Friday, April 20, 2018

Trump’s Art of the Deal in North Korea, Israel and Syria - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

Understanding Trump’s America First foreign policy.

It’s really not that complicated.

But President Trump’s Syria strikes have reopened the debate over what defines his foreign policy. Is he an interventionist or an isolationist? Foreign policy experts claim that he’s making it up as he goes along.

But they’re not paying attention.

President Trump’s foreign policy has two consistent elements. From threatening Kim Jong-Un on Twitter to moving the embassy to Jerusalem to bombing Syria, he applies pressure and then he disengages.

Here’s how that works.

First, Trump pressures the most intransigent and hostile side in the conflict. Second, he divests the United States from the conflict leaving the relevant parties to find a way to work it out.

North Korea had spent decades using its nuclear program to bully its neighbors and the United States. Previous administrations had given the Communist dictatorship $1.3 billion in aid to keep it from developing its nuclear program. These bribes failed because they incentivized the nuclear program.

Nukes are the only thing keeping North Korea from being just another failed Communist dictatorship.

Instead, Trump called North Korea’s bluff. He ignored all the diplomatic advice and ridiculed its regime. He made it clear that the United States was not afraid of North Korean nukes. The experts shrieked. They warned that Kim Jong-Un wouldn’t take this Twitter abuse and we would be in for a nuclear war.

But the Norks folded.

The Communist regime held high level talks with the United States and South Korea. It’s reportedly planning to announce an official end to the war. That probably won’t amount to much in the long term, but it shifts more of the responsibility for the conflict away from the United States and to the Koreas.

Trump accomplished more with a few tweets than previous administrations had with billions of dollars.

An instinctive negotiator, Trump’s realpolitik genius lay not in ideology, but in grasping the core negotiating strategy of the enemy and then negating it by taking away its reason not to make a deal.

When Trump called North Korea’s bluff, its nuclear weapons program was transformed from an asset that it used to blackmail aid from its potential targets into a liability that could end with its destruction.

Trump did the same thing with Jerusalem.

The PLO had refused to make a deal with Israel because its constant refusals to negotiate allowed it to keep escalating its demands. The more it sabotaged negotiations, the better the offers became.

The PLO’s Palestinian Authority didn’t have nukes, but its weapon of choice was terrorism. And it had played the same game as North Korea for decades. It would begin negotiations, demand payoffs, then sabotage negotiations, threaten violence, and demand an even higher payoff for ending the violence.

The PLO/PA knew that it could get the best possible deal by not making a deal.

Just like North Korea, Trump cut the PLO down to size by negating its negotiating strategy. Instead of the deal getting better and better, Trump showed that it would get worse by taking Jerusalem off the table.

Previous administrations had rewarded the PLO/PA for its refusal to make a deal by sweetening the pot. Instead Trump threatened to take away Jerusalem, the biggest prize in the pot. And then he warned that the PLO would lose even more of its demands if the terrorist group continued to refuse to make a deal.

Unlike Clinton, Bush and Obama, Trump did not overcompensate for the US-Israel relationship by pressuring the Jewish State to make a deal with the PLO so as to seem like an “honest broker”. Instead he leveraged that relationship to move the United States away from the conflict.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem sends the signal that the US-Israel relationship doesn’t depend on a deal with the PLO. That’s the opposite of the messages that Clinton, Bush and Obama had sent.

Their old failed diplomacy that made the US-Israel relationship dependent on a deal with the PLO had given the terrorists control over our foreign policy. The US and Israel were perversely forced into appeasing the terrorists of the PLO just to be able to maintain a relationship with each other.

Trump kicked the PLO out of the driver’s seat. And the terrorist group is becoming isolated.

Saudi Arabia and its allies are much more focused on Iran than the old proxy war against Israel. And, for the moment, that leaves the PLO with few allies. If it doesn’t make a deal, then the United States will rebuild its relationship with Israel around regional security issues. And the Saudis have signaled that they are willing to do the same thing. Then everyone else exits the conflict except Israel and the PLO.

Trump left it to the South Koreans to decide the conflict with North Korea. Ditto for Israel.
The United States will put forward proposals, but the long game is to get America out these conflicts. And Trump does that by turning the United States from an eager mediator to a bully with a big stick.

He made it clear to Kim Jong-Un that he would have a much easier time negotiating with South Korea than with America. And he’s made it equally clear to the PLO that it’s better off turning to Israel than to its allies in the State Department. The message is, “You don’t want to get the United States involved.”

Previous administrations believed that the United States had an integral role in resolving every conflict. President Trump’s America First policy seeks to limit our involvement in foreign conflicts without robbing us of our influence by making those interventions as decisive and abrasive as possible.

It breaks every rule of contemporary diplomacy. But it has plenty of historical precedents. And it works.

President Trump wants to get out of Syria. But he doesn’t want to hand Iran another win. And he doesn’t want to get the United States bogged down in another disastrous regional conflict.

So, just like in North Korea and Israel, he sent a decisive message of strength.

The strikes were a reminder that unlike his predecessor, he was not afraid of using force. But just as in North Korea and Israel, the show of strength was only a lever for disengaging from the conflict.

Instead, Trump wants to bring in an “Arab force” to stabilize parts of Syria. That would checkmate Iran, split Syria between the Shiites and Sunnis, and ‘Arabize’ the conflict while getting America out of it.

The threat of more strikes would give an Arab force credibility without an actual American commitment.

And the threat of a Sunni Arab force is meant to pressure Assad into making a deal that would limit Iran’s influence over Syria. If Assad wants to restore complete control over Syria, he’ll have to make a deal with the Sunnis inside or outside his country. And that will limit Iran’s influence and power in Syria.

The debates over chemical attacks were never the real issue. Keeping weapons like that out of the hands of terror-linked states like Syria is good policy. But there was a much bigger picture.

Iran took advantage of the Obama era to expand its power and influence. Trump wants to roll back Iranian expansionism while limiting American exposure to the conflict. Once again he’s using a show of strength to mobilize the local players into addressing the problem while keeping his future plans vague. 

Assad’s biggest reason for refusing to make a deal was that Iran’s backing made his victory inevitable. Iran and Hezbollah had paid a high price for winning in Syria. But they were unquestionably winning. The only thing that could change that is direct American intervention. And Trump wants Assad to fear it.

Trump is offering Assad the rule of his country. But to get it, he has to dump his biggest partner.

When Trump came into office, the two bad options were arming the Sunni Jihadis or letting Iran’s Shiite Jihadis win. Instead Trump has come up with a third option. Either keep the war going or force a deal.

Either the conflict will drag on, but with minimal American involvement. Or Assad will sell out Iran.

None of these are ideal options. But there are no good options. Not in North Korea, Israel or Syria. The Norks and the PLO aren’t likely to reform. Syria, like Iraq, will stay divided between feuding Islamic sects. None of these problems will go away at the negotiating table. And Trump understands that.

Trump is too much of a dealmaker to believe in the unlimited promise of diplomatic agreements.  He knows that it takes leverage not just to make a deal, but to keep it in place. And he doesn’t believe that the United States can make a deal work when a key player really doesn’t want the deal to happen.

Trump’s Art of the International Deal identifies the roadblocks to previous agreements, breaks them down, puts the local players in the driver’s seat and then makes fixing the problem into their problem.

Obama’s people dubbed his failed diplomacy, “Smart Power”. Call Trump’s diplomacy, “Deal Power.”

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.


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Jihadis and Drug Cartel at Our Border - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

A nightmare on the horizon.

The border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico must be made secure.

There is no shortage of compelling reasons why this must happen, and the sooner the better, but today, given the lunacy of Sanctuary Cities and Sanctuary States and the globalist goals of politicians from both political parties, particularly the Democratic Party leadership, rational and reasonable thought processes have been supplanted by greed, corruption and cowardice- fear of upsetting party leaders or fear of alienating deep-pocketed campaign contributors.

Indeed, it is irrational for any leader in the United States to refuse to take whatever measures must be taken to protect America and Americans from the rampant violence, corruption and potential for terrorists to traverse that highly porous border into the United States.

Yet this is precisely the situation that exists today in the United States.

Therefore, today we will consider some of the more compelling facts that demand that, for once and for all, the U.S./Mexican border be secured.

First of all, given the unstable and volatile situation in the Middle East, particularly Syria and U.S.-led military strikes in Syria, undoubtedly Iran and radical Islamists would like to be able to carry out terror attacks within the borders of the United States.

Iran and radical Islamists have a significant presence in Latin America, therefore, all that separates them from us is the U.S./Mexican border.

On April 21, 2017 I wrote an article, Border Security Is National Security in which I referenced an April 12, 2017 Washington Times report, Sharafat Ali Khan smuggled terrorist-linked immigrants.

Khan is a citizen of Pakistan who had established himself as a permanent resident in Brazil and then smuggled numerous illegal aliens from the Middle East into the United States through Mexico.  ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issued a press release about this case,

Foreign national extradited and pleads guilty to human smuggling conspiracy.

That Khan first became a resident of Brazil prior to beginning his smuggling operation is of particular concern. 

Terror training camps run by Hamas and Hezbollah are to be found in the Tri-Border region of Brazil (where Brazil abuts with Argentina and Paraguay).  While there was no specific mention of Khan making use of those camps, given the nature of his crimes, this is a very real and troubling possibility.

It is also entirely possible that members of ISIS and al-Qaeda are present in those terror training camps.

Concerns about the Tri-Border Region were ably reported on in a paper, Islamist Terrorist Threat in the Tri-Border Region that was published by Jeffrey Fields, Research Associate, Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

Khan is hardly the only alien smuggler who was operating in Latin America and has ties to the Middle East.

In addition to the nexus between Brazil and radical Islamic training camps, Iran routinely flies its Quds Forces, also known as “Shock Troops” into Caracas Venezuela.  They are not present in the the Western hemisphere for vacation.

In addition to the threats posed by Middle Eastern terrorists operating in Latin America, we need to also consider the deteriorating situation to be found in Mexico where it has been reported that last year more than 29,000 people were murdered.

On April 11, 2018 the San Diego Union-Tribune report, Studies find record violence costing Mexico billions of dollars included this excerpt:

As fighting between drug trafficking groups drives up violence in Mexico to record levels, a new study released on Wednesday measures the economic impact in 2017 at $249 billion in losses — close to 21 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Authors of the study presented at the University of San Diego say that focusing on homicides alone fails to address the broad range of factors that drive the violence, and affect the well being of Mexicans on a multitude of levels.

To bring down the violence will mean addressing issues such as corruption and the weak rule of law, the study states.
*     *     *
With more than 29,000 murders, last year was Mexico’s most violent year on record, “with the peacefulness in Mexico deteriorating by 10.7 percent,” states the institute’s study, the fifth in a series of annual reports focusing on Mexico.
The study found that the economic impact violence in 2017 “amongst the highest in the world.” The total economic impact of violence “was seven times higher than the education budget in 2017,” according to the report. “A one percent decline in the economic impact of violence would equal the federal government’s investment in activities related to science, technology and innovation last year.”

In an effort to somehow paint a less pessimistic and alarming image of the level of violence in Mexico, the report concluded with the following:

In spite of public perceptions, “Mexico’s violence is ‘average’ for the Western Hemisphere,” according to the USD study, with homicide rates well below those of smaller countries, including Belize, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, and Venezuela.

This is no comfort to be found in that last quote.  A caravan of citizens of Honduras making its way north through Mexico and headed for the United States, prompted President Trump to deploy National Guard troops along the southern border to augment the U.S. Border Patrol in non-law enforcement capacity- providing support for the Border Patrol as was reported in an April 4, 2018 USA Today reportTrump keeps focus on caravan of Honduran asylum seekers headed to U.S.

It appears that the caravan of Hondurans is being egged on by the government of Honduras, consider that The Arizona Republic reported on April 12, 2018:

Although many migrants traveling in the caravan have decided to remain in Mexico, many still plan to continue on to the U.S. border and apply for asylum, especially the large number of women and children, and a small group of about 25 gay and transgender migrants.
The Honduran ambassador to Mexico, dressed in a suit, tie and dress shoes, joined the migrants in a 9-mile walk from the Honduran embassy in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City to the Casa de Peregrino near the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexican news media reported.

Given the totality of circumstances, the potential exists that criminals such as members of MS-13 and other such violent gangs and members of drug cartels may well infiltrate this and other such caravans.

In point of fact, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that terrorists from the Middle East might also seize the opportunity to infiltrate large-scale smuggling groups to gain entry into the United States, not unlike terrorists in Europe infiltrated refugee flows.

Furthermore, as we have seen in the past, the potential exists that aliens who seek asylum in the United States might actually be such criminals and/or terrorists.

This very topic was the focus of a November 21, 2013 Washington Times news report, Mexican drug cartels exploit asylum system by claiming ‘credible fear.’

The report quoted Bob Goodlatte, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee:

“It’s outrageous that members of Mexican drug cartels and others involved in illicit activity are so easily able to exploit our asylum laws and live in the U.S. virtually undetected,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican.

“Our asylum laws are in place to help individuals who are facing truly serious persecution in their country,” he said. “However, dangerous criminals are gaming the system by claiming they have a ‘credible fear’ of persecution when often they’ve been the perpetrators of violence themselves.”

Concerns about the lack of integrity to this system were the focus of two House Judiciary Committee hearings conducted as a result of Chairman Goodlatte’s concerns.

Of course while one of the hearings focused on how asylum abuse was overwhelming our borders, in reality, asylum abuse is overwhelming the entire immigration system throughout the entire United States of America.

Furthermore, this is not simply a matter of “asylum abuse” but of immigration fraud.
The official report that was authored by the 9/11 Commission Staff, 9/11 and Terrorist Travel noted on page 98:

Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.

Those concerns are very much as relevant today as they were at the time of those hearings and at the time that the 9/11 Commission reported its findings.

What more needs to happen before our “leaders” finally act to secure that dangerous border?

Michael Cutler


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Area C is Strategically Vital for Israel - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

The national-security equation goes well beyond technical security aspects.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 801, April 18, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The proposed transfer of significant parts of Area C to the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) will be detrimental to Israel’s national interest, if only because these territories are almost completely devoid of any Palestinian population. As such, they afford not only a strong security grip but the possibility of extensive Jewish settlement without threatening Israel’s Jewish and democratic character. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s meticulous and detailed demarcation of Area C in the Oslo Accords underscores the great importance he accorded to Israel’s continued retention of this territory.

Last year, upon the publication of Micah Goodman’s book Catch-67, I explained the basic reasons for my disagreement with his analysis and recommendations. That seemed at the time to be the end of the matter. When Goodman chose, a year later, to set forth his views in two almost identical articles – one in the Haaretz supplement (February 16, 2018); the other in Makor Rishon (April 5, 2018) – I felt compelled to warn of the danger his recommendations entail.

Opposed to what some Israelis see as a desirable status quo in the West Bank, Goodman recommends a string of pragmatic small steps that would “enable Palestinian autonomy to expand without Israel’s security contracting.” He explains that “this does not entail major ideological concessions such as evacuating settlements.”

The essence of the dispute lies in two practical recommendations that to my mind are disastrous: transferring considerable parts of Area C to PA control; and “halting settlement expansion outside the large blocs.” These recommendations show that Goodman is stuck in a mechanistic security paradigm, borrowed from senior defense establishment officials whom he met while writing his book – but Israel’s control of the West Bank is not solely predicated on security needs.

The national-security equation goes well beyond technical security aspects. As stated in the IDF’s doctrinal literature: “National security is the domain concerned with ensuring the national ability to contend effectively with any threat to the national existence and to the vital national interests.” Indeed, the debate between right and left about Israel’s continued control of the West Bank (or parts of it) is rooted in the question of its vital national interests there. Unable to agree on their national vision, Israelis have vested the debate in the hands of the security specialists. As a result, those vital interests have been reduced to little more than an inventory of security requirements, such as monitoring the border crossings in the Jordan Valley and having an early warning station on Mount Hazor.

For Goodman, his only interest beyond technical security matters – to which he assigns major importance – is separating from the Palestinians. This goal has been turned by the likes of Ehud Barak, Haim Ramon, and Tzippi Livni into a supreme national interest. Yet in their many statements about the need for separation, they totally ignore the fact that the lion’s share of the separation was already implemented at the start of the Oslo process under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

In May 1994, Israel’s rule over the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip came to an end with the establishment of the PA; and in January 1996, the Israeli civil administration’s rule over the Palestinian population of Areas A and B of the West Bank came to an end. Since that time, over 90% of the Palestinians in the territories conquered in the June 1967 war have been living under the Palestinian Authority.

To continue demanding that Israel separate from the Palestinians and minimize its rule over them – when that rule was already minimized quite some time ago – is a manipulative way of pushing for a near-total Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, something Rabin was adamantly opposed to. (The settlement blocs that are supposed to remain in Israeli hands constitute no more than 4% of the entire territory.)

Moreover, from a spatial and ecological standpoint, an Israel that shrinks down to a strip of land along the coastal plain, from Nahariya to Ashkelon, becomes a densely populated urban nightmare. Even today the problem of density has reached the boiling point. For example, the Planning Authority has been ordered to plan the construction of an additional 2.6 million new apartments by 2040, all within the Green Line. Yet the spatial future lies in the open territory of the Jordan Valley from the river to the mountain spine; it is there that millions of Jews can be settled in a swath of land parallel to the coastal strip.

The way in which Rabin drew the contours of Area C, paying close personal attention to every road and hill, shows the map of Israel’s spatial interests in the West Bank. The territorial aspects of this conception require a settlement endeavor comprising four main tasks: 1) developing Greater Jerusalem, primarily eastward toward the Dead Sea; 2) developing southern Mount Hebron; 3) developing the Jordan Valley; and 4) developing the corridors from the coastal strip to the Jordan Valley. The distribution of Jewish localities in the West Bank, supported by the outposts, hews very closely to this strategic logic.

Herein lies the key to understanding the subversive activity the EU and the PA have been conducting in Area C in recent years. With coordinated strategic planning, stepped-up building, and extensive agricultural development, the PA is striving, with overt European support, to prevent Israel from realizing its national interests in the West Bank. This means not only struggling to broaden the Palestinian living space but also to fragment and isolate areas of Jewish settlement.

The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians now centers on the question of who, at the end of the day, will find himself fragmented and isolated. For Micah Goodman, who lives in Kfar Adumim, the personal significance of his own proposal is that his own village, like the Gush Etzion neighborhoods, will become an enclave in a Palestinian domain. This struggle will also determine the status of Jerusalem: whether Palestinian neighborhoods such as A-Tur and Isawwiya will be Palestinian enclaves in the Israeli space, or Maale Adumim will be an Israeli enclave in the Palestinian space.

This explains the stubborn American opposition to the founding of a national park on the eastern slopes of Mount Scopus: the goal is that Maale Adumim will become an Israeli enclave in a Palestinian area. Goodman’s recommendations dovetail with EU-led efforts to curtail Israeli control of Area C. What his small-steps paradigm really portends – even if the settlement blocs remain in Israeli hands – is a creeping Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line.

This dispute should be presented in its true colors. It involves contrasting understandings of Israel’s national mission and the issue of reclaiming the Jewish ancestral homeland, as well as different ways of assessing the security aspects of the situation. The dispute is not between those advocating judicious pragmatism and those caught up in an ideological vision that ignores the constraints of reality. The latter, too, are committed to pragmatic navigation that surmounts obstacles. It appears, though, that not only are the two parties’ goals different, but their compasses are differently calibrated.

In line with the traditional security concept of the pioneering Zionist movement, my pragmatic navigation regards extensive settlement of Area C as the key to strategic stability. The more Israelis settle in this area, the more others will come to view Israel’s presence as an unalterable reality with which it is best to reconcile. That is why the EU chose to get so openly involved in shaping this territory in the Palestinians’ favor.

Goodman’s recommendations run counter not only to the vision of the settlement enterprise in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, but also to the way in which Rabin viewed Israel’s national interests in this territory.

“The only way to maintain the existing situation is to change it.” With those words Goodman ended his article. I certainly agree. The dispute, however, is over the direction of the change. Contrary to Goodman’s recommendations, Israel must increase its settlement activities with the goal in mind of three million Jews living in Area C, notably the Jordan Valley. Given that this area is almost totally bereft of Palestinian population, such a development is bound to strengthen Israel’s national security while having a negligible impact on its demographic balance, and none whatsoever on its continued existence as a Jewish and democratic state.

An earlier version of this article was published in Hebrew in Makor Rishon.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for forty-two years. He commanded troops in battles with Egypt and Syria. He was formerly a corps commander and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.


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DHS: Dozens of gang members released from custody due to 'sanctuary' policies - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

The report destroys the argument that "public safety" is the reason for sanctuary policies.

A report from the Department of Homeland Security says dozens of gang members – including members of the notorious MS-13 group – were released from custody, instead of being handed over to federal immigration authorities for deportation, due to "sanctuary" policies.
"Two-thirds of the releases occurred in California, which has had a strict sanctuary policy in effect since January 2014," the Center for Immigration Studies said in a post on the data, pointing to "obvious public safety problems."
Just to be clear: The number-one reason given by state authorities in California for adopting sanctuary policies is that it promotes public safety. Their rationale is that illegal aliens who are unafraid of the police will cooperate in law enforcement activities.

Can't you just see MS-13 members eagerly talking to police about gang activity?
From October 2016 to June 2017, DHS says, sanctuary jurisdictions refused to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers on 142 suspected gang members – where ICE officials ask authorities to detain criminal illegal immigrants so ICE can take custody and deport them.
In the answers, the officials added that the numbers may be on the conservative side as jurisdictions that do not allow officials into jails make it more challenging to identify gang members.
"Because ICE often determines gang affiliation through interviews, ICE cannot speculate about the number of times it was denied access to an alien in the custody of state or local authorities who may have had such an affiliation," the answers read.
Fifteen of those released were suspected members of MS-13, a gang started in the 1980s by Central American immigrants and known for its gruesome crimes. The gang's presence across the country has been an escalating political issue.
"Violence is a central tenet of MS-13, as evidenced by its core motto – "mata, viola, controla," translated as, 'kill, rape, control,' the DOJ said in a 2016 release.
With two thirds of releases of gang members occurring in California, and California's sanctuary law being challenged by both the Justice Department and several local jurisdictions, it seems that the state has a poor case that its non-cooperation with federal authorities makes residents safer.

You can bet that California is not tracking the criminal activity of released gang members. Or if it is, we'll never hear about it. The fact is, public safety in the state takes a back seat to the political advantages of refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials. And from the number of local governments joining a suit against Sacramento challenging the state's sanctuary policies, it may be that a tipping point has been reached, and pushback against the sanctuary movement will result in a change in policy.

Rick Moran


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UK: "Teacher Handbook" Supporting Extremism? - Andrew Jones

by Andrew Jones

Western principles such as human rights, fundamental British values are undermined by the very content of the Teacher Handbook.

  • Britain's educational authorities also failed to note the underlying message of the Teacher Handbook: that jihadist violence is justified when committed by those who believe themselves to be victims. This is a crucial point: it accepts at face value what might only be many Muslims' perception of "victimhood."
  • Despite the Teacher Handbook's questionable attempts to align Islam with secular, Western principles such as human rights, fundamental British values are undermined by the very content of theTeacher Handbook.
  • No amount of Western appeasement can counter jihad, which is, as openly admitted, a global expansionist project.
  • Many religious texts have violent verses, but in Islam people still live by them.
Sweeping reforms in Britain's education system are having an unintended dangerous consequence: the infiltration of extremist Muslim influence on the teaching of Religious Studies.

This influence is visible in The Oxford Teacher Handbook for GCSE Islam, authored by a small team of educational specialists and Muslim community leaders. The purpose of the manual is to guide British teachers lacking in-depth knowledge of Islam to help their students pass the Religious Studies General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), the UK's public examination for pupils at the end of Grade 11. This academic study of religions is an optional but relatively popular subject in British high schools -- 322,910 students took the examination in 2017, out of a total GCSE cohort in all subjects of 3,694,771.

The understanding of Islam -- absorbed by a significant proportion of each year's 300,000+ Religious Studies students (whose school chooses to take the Islam module) -- is sufficient to create a national climate of opinion, given that the GCSE is a near-essential first stepping-stone to higher education and influential professions in British public life. It is therefore alarming that a portion of such influence has been granted to the Islamic scholar and activist, Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, a co-author of the Teacher Handbook, who oversaw his fellow authors' contributions.

Mogra is an imam of the purist, revivalist Deobandi sect, which harks back to 7th century Islam and currently controls between 40-45% of Britain's mosques. It has a strong politicized and jihadist pedigree, having begun as a form of resistance to British colonial rule in India and, later, with its role as the ideological foundation of the Taliban. Mogra also serves as assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the UK's foremost Muslim advocacy body. It is nonetheless cited in the British government's 2015 Muslim Brotherhood Review as having "consistently opposed programmes by successive Governments to prevent terrorism." In response to one such government call for assistance countering radicalization in Britain's Muslim community, Mogra suggested that "the demand could fuel anti-Muslim sentiments in British society" -- a claim which could be seen as playing the victim card to dodge an entirely reasonable request.

The 2015 Review also referred to Daud Abdullah, the MCB's former deputy secretary general, having signed the 2009 Istanbul Declaration, "a public document which appeared to condone violence against any country supporting an arms blockade against Gaza." Britain, whose naval vessels provided logistical support to the Gaza blockade, was one such country. Furthermore, the Istanbul Declaration contained a call for attacks on Jewish communities and individuals globally.

A few years earlier, in 2004, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, then the head of the MCB, attended a memorial service at London's Central Mosque in honor of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, the charter of which mandates the extermination of Israel and the Jews. To justify his support for Yassin, Sacranie likened the arch-terrorist to Mahatma Gandhi.

Although Mogra has been more guarded in his statements than his overtly terrorist-supporting MCB colleagues, he has never sought to distance himself from any of them, nor has he ever contradicted their support for Hamas in particular. Furthermore, Mogra has also shared a platform with a terrorist lynchpin. Mogra spoke alongside Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in 2003 at the annual summer conference of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies[1]. Al-Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike in 2011 for his role as a senior Al Qaeda ideologue and regional commander. Critics say Mogra is fronting for a dirty, interconnected underworld.

From its founding in 1997, for more than a decade, the MCB was open about its terrorist allegiances. After the Istanbul Declaration, however, the administration of Prime Minister Gordon Brown suspended ties with the organization. Since then, subsequent British governments have backtracked. Perhaps seeking the fuller inclusion of the early 2000s, with Mogra at the forefront, the MCB has attempted in recent years to rebrand itself as a moderate force promoting inter-faith dialogue and integration in multicultural Britain.

Mogra's statements, however, call into question his supposed enthusiasm for inter-faith dialogue.

"Islam says it's forbidden [inter-faith marriage]. And I think to have your daughter openly go against God's law is and can be very, very difficult," he said. Mogra commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day in January 2018 by tweeting on a variety of historical genocides, seeming to imply that the Nazi genocide of the Jews was only one among many mass murders. A week earlier, the MCB's Our Mosques, Our Future conference, featured as a speaker Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park mosque, one of whose key trustees is Mohammed Sawalha, a former senior Hamas military commander. Sawalha evaded Israeli authorities in 1990 and subsequently found refuge in London, from where he organized flotillas to Gaza -- and allegedly directed funds for Hamas's military and missionary wings.

As a key author and editor of The Oxford Teacher Handbook for GCSE Islam, Mogra's true allegiances need scrutiny.

In a BBC interview after the 2015 Paris attacks, Mogra dodged the principal issue of Islamic terrorism, and stressed instead the supposed victimization of UK Muslims. "[W]e are beginning to see society turning on Muslims who've made this country their own and now are being seen as a threat or as an enemy within," he said.

It was not an innocuous statement, given that the Teacher Handbook specifies the following circumstances under which the "lesser jihad" of supposedly justifiable, religiously-sanctioned violence is permitted in Islam:
  1. In self-defence ("Those who have been attacked are permitted to take up arms because they have been wronged");
  2. As a last resort (i.e. all other ways of trying to solve the dispute have been tried);
  3. To preserve Islam or to enable Muslims to freely practice their faith;
  4. To protect the oppressed (i.e. if a tyrant is ruling a country).
In this context, Mogra's bemoaning of supposed Muslim victimhood on the BBC could be perceived either as a "dog-whistle" to jihad, or, at the very least, as a veiled threat of "defensive" violence, should Muslims feel that they or Islam are in any way regarded as responsible for Islamic terrorism.

The logic of Mogra's BBC statement and the content of the Teacher Handbook, when combined, is that if society is "turning on Muslims," then they are "oppressed," and it is then but a small step to "tak[ing] up arms because they have been wronged."

Herein lies the crux of the matter. Behind Mogra's softly spoken rhetoric of inter-faith dialogue, there seems to lie a faint but clearly discernible threat of violence -- a potential menace made all the more real by the company he keeps.

The Teacher Handbook itself has many examples of the Muslim-as-victim narrative. The section on "Islam in the media," for example, includes the following passages:
"...[M]any Muslims feel they are the targets of a sinister agenda, and that there is a commitment on the part of big news corporations to demonise them at any opportunity. Everyone knows there are bad Muslims, but there are also bad Jews, Buddhists and atheists, whose fanaticism and violence do not seem to be as newsworthy. A lot of Muslims argue how this proves conclusively that there is institutional prejudice against Islam, and explains why there is distrust in Western journalism especially. Sometimes it is difficult to establish which 'news' items are even true...[He continues later in the section:]
"As the role of the RE [Religious Education] teacher requires both an appreciation and appraisal of religions, it is important to redress the imbalance of constant negativity about Islam and Muslims in the media."
This claim, however, that Islam suffers from "constant negativity [...] in the media" is false. The BBC, for instance, completely whitewashed the Finsbury Park mosque's links to Hamas, while promoting its imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, as a hero. Mahmoud prevented a Muslim mob assaulting Darren Osborne, the perpetrator of the deadly van-ramming attack on worshipers outside the mosque in June 2017. The grim irony -- of a Hamas-linked mosque being the recipient of a Hamas-inspired vehicular ramming -- was not, of course, mentioned by the BBC.

The Finsbury Park mosque, in London, England. (Image source: Olof Lagerkvist/Wikimedia Commons)

Similar to the British media's blindness, British educational authorities also failed to note the underlying message of the Teacher Handbook: that jihadist violence is justified when committed by those who believe themselves to be victims.

This is a crucial point: it accepts at face value what might only be many Muslims' perception of "victimhood." In one of its most misjudged references, the Teacher Handbook uses the key perpetrator of the 7/7/2005 London bombings, Mohammad Sidique Khan, as a mouthpiece for terrorism's rationale. "Many Muslims feel very strongly about the role of foreign policy as a factor in inspiring terrorism," Mogra and his co-authors state, pointing to the video message left by Khan, who described his actions as a means of "protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters."

Although the Teacher Handbook does refer to Khan's Al Qaeda-inspired slaughter of dozens of innocent people as "terrorism," the editing of Khan's video message omits its most cold-blooded aspect, which is tantamount to a call for the mass murder of citizens of Western countries. The quotation, in full, is:
"Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world. And your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters." [Emphasis added]
The part omitted from the Teacher Handbook reveals the extent of Khan's adversarial thinking and the true nature of jihadism. Its absence, and the misrepresentation that Khan's edited quote then becomes, provides teachers and students in the UK with a false basis for the belief -- or wishful thinking -- that if only Western foreign policy were more humane and compliant, there would be no Islamic terrorism.

In fact, no amount of Western appeasement can counter jihad, which is, as admitted, a global expansionist project.

As elsewhere noted, many religious texts have violent verses, but in Islam people still live by them.

Although violent, "lesser jihad" is presented in the Teacher Handbook solely as a reaction to oppression and injustice, the imperial dimension of the religion seeks to re-establish and expand the Caliphate and govern society globally according to Islamic principles. Despite the Teacher Handbook's questionable attempts to align Islam with secular, Western values, such as human rights, the manner of society Mogra and his MCB colleagues are eager to achieve does not correspond with fundamental British values -- as evidenced by a fondness for Hamas and the Handbook's apologist attitude to Sharia's corporal punishments, including amputation. British values, listed since 2014 in the UK Department of Education guidelines -- "democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith," are undermined by the very content of the Teacher Handbook:
  • "Democracy" is undermined by sanctioning "lesser jihad," instead of settling disputes at the ballot box.
  • "Rule of law" is undermined, for instance, by asserting Sharia (Islamic) law's position on polygamy in the face of its prohibition by the UK legal system.
  • "Individual liberty" is undermined, for instance, by uncritical reference to the Qur'an's endorsement of slavery (24:30-31).
  • "Mutual respect" for different faiths and beliefs is undermined by teachings such as: "To worship other gods or idols [...] instead of Allah is the main sin of Islam...Thus, all polytheistic faiths and also the Christian idea of the Trinity are rejected."
In The Open Society and Its Enemies, published during World War II, the Austrian-British philosopher Karl Popper defined the "Paradox of Tolerance" as follows:
"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them... We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant."
The time for Britain to digest these words is overdue.

[1] The Muslim Brothers in Europe: Roots and Discourse, edited by Brigitte Maréchal.

Andrew Jones, a researcher, is currently based in Europe.


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Turkey's Erdogan Threatens France - Uzay Bulut

by Uzay Bulut

"Why hasn't any 'kind-hearted' anti-Assad Arab state (e.g. Saudi) taken any Syrian refugees?" — Dr. Abbas Kadhim.

  • "Why hasn't any 'kind-hearted' anti-Assad Arab state (e.g. Saudi) taken any Syrian refugees? Shouldn't countries that spent billions on arming militants (including terrorists) in the name of 'liberating' Syrians take refugees in? The only Syrian refugees that got attention in the Gulf states are the vulnerable underage girls they bought in the name of marriage." — Dr. Abbas Kadhim.
  • "Why not bring Christians and Yazidis from the Muslim world here first?... Finally, why not bring Muslim girls and women who are already in flight from honor-based violence, including from honor killing, here next -- before we extend visas, green cards and asylum to Muslim boys and men?" — Professor Phyllis Chesler.
  • "It is ironic that millions of Muslims are trying... to reach the borders of a civilization they have historically blamed for all the world's evils... is it 'Islamophobic' to point out that there is no war in Greece, Serbia, Hungary, or Austria?" — Burak Bekdil, BESA Center for Strategic Studies.
Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed French President Emmanuel Macron for his recent offer to mediate between Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), saying he hopes Paris will not ask Ankara to help when terrorists fleeing Iraq and Syria arrive in France:
"With this attitude, France has no right to complain about any terrorist organization, any terrorist, any terrorist attack. Those who sleep with terrorists, welcome them in their palaces, will understand sooner or later the mistake that they made."
On April 7, hours after a man ploughed his van into pedestrians in Münster, Germany, Erdogan threatened France again, referring to the incident: :
"France, [you are] being a stooge... providing support to the terrorism, you are hosting terrorists at the Elysée Palace... You are seeing what is happening in Germany, right? The same will happen in France. The West will not able to free itself from terror. The West will sink as it feeds these terrorists."
The Turkish government's enabling violence in Syria and Iraq has apparently turned Turkey into a center for ISIS and other Islamist terrorists. Many of the jihadi terrorists who participated in deadly attacks in Manchester, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Stockholm and St. Petersburg in recent years had connections to Turkey. Some were caught there; others either traveled there to cross into Syria to join ISIS, or had lived there a while. Turkey has been routinely used by Islamists as a route into areas of Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. (See appendix for a list of such terrorists)

In November of 2016, Erdogan targeted Europe again:
"You have never treated humanity honestly. You have never looked at people in the right way. You did not go and take the babies when they hit shores on the Mediterranean... We are the ones feeding 3 million, 3.5 million Syrian refugees in this country. You have not kept your promises. When 50,000 refugees headed to Kapıkule [at the Turkey-Bulgaria border], you shrieked: 'What will we do if Turkey opens it border gates?' Look at me! If you go too far, we will open those border gates. Just know this."
For Europe, the result of ignoring these threats could be deadly.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

This is the sad state of affairs of the European Union today: Erdogan continues threatening the continent with terrorists -- some born in Europe, and some hiding among the "refugees" whom Europe is trying to help.

Many of the terrorists born in Europe had declared their jihadi intentions before their attacks. Some were arrested and then released; others were not even arrested or deported after Turkey sent them to European countries. In these cases, European officials made huge mistakes that cost the lives of hundreds of innocent people.

The EU's current immigration system is gravely endangering the lives and liberties of EU citizens as well as the genuine refugees there.

Meanwhile, the rich Arab nations -- including Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain -- do nothing to help their Muslim brethren. These states are wealthy, as well as geographically and culturally close to the stricken war zones, but they have not offered any financial help or resettlement possibilities, and have not taken in any refugees.

Given the cultural, linguistic and religious background of the refugees, many of them could integrate smoothly with their fellow Muslims in those Arab states.

Dr. Abbas Kadhim wrote on Twitter:
"We know that Iran is pro-Assad, but why hasn't any 'kind-hearted' anti-Assad Arab state (e.g. Saudi) taken any Syrian refugees? Shouldn't countries that spent billions on arming militants (including terrorists) in the name of 'liberating' Syrians take refugees in? The only Syrian refugees that got attention in the Gulf states are the vulnerable underage girls they bought in the name of marriage."
Professor Phyllis Chesler had another idea:
"Why not bring Christians and Yazidis from the Muslim world here first? Why not bring Muslim dissidents, ex-Muslims, and Muslim homosexuals here second? Finally, why not bring Muslim girls and women who are already in flight from honor-based violence, including from honor killing, here next -- before we extend visas, green cards and asylum to Muslim boys and men?"
Immigration is not only about movement of people. It needs to be understood that radical or pious Muslims bring a certain culture with them. Muslim migrants who refuse to integrate into the West try to impose their own belief systems on their host countries. Many try, for example, to establish parallel sharia law systems, the rules of which aim to oppress or even kill women, non-Muslims, and homosexuals.

Just recently, Germany was shocked by newly revealed footage from the mosque of the Turkish-Islamic Union DITIB Association in Herford. Pictures and videos showed four- to 7-year-old children parading in military uniforms with toy weapons and pretending to die as martyrs under the Turkish flag. Is this what passes for "cultural enrichment through immigration" now?

One serious problem seems to be the ignorance of many European officials about the teachings and traditions of Islam -- including terrorism and violence. One European official who does understand is Hungarian Secretary of State Zoltán Kovács. Western European nations, he said, are paying a heavy price by pretending that Islam does not matter. "We've been living with and close to Islam for centuries in the past and we know about it. So, that's why it does matter who has come in and in what manner people are coming," Kovács told CBN News.

Last year, Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil wrote about his observations about illegal Muslim migrants in Greece: Many of the "'poor" illegal migrants on the Greek islands want to go to Germany, where they have heard from friends and relatives that they will be the best paid for being refugees. The notion that poor souls are fleeing war, although many may still be, is becoming less and less convincing by the day.
"It is ironic that millions of Muslims are trying, through dangerous means, to reach the borders of a civilization they have historically blamed for all the world's evils, including those of their own countries. The 'romantic' West does not question why millions of West-hating Muslims are heading in their direction. Or is it 'Islamophobic' to point out that there is no war in Greece, Serbia, Hungary, or Austria?"
Now that ISIS has been defeated in Syria and Iraq, where are its former fighters now? And how many have already crossed the border to Europe? Of the new refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece, how many are jihadis planning to attack Europeans or "moderates" who could get "radicalized" later on? Is it even possible to know?

What is clear is that, as Erdogan keeps threatening France with more terror attacks, European officials need to be extra cautious about who are crossing their borders.
Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist born and raised in Turkey. She is presently based in Washington D.C.


Some of the terrorists with connections to Turkey include:

The Manchester Arena Bombing

On May 22, 2017, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Manchester Arena, where the American singer Ariana Grande had just performed a concert. Twenty-three people were killed in the attack, including the terrorist, and more than 500 were wounded. German intelligence services later announced that the perpetrator, Salman Ramadan Abedi – a British Sunni Muslim of Libyan origin – had returned from the Middle East to Britain, via Turkey and Germany, four days before the attack.

The Stockholm Attack

On April 7, 2017, a terrorist drove a hijacked truck into pedestrians in Stockholm, killing five people and seriously wounding 14 others. The perpetrator, an Uzbek citizen named Rakhmat Akilov, had been caught two years earlier trying to cross the Turkish border to join ISIS in Syria and was deported to Sweden, where he had resided as a refugee.

The Saint Petersburg Metro Bombing

On April 3, April 2017, a Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen, Akbarzhon Jalilov, blew himself up on the St. Petersburg Metro, killing six people and wounding at least 45. According to a Reuters report, two people who knew him said that he traveled to Turkey in late 2015, soon after developing an interest in Islam. He was deported to Russia about a year later over "migration violations." Russian investigators revealed that Jalilov had received money from an "international terrorist group" in Turkey.

The Berlin Christmas Market Attack

On December 19, 2016, a truck-ramming attack on a Christmas market in Berlin – which left leaving 12 people dead and 56 others wounded – was perpetrated by Anis Amri, a Tunisian asylum-seeker, who was killed four days later in a shootout with police in Italy. In addition, a German of Jordanian origin identified as W.D. and suspected of giving Amri the order to commit the attack, was apprehended in Izmir in March 2107.

According to Turkish media reports, W.D. made his way illegally to Turkey for the purpose of crossing into Greece after the attack. Meanwhile, European authorities found that four out of five names on Amri's phone – some of whom were suspected of planning the attack – were located in Turkey.

Another suspect, of Syrian origin, was subsequently caught during a raid on the hotel at which he was staying in Izmir. Identified as M.A.K., the suspect had arrived in İzmir with the purpose of entering Greece, and was planning to stage attacks in Europe. Two additional suspects were apprehended in Istanbul. Three others – German citizens of Lebanese origin -- were apprehended at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport.

The Normandy Church Attack

On July 26, 2016, two 19-year-old ISIS terrorists, Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean, attacked Christians attending mass at a Catholic church in Normandy, France. After taking six people hostage, they slit the throat of one of them, 85-year-old priest Jacques Hamel. Kermiche, who had twice attempted to join ISIS in Syria, was released from custody, and in spite of his electronic police monitor, had managed to participate in the attack.

One of the occasions on which he tried to join ISIS in Syria was in May 2015, when he flew first to Istanbul. He was apprehended, however, and deported back to France.

The Brussels Bombings

On March 22, 2016, Islamist terrorists committed three coordinated suicide bombings in Belgium's capital city -- two at the Brussels Airport and one at the Maalbeek metro station -- killing 32 people and wounding more than 300. It turned out that one of the perpetrators, Ibrahim El Bakraoui, had been arrested less than a year earlier in Gaziantep in southern Turkey, close to the Syrian border, and deported to Holland before being sent back to Belgium. Erdoğan accused Belgian authorities of failing to confirm the suspect's links to terrorism, "despite our warnings that he was a foreign fighter."

Nine days before the Brussels bombings, when a car bomb in Ankara killed at least 37 people and wounded another 125, Erdoğan lashed out at Europe for supporting the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, after responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK). "The bombs exploding in Turkey might not mean anything to you," Erdoğan said. "But when these bombs explode in your own cities, you will understand how we feel. But it will be too late."

The Paris Attacks

On November 13, 2015, three jihadists blew themselves up outside the Stade de France in Saint-Denis during a soccer match; other terrorists – one of whom later blew himself up -- shot at diners at cafes and restaurants; and others committed mass shootings at an Eagles of Death concert at the Bataclan Theater. The multiple attacks, which were claimed by ISIS, left 130 people dead and another 413 wounded.

One of the perpetrators, Brahim Abdeslam, had traveled to Turkey earlier that year, with the intention of going on to Syria, but Turkish authorities deported him back to Brussels, where he was questioned by police and released.

Another, Omar Ismail Mostefai, is believed to have traveled to Turkey at the end of 2013, from where he went to Syria. A senior Turkish government official claimed that Turkey had contacted France about Mostefai in December 2014 and June 2015, but only received a request for additional information about him after the Paris attacks.

A third, Ahmad Al Mohammad, reportedly posed as a refugee to gain entry into Europe through Greece a month before the attacks. Greek police said that Al Mohammad had arrived on a small vessel from Turkey.

A fourth, Samy Amimour, reportedly joined ISIS in Syria via Turkey.

A day after the attacks, Turkish authorities arrested Ahmet Dahmani, a Belgian man of Moroccan origin whom they suspected of having scouted out the venues for the deadly assaults in Paris. He was arrested at a luxury hotel in Antalya, after traveling from Amsterdam. Two other suspects, both Syrian, were also detained in Turkey.

As he did ahead of the Brussels bombings, three days before the Paris attacks, Erdoğan lambasted Europe for what he perceived to be its lack of opposition to terrorist groups. "If a principled stance is not taken in the face of terrorism, this fire will spread to the entire world sooner or later," he said. "The countries that think they are safe and prosperous within their own borders will not be able to avoid the fire of terrorism to the hilt."

The Hyper Cacher Supermarket Siege

On January 9, 2015, a Malian-French terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, laid siege to a kosher supermarket in Paris, killing four Jewish shoppers and taking several others hostage. It emerged that Coulibaly, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, had killed a police officer in Montrouge the previous day.

A week earlier, on January 2, Coulibaly's common-law wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, took a flight from Madrid to Istanbul, and crossed the Turkish border into Syria on January 8, a day after the Charlie Hebdo attack. She has since disappeared and is still wanted in France.

Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist born and raised in Turkey. She is presently based in Washington D.C.


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