Friday, September 5, 2014

Bassam Tawil: Hamas's War Crimes and Crimes against Islam

by Bassam Tawil

There is no horror more appalling than forcing the Gazan population to endure the stockpiling of rockets in mosques, the construction of tunnels under their kitchens, the situating of terrorist headquarters under their hospitals and the perverted use made of UNRWA facilities (some of whose personnel collaborated with Hamas and willingly concealed weapons). The West must disband UNRWA.
The tragedy is that the Gazans, in fear of their lives from Hamas terrorists, are afraid to protest.
Hama leaders should be tried for war crimes, and Abbas should remember that since he heads the national consensus government with Hamas, he himself is liable to be tried in the Hague for the war crimes Hamas has committed against the Israelis.
Why is the Oslo II Agreement of 1995, assuring the complete disarmament of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, even being renegotiated, and why was it not implemented in the first place?
As Qatar is a country without a people and the Palestinians are a people without a country, Qatar should be turned into the national home for the Palestinians, "Palestine."

Hamas violates Islam by fighting and indiscriminately killing Jewish women, children and the aged, while its missiles launched at Jerusalem could easily harm Arabs and Christians, and hit Al-Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The claim voiced by Muhammad Deif and Ahmed al-Jaabari, leaders of Hamas's military-terrorist wing, that all Jews in Palestine will die, sounds suspiciously like the precursor to the campaign waged by the Islamic State [IS] against the Christians, the Yazidis and the Shi'ites in Syria and Iraq -- and it contradicts Islam.

Even before Hamas launched their missiles at Israel and activated their terrorist tunnels, its leaders sent their suicide bombers from the West Bank to kill Jews deep inside Israeli territory. To prevent suicide bombing attacks and protect its population, a decade ago the Israelis constructed the security fence, separating the Palestinian Authority from Israel.

The leaders of the Palestinian terrorist organizations, especially Hamas, frustrated in their attempts to commit murder, tried to overcome the obstacle by enlisting supporters of the Palestinian cause to call it a racist "apartheid wall", and to accuse Israel of the "crime" of apartheid for wanting to prevent murderers from infiltrating into its territory. Despite the accusations and the traditional Friday riots "protesting" the barrier, there is not a single Arab in the Israeli-Arab city of Umm el-Fahm who would agree to move (with his house, property and lands) from Israel to the Palestinian Authority, or to any other Arab regime.

During the recent Operation Protective Edge, the Jews did everything possible to keep from killing Gazans. They dropped flyers from planes, made telephone calls and sent SMS messages warning the Gazans to leave potential combat zones. There is no basis in fact for the accusation that Israel killed Gazans in cold blood. If the Israelis had wanted to kill all the residents of the Gaza Strip, they had sufficient ammunition to do it easily. Had Hamas, however, possessed the same firepower, it would, without a doubt, have long since slaughtered every single Israeli Jew.

While Hamas recklessly sent its rockets without warning to Israel's population centers, the Israeli army surgically attacked Hamas rocket and mortar shell launchers and blew up its terrorist tunnels. Watching TV, we often saw how Israel aborted missions when it became apparent that civilians were in the area of a proposed attack. Hamas, on the other hand, launched its missiles from deep within the civilian population without warning, knowingly exposing local Gazans to Israeli retaliation.

The problem is that Hamas, driven, claim its leaders, by orders from Allah and the Prophet, have a distorted view of Islam which, along with other radical Islamist movements, they market to the world as the Islam of terrorism, violence and carnage, and not as the religion of peace. There is no horror more appalling than forcing the Gazan population to endure the stockpiling of rockets in mosques, the construction of tunnels under their kitchens, the situating of terrorist headquarters under hospitals and the perverted use made of UNRWA facilities (some of whose personnel collaborated with Hamas and willingly concealed weapons).

The tragedy is that Gazans, in fear of their lives from Hamas terrorists, are afraid to protest. No sane person can identify with the acts perpetrated by Hamas. Naturally, it is hard to justify the killing of Palestinians by Jews, but as the Arab saying goes, "Let a thousand mothers cry, just not mine," and that makes it possible to understand the claim of the Jews that they have to kill us to save themselves.

Nevertheless, it is strange that the Palestinians in the "democratic" Islamic Gaza Strip have not yet uttered one word against Hamas. Even the correspondents who documented the use made by Hamas of UNRWA facilities for firing rockets at Israel only dared to write their reports after they had left the Gaza Strip. Hamas exploited their fear and made them report lies about the deaths of "civilians" who were really terrorist operatives. So great was the journalists' fear of expulsion or reprisal that they complied.

Hamas made the mistake of thinking the Jews would invade the Gaza Strip and that their operatives would rise up from the tunnels deep within Gaza and strike and kill their soldiers. The Jews were smarter, however, and made do with a partial invasion to expose and destroy the tunnels. The Israeli army exploited its relative advantages and attacked from the air and sea, and sent in tanks, to assist special units of its infantry, while the Palestinians claimed it was an army of cowards, a stupid claim but actually believed by some Gazans.

One of Hamas's worst crimes was its use of the mosques, the houses of Allah, for military-terrorist purposes. Because Hamas not only had tunnel openings inside mosques, but also used them as weapons caches, and fired missiles from their courtyards, the Jews bombed them without hesitation. Actually, the Jews had a good teacher: our Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) himself burned the mosque in Al-Madinah where his opponents had barricaded themselves.[1] Unhappily, bombing religious sites is not unusual in the Middle East or in the world. The Islamic State [IS], the Taliban and various other fanatical groups all attack ancient and modern Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim houses of worship, and in Syria and Iraq the Shi'ites and Sunnis attack each others' mosques. IS, not far removed in ideology and practice from Hamas, is currently slaughtering Yazidis, Christians and Shi'ites in Iraq, kidnapping and raping their women and selling them into slavery, all the while calling on the "infidels" to convert to Islam or die.

The claim that Palestinian blood was shed as a means to kill Jews and liberate Al-Aqsa is simply evil. Palestinian blood was shed because Hamas rejected Netanyahu's appeals for ceasefires, despite the Islamic history that on several occasions Muhammad said one drop of Muslim blood was more precious that the Kaaba itself. According to one of the hadiths, "Allah would consider it less important for the Kaaba to be destroyed stone after stone than for a single drop of Muslim blood to be shed."

Hamas is wasteful of Palestinian blood. However, like Muhammad (SAAS), who used catapults to sling stones into the city of Taif, Hamas sends its rockets to attack the cities of Israel. What Hamas did not take into account was that Muhammad never went to war without being fully prepared for every eventuality; he collected intelligence and made sure he would win. Hamas was defeated; the Palestinians lost in the struggle against Israel and failed miserably.

It cannot be denied that Hamas is not only a terrorist organization but committed a double-pronged war crime: on the one hand, it deliberately caused the deaths of innocent Palestinian civilians by using them as human shields for its operatives, its rockets, its mortar shells and its tunnels, and on the other hand, it attacked population centers in Israel to kill innocent civilians. And now it makes the absurd boast that its civilians were killed but that its operatives are all still alive, and it boasts of having killed more than 60 Israeli soldiers who entered the Gaza Strip.

To my great sorrow, that is the difference between the Israeli army and Hamas: if the Israeli chief of staff were to boast that there were no casualties among his fighters but that Israeli civilians had been killed, he and his staff would have been relieved of their commands, tried and imprisoned. However, we Palestinians boast that our civilians were killed and that Hamas's terrorists remained alive, hiding in their underground bunkers and tunnels, and accusing Israel of moral turpitude. Hamas's irresponsibility in abandoning the Palestinians to a slow, painful death is an unforgivable crime and a violation of Islam.

Hamas boasted that Palestinian civilians were killed while Hamas's terrorists remained alive, hiding in their underground bunkers and tunnels. (Image source: Hamas video screenshot)

In addition, the conduct of Mahmoud Abbas, as a leader who claims to want peace, is suspect. While the Palestinian Authority leadership repeats violent Islamist slogans and prepares to incite a third intifada in the West Bank, it dares to propose bringing Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of war crimes. Mahmoud Abbas should remember that he heads the national consensus government with Hamas, that Hamas shares the government with him, and that he himself is liable to be tried in The Hague for the war crimes Hamas committed against the Israelis.

Furthermore, the way the PLO closed ranks with Hamas during Operation Protective Edge was also a sign of cowardice. The PLO seemed to fear a massive uprising in the West Bank as well as attempting to open its pockets to receive the funds that will eventually be donated for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip. Forming the national consensus government was an act of stupidity, because the world, both Western and Arab, knows Hamas is no different from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State and the Al-Nusra Front. For that reason, the image of the PLO and of the Palestinian cause will suffer from the Hamas-Fatah partnership. Hamas will exploit it to try to take over the funds for rebuilding the Gaza Strip, but it well never accept the authority of the senior PLO figures whose comrades were thrown off the roofs of Gaza when Hamas took it over in 2007.

The conduct of the Palestinian delegation to the ceasefire talks in Cairo is also inexplicable. While the PLO is committed to the peace agreements and to the establishment of a demilitarized Palestine state, the Palestinian delegation in Cairo objects to a demilitarized Gaza, which contradicts its commitment to peace, as well as abrogating an agreement to demilitarization already signed in 2005: The Oslo II Interim Agreement, Article XIV, which commits the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip not to manufacture or import weapons. So why is this Agreement even being renegotiated, and why was it not implemented in the first place? And as it was not, what is the point of Israel even trying to reach agreements with people who do not honor them?

That Hamas continued shelling Israel despite the fact that Israel's Iron Dome protects its cities and turns the rockets into scrap iron is stupid: it merely led Israel to continue bombing the Gaza Strip.

The greatest recent example of Hamas hypocrisy was the recorded message from Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander Muhammad Deif, who, hiding in his bunker, proclaimed that, "The heroes of Hamas love death the way the Jews love life." The Holy Qur'an specifically states (Surah al-Baqarah, Verse 157) that suicide is forbidden, yet in direct violation of the Qur'an, Deif caused the deaths of hundreds of Gazans, while he and his ilk, who love life just the way the Jews do, hide and refuse to hurry to paradise. In fact, when a death-loving operative is killed, Hamas rages against the Jews and wants revenge.

Even as the mass catastrophe enveloped the Gaza Strip, Hamas boasted of its victory, demanding the Egyptians (against whom they act not only in the Sinai Peninsula but within Egypt itself) and the Israelis (whose cities they attacked with rockets) reward them for their violence. The prize they demand is the 24/7 opening of all the crossings, the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the crossings into Israel, a safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, a sea port, an airport, and the release of the terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israel. Hamas has forgotten that instead of constructing terrorist tunnels and buying weapons, it could have used the money it got from UNRWA, Qatar, the EU and its various "charities" around the world to construct a tourist center to rival Singapore.

There is reason for optimism. Egypt, in the depths of an economic crisis, can take a commission from the money that will flow into the Gaza Strip and subject the building materials that will enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing to customs duties. Both the Palestinians and the Egyptians will be able to benefit by returning Gaza to the status quo ante, before the war in 1967. The Palestinian people, who of course love life as much as the Jews do, will awake, arise, and expel Hamas from the Gaza Strip and start a new chapter in their lives.

You do not have to love the Jews or be a military strategist to know that the Hamas demands for an airport, seaport and a passage to the West Bank simply camouflage its plans to get money from Qatar and weapons from Iran for both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. As only 15% of Qatar's population is made up of Qatari nationals -- making Qatar a country without a people -- and the Palestinians are a people without a country, Qatar should be turned into the national home for the Palestinians, "Palestine," just as Israel is the national home for the Jews. In any event, Qatar supports us financially and ideologically, and in that way it will be able to contribute to the rehabilitation of our troubled people and turn us into a beloved nation, accepted by the international family through a more just distribution of Arab resources.

In the wake of the tragedy caused by Hamas, the world must identify the danger lurking for all of us if it is allowed to continue its activities. The danger is not to the Jews alone, but to the Palestinians and the entire world. The Europeans, convinced that the shows of support in their own Islamic communities are meant to show solidarity with the Palestinians and Hamas, will discover, to their sorrow, that those same demonstrators will turn against them in the future and are now only testing their strength.

The West must disband UNRWA, whose corrupt employees have for years been stealing the funds meant for the Palestinians, and have been employing Hamas terrorists and sheltering them in UNRWA facilities. The time has come for the UN to devote resources to the millions of genuine refugees around in the Arab world and in Africa, who are not in conflict with the Jews.

The descendants of the original 1948 Palestinian refugees should be granted citizenship in the Arab countries in which they have already settled, and the apartheid policies employed against them by those countries should be repealed.

Hamas leaders should be tried for war crimes in the International Criminal Court. Israel should be helped to disarm Hamas's military-terrorist wing and Hamas's leaders should be imprisoned. Hamas is an integral part of the radical Islamic problem in the Middle East -- and increasingly in Europe -- and the Palestinian issue is marginal at best, merely an excuse for Islamists to kill the innocent. The West should put Hamas on an equal footing with the ISIS. After that we can establish a Palestinian state neighboring Israel, as is the right of our long-suffering people.

[1] The demolition or burning of Masjid al-Dirar is mentioned in the Qura'n verses 9:107 and 9:110. Masjid al-Dirar was a Medinian mosque that was erected close to the Quba' mosque and which Muhammad (SAAS) initially approved of but subsequently had destroyed. Muhammad prepared himself to go to the mosque, before he was prevented by a revelation about the hypocrisy and ill design of its builders. Muhammad and his companions believed they were hypocrites, thus he ordered his men to burn it down.

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

David Harris: Would I lie to you?

by David Harris

What's heading our way, in this terrorist-bloodied world? We depend on international media to help us find out.

So it's time to look at some dirty secrets, foreign correspondent edition.

Trench coats and panamas have given way to sat phones and moral ambiguity. An ideal starting point in understanding this media ambiguity – and its occasional, sinister undertones and implications for us – is the Israel-Hamas war.

The penny should have dropped well before today's Gaza crisis. No later than April 11, 2003, in fact.

That day, CNN admitted in the New York Times that it hid and manipulated reality, though the wording was more delicately self-regarding. Prior to the 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein, CNN couldn't reveal fully the monstrous excesses and threatening nature of his Iraq, because, said chief news executive Eason Jordan, the network's Iraqi staff risked retaliation.

Problem: Jordan didn't explain why, having been prevented from reporting honestly there, CNN nonetheless insisted on keeping its financially rewarding Baghdad post operating before and during the 2003 war. Some critics concluded that an appetite for big, wartime money-making ratings outstripped CNN's taste for truth, with some ambitious journalists playing along.

Have media done similar things in Gaza?

International media boasts its courage and iconoclasm. But while saturating us with stories about Gazans' suffering, many journo outfits come up strangely short. Yes, we need to know about Palestinian casualties – even if Gaza's people freely elected a Hamas government on a platform of eradicating Jews and Christians.

But brief mention of Hamas' human shields is about as far as media venture into the designated terror organization's inhuman nature and inhumane operations. Surprising, given that ISIS is a four-letter word for Hamas.

The result: Virtually no press photos emerge of ferocious Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other "fighters." And no MSM interest in the UN's Palestine refugee agency's pattern of Hamas-friendly hiring at its facilities, including of teachers in schools packed with munitions. Are Hamas chiefs hiding in hospitals and mosques? Extrajudicial killings of Israeli "collaborators"? Gazan kids killed by a short-falling Hamas rocket? Who cares? Cut to pictures of Israeli tanks.

Big Hamas questions have hardly been touched, especially in the early weeks of the struggle. Why? Some media inadvertently exposed the secret.

The Wall Street Journal's Nick Casey tweeted a photo of a Hamas mouthpiece at Gaza's main hospital, and asked, with "the shelling, how patients at Shifa hospital feel as Hamas uses it as a safe place to see media." Then, with that courage and iconoclasm we hear about, the tweet was yanked.

You want iconoclasm? Take Libération, the French hard-left daily founded by that rolling barrage of mistresses and metaphysics, Jean-Paul Sartre.

Libération reporter Radjaa Abou Dagga said Hamas had offices near Shifa's emergency room, then announced that heavies served him notice: "You will leave Gaza fast and stop work." And, presto. Dagga's article disappeared from "Libé's" web page, replaced by a sniveling, self-rebuking note: Dagga's report was "dépublié" – "depublished," withdrawn – "at the author's request."

Fear of becoming ISIS-styled, halal-slaughtered journalists? Keeping options open for future postings on Islamist territory? A combination?

Fear surely rules in Hamastan. Whispered stories describe Gaza-based scribblers facing Hamas death threats, and the Foreign Press Association has belatedly condemned terrorist intimidation. But maybe CNN-type ambitions are at work, too.

Either way, correspondent Uriel Heilman put it best. Covering the Israel-Hamas fighting, Heilman wrote that unreported Hamas censorship and press self-censorship mean the public is "only getting half the story."

"And where I come from," he added, "a half-truth is considered a lie."

Something to remember when relying on media for intelligence about our future in a dangerous world.

David B. Harris is lawyer with 30 years' experience in intelligence affairs, director of the International Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Big Picture: ISIS in Context

by William Kilpatrick

[To order William Kilpatrick’s new book, Insecurity, click here.]
It’s hard to keep up with the news about Islam. One week, the focus is on Boko Haram, then it shifts to Hamas, and then to ISIS.

Every once in a while, it helps to step back and take a look at the big picture—that is, the big picture in regard to the Islamic resurgence. Not that there aren’t other big threats on the horizon—such as Russia, China, and North Korea—but let’s confine ourselves here to the Islamic threat.

That threat comes in two forms: armed jihad and stealth jihad. Since armed jihad is more conspicuous, it gets most of our attention. It’s difficult not to notice the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria or ISIS in Iraq, or the major terror attacks that occur once every year or so—the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the London bus and subway attack, the bombing of commuter trains in Madrid and Mumbai, and the mall massacre in Nairobi. In the back of our minds, we also know that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and that Iran will soon acquire them (although some American bishops assure us that Iran has no such intention).

The balance of military power still favors the West—although it’s no longer clear whether Turkey, which has the second largest military in NATO, will come down on the side of the West or on the side of the Islamists. But military power can be offset by asymmetrical warfare—in other words, the type of warfare that terrorists favor. A small team of terrorists can incinerate the World Trade Center or paralyze Madrid or Mumbai, and there’s not much that F-16s or nuclear submarines can do about it.

Which is where that other form of jihad comes in. Stealth jihad, which, as the name implies, is the less noticeable type, can create a base for armed jihadists to ply their trade. Stealth jihad, in essence, is an attempt to turn a culture in an Islamic direction by infiltrating and influencing key institutions such as schools, courts, churches, media, government, and the entertainment industry. The “Trojan Horse” plot for taking over 10 schools in Birmingham, England is one example of stealth jihad; the national security establishment’s purging of training materials that cast a critical eye on Islam is another.

But, in order to do the long march through the institutions, you have to have enough bodies to do the marching. Thus, many critics look upon Muslim immigration into non-Muslim societies as a form of stealth jihad. For example, in their book Modern-Day Trojan Horse: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration, Sam Solomon and Elias Al-Maqdisi describe Muslim immigration as, well, a “modern-day Trojan Horse.” They’re not saying that every single Muslim immigrant wants to subvert your local school, but rather that mass migration and Islamic conquest have been linked ever since Muhammad and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina and commenced the takeover of Arabia.

Many places in Europe have changed almost beyond recognition due to the combination of mass immigration and high Muslim birth rates. And the political makeup of Europe is also changing. Since Muslims in Europe and the UK tend to vote as a bloc, politicians have begun catering to them, thus magnifying their influence. It’s widely thought, for instance, that the victory margin for French President Francois Hollande—a strong proponent of Muslim immigration—was provided by Muslim voters.

It used to be that anyone who talked about the Islamization of Europe was dismissed as an “alarmist.” But plenty of Europeans are talking about it now– including European Muslims who proudly march with signs proclaiming their intention to dominate Europe. Social-network researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have concluded that “when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakeable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.” France is already over 10 percent Muslim, and the majority of Frenchmen, like most Europeans, don’t seem to have any strong convictions about anything outside of an unshakeable belief in long vacations and early retirement.

In significant ways, stealth jihad paves the way for armed jihad. In its early stages, it can create localized environments where homegrown jihadists can grow and flourish. In its later stages? The ultimate aim of stealth jihad is to put the reins of power in the hands of Muslims. What if, as seems increasingly likely, France and England concede more and more political power to Islamists? Both countries are nuclear powers with advanced delivery systems. Given the rapid rate at which the old order of things is being turned upside down, it is not inconceivable that these weapons could someday fall into the hands of Islamic radicals.

As for the Muslim nations—those with nukes and those without—they too are rapidly changing. The reason that the West was so unprepared for the reappearance of traditional Islam as a world force is that, up until relatively recent times, most of the major Muslim nations were under the control of secular-minded strongmen who made a point of suppressing the full expression of Islam. The 1979 Iranian Revolution changed all that, and most of the Westernized secular strongmen were replaced over time by leaders who felt they need answer only to Allah. For example, Turkey, which for years was touted by Westerners as a model moderate Muslim society, is now run by a rabidly anti-Semitic, Muslim Brotherhood true believer who seems intent on making Turkey the world’s foremost Islamic power—as it was as recently as one hundred short years ago.

Where does this leave the United States? Most Americans, I would venture to guess, are of the opinion that it can’t happen here. While many are now willing to admit that jihadists can once again damage America through terrorist attacks, few can imagine the possibility of an Islamicized America.

Yet Islamization is occurring in Europe, and many of the same conditions that make it possible there make it possible here, as well. Stealth jihad is already a fact in America. Its influence can be seen in textbooks and on college campuses, in the media, and even in the movies. Moreover, there are numerous American activist groups—offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood—which are dedicated to stealth jihad. Although disguised as civil rights groups, these organizations would like nothing better than to see sharia become the law of the land. And their own litigators are as adept at lawfare as ISIS is at warfare.

Surprisingly, they meet with little resistance. That lack of pushback can be explained by considering one other factor in the overall mix—political correctness. Political correctness greases the skids for stealth jihad. It’s the “open sesame” password that allows the stealth jihadists in America to go just about anywhere they please. Right now, most Americans are more afraid of violating the rules of PC than they are of another 9/11 occurrence. They’re afraid, in other words, of being thought bigoted, racist, or—God forbid—Islamophobic. There’s little resistance to stealth jihad in America, because the few that do resist are reliably cast by the PC enforcers as anti-Muslim haters. Most people don’t want that to happen to them. So they don’t make a fuss when Muslims make demands. They go along to get along. As just one tiny example among hundreds of others, consider the recent story about a bistro in Winooski, Vermont, that removed a window sign advertising their delicious bacon because a Muslim woman claimed it was offensive.

That’s a fairly minor concession, but your nation’s really in trouble when Muslims complain about “insensitive” training materials used by the Department of Defense and the FBI, and the Department of Justice immediately complies by ordering a purge of all training manuals in all security agencies that contain even a hint of a link between terrorism and Islam. On the other hand, when five Congressmen complained that they had good evidence of Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the State Department and other government agencies, they were treated to a resounding rebuke by fellow legislators for having offended the Muslim community. Who needs ISIS when ISNA (the Islamic Society of North America) is allowed to vet military training manuals, or when Congress members who complain about such things risk being sent off to sensitivity training camp?

But wait a minute, you may be tempted to say, Europe’s slow-motion surrender can’t happen here because Europe’s birth rate imbalance and Muslim immigration problem don’t exist here. That’s true enough, but there is one other factor to consider—conversions. Right now, conversions to Islam by U.S. citizens remain on the low side. But remember that Muhammad also had a conversion problem. For the first twelve years of his ministry, he never had more than 100 followers. Then he moved to Medina, started raiding and looting, and the numbers kicked in. There seems to be a tipping point in the affairs of men which can result in a dramatic acceleration of conversions. Once a movement starts looking like the coming thing, more people will contemplate jumping on board.

We may be at one of those tipping points now. For the middle-aged and arthritic, it’s difficult to understand why thousands of recruits from all over the Western world are signing up with ISIS. But ISIS and similar groups do have a certain “cool” appeal to those of fighting age. Some Western analysts mistakenly believe that contact with Western pop culture will have a de-radicalizing effect on potential jihadists. But that’s not necessarily the case. Recall that Muhammad Atta and his crew partied it up at bars and strip clubs in the weeks before 9/11. Or consider that a British rapper is the main suspect in the Islamic State’s beheading of American journalist James Foley. It seems that the Islamic encounter with pop culture may turn out to be a case of “they came, they saw, they co-opted.” That’s because much of pop culture is already halfway there.

To youngsters brought up on gruesome video games and gangsta rap, YouTube videos of severed heads aren’t appalling, they’re “awesome.” Graduates of relativist pop culture don’t think in terms of right and wrong, they think in terms of cool and uncool. ISIS types are also very savvy exploiters of social media. “Like #ISIS in #Iraq” has become a popular hashtag. And the Daily Mail reports that “ISIS militants and their supporters are using social media to encourage protestors in Ferguson [Missouri] to embrace radical Islam and fight against the U.S. government.” Why should black Americans embrace Islam? Well, because “Racism and discrimination are rampant” in America and “In Islam there is no racism.” If the militants ever decide to hang up their bomb belts, they can always find work on Madison Avenue.

There is another disturbing possibility that needs to be taken into account when assessing the Islamic threat to America. In a recent column, former U.S. representative and retired lieutenant colonel Allen West stated that Barack Obama “is an Islamist in his foreign policy perspectives and supports their cause.” West isn’t saying that Obama was born in Mombasa or that he wears a secret Muslim decoder ring, but that his policies suggest a deep sympathy with Islamist causes. West provides a list of particulars, including this eye-catching item: “The Obama administration has lifted longtime restrictions on Libyans attending flight schools in the United States and training here in nuclear science.” To which the obvious reply is “What could possibly go wrong?”
Here are two other items on West’s list:
  • Returning sanction money, to the tune of billions of dollars, back to the theocratic regime led by Iran’s ayatollahs and allowing them to march on towards nuclear capability
  • Providing weapons of support to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government—F-16s and M1A1 Abrams tanks—but not to the Egyptian government after the Islamist group has been removed.
The second item also troubled Michele Bachmann and four other House members when they asked for an investigation two years ago into possible Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government. They expressed concern that the Department of State had “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.”

If not many Americans have taken notice of the administration’s Muslim Brotherhood bias, the Egyptians have. When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Alexandria in July of 2012, her motorcade was pelted by tomato-throwing protestors who charged that Washington had helped the Muslim Brotherhood come to power. A year later, after the overthrow of the Brotherhood, demonstrators at a huge rally in Cairo roundly criticized Obama and U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson. A typical poster read: “Obama, stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood fascist regime.” In December 2012, an Egyptian magazine, Rose El-Youssef, claimed that six American Islamic activists working within the Obama administration were Muslim Brotherhood operatives. And this past week, it was revealed that the Egyptians had teamed up with the United Arab Emirates to bomb Islamist forces in Libya, but purposely neglected to tell the Obama administration of their plans. It doesn’t take a mind-reader to guess why. They obviously feared that the Americans might leak the operation to the enemy. The point is that Obama’s consistent pro-Muslim Brotherhood policies reveals a lot more about his sympathies than his occasional don’t-slander-the-Prophet type remarks.

Whether or not Obama is a secret Islamist (as claimed by another Egyptian newspaper) is almost beside the point. Judged by his policies, he might as well be. And long before its romance with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the current administration had shown a distinct favoritism toward Muslim Brotherhood offshoot organizations such as ISNA and CAIR. So also did the Bush administration. As I wrote two years ago:

In Europe, the rise of Islam has been a slow, incremental process—the result of decades of immigration combined with high birthrates for Muslims and low birthrates for indigenous Europeans. In America, Muslim strategists may have found a way to shortcut the long process.

Thus far, stealth jihad has met with relatively little resistance in America. That’s not to say that we should ignore armed jihad. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, Iran is acquiring them, and Turkey has the eighth largest army in the world. ISIS, Hezbollah, and Hamas have well-equipped fighting forces and all are capable of carrying out terrorist operations far from their home bases. And the United States? The U.S. plans to shrink its Army to pre-World War II levels. One other factor to be considered when assessing the big picture is that the U.S. is drastically reducing the size and strength of its military. Just at the point when the rest of the world is arming to the teeth, the American solons think it’s safe to bid a farewell to arms.

When you put together all the pieces of the big picture puzzle, it begins to look like a decidedly grim picture.

William Kilpatrick is the author of Christianity, Islam and Atheism:  The Struggle for the Soul of the West (Ignatius Press) and Insecurity (Post Hill Press).


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Dr. Nesia Shemer: Islamic State's uncompromising terrorism

by Dr. Nesia Shemer

The world has been shocked by the Islamic State's atrocities, watching with horror as religious minorities in Iraq are forced to choose between Islam and death. Its cruel and inhumane tactics also involve starvation and mass killing of civilians who refuse to fall in line with its ideology. 

The organization has posted gruesome footage showing the beheading of American journalists, and if you believe their threats, they have more in the pipeline. The Islamic State is a Salafist-jihadist organization that adheres to a very strict interpretation of Islamic scriptures. It believes the Quran and the Hadith (the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad that have been passed down from one generation to the next) should be understood in their most literal sense and as narrowly as possible, just like the followers of Muhammad would have acted in the seventh century. 

The brutality of this organization has had an unsettling effect on the West. For students of Islamic history, though, the latest developments are anything but shocking.

Muhammad's relations with the Jews of Medina, a town in the Arabian peninsula, are a case in point. In 622, after the residents of Mecca rejected Muhammad's teachings and tried to assassinate him, he fled to nearby Medina. At the time, the city was composed of five tribes, three of which were Jewish. At first, Muhammad exercised tolerance toward the Jews and even incorporated many Jewish rituals into Islam, hoping this would have them convert. He would ultimately become the dominant figure in the city, but he would not be able to win over the Jews. Finally, some two years after arriving in the city, he presented the Jews with a choice: either embrace Islam or flee. 

Two Jewish tribes -- Banu Qaynuqa and Banu Nadir -- refused to convert and were expelled from the city. Their property was seized and distributed among the Muslims. Another Jewish tribe, Banu Qurayza, fared much worse because it was accused of collaborating with Muhammad's enemies. The men were sentenced to death, with the women and children sold as slaves. Their property became plunder and spoil for the Muslims. 

Ibn Hisham, whose writings on the life of Muhammad are considered authoritative, described the executions as follows: "And then the messenger of Allah (Muhammad) separated them and banned them from the city, at the home of Bint al-Harith, a woman from the tribe of al-Najar. Then the messenger of Allah left for the Medina market and dug trenches there. He then brought the Jews, one group after another, and beheaded them in the trenches."

This brief story was designed to shed light on the origins of this brutal practice. This killing method is used to terrorize others, but it also serves as a clear warning to others lest they misbehave. 

But we must look at the bigger picture. The Islamic State took advantage of the demise of Arab regimes. It was also helped by the false Western narrative -- in fact, a flawed paradigm -- that the Arab Spring would herald the much-desired democratic transformation. 

The international community and Israel must come to grips with the fact that we are dealing with terrorists who are unwilling to compromise on their ideology. 

We are duty-bound to devise a strategy to counter them in an effective way. 

Dr. Nesia Shemer teaches in the Middle Eastern Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University.


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Dr. Kobi Michael: Qatar: A wake-up call for the West

by Dr. Kobi Michael

The turmoil of the past four years has shaped a new geostrategic reality in the Middle East and beyond. The disintegration of the regional order and the disconcerting rise in the power of nonstate actors in the area, in the shape of radical terrorist groups that seek to form a new world order based on Islamic law, are a wake-up call -- perhaps even the last one -- for the free world. 

Unless the free world finds a way to consolidate its efforts, and finds the strength and courage to act; unless the free world is able to sideline the need to be politically correct in favor of truly differentiating between right and wrong and between what is humane and what is barbaric; and unless the free world would be willing to temporarily jeopardize financial prosperity based on blood money and corruption in favor of real action -- the forces of evil might trump the forces of good. 

Four major Islamic camps have formed: political Islam, led by the Muslim Brotherhood; radical Sunni Islam, represented by terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, the Islamic State group, the Nusra Front, etc.; Shia Islam, led by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah; and moderate-national Islam, represented by Egypt and the Arab monarchies, excluding Qatar.

The bitter rivalries between these four camps may make for strange, albeit momentary, bedfellows -- Saudi Arabia and Iran versus the Islamic State group, for example -- but these brief alliances would not be enough to blur the lines between the camps, as the turmoil sweeping through the Arab world has only made the differences between them starker. 

Three camps pose a clear threat to the free world and its interests in the Middle East, and only the moderate-national Islam camp can be considered a reliable ally. But the West, and especially the United States, has at time favored political Islam, which it perceived as a new hope, thus turning its back on moderate Islam.

U.S. policies have led the moderate camp, led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- which share strategic interests with Israel as well -- to despair, prompting Cairo and Riyadh to increase their cooperation, and making them the only force in the Arab world today that could put up an "iron wall" and stop political and radical Islam from running rampant.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has proven as much after he forced Hamas to agree to a cease-fire with Israel during Operation Protective Edge, thus cementing his position as the most influential Arab leader in the region.

Qatar, for its part, has been trying to stop this "iron wall" from coming up. This tiny, affluent emirate, which enjoys the U.S.'s support, has made its survival strategies into what drives some of the most volatile conflicts in the Middle East, by directly and indirectly backing jihadist groups, such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip, al-Qaida and Iraq and Syria, and others. 

Qatar's international prestige and influence have skyrocketed over the past few years due to several key factors, including its immense wealth, the success of its flagship television station Al Jazeera, the significant American military presence on its soil alongside substantial arms deals with the U.S., and its successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

This tiny emirate's success has made it arrogant, irresponsible and defiant of anyone it perceives as its regional rival. Qatar is the proverbial golem that has become a monster. And now it has fostered other golems, which have evolved from fringe actors in the regional theater into monstrous and destabilizing elements, which have also exported terrorism to the West. 

Radical Islam's murderous rampage is no longer confined to the Middle East -- it has arrived at the gates of the free world and it mandates that the latter comes to its senses, even if it means severing ties with Qatar.

The West has ample tools at its disposal, including dealing Doha's international prestige a crippling blow by revoking the license it has been given to host the World Cup games. The West can denounce Qatar and even impose sanctions on the emirate over its human rights violations. Beyond that, the free world also has an array of clandestine measures it could apply to rattle Qatar's leadership into rethinking its positions on regional issues. 

Dr. Kobi Michael is a senior lecturer at Ariel University and a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.


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Geert Wilders: "War Has Been Declared against Us"

by Geert Wilders

During the past ten years and two days, the ostrich cabinets did nothing. Every warning was ignored. They lied to the people.
Do not prevent jihadists from leaving our country. Let them leave. I am prepared to go to Schiphol [airport] to wave them goodbye. But let them never come back.
Madam Speaker, war has been declared against us.

Madam Speaker, actually I was expecting flowers from you. I am celebrating an anniversary these days. Exactly ten years and two days ago, I left a party whose name I cannot immediately remember. During these ten years and two days. I have been much criticized. Most importantly for always saying the same thing.

My critics are right. Indeed, my message had been the same during all these years. And today, I will repeat the same message about Islam again. For the umpteenth time. As I have been doing for ten years and two days.

I have been vilified for my film Fitna. And not just vilified, but even prosecuted. Madam Speaker, while not so many years ago, everyone refused to broadcast my film Fitna, we can today watch Fitna 2, 3, 4 and 5 daily on our television screens. It is not a clash of civilizations that is going on, but a clash between barbarism and civilization.

The Netherlands has become the victim of Islam because the political elite looked away. Here, in these room, they are all present, here and also in the Cabinet, all these people who looked away. Every warning was ignored.

As a result, also in our country today, Christians are being told: "We want to murder you all." Jews receive death threats. Swastika flags at demonstrations, stones go through windows, Molotov cocktails, Hitler salutes are being made, macabre black ISIS flags wave in the wind, we hear cries, such as "F-ck the Talmud," on the central square in Amsterdam.

Indeed, Madam Speaker, this summer, Islam came to us.

In all naivety, Deputy Prime Minister Asscher states that there is an "urgent demand" from Muslims to "crack down" on this phenomenon. Last Friday, in its letter to Parliament, the Cabinet wrote that jihadists are hardly significant. They are called a "sect", and a "small" group.

This is what those who look away wish, these deniers of the painful truth for ten years and two days, the ostrich brigade Rutte 2.

But the reality is different. According to a study, 73% of all Moroccans and Turks in the Netherlands are of the opinion that those who go to Syria to fight in the jihad are "heroes." People whom they admire.

And this is not a new phenomenon. Thirteen years ago, 3,000 people died in the attacks of 9/11. We remember the images of burning people jumping from the twin towers. Then, also, three-quarters of the Muslims in the Netherlands condoned this atrocity. That is not a few Muslims, but hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the Netherlands condoning terrorism and saying jihadists are heroes. I do not make this up. It has been investigated. It is a ticking time bomb.

Madam Speaker, is it a coincidence that for centuries Muslims were involved in all these atrocities? No, it is not a coincidence. They simply act according to their ideology. According to Islam, Allah dictated the truth to Muhammad, "the perfect man." Hence, whoever denies the Koran, denies Allah. And Allah leaves no ambiguity about what he wants. Here are a few quotes from the Quran:

Surah 8 verse 60: "Prepare to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah."
Surah 47 verse 4: "Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers, smite at their necks". We see it every day in the news.

Another quote from Allah is Surah 4 verse 89: "So take not friends from the ranks of the unbelievers, seize them and kill them wherever ye find them."

Madam Speaker, the Koran on the table before you is a handbook for terrorists. Blood drips from its pages. It calls for perpetual war against non-believers. That Koran before you is the hunting permit for millions of Muslims. A license to kill. That book is the Constitution of the Islamic State. What ISIS does is what Allah commands.

This bloodthirsty ideology was able to nestle in the Netherlands because our elites looked away. Neighborhoods such as Schilderswijk, Transvaal, Crooswijk, Slotervaart, Kanaleneiland, Huizen, you name it. There, the caliphate is under construction; there, the Islamic State is in preparation.

During the past ten years and two days , the ostrich Cabinets did nothing. It has nothing to do with Islam, they lied to the people. Imagine them having to tell the truth.

But the people have noticed. Two thirds of all Dutch say that the Islamic culture does not belong in the Netherlands. Including the majority of the electorate of the Labour Party, the majority of the voters of the VVD, the majority of the voters of the CDA, and all the voters of the PVV.

The voters demand that, after ten years and two days of slumber, measures are finally taken. The voters demand that something effective happen. No semi-soft palliatives. Allow me to make a few suggestions to the away-with-us mafia. Here are a few things which should happen starting today:

Recognize that Islam is the problem. Start the de-Islamization of the Netherlands. Less Islam.

Close our borders to immigrants from Islamic countries. Immediate border controls. Stop this "cultural enrichment".

Close every Salafist mosque which receives even a penny from the Gulf countries. Deprive all jihadists of their passports, even if they only have a Dutch passport. Let them take an ISIS passport.

Do not prevent jihadists from leaving our country. Let them leave, with as many friends as possible. If it helps, I am even prepared to go to Schiphol [airport] to wave them goodbye. But let them never come back. That is the condition. Good riddance.

And, as far as I am concerned, anyone who expresses support for terror as a means to overthrow our constitutional democracy has to leave the country at once. If you are waving an ISIS flag you are waving an exit ticket. Leave! Get out of our country!

Madam Speaker, war has been declared against us. We have to strike back hard. Away with these people! Enough is enough!

Click for a video of this speech.

Geert Wilders


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thomas Lifson: Has Rand Paul Changed his Position on Islamic Terror?

by Thomas Lifson

Over the weekend, Rand Paul said something entirely out of character for him, and as Aaron Blake of the Washington Post commented, “almost nobody noticed.”
A funny thing happened over the weekend: While President Obama took heat for saying he didn't have a strategy to deal with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and isil) in Syria, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) delivered a pretty remarkable statement.
"If I were president, I would call a joint session of Congress," Paul told the AP. "I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily."
The quote didn't really make the rounds and was buried deep in the AP story, but it's a pretty telling little nugget.
Why? Because, to date, it's one of the most hawkish things that any potential 2016 presidential contender has said about the Islamic State. And Paul is supposed to be the non-interventionist in the bunch.
Some who did notice were Kemberlee Kaye of Legal Insurrection and Eliana Johnson of NRO. The latter spoke to Paul foreign affairs advisor Richard Burt, who positioned the Senator’s sudden about-face (“Just days earlier, Paul attacked former secretary of state Hillary Clinton as a ‘war hawk.’”) as a pragmatic response to new information:
Paul, Burt says, “understands that the United States is a global power and that there are occasions where the United States has to use military force.”
“I think this is all based on an approach to foreign policy that thinks in terms of American interests,” he says. “The thing that makes ISIS a particularly serious challenge is that we do have interests” in the Middle East, Burt says — in a thriving Kurdish minority and a stable, successful Iraqi government that integrates the country’s Sunni minority.
Burt tacitly suggests that what differentiates Paul from the neoconservatives who shaped policy at the top echelons of the Bush is his belief that the use of force should be “selective” and that leaders should think through the consequences of using force and have a strategy for bringing it to an end.
This is not a very satisfying explanation for a dramatic and abrupt change in position. Richard Epsetin of the Hoover Institution, himself a libertarian-leaning scholar, has laid out a very thoughtful critique of the underlying premises of what he terms Rand Paul’s “fatal pacifism.”
Senator Paul has been against the use of military force for a long time. Over the summer, he wrote an article entitled “America Shouldn’t Choose Sides in Iraq’s Civil War,” for the pages of the Wall Street Journal arguing that ISIS did not threaten vital American interests. Just this past week, he doubled down on this position, again in the Journal, arguing that the past interventions of the United States in the Middle East have abetted the rise of ISIS. (snip)
It is instructive to ask why it is that committed libertarians like Paul make such disastrous judgments on these life and death issues. In part it is because libertarians often have the illusion of certainty in political affairs that is congenial to the logical libertarian mind. This mindset has led to their fundamental misapprehension of the justified use of force in international affairs. The applicable principles did not evolve in a vacuum, but are derived from parallel rules surrounding self-defense for ordinary people living in a state of nature. Libertarian theory has always permitted the use and threat of force, including deadly force if need be, to defend one’s self, one’s property, and one’s friends. To be sure, no one is obligated to engage in humanitarian rescue of third persons, so that the decision to intervene is one that is necessarily governed by a mixture of moral and prudential principles. In addition, the justified use of force also raises hard questions of timing. In principle, even deadly force can be used in anticipation of an attack by others, lest any delayed response prove fatal. In all cases, it is necessary to balance the risks of moving too early or too late.
These insights help shape the serious libertarian debates over the use of force. Correctly stated, a theory of limited government means only that state power should be directed exclusively to a few legitimate ends. The wise state husbands its resources to guard against aggression, not to divert its energies by imposing minimum wage laws or agricultural price supports on productive market activities. Quite simply, there are no proper means to pursue these illegitimate ends. (snip)
Senator Paul errs too much on the side of caution. He would clamp down, for example, on the data collection activities of the National Security Agency, which allow for the better deployment of scarce American military resources, even though NSA protocols tightly restrict the use of the collected information. It is wrong to either shut down or sharply restrict an intelligence service that has proved largely free of systematic abuse. The breakdown of world order makes it imperative to deploy our technological advantages to the full. Sensible oversight offers a far better solution.
The same is true in spades about the use of force in Iraq and Syria, where matters have deteriorated sharply since Paul’s misguided plea for non-intervention in June. It was foolish for him to insist (and for President Obama to agree) that the United States should not intervene to help Iraqis because the Iraqis have proved dangerously ill-equipped to help themselves. Lame excuses don’t wash in the face of the heinous aggression that the Islamic State has committed against the Yazidis and everyone else in its path.
Professor Epstein’s analysis does demonstrate there is room for Sen. Paul to justify his change and still be true to Libertarian principles, and be guilty of, at most, bad timing.

I confess to being agnostic, at the moment, on Rand Paul. While I am leaning increasingly in libertarian direction myself, I am worried by what appears to me to be an underweighting of nature of the security threats we face, even as I, too, chafe at the surveillance state that has been created as a supposed remedy to the terror threat (as compared to, say, identifying without apology the nature of the Islamic threat we face and a focus on Islam as a risk factor in assessing security concerns. Calling violent jihad a “perversion of a Great Religion” ignores a lot of history of Islamic conquest and amounts to wishful thinking).

Senator Paul has a way to go before he convinces me he has awoken to the severe security threats we face from Islam, and from other aggressive powers, such as Russia and China, for that matter. But I cannot write him off completely, if only because he has demonstrated an appeal to nontraditional GOP voters, such as students at UC Berkeley. The GOP absolutely has to have a champion who can enlarge the tent, if only because the electorate has been (and continues to be) deliberately engineered in the direction of people dependent on government checks and therefore willing voters for high taxes that they don’t pay in order to fund their receipt of money earned by other people. We have perhaps one or two more presidential election cycles and naturalization ceremonies before we have a permanent majority of dependents, and we need to win over the younger generation who have been so badly betrayed by the president they overwhelmingly voted for.

The ball in now in Rand Paul’s court. I hope he will expand on his views of national security.

Thomas Lifson


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