‘they,’ as opposed to us, something separate and apart.”
So, Obama said, “let’s share the truth of our faiths with each other.”
He announced a program named after murder U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens “to connect 1 million young people from America and the Middle East and North Africa for dialogue.”
“In some of our countries, including the United States, Muslim communities are still small and, you know, relative to the entire population. And as a result, many people in our countries don’t always know personally somebody who is Muslim. So the image they get of Muslims or Islam is in the news. And given the existing news cycle, that can give a very distorted impression,” he said. “A lot of the bad, like terrorists who claim to speak for Islam, that’s absorbed by the general population; not enough of the good — the more than 1 billion people around the world who do represent Islam, and are doctors and lawyers and teachers and neighbors and friends.”
“So we have to remember these Muslim men and women, the young Palestinian working to build understanding and trust with Israelis, but also trying to give voice to her people’s aspirations; the Muslim clerics working for peace with Christian pastors and priests in Nigeria and the Central African Republic to put an end to the cycle of hate; the civil society leaders in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies; parliamentarians in Tunisia working to build one of the world’s newest democracies; business leaders in India with one of the world’s largest Muslim populations; entrepreneurs unleashing new innovations in places like Malaysia, health workers fighting to save lives from polio and from Ebola in West Africa and volunteers who go to disaster zones after a tsunami or after an earthquake to ease suffering and help families rebuild, Muslims who have risked their lives as human shields to protect Coptic churches in Egypt and to protect Christians attending mass in Pakistan and who try to protect synagogues in Syria.”
Obama reminded all that a Muslim police officer was killed in the Charlie Hebdo massacre and a Muslim employee saved Jews at the kosher grocery store.
“It’s not a question of Jews or Christians or Muslims,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat, and we have to help each other to get out of this crisis.”
In advance of his address to the Countering Violent Extremism summit today, Secretary of State John Kerry advocated deploying a more “creative arsenal” to fight ISIS rather than just the “rational and often necessary response” of military force.
“A safer and more prosperous future requires us to recognize that violent extremism can’t be justified by resorting to religion. No legitimate religious interpretation teaches adherents to commit unspeakable atrocities, such as razing villages or turning children into suicide bombers. These are the heinous acts of individuals who distort religion to serve their criminal and barbaric cause,” Kerry wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
“A safer and more prosperous future also requires us not to be distracted by divisions grounded in hatred or bias. There is no room in this fight for sectarian division. There is no room for Islamophobia or anti-Semitism. Violent extremism has claimed lives in every corner of the globe, and Muslim lives most of all. Each of us is threatened, regardless of ethnicity, faith or homeland. We must demonstrate to the terrorists that rather than divide us, their tactics unite us and strengthen our resolve.”
Kerry touted the week’s summit, which was the administration’s answer to the January terrorist attacks in Paris, as an event to “adopt an action agenda that identifies, shares and utilizes best practices in preventing and countering violent extremism.”
He added that the agenda items will be brought up at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
“Eliminating the terrorists of today with force will not guarantee protection from the terrorists of tomorrow. We have to transform the environments that give birth to these movements. We have to devote ourselves not just to combating violent extremism, but to preventing it. This means building alternatives that are credible and visible to the populations where terrorists seek to thrive,” Kerry wrote.
“The most basic issue is good governance. It may not sound exciting, but it is vital. People who feel that their government will provide for their needs, not just its own, and give them a chance at a better life are far less likely to strap on an AK-47 or a suicide vest, or to aid those who do,” he added, mentioning job training and eliminating corruption.
He lauded the “power of the international community to make positive progress” on things like battling Ebola.
“We are in this for the long haul. We can send a clear signal to the next generation that its future will not be defined by the agenda of the terrorists and the violent ideology that sustains them; we will not cower, and we will prevail by working together. Indeed, there are roles for everyone, from religious and government leaders to academics, NGOs and the private sector. Our collective security depends on our collective response,” Kerry wrote.
“The 20th century was defined by the struggle to overcome depression, slavery, fascism and totalitarianism. Now it’s our turn. The rise of violent extremism challenges every one of us, our communities, our nations and the global rule of law. But the extremist forces arrayed against us require that we charge forward in the name of decency, civility and reason.”