Understanding the Potential Catastrophic Consequences of "Reaching Out" to People Who are Clearly Determined to Outlaw Our Way of Life
By Clare M. Lopez
Counterterrorism expert Patrick Poole has compiled a meticulously-documented record of disastrous U.S. policy behavior that is as chilling as it is comprehensive. In "Blind Terror: The U.S. Government's Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy," published 4 June 2013 in the MERIA Journal, Poole describes the aggressive efforts of successive U.S. administrations dating back at least to the Clinton years to forge conciliatory relationships with American Muslim individuals and groups that are legally, openly on record as known supporters of jihadi terrorism and Islamic shariah law.
While Poole's superb analysis focuses on the catastrophic results of such policies for U.S. national security and that of our regional friends and allies – policies still unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region -- an equally catastrophic potential attends to these policies domestically, in the homeland. The methodical blinding of the intelligence community, its seventeen aggregated agencies, and security and law enforcement units across the country is the unavoidable result of this kind of "outreach" to jihadists, who are determined to outlaw consideration of Islamic ideology as a motivating factor for terror attacks. At some point, if allowed to continue, such blinding must necessarily result in the effective neutralization of these front line defenses such that they are incapable of responding in a timely manner to prevent high-casualty terrorist attacks.
Capitulation to Islamic Jihad
U.S. capitulation to the forces of Islamic jihad and shariah was set, perhaps irrevocably, by President George W. Bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Speaking at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. on September 12, 2001, where he was flanked by some of the top Muslim Brotherhood representatives in the country, Bush declared: "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace".
But as Poole's careful research chronicles, during the Obama administration, the Muslim Brotherhood's decades-long infiltration campaign of targeting senior policy-making levels of the U.S. government not only accelerated, but arguably reached critical mass. In a stunning sequence of events beginning in late 2011, and at the urging of identifiable affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, all U.S. government training curriculum that explained the irrefragable connection between Islamic doctrine, law, and scripture and Islamic terrorism was literally purged of such content. Additionally, subject matter experts identified as "enemies" by the administration's Muslim advisors henceforth were summarily banned from providing truthful training about Islam to U.S. government employees or for U.S. government-funded classes. At the same time, a critical Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) policy based on the so-called "Touchstone" document went into effect that says mere membership in a violent (that is, terrorist) organization that also demonstrates "legitimate (advocacy)…objectives" should not result in a conclusion that members endorse the "illicit objective(s)" of that organization. The Touchstone policy clearly was meant to place the administration's Muslim Brotherhood advisors beyond the reach of criticism, even when such criticism is based on public court records such as the Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial documents and unindicted co-conspirators list. Touchstone effectively immunizes these advisors, these agents of influence for a power openly hostile to this country, Constitution, and society, from the legal and security scrutiny and suspicion to which they otherwise rightly would be subject.
Growing Vulnerability to Terrorist Attack
The inescapable effect of this policy is to permit a growing vulnerability to terrorist attack in the American homeland. And not just permit: the Touchstone policy literally ensures circumstances that make such attacks inevitable. National, regional, and local security forces that are not permitted to know the enemy, or understand what motivates that enemy to move from hostile belief to terrorist action, have a diminished chance to pre-empt Islamic terror attacks and are relegated to reliance on hit-or-miss sting and surveillance operations -- or post-attack law enforcement investigations in the aftermath of another Boston Marathon bombing. To the extent that the insinuation of the Touchstone policy into U.S. national security strategy was the calculated effort of this country's jihadist enemies -- undetected by those responsible for U.S. counterintelligence -- the safety and security of American citizens slip inescapably under the threat of more attacks.
The Boston attack provides a good case study for the way in which the absence of a national strategy to focus security attention on identified jihadists who are still in the pre-attack phase of their mission leaves us defenseless to pre-empt plots like this one. Russian intelligence officers warned the FBI explicitly as early as 2011 about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers who killed and maimed hundreds in the 15 April 2013 attack with pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. What the Russians told the FBI was that Tamerlan was becoming "more devout" and a "strong believer" as a Muslim. For the Russians, who have been holding off the forces of Islamic jihad at the Caucasus isthmus for more than 1,000 years, this information was self-explanatory: the message they sought to convey to the FBI was that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on the pathway to physical, violent jihad. Additionally, as the Russian security services learned from their 2011 interrogation of William Plotnikov, a Canadian citizen and Russian native, he and Tsarnaev were using the online website of a Saudi-based jihadist front organization as a communication hub. The World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY) is the youth recruitment arm of the international Wahhabi movement, the Vice Chairman of which is Abdullah Omar Nasseef, a senior Saudi figure, Muslim Brotherhood leader, and founder of the Rabita Trust (an al-Qa'eda financial institution) who has been the decades-long sponsor of the Abedin family. Huma Abedin served as an aide to Hillary Clinton from the mid-1990s, and ultimately as Deputy Chief of Staff to Clinton from 2009-2012 when she was Secretary of State.
As Representative Peter King (NY-R) explained with no small measure of frustration to FOX News morning anchor Martha McCallum on June 13, 2013, however, simply knowing that someone is ideologically on a pathway to jihad and is associating with known jihadis (even those like Nasseef who personally managed a financial institution that funded al-Qa'eda), is insufficient in today's security climate to trigger focused scrutiny. In the Huma Abedin case, it apparently was insufficient even to warrant a closer background check at the Department of State (as so presciently requested by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-R) and her four House of Representatives colleagues in the summer of 2012). It will never be known if an Inspector General's look at Huma Abedin and her lifelong association with Nasseef at that time might have led to a better understanding of Nasseef's central role at the jihadist nexus of al-Qa'eda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Saudi royal family, and thereby sensitized the FBI as to why use of the WAMY website by budding jihadis such as Tsarnaev should be cause for intensified security attention.
From Ft. Hood to Boston
Whatever the factual basis of National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander's claim to Congress that NSA's massive data collection program has saved American lives by disrupting "dozens" of potential terrorist attacks, unfortunately, the Boston Marathon attack demonstrated institutional paralysis due to inability to recognize the threat of Islamic jihad and do something about it before it was too late. The four killed and hundreds injured in Boston join the fourteen lives taken and dozens more changed forever by self-proclaimed "Soldier of Allah," Maj. Nidal Hasan, at Ft. Hood, Texas in 2009. In Hasan's case, too, the carnage must be attributed to FBI failure to act on clear Indicators and Warnings (I & W) that this jihadi was on track to actualize his Islamic faith in a violent attack. Over the course of seven months, between December 2008 and June 2009, the FBI racked up an appalling display of disregard for a pattern of email communications which its investigators knew Hasan was engaging in with al-Qa'eda operative Anwar al-Awlaki. And that communication took place years after Maj. Hasan had begun showing his Power Point presentation on "The Koranic World View As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military" while he was a senior-year psychology resident at Walter Reed Hospital.
However many acts of terror may have been prevented, the fact remains that these hundreds of victims at Ft. Hood and in Boston are the first to fall to Islamic jihad on American soil since September 11, 2001. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the deliberate blinding of our homeland security defense capabilities, perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood in close cooperation with the witting, willing assistance of our own national security agency leadership, is propelling the U.S. towards catastrophe. More attacks will come, perhaps already are in some phase of planning -- but unless we restore the curriculum and trainers that can educate our homeland security professionals about the doctrine, law, and scriptures of Islamic jihad and how this belief system inspires would-be terrorists, there will be no reliable way consistently to identify and pursue them prior to some new atrocity.
Slick, Online Recruiting
Especially in an era when the Islamic doctrine of fard 'ayn (individual jihad) is popularized among Muslim youth in slick, online publications such as al-Qa'eda's Inspire magazine, the "Lone Mujahid Pocketbook" from AQAP [al-Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula], or the new "Azan" magazine, with a look and content similar to that of Inspire, America's homeland security team faces a steep challenge to make informed judgments about which individuals from among countless "wannabe" jihadis engaging in free speech will take the next step, as did Maj. Nidal Hasan and the Tsarnaev brothers, to obey the Islamic injunctions to jihad streaming from clerics and mosques and websites. Clearly, the first step is to acknowledge and understand the provenance as well as the power of those calls to "Join the Caravan" (in the words of Abdullah Azzam, sometimes called the 'godfather' of al-Qa'eda).
But the mosques and the fiery sermons of the clerics who preach in them during Friday prayers have been off-limits to the FBI since October 2011, the same month the Department of Justice formally capitulated to demands from the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters in the Muslim community to review "all trainers and training materials at government agencies….[p]urge all federal government training materials of biased materials…Implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers…who have been subjected to biased training…Ensure that personnel reviews are conducted and all trainers and other government employees who promoted biased trainers and training materials are effectively disciplined…" Federal officials willing to abrogate their oaths to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic dutifully carried out the Great Purge that followed in accordance with the Brotherhood's "Strategic Plan for North America," which most of them probably had never read and would not have been permitted to use in defense of the nation even if they had.
Thinking the Unthinkable
So, what would happen if the country's homeland security apparatus were, in fact judged by the enemy to be incapable of discovering or stopping a new wave of jihadist attacks, some of which might be of the 'lone mujahid' variety? Would the country collapse, demoralized and terrorized? Would U.S. leadership scurry once again to the nearest Islamic Center to declare Islam a religion of peace and promise to withdraw every last vestige of American influence and power from 'Muslim lands'? Would the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) declare the establishment of the new caliphate? Would al-Qa'eda have achieved fulfillment of the "Fifth Phase" (out of seven) in its quest for that caliphate, scheduled for the 2013-2016 timeframe, when "Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared"?
Or would the American people rise up in outrage, determined to resist the jihadist onslaught, as they did in the days and weeks and months after 9/11? Many in this country and around the world surely look to Americans as "the last, best hope of man on earth" in the words of President Ronald Reagan; but to fulfill that destiny, we must reclaim our common sense, our courage, and our will to survive as an exceptional people. This begins with identifying the enemy that seeks our destruction -- the forces of Islamic jihad and shariah -- and finding a way to pre-empt that enemy in the Information Battlespace, before an ideology openly committed to the destruction of "the Western civilization from within" (in the words of the Muslim Brotherhood) has any more chances to explode to shouts of "Allahu Akbar" ["Allah is Greater"] in gunfire and pressure cookers on American soil.
The hardest part of this challenge will be defining the ideology and proponents of Islamic jihad and political supremacism as a national security threat, while preserving the rights of every believer to devotion, prayer, worship, dietary observances, pilgrimage, and proselytizing that are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It will require a mental shift that separates protected activities of the faithful from other activities, potentially of those same faithful, that are antithetical to the U.S. legal system that derives from our Constitution. Islam and Islamic shariah law together is a holistic system, a "way of life." Political and religious elements are inextricably combined in Islam in a way unacceptable to Western-style democratic systems. To battle the supremacism of Islamic conquest, therefore, means defining a separation in national security strategy that does not exist in Islam itself. Those Muslims who wage stealthy, violent campaigns or violent jihad in obedience to Islam, or who define themselves as loyal to a hostile foreign power, must be designated formally as such and countered with all the power of the American government and society. Those Muslims who limit their activities to those enshrined in the First Amendment must continue to enjoy all the legal protections to which they are entitled.
Only when we achieve this separation, in the way that communist ideology was outlawed (but Orthodox Christianity and Slavic culture were not) during the Cold War, will our national security strategy return to some semblance of coherence, and our homeland security team be provided the tools it needs to know and defeat the enemy.