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February 9, 2016 / 30 Shevat, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

9/11 Spreads in the Middle East

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Al Qaeda was alive and well in the Middle East Wednesday, the 12th  anniversary of the terrorist web’s attacks on the United States.

Two of Al Qaeda-linked terrorists are not so alive and well, but they had the joy of knowing they will be welcomed by 72 virgins for having killed at least 11 Egyptian soldiers and civilians in a double suicide bombing attack at Rafiah, the divided city that straddles the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Bin Laden is long and gone, but he left behind thousands of monsters who are united by a hatred of the West and a burning desire to inflict radical Islam rule on the world.

Al Qaeda is not a monolithic group, but its ideology inspired what are commonly known as “Al Qaeda-linked groups.”

Marc Sagemen, a former CIA officer and now a psychiatrist and counter terrorism consultant, has pointed out, “We like to create a mythical entity called [al-Qaeda] in our minds, but that is not the reality we are dealing with.” He described the terrorist organization as a “loose label for a movement that seems to target the West.”

Al Qaeda and copy-cat groups operate in dozens of countries and in the past three years have helped turn the Middle East into fertile ground to establish a base of power to spread hate and death in the West.

Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and Syria are in danger of extinction as countries. President Shimon Peres noted Wednesday that if Syrian President Bassar al-Assad does not play ball and come clean with its stockpile of chemical weapons, it will continue to dissolve into “ a number of countries.”

The Russian RT news agency reported on Wednesday a disgusting example of what goes though the demented minds of Al Qaeda terrorists.

Raouchan Gazakov brought his family to Syria, taught his 5-year-old son to make bombs and bade farewell to his relative, a suicide bomber,” he told RT’s Maria Finoshina in a Damascus prison, where he explained why he came to fight for Al-Qaeda.

“A group called Murad approached me a year ago and convinced me that Muslims in Syria are being oppressed and killed, and that I should go and take up arms against Assad for world jihad.” Raouchan sneaked into Syria last January through Turkey, from where he was accompanied by two men saying they were from Al Qaeda. Once in Syria, he joined an Egyptian-run jihadist group.

Another terrorist in a Syrian prison, Amer El Khadoud, related that he left a normal family life in France to join the Syrian jihad with an Al-Qaeda affiliated group.

The Washington think tank Bipartisan Policy Center recently concluded, “The civil war in Syria may provide Al-Qaeda with an opportunity to regroup, train and plan operations. Foreign fighters hardened in that conflict could eventually destabilize the region or band together to plot attacks against the West.”

Congress heard the same message Tuesday.

“Al Qaeda and its allies dominate a large portion of northern Syria and play a key role in fighting throughout the rest of the country,” Thomas Joscelyn, an analyst with the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the House Homeland Security Committee.

His scary appraisal contradicted that of  John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State and Wishful Thinking. He said Al Qaeda does not play a major role in Syria.

Thomas Joscelyn, an analyst with the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, dumped that idea into the Foggy Bottom sea of illusions. He told the House committee on Tuesday, “These same al Qaeda-affiliated forces have fought alongside Free Syrian Army brigades. Al Qaeda has made the fight for Syria a strategic priority.”

Al Qaeda and similar groups have not forgotten 9/11.

“The Islamic Emirate of Libya,” a terrorist organization that may be an Al Qaeda affiliate first reported in 2011, warned on Tuesday that it will “celebrate” 9/11 with terrorist attacks on certain targets, such as the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

In Somalia, terrorists who work with Al Qaeda have staked out headquarters, according to the country’s Mareeg news website.

One of the terrorists is Taliban spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who gave bin Laden and Al Qaeda leaders’ shelter prior to 9/11.

And there is  Sirajuddin Haqqani, a warlord and leader of the Haqqani network that fights American forces in Afghanistan from his base in Pakistan and which hosts Al Qaeda terrorists. He is the leader of the Haqqani network and is a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

‘Snowden Leak Reveals Hamas, Hezbollah Try to Infiltrate CIA

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Approximately 20 percent of applicants for work at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were affiliated with Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, according to a document released by Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA) before fleeing the United States.

The document said the applicants had “significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections and the NSA         launched at least 4,000 investigations of suspected staff members.

 

Report: CIA Kept File on Noam Chomsky

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged after years of denial that it kept a file on Noam Chomsky, though the file appears to have been destroyed.

Chomsky, 84, an American academic who works as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was an anti-war activist in the 1970s. He also is a vociferous critic of Israel.

Freedom of Information Act requests to the CIA over the years had not turned up Chomsky’s file, but a request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by Chomsky biographer Frederic Maxwell turned up a memo between the CIA and the FBI confirming the existence of a CIA file on Chomsky, according to The Cable blog in Foreign Policy.

An expert contacted by the blog said the FBI memo confirms that a Chomsky file once existed, though it was likely destroyed.

Improving the NYPD while Protecting our Cops

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Two drastically different laws recently passed the New York City Council. One will make the New York City Police Department a better agency; the other may open it up to endless lawsuits and could hurt the NYPD’s ability to police effectively. That’s why I voted for the first law and voted against the second one.

The first law, which I proudly supported, creates the position of inspector general to oversee the police department and make sure its policies and procedures are effective. This is a very important piece of legislation. I have always stood for greater transparency, accountability and openness in all aspects of government, whether it’s the annual budget process where I invite every organization to apply for funding or when I demand transparency from agencies like the MTA. The people of this city deserve to know exactly how their money is being spent and how our laws are being enforced.

This legislation simply creates independent oversight similar to what is in place in the next five largest American cities. The model works so well that our nation’s finest law enforcement agencies, including the CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security, all have inspectors general. Even the IRS has an inspector general and thanks to its work we now know that the IRS was targeting conservative and pro-Israel groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for non-profit status. Simply put, the more powerful the agency, the greater the need for oversight to ensure that our citizens’ rights are being protected.

The inspector general would review NYPD policies and procedures and then make nonbinding recommendations to the mayor and City Council. It would ultimately create a safer New York by protecting citizens against illegal police practices, improving police-community relations, fostering more accountability at the NYPD and bringing greater efficiency to the department by eliminating waste. What will emerge is a stronger NYPD that’s more responsive to New Yorkers.

On the other hand, the last thing I want to do is make our police officers’ jobs more difficult and our city less safe. That’s why I voted against the second law – known as the stop and frisk legislation. This legislation expands the definition of what is considered bias-based profiling by preventing police officers from using characteristics such as age, gender, race or national origin as the reason for conducting stop, question and frisks in New York City. Even worse, it opens up police officers to individual lawsuits if any person they stop believes they were stopped for the wrong reason.

I firmly believe in an open, tolerant, bias-free New York City where we are not judged on the basis of the different characteristics that make each of us unique. However, I am concerned that this legislation will impact one of the most fundamental aspects of policing – the ability for an officer to act on information he receives from a crime victim regarding the suspect’s race, age, or other factors that will help in identifying and then questioning a suspect.

It is already illegal to conduct bias-based profiling, and there is no need for legislation that will make the job of police officers that much harder and open up individual police officers, who are simply doing their jobs, to endless lawsuits from aggrieved individuals.

Much of the basis for this legislation is the legitimate debate over the NYPD’s use of its stop, question and frisk program to prevent crime and get guns off our streets. While there are some important questions about the overuse of this tactic, no one denies that stop, question and frisk is one of the tools that has lowered crime in New York City. I am all for debate over how this practice is used or whether it is overused, but to pass a law that would force individual police officers to go to court to defend a routine part of their jobs seems excessive.

One of my top priorities – and greatest responsibilities – as a City Council member is to make sure the NYPD has the ability to keep every New Yorker safe. Nothing is more important than knowing my constituents can safely walk down their streets without fearing for their lives or personal safety.

When I grew up in the city it was not an uncommon occurrence for people to get mugged or to have their cars stolen or their homes broken into. Happily, those days are long gone. The NYPD is doing an incredible job of keeping crime at record lows and increasing safety in our neighborhoods. We can always do better, which is why I am proud to support the creation of the position of inspector general to improve policing here in New York City and why I voted against stop and frisk legislation that may prevent ordinary cops from doing their jobs.

After all, my job as a councilman is to represent my constituents, but it’s also to look after the city’s employees – in this case our police officers who put their lives on the line for us every day. My votes on the two bills will make New Yorkers safer while protecting the cops on the beat.

CIA Head John Brennan Makes Unannounced Israel Visit

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

CIA director John Brennan made an unannounced visit to Israel to discuss the situation in Syria with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Friday.

They reportedly compared intelligence assessments on Syria and its two-year civil war and talked about Israel’s intent to continue striking shipments of advanced weapons destined for Hezbollah from Iran via Syria.

Syria has threatened to strike back at Israel the next time it strikes a weapons system on its soil, Britain’s Sunday Times reported.  Two alleged Israeli airstrikes on Syrian military sites earlier this month reportedly targeted long-range missiles in transit from Iran to Hezbollah.

Brennan also met with Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Mossad head Tamir Pardo, according to reports.

Why the CIA Director is Wrong: Islamism Scarier than Al Qaeda

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

It’s time, a dozen years after September 11 and following Islamist coups in the Gaza Strip; Islamist electoral revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Turkey; and a probable Islamist victory during the next year in Syria–to rethink completely our view of Al Qaeda.

First, Al Qaeda wasn’t involved in any of these events or in several more big developments we could list. Second, Al Qaeda hasn’t disappeared, contrary to the Obama Administration’s claims. And third, the American homeland is now demonstrably well-protected from terrorist attacks so consequently while success on this front remains important it need not be the top U.S. strategic priority.

So let me propose a new way of looking at things:

Aside from being a problem of counter-terrorism—that is, of law enforcement—Al Qaeda is no longer important. It certainly isn’t strategically important nor is it important for the biggest and most essential U.S. national interests. That doesn’t mean Al Qaeda should be ignored. Yet combating it is relatively manageable.

This alternative view is especially significant at a moment when the new CIA director is the father—and the president, secretary of state, and secretary of defense the avid fans—of a theory that places Al Qaeda at the center of the world stage. Basically their theory goes like this:

Al Qaeda is terribly evil and a threat to America. It must be fought. But all Islamism—except for Al Qaeda—can be moderated and won over by a sympathetic U.S. policy. The Islamists are the best people to handle and defeat Al Qaeda and by giving the people what they want–Islam running the society–their desire to commit terrorism or attack America will subside. After all, if the United States shows itself to be Islamism’s best friend, why should Islamists be angry at it? This strategy began with Obama’s Cairo speech which was a profoundly pro-Islamist statement, and that’s why he invited Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders to sit in the front row.

In other words, put your enemies in power and they are no longer your enemies. Moreover, once Islamists get into power they will get entangled in party politics, paving roads, running schools, and doing all the other things that governments do. They will lose their radicalism and certainly stop using violence.

Now there’s a lot to say against this theory. It either hasn’t worked historically on other radical ideologies—Nazism, fascism, Communism—or at least only after a very long time in power (including millions of victims) often mixed in with military debacles. It can be said to have worked with radical Arab nationalism but only after 50 years and multiple military defeats. This was also the precise theory that underpinned the 1990s’ Oslo peace process and assumptions about Yasir Arafat settling down to become a great and practical statesman. And that didn’t work either.

Moreover, it ignores the fundamental extremism, anti-Americanism, antisemitism, anti-Christian, and anti-women tenets of Islamist philosophy, which are rooted in reasonable (but not the only possible) interpretations of Islam. And it also leaves out the power gained once radicals take over institutions. Sure they’ll be running the schools but that doesn’t mean they will become entangled in planning curricula so much as to persuade people they should grow up to be radical Islamists and jihad warriors.

Finally, all Islamists want Islamist rule and the application of Sharia as the law. Some will talk and do nothing; others will talk and organize; others will use violence, and among those who organize there are those who can seize state power—in Muslim majority countries—and those that will fail. The Muslim Brotherhood is brilliant tactically; Al Qaeda has only one note in its orchestra, endless struggle and terrorism rather than political maneuvering and building a mass base.

Usually, as you can see, when I talk about this issue I stress the non-Al Qaeda side of the equation. But it’s time to reanalyze Al Qaeda also.

The importance of Al Qaeda in the history of Islamism is actually more marginal than it might seem from the massive study and headlines it generated. Al Qaeda had three innovations of importance:

First, that the movement be international, fighting simultaneously on all fronts. While the Muslim Brotherhood had been an international group it had a limited number of branches, only four of real significance. However, this only succeeded because Al Qaeda’s organization—especially after the U.S. destruction of the center in Afghanistan and long before Osama bin Ladin’s assassination—was so loose. Basically, local groups could simply affiliate with Al Qaeda without being its actual creation. Being active everywhere and not concentrating one’s forces is a formula for survival but also a recipe for ultimate defeat.

Obama’s CIA Pick and His Romance with Islam

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

One of the first things Barack Obama did after taking the oath of office (which he actually did on Sunday, January 20, as prescribed by the Constitution) was to submit a list of candidates for cabinet-level posts. One of these was Secretary of Defense, and his nominee was Chuck Hagel. I’ve had a lot to say about Hagel’s views about issues related to Israel, all bad.

But this post isn’t about Hagel. It is about another cabinet-level appointment, that of John O. Brennan, Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser (actually “Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Assistant to the President”) as head of the CIA.

What do we know about Brennan? He held several important posts in the CIA, including station chief in Saudi Arabia from 1996-99. His academic background includes the study of Arabic and Arab culture; he received a B.A. in political science from Fordham University, including a year abroad at the American University in Cairo, and an M.A. in Government specializing in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Arabic ‘fluently.’

Now there is nothing wrong with having this kind of background. After all, insofar as the threat of terrorism is a major concern, and the fact that almost all terrorism today emanates from the Arab and Muslim world, the CIA director can’t know too much about it.

But on the other hand, there is the phenomenon of the ‘Arabist’ — the Westerner who studies Arabic and is so taken by the culture that he adopts the Arab worldview and politics. T. E. Lawrence is probably the most well-known, but contemporary examples abound (for example, the academic Juan Cole).

If you  believe that the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism is related to specific grievances held by ‘extremists’ who are exploiting the essentially peaceful religion of Islam for their purposes, then possibly having a CIA director who is an Arabist is not a problem.

But on the other hand, if you believe that we are experiencing the beginnings of a true civilizational conflict between Islam and the West, then it could be a big problem indeed.

So is Brennan an Arabist in this sense? I’m not sure.

In February 2010, Brennan spoke to Muslim students at NYU in a meeting ‘facilitated’ by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). His talk can be found in these four video clips: hereherehere, and here.

In the first one, he says that Islam is “a faith of peace and tolerance and great diversity,” something which I suspect the Coptic Christians of Egypt would dispute. He can be heard speaking in somewhat rusty Arabic. He describes meeting Muslim students from various countries including “Palestine,” and refers to “al-Quds, Jerusalem” — where, he says, the three faiths for whom the city is holy show that they can coexist despite tensions. (But he fails to note that this has only been the case since the city has been under Jewish control!)

Later, he discusses at length the problem of prejudice against Muslims in America and the need to protect their rights, but he does not mention the very real lack of rights experienced by non-male or non-Muslim populations in Muslim-controlled lands.

He praises the Saudi monarchy for the stewardship of the holy cities of Islam and the haj, but does not talk about the brutal, medieval darkness of that kingdom where slavery flourishes and petty thieves have their hands cut off.

He praises ISNA and other Muslim organizations for working to protect the rights of Muslims, but does not mention their involvement in fund-raising for Hamas or other terrorist groups, or their connection to the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, he criticizes the U.S. government for interfering with the obligation for Muslims to practice zakat — charity.

Brennan is 100 percent on board with the Obama policy that our enemies consist only of “al-Qaeda and its extremist allies,” organizations that have distorted the peaceful nature of Islam. In fact, he opposes the use of the word ‘jihadists’ to refer to Islamic terrorists, because:

They are not jihadists, for jihad is a holy struggle, an effort to purify, for a legitimate purpose. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing holy or pure or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.

As I argued in response to similar remarks in 2009 — Brennan misunderstands the nature of our enemy:

Doubtless Osama bin Laden believes that his jihad against the U.S. is a “holy struggle for a moral goal.” But Brennan’s definition leaves out the historical meaning of ‘jihad’ as an expansionist, offensive struggle against non-Muslims, an aspect which is still very much part of the concept in the minds of many present-day Muslims (for an exhaustive and persuasive analysis of this topic, see Daniel Pipes: “Jihad and the Professors“)…

… jihad in this sense was highly important in the past and has been reemphasized by modern Islamist thinkers like al-Banna and Qutb.

Brennan clings to the idea that we can somehow undercut the spread of violent Islamist ideology by employing economic development and education to fight the “ignorance” that allows al-Qaeda to recruit:

I think Brennan underestimates the pull of the militant Islamist ideology itself, especially in Arab cultures. After all, the leadership of radical groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizballah, etc. are all well-educated, and in the case of bin Laden, quite wealthy. It can be argued that in some cases — like the Palestinian Arabs, who have probably been the recipient of more Western ‘development’ aid than any other similar group — there are religious/cultural pathologies that work against political stability and economic development, as well as making the culture fertile ground for radical ideologies.

So when Brennan suggests that we need to attack these ‘conditions’ as well as fight ‘extremists’, he misses two points:

  1. The ‘extremists’ are not just a small group of crazies, but part of a significant faction of fundamentalist Muslims who — while they may not themselves engage in violent jihad — accept the ideology of militant Islamism which promotes it. As long as this is the case, there will always be a supply of ones whoare violent.
  2. Unless the cultural and religious issues that make it hard for societies to develop in what we Westerners see as a positive direction (democracy, economic development, fair allocation of resources, etc.) can be counteracted, Western attempts to ameliorate poverty, lack of education and political repression will be seen as so much cultural imperialism.

Since 2010, militant Islamism has made great advances in the Middle East, and it is becoming harder and harder for those like Brennan to claim that it is a distortion of the peace and beauty that is “mainstream” Islam. Has he changed his thinking?

We may find out. Unlike the position he holds today, his new job requires Senate confirmation.

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