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Westlake Legal Group > terrorism

Will Baldét: As well as combating terrorism, we must tackle the underlying ideology of Islamisim

Will Baldét is a  Regional Prevent Coordinator and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right.

The threat from Islamist terrorism has evolved in both its complexity and application. Initially relying on spectacle to capture the attention of the world’s media, the degradation of Islamic State has led to a reliance on unsophisticated, self-starter attacks by individuals often inspired, rather than directed, by terrorist groups.

While the violent methodology is continually evolving, there is an underlying factor that remains largely unchanged: an extreme Islamist ideology redefines Islam though its own political prism. Just as the first victims of terrorism are often Muslims themselves, the predominant victims of Islamist extremism will be Muslim-majority countries and the religion of Islam.

Governments have united to push back the military threat from Islamic State, but amidst the carnage of a terrorist massacre it’s easy to forget that terrorism itself is merely a tactic, albeit one with horrific consequences.

Are we confident that enough is being done to tackle the ideology itself, or that Muslim-majority countries, without whom we cannot dispel the Islamist threat, are equally at the forefront of implementing Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) strategies to inoculate communities against the doctrines that underpin global terrorism? I have been involved in the UK’s CVE strategy, Prevent, for over a decade, and I have seen how vital it is to involve Muslim communities on the front line in the fight against Islamist extremism. Yet too often the approach to disengagement and de-radicalisation has been dominated by non-Muslim academics, policy-makers and practitioners.

However, last year I attended the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) in Abu Dhabi and its host, the Hedayah Centre based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is arguably the first concerted effort by the global Muslim community to face up to the deeper risks posed by Islamism and recognise its distinction from terrorism.

Tackling an evolving threat requires an equally flexible and adaptable approach, and Hedayah has developed a multi-disciplinary programme that operates across different layers of society. While Islamist extremism is a global problem, it often exploits local grievances, both real and perceived. It is increasingly clear that an effective CVE strategy must be hyper-local; that is, rooted in the very communities at risk from exploitation.

Recognising that governments are not the best actors to operate at this level, Hedayah promotes engagement with other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and communities themselves to bring young people, women, families, and local religious leaders together to include their perspectives in the application of CVE policy and equip them with the knowledge and the tools to counter Islamist narratives.

To complement this grass-roots approach to CVE, Hedayah works with governments to help them build an effective national framework, bringing together relevant sectors and ministries, within which NGOs can operate most effectively. This is crucially important for the ongoing challenge of repatriating returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). Although this is not a new phenomenon, Islamic State fighters are more likely to return in a highly radicalised and indoctrinated state and require careful reintegration back into society once countries are assured they no longer pose a threat. Such efforts require close cooperation between national governments, local municipalities and local NGOs. Hedayah’s approach is to understand the original motivations of individual fighters and utilise this knowledge to develop safe integration strategies.

My own experience has shown me that it is vital to secure the support of Muslim communities in tackling Islamist extremism, and I cannot emphasise enough the existential threat now facing them. These communities are under siege not only from the industrial-scale recruitment efforts of terrorist organisations and the alacritous rise of neo-fascist groups who see Islam as a threat to their own way of life, but also the increasingly invisible and pernicious influence of non-violent Islamist groups.

While our attention must always stay focused on preventing the next terrorist attack, we must also recognise that the difference between the tactics of violent Islamist ideologues, whose aim is to establish a Caliphate and implement their own interpretation of Sharia, and their non-violent counterparts is often one of pragmatism. More initiatives like UAE’s Hedayah Centre, involving not only Muslim communities, but entire Muslim nations and cultures, is the most effective way the world can push back against Islamist extremism.

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Rashida Tlaib’s Tears Over Border Checkpoints Get Shamed In the Face of a Mother Who Lost Her Child

Westlake Legal Group RashidaTlaibAPimage-620x317 Rashida Tlaib’s Tears Over Border Checkpoints Get Shamed In the Face of a Mother Who Lost Her Child Terrorism rashida tlaib radical Islam Politics Palestine Israel Front Page Stories Frimeth Roth Featured Story democrats antisemitism Allow Media Exception

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listens to a constituent in Wixom, Mich., Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

 

By now you’ve likely seen Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s continued performance concerning the supposed cruelty of Israel now including her breaking down into tears over Israeli checkpoints she claimed “dehumanized” her mother.

As Tlaib was giving a statement to the press, she began crying upon telling the story.

It doesn’t seem that many are buying the idea that her tears are genuine. Even President Donald Trump waved them away as pure performance.

It’s hard to take Tlaib’s emotions seriously, seeing as how checkpoints aren’t exactly uncommon. You see them going into sporting events, concerts, and you have to deal with the over-funded and under-successful TSA anytime you want to hop on a plane. Tlaib doesn’t seem to be crying over the dehumanization Americans go through when they’re x-rayed and bodies exposed, just the ones around the Israeli borders.

I wonder why.

However, amid the backlash Tlaib was receiving over her anti-Israeli crocodile tears, one tweet stood out to me that I thought made Tlaib’s performance seem even more shallow.

A woman named Frimeth Roth, an Israeli citizen, tweeted at Tlaib that her mother’s dehumanization is a small price to pay compared to the one she paid for a lack of one.

“Rep Tlaib cried about her mother being “dehumanized” at Israeli checkpoints,” tweeted Roth. “My child Malki, a US citizen murdered at 15, would be here today had a checkpoint stopped her murderer and a 10 kg bomb from entering Jerusalem. Remind Tlaib: Checkpoints prevent terrorism – save lives.”

I doubt Talib would actually present a legitimate argument to this mother, especially in the face of the checkpoints she’s ignoring. It’s sad that this woman’s child was taken out by the very people Tlaib tends to defend and would have been stopped were it for one of those “dehumanizing” checkpoints.

For Israel, and even the United States, we have this checkpoints because “some people did something” to quote Rep. Ilhan Omar. That people were radical Islamic terrorists who hail from various areas surrounding Israel. The land that Tlaib calls Palestine. The thing they did is killing innocent people with bombs, planes, knives, and more.

We need those checkpoints and all the fake tears in the world won’t change people’s minds about that. Not in the face of the threat we face if we don’t have them.

 

The post Rashida Tlaib’s Tears Over Border Checkpoints Get Shamed In the Face of a Mother Who Lost Her Child appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group RashidaTlaibAPimage-300x153 Rashida Tlaib’s Tears Over Border Checkpoints Get Shamed In the Face of a Mother Who Lost Her Child Terrorism rashida tlaib radical Islam Politics Palestine Israel Front Page Stories Frimeth Roth Featured Story democrats antisemitism Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

ISIS Is Regaining Strength in Iraq and Syria

WASHINGTON — Five months after American-backed forces ousted the Islamic State from its last shard of territory in Syria, the terrorist group is gathering new strength, conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria, retooling its financial networks and even targeting a vast new pool of recruits at an allied-run tent camp, American and Iraqi military and intelligence officers said.

Though President Trump hailed a total defeat of the Islamic State this year, defense officials in the region see things differently, acknowledging that what remains of the terrorist group is here to stay. An inspector general’s report this month warned that a drawdown this year from 2,000 American forces in Syria to less than half of that, ordered by Mr. Trump, has meant the American military has had to cut back on its support for Syrian partner forces fighting ISIS. For now, American and international forces can only try to ensure that ISIS remains contained and away from urban areas.

Although there is little concern that the Islamic State will reclaim its former physical territory, a caliphate that was once the size of Britain and controlled the lives of up to 12 million people, the terrorist group has still mobilized as many as 18,000 remaining fighters in Iraq and Syria. These sleeper cells and strike teams have carried out sniper attacks, ambushes, kidnappings and assassinations against security forces and community leaders.

The Islamic State can still tap a large war chest of as much as $400 million, which has been hidden in either Iraq and Syria or smuggled into neighboring countries for safekeeping. It is also believed to have invested in businesses, including fish farming, car dealing and cannabis growing. And ISIS uses extortion to finance clandestine operations: Farmers in northern Iraq who refuse to pay have had their crops burned to the ground.

Over the past several months, ISIS has made inroads into a sprawling tent camp in northeast Syria, and there is no ready plan to deal with the 70,000 people there, including thousands of family members of ISIS fighters. American intelligence officials say the Al Hol camp, managed by Syrian Kurdish allies with little aid or security, is evolving into a hotbed of ISIS ideology and a huge breeding ground for future terrorists. The American-backed Syrian Kurdish force also holds more than 10,000 ISIS fighters, including 2,000 foreigners, in separate makeshift prisons.

At Al Hol, the Syrian Kurds’ “inability to provide more than ‘minimal security’ at the camp has allowed the ‘uncontested conditions to spread of ISIS ideology’ there,” said the inspector general’s report, which was prepared for the Pentagon, the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development. The military’s Central Command told the report’s authors that “ISIS is likely exploiting the lack of security to enlist new members and re-engage members who have left the battlefield.”

A recent United Nations assessment reached the same conclusion, saying that family members living at Al Hol “may come to pose a threat if they are not dealt with appropriately.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153642600_b04844b5-73f3-4b50-8410-f8162b3b6bfd-articleLarge ISIS Is Regaining Strength in Iraq and Syria United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Syria Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Iraq Defense and Military Forces

The Al Hol camp in northern Syria that American intelligence officials say is evolving into a hotbed of ISIS ideology and a huge breeding ground for future terrorists.CreditIvor Prickett for The New York Times

These trends, described by Iraqi, American and other Western intelligence and military officials, and documented in a recent series of government and United Nations assessments, portray an Islamic State on the rise again, not only in Iraq and Syria, but in branches from West Africa to Sinai. This resurgence poses threats to American interests and allies, as the Trump administration draws down American troops in Syria and shifts its focus in the Middle East to a looming confrontation with Iran.

“However weakened ISIS may now be, they are still a truly global movement, and we are globally vulnerable,” Suzanne Raine, a former head of Britain’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, said in an interview this month with West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. “Nothing should surprise us about what happens next.”

One significant indicator that points to the Islamic State’s resurgence is the amount of ordnance dropped by American aircraft in Iraq and Syria in recent months. In June, American warplanes dropped 135 bombs and missiles, more than double what they had in May, according to Air Force data.

Defense officials in the region say the Islamic State is now entrenched in mostly rural territory, fighting in small elements of roughly a dozen fighters and taking advantage of the porous border between Iraq and Syria, along with the informal border between Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of the country, where security forces are spread thin and responsibilities for public safety are sometimes disputed.

For Iraqis in northern and western provinces where the Islamic State was active in the past, the sense of threat never disappeared, as the attacks slowed but never halted. In just the first six months of this year, there were 139 attacks in those provinces — Nineveh, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Diyala and Anbar — and 274 people were killed. The majority of the dead were civilians but also included Iraqi security forces and popular mobilization forces, according to reports by Iraqi security forces and civilians gathered by The New York Times.

A particularly brutal episode of the kind not seen since the Islamic State was in control of territory in northern Iraq occurred in early August when armed men claiming ISIS allegiance held a public beheading of a policeman in a rural village south of the city of Samarra in Salahuddin Province, about two hours north of Baghdad.

The area has seen repeated attacks over the past two years, and the police who lived in the village had received warnings to leave their job. Most, like Alaa Ameen Mohammad Al-Majmai, the beheaded officer, worked for the security forces because there are few jobs other than farming, which is seasonal, and occasional construction work.

He was kidnapped at night when he and his brother Sajid went to check on their uncle’s land after work, according to accounts from Sajid and other family members. Five armed men — some masked — grabbed the brothers, took them to an empty farmhouse and questioned them until the dawn prayer.

Scott A. Wirtz, a defense contractor, was killed this year in an ISIS attack in Manbij.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

Then they said they would let Sajid go, but instructed him “to tell the people to quit their jobs working for the police force,” he recalled. They beheaded Alaa Ameen, leaving his body on his uncle’s land.

He became the 170th member of the force to be killed by Islamic State attackers in the area, said Major Zowba Al-Majmay, the director of an Iraqi emergency battalion for the area south of Samarra.

This month, a United States Marine Raider, Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, was killed in northern Iraq during an operation with local forces. Marine Raiders, who are special forces, often fight alongside Kurdish Peshmerga, or the Iraqi Special Operations forces, when deployed to Iraq.

His death marked the first American killed in combat in Iraq this year. In January, four Americans were killed in a suicide bombing in Manbij, Syria.

Reports like these fill several new, sobering assessments of the Islamic State’s resilience and potency. A July report by United Nations analysts on the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee said that Islamic State leaders, despite their military defeat in Syria and Iraq, are “adapting, consolidating and creating conditions for an eventual resurgence” in those countries.

A new inspector general’s report assessing ISIS activities from April through June concluded the group was “resurging in Syria” and had “solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq.”

Despite these reports, Mr. Trump has continued to claim credit for completely defeating the Islamic State, contradicting repeated warnings from his own intelligence and counterterrorism officials that ISIS remains a lethal force.

“We did a great job,” Mr. Trump said last month. “We have 100 percent of the caliphate, and we’re rapidly pulling out of Syria. We’ll be out of there pretty soon. And let them handle their own problems. Syria can handle their own problems — along with Iran, along with Russia, along with Iraq, along with Turkey. We’re 7,000 miles away.”

Men who fled Baghuz, the last area of ISIS control in Syria, waiting to be questioned in February. The fall of the caliphate has pushed ISIS fighters into rural areas.CreditIvor Prickett for The New York Times

With 5,200 troops in Iraq and just under 1,000 in Syria, the American military’s role in both countries has changed little despite the territorial defeat of the Islamic State in both countries.

After the fall of Baghuz, the Islamic State’s last holdout in Syria near the Iraqi border, what remained of the group’s fighters dispersed throughout the region, starting what American officials now say will be an enduring insurgency.

The Islamic State is well equipped, the officials said, though its leadership is mostly fractured, leaving most cells without guidance from higher-ranking commanders. Also gone is the Islamic State’s heyday, when the group could mass produce roadside bombs, munitions and homemade weapons.

The Islamic State’s change in tactics has forced the Americans and other international troops to change theirs, ensuring they can fight a guerilla-style campaign against insurgents who fight among and disappear into local populations.

The Iraqi Army and its counterterrorism forces have run multiple campaigns against the Islamic State, focusing primarily on the triangle where Kirkuk, Nineveh and Salahuddin Provinces come together in a rocky and hilly area known as the Makhoul mountains.

Though Islamic State fighters are present, the pace of operations in Syria has dropped significantly. Army Special Forces soldiers, alongside conventional troops, often sit on their outposts for long stretches of time and only occasionally go after the low-ranking Islamic State fighters hiding in nearby villages, according to one defense official who recently returned from the country.

One of the greatest challenges, the official said, was the constant ferrying of American troops to and from Syria in an effort to keep the overall troop presence at the military’s official deployment of just under 1,000. Sometimes, the official said, troops are brought into the country for specific missions and then sent out.

“Coupled with a U.S. drawdown, it’s setting the conditions for ISIS to retake pockets of territory while coercing local populations,” said Colin P. Clarke, a senior fellow at the Soufan Center, a research organization for global security issues and an author of a new study by the RAND Corporation on the Islamic State’s financing.

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One Minute It Was an Afghan Wedding. The Next, a Funeral for 63.

KABUL, Afghanistan — One minute, it was a wedding — nearly a thousand guests packed under one roof, a thin partition segregating them by gender. Men shimmied to a live band, women spun to a D.J. Their invitation cards read: We celebrate “with a world of hope and desire.”

The next minute, a suicide bomber walked into the men’s section of the Kabul hall and turned it into carnage. Dozens were dead, on the dance floor and around their tables. The band perished on the stage. The women were left broken, wailing, and searching.

Even by the standards of Afghanistan, where dozens are killed every day in a long war that seems out of control, the attack Saturday night was a shock. And not just because one bomber could end at least 63 lives, wound nearly 200, and scar hundreds of others for life.

It also was because of the choice of target and the timing, just as American negotiators are finalizing a deal with Taliban insurgents to extricate United States forces from Afghanistan after 18 years.

The Islamic State asserted responsibility on Sunday for the blast and identified the bomber in such a way as to suggest he was from neighboring Pakistan, underscoring just some of the complexities in the conflict that the Americans will be leaving behind.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159418353_b53e3d8d-a45d-416c-b54b-4e84b90b8871-articleLarge One Minute It Was an Afghan Wedding. The Next, a Funeral for 63. Weddings and Engagements Terrorism Taliban Kabul (Afghanistan) Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Funerals and Memorials Afghanistan War (2001- )

A badly damaged Dubai City Wedding Hall the day after the attack.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Violent loss in Afghanistan is such a daily reality that any celebration — a concert, or even dinner at a restaurant — often is avoided as unnecessary risk-taking.

A wedding, a celebration of union, had remained the exception, an occasion when people could dance without guilt, laugh without hesitation. But for the bride and groom, who survived, and the hundreds of their relatives, that respite was snatched.

“Death is better for me than this,” Mirwais Alami, the groom, told a local television channel. “I can’t get myself to go to the funerals, my legs feel weak. Even if they tear me to pieces now, and take a piece of me to each home that lost a loved one so they get solace, their hearts won’t get peace.”

Although the Taliban wage the majority of the insurgent violence, the Islamic State — which is no ally of the Taliban’s — also has established a small but stubborn foothold in Afghanistan and has claimed responsibility for many deadly explosions. Unlike the Taliban, the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State often hit targets like Shiite mosques, gyms and schools to foment sectarian divisions.

American negotiators with the Taliban have sought assurances that it will not support international and regional terrorist groups. Afghan officials worry that the United States is agreeing to a rushed withdrawal of its remaining 14,000 troops without leaving a realistic transition period to test the Taliban’s true intentions for peace or the extent of Islamic State’s threat.

“This war has turned this land into a slaughterhouse where nowhere is safe, where we don’t live but spend our days trying to stay alive,” Shaharzad Akbar, the chairwoman of Afghanistan’s human rights commission, wrote on Twitter. “How & when will we overcome this culture of murder & violence, this mentality of terror, this terrifying willingness 4 indiscriminate slaughter?”

A day after the wedding, the couple’s new bedroom, at the groom’s family home, sat unused.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Mr. Alami, the groom, is a tailor. He is 25. His bride, Raihana, was just graduating high school, and is 18.

Their families are working class, their homes modest. From the engagement about seven months ago, he had spent about $14,000 on wedding expenses, from savings and from loans.

“I brought pain, and nothing else — no happiness,” Mr. Alami said.

The wedding was not even supposed to happen this soon. When the couple became engaged, the bride’s parents had agreed on the condition that she not marry for two years, until she graduated and took some time.

But about three months ago, the groom asked her parents if the wedding could be scheduled earlier, partly because in Afghanistan, it is a time of great uncertainty. No one knows what might happen once the Americans withdraw, and whether the agreement between the Taliban and the United States will bring peace — or still more conflict.

Many Afghans are skeptical. They say the American agreement with the insurgents is rushing the withdrawal of troops because of President Trump’s electoral calculations rather than the conditions on the ground. It could result in a full-blown civil war or the return of the Taliban in triumphant ways, they say. And that could cost Afghans their basic liberties.

These days, such fears are a factor in every matter of life.

Makai Hazrati, the bride’s mother, said she had asked the couple to wait for at least after the 100th anniversary celebration of Afghanistan’s independence, on Monday, when she hoped threats would subside. But they had argued back, noting that soon after that occasion would be another of high threat: the Shiite commemoration of Ashura next month, which has been repeatedly targeted by the Islamic State.

A cousin of the bride who lost a brother in the bombing collapsed at a funeral.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

“I wanted to arrange a small gathering between two families in the house, but Raihana wanted to have a bigger wedding party in a hall,” Ms. Hazrati said.

The Dubai City Wedding Hall, a spacious if modest venue in the west of Kabul, was booked for about 1,000 guests. The groom delivered all the groceries for the meal, and the hall’s kitchen staff prepared massive pots of pilaf rice, chicken drumsticks, chopped cucumbers and sliced melons.

When Raihana and several girlfriends went to a beauty salon hours before the ceremony, Ms. Hazrati made a stop to rent a special vest the bride’s family usually gives the groom. Mr. Alami had insisted that they not purchase one — a one-night rental would do.

The suicide bomber, identified by the Islamic State as Abu Asim al-Pakistani, walked into the men’s section around 10:30 p.m. The couple had changed clothes once already, after wearing green for the ritual of putting henna in each other’s palms. In the women’s section, dinner was served, the food still on the table.

In the men’s section, music played and friends danced as they awaited dinner. The groom was in a separate room upstairs, where the ceremony of nikah, completion of a marriage contract, was underway.

“Four people were dancing in the middle, others were cheering them on,” said Ezatullah Ramin, 23, a relative. “Then I saw a huge flame, and then a big bang.”

A funeral for about 20 people killed in the attack.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Knocked out by the explosion, Mr. Ramin awoke surrounded by dead guests, badly mangled and many in pieces.

“There is an echo in my ear still — a mix of music and the blast,” he said.

Early Sunday morning, the wedding hall was cordoned off by police officers as workers tried to remove the blood and debris.

The floor at the men’s hall was washed clean, as if the blood of dozens had not been smeared there. Ceiling pieces dangled. The murals around the hall, of lush and serene scenery, were punctured by the ball-bearings that had been packed into the bomber’s suicide vest.

“I have been burying bodies all night, all morning,” said Mohammed Hamid, a relative of the groom.

He had come to the wedding hall to load a truck with the pots of unserved food, sweets and sugar for the tea, and hundreds of cans of soda.

Some of that food went to the wake at the house of a neighbor of the groom, where two funerals were happening: one for a husband killed at the wedding hall, the other for his young wife, who had a heart attack after her husband’s body arrived home early Sunday morning.

The husband, Najib, was a close friend of the groom’s brother, Basir.

“I feel guilty because I invited him to the party,” Basir said. “I thought we were going to have fun.”

Flowers on the graves of people killed in the suicide bombing.CreditJim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Nearly two dozen bodies arrived in a small, tightly knit community where the bride’s family lives. Armed men dotted the narrow lane leading to a mosque, frisking visitors out of fear of a second suicide bomber.

Men wailed as the final prayers were recited at the mosque’s small garden. Some fainted, others were collapsed in corners — holding and consoling one another.

Next door to the mosque, the women’s cries would grow louder as the bodies made a final stop, a final farewell with mothers and sisters. Many of the bodies were not in a condition for the coffins to be opened.

Then, one by one, the bodies arrived at a small cemetery, and were lowered into holes dug so close together they might as well have been one mass grave.

At noon, many — including the bride’s father — were still searching for news of loved ones. One of the bride’s younger brothers was still missing.

“They say there’s one body at Aliabad hospital that is unidentified,” a man stepped into the mosque’s garden and announced.

The bride’s father, wiping his tears with his sleeves, followed the man, down the dusty alley.

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Debate Flares Over Afghanistan as Trump Considers Troop Withdrawal

Westlake Legal Group 16dc-prexy-facebookJumbo Debate Flares Over Afghanistan as Trump Considers Troop Withdrawal United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Terrorism Taliban September 11 (2001) Presidential Election of 2020 Muslims and Islam Khalilzad, Zalmay Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Al Qaeda Afghanistan War (2001- )

WASHINGTON — President Trump met with top national security officials on Friday to review near-final plans for withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan, a prospect that has already prompted fierce political debate but could offer Mr. Trump a compelling talking point for his 2020 re-election campaign.

The president and his advisers gathered at his golf club in New Jersey to assess a deal reached with Afghan insurgents by his special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, during several weeks of negotiations in Qatar. Mr. Trump is a longtime skeptic of the United States’ 18-year military presence in Afghanistan and campaigned against expensive foreign interventions.

His decision point on Afghanistan, and the widespread belief that he is impatient to begin a withdrawal before the next election, has already kicked off an argument in Washington about whether an exit would amount to a premature retreat or a crucial step toward long-overdue peace. That debate scrambles partisan lines, with some prominent Republicans warning that leaving would be reckless, while top Democrats applaud the idea of concluding the war in Afghanistan, a goal that eluded President Barack Obama.

For Mr. Trump, initiating a departure from Afghanistan would allow a president who once promised to “bomb the hell out of” terrorists and has spoken of wiping Afghanistan “off the face of the earth” to present himself as a peacemaker.

That could be particularly useful at a moment when his nuclear diplomacy with North Korea has achieved little tangible promise and his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has failed in its goal of bringing Tehran to the negotiating table, said Vali Nasr, a professor of international relations at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

“This is as close as Afghanistan has been to a political settlement to end this war,” Mr. Nasr said. “I do think if a deal is signed, Mr. Trump says that we can talk to our enemies and we can cut a deal with them. And to actually get a deal with the Taliban may domestically compensate for the lack of a deal with North Korea or Iran.”

But skeptics of the agreement — which has not been finalized and could still fall apart or be rejected by Mr. Trump — fear it is meant more for the American political calendar than for the complex realities of the Afghan conflict and the enduring terrorist threat against the United States, and warn that it could end in disaster for both countries.

“The withdrawal is coming. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when or how fast,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “My sense of it, though I can’t prove it, is that it’s all over with by Election Day 2020.”

Several people familiar with the agreement say that it provides for the phased withdrawal of thousands of American troops from Afghanistan, likely in a first step of 5,000, over a period of about two years or less. In exchange, the Taliban would renounce ties to international terrorism and promise not to harbor or assist groups like Al Qaeda or the Islamic State. That would address what has long been the United States’ stated mission in the country: to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a home base for terrorists who want to strike the West.

Skeptics say it is naïve to trust Taliban assurances. Mr. Joscelyn insisted that a potentially fatal flaw would be a failure to ensure that the Taliban, which he said have perfected “weasel” language, specifically name groups that they will shun. Another person familiar with the draft agreement said that had been a sticking point in the negotiations. But defenders of the deal say any withdrawal would be conditioned on the Taliban delivering on their promises.

Among those meeting with Mr. Trump on Friday in Bedminster, N.J., where he is spending a working vacation, were Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper; John R. Bolton, the national security adviser; and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mr. Khalilzad presented the group his agreement with the Taliban, which would be only a first step toward peace in Afghanistan. The Taliban have demanded that the United States commit to leaving Afghanistan before their leaders begin negotiations with the country’s United States-backed government over its political future. Details of that process remain unresolved and could threaten the pace of American withdrawal.

Even if the Taliban reach an agreement with the Afghan government, current and former government officials fear it may be only a matter of time before they seek to reconquer the entire country, as they did in the 1990s, creating a radical religious government that provided safe haven to the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The United States now has 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, a number that rose after Mr. Trump, pressured by top advisers and generals who wanted more leverage over the Taliban, reluctantly ordered more troops there in August 2017.

He had inherited a troop presence of 8,400 from Mr. Obama, who after approving a peak force of 100,000 in 2011 significantly lowered his expectations for defeating the Taliban and reshaping the shattered Central Asian country.

The Taliban are Sunni Muslim fundamentalists who for years have battled Afghan and American forces, and have mounted ruthless terrorist attacks on civilians. But even as they provided Al Qaeda with continued harbor, the Taliban did not seek to conduct terrorist attacks beyond Afghanistan, and they have battled openly with the Islamic State, whose presence has grown in the country in recent years.

Supporters of an extended troop presence in Afghanistan are trying to remind Mr. Trump of Mr. Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. Iraq’s security forces were unprepared to fight on their own and, three years later, the Islamic State rampaged through the country, capturing major cities and plotting attacks against the West.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed article last week, David H. Petraeus, a retired Army general who commanded United States forces in Afghanistan under Mr. Obama, warned that a “complete military exit from Afghanistan today would be even more ill-advised and risky than the Obama administration’s disengagement from Iraq.”

“President Trump should learn from President Obama’s mistakes,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who often advises the president, said Friday in a statement. “Any peace agreement which denies the U.S. a robust counterterrorism capability in Afghanistan is not a peace deal.”

Democrats are sympathetic to the goal of wrapping up the war. In a Democratic presidential primary debate in June, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., who served in Afghanistan, reflected on his party’s prevailing opinion when he declared: “We will withdraw. We have to.”

And a former senior Obama administration official who worked on Afghanistan policy offered positive reviews for the emerging plan as he understood it.

“It’s a very complex problem,” the former official said. “I’d have a hard time improving upon what they’ve come up with, and give them credit for making progress with something that has been years in the making.”

In a statement on Friday evening, Mr. Pompeo said that the United States was working closely with the Afghan government toward a “comprehensive peace agreement, including a reduction in violence and a cease-fire, ensuring that Afghan soil is never again used to threaten the United States or her allies, and bringing Afghans together to works towards peace.”

It is unclear when or where Mr. Trump might announce that he has reached an agreement with the Taliban, and Mr. Khalilzad may return to Qatar for still more talks before that happens. Mr. Joscelyn said on Friday that several government officials have told him they expect Mr. Trump’s initial decision to be delivered via Twitter.

The United States invaded Afghanistan weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which were planned and directed from the country by Bin Laden. In the nearly 18 years since, the war has killed tens of thousands of Afghans and more than 3,500 American and coalition forces, and its price tag is in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Speaking to reporters alongside Pakistan’s prime minister last month, Mr. Trump sent clear signals of his desire to end America’s role in the conflict, complaining that the war’s duration was “ridiculous” and that the United States was “not fighting to win” but “building gas stations” and “rebuilding schools.”

“The United States, we shouldn’t be doing that,” the president said. “That’s for them to do.”

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Trump Administration Asks Congress to Reauthorize N.S.A.’s Deactivated Call Records Program

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WASHINGTON — Breaking a long silence about a high-profile National Security Agency program that sifts records of Americans’ telephone calls and text messages in search of terrorists, the Trump administration on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that the system has been indefinitely shut down — but asked Congress to extend its legal basis anyway.

In a letter to Congress delivered on Thursday and obtained by The New York Times, the administration urged lawmakers to make permanent the legal authority for the National Security Agency to gain access to logs of Americans’ domestic communications, the USA Freedom Act. The law, enacted after the intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden revealed the existence of the program in 2013, is set to expire in December, but the Trump administration wants it made permanent.

The unclassified letter, signed on Wednesday by Dan Coats in one of his last acts as the director of National Intelligence, also conceded that the N.S.A. has indefinitely shut down that program after recurring technical difficulties repeatedly caused it to collect more records than it had legal authority to gather. That fact has previously been reported, but the administration had refused to officially confirm its status.

“The National Security Agency has suspended the call detail records program that uses this authority and deleted the call detail records acquired under this authority,” Mr. Coats wrote. “This decision was made after balancing the program’s relative intelligence value, associated costs, and compliance and data integrity concerns caused by the unique complexities of using these company-generated business records for intelligence purposes.”

[Read the letter Dan Coats sent to Congress.]

Complicating matters, three other surveillance authorities primarily used by the F.B.I. are also set to expire in mid-December. They include provisions that let investigators get court orders to collect business records relevant to a national security investigation, wiretap “lone wolf” terrorists without links to a foreign power, and keep wiretapping someone suspected of being a spy or a terrorist who switches phone lines in an effort to evade surveillance.

Mr. Coats’s letter said the administration supported making those three provisions permanent as well, rather than merely subjecting them to another extension of several years, as Congress has previously done.

The executive branch had been internally divided over whether to push for an extension of the part of the Freedom Act that authorizes the phone records program. Months ago, the N.S.A. presented a bleak assessment of the program to the White House, saying it carried high costs and few benefits, but some officials argued that it made sense to keep the legal authority in case technical solutions emerged to make it work better, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations.

Mr. Coats’s letter adopted the latter argument, saying the administration supports permanently reauthorizing the provision even though the system was dysfunctional. He noted that “as technology changes, our adversaries’ tradecraft and communications habits will continue to evolve and adapt,” suggesting that such a system might become more useful.

While extending the three other provisions is less disputed, their fate will now be caught up in a broader debate about the phone records law. Privacy advocates, including Patrick Toomey of the American Civil Liberties Union, called for Congress to instead let the phone records program die.

“It’s long past time that this surveillance program was shuttered once and for all,” Mr. Toomey said. “The NSA has been vacuuming up hundreds of millions of Americans’ call records as part of a program that is hopelessly complex and lacks any discernible evidence of its value. We should not leave such a sweeping, unaccountable power in the hands of our spy agencies.”

The Times reported last month that the House Judiciary Committee has already started drafting a bill to extend the three expiring F.B.I. tools, but without extending the N.S.A. phone records program.

The N.S.A.’s ability to gain access to and analyze Americans’ domestic calling records traces back to the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when the Bush administration set up its then-secret Stellarwind program. It was a basket of surveillance and bulk data collection activities that relied on a raw claim of executive power to bypass legal constraints.

One component of the program collected customer calling records from large telecoms like AT&T and MCI, which later became Verizon. The N.S.A. used the metadata — logs showing who contacted whom, but not what was said — as a social map, scrutinizing indirect links between people as it hunted for hidden associates of known terrorism suspects.

In 2006, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court began issuing secret orders requiring the companies to participate in the program.

The orders were based on a creative and disputed interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which said the F.B.I. may obtain business records “relevant” to a terrorism investigation. The spy court decided that all records could be seen as “relevant” — a theory that a federal appeals court would later reject as stretching the law too far.

But the bulk phone records program clearly came into public view only in June 2013 when The Guardian published the first revelation from the trove of classified files leaked by Mr. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor. It was a top-secret surveillance court order to Verizon requiring it to give the N.S.A. a copy of all customer calling records.

In the ensuing debate, intelligence officials could not point to any specific attack the program had thwarted. But they defended it as a useful tool when new terrorism-linked phone numbers were identified, and suggested that had it been in place before Sept. 11, it might have helped uncover Al Qaeda’s plot. Critics rejected the Sept. 11 argument as exaggerated and portrayed the program as ripe for abuse and as a legally dubious invasion of privacy.

Eventually, the Obama administration and Congress agreed on a reform law that would end the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of domestic calling data, but preserve its ability to swiftly gain access to records held by telecoms when a judge agreed that a specific number had terrorism links. The idea was to reduce the risk of abuse while preserving the analytical capability.

That law — the USA Freedom Act of 2015 — permitted the N.S.A. to build a system linking up with the telecoms under which the agency could retrieve logs of phone calls and texts for a specific suspect, as well as the logs of communications by everyone who had ever been in contact with that suspect — even when they were customers of different phone companies.

Under the old program, the N.S.A. had been vacuuming up billions of logs about Americans’ communications every day. Under the replacement Freedom Act system, that number dropped significantly, although its scale remained large in absolute terms. In 2016, the agency obtained orders to target 42 suspects and collected 151 million records. In 2017, it obtained orders to target 40 suspects and collected 534 million records.

But public signs of trouble with the Freedom Act system began to emerge in June 2018, when the N.S.A. announced that it had discovered “technical irregularities” that caused it to collect more phone records than it had legal authority to gather.

The agency has been coy about the details, saying they are classified, but in broad strokes has said that for various reasons telecoms were returning both accurate and inaccurate numbers in the list of accounts a suspect had been in contact with. When the N.S.A. fed those numbers back into the system to get the “second hop” of calling data from the suspect’s contacts, it compounded the problem.

Unable to separate the good data from the bad, the agency deleted its entire collection of Americans’ phone records — hundreds of millions of communications logs — and started over. But in October 2018, it discovered that the problem was happening again, and, once again, had to purge the data, according to a recently declassified inspector general report.

The recurring headaches, including the inability of the N.S.A. to verify whether the data returned from the phone companies, was accurate, and the relatively low value of the intelligence that was being gleaned from it, contributed to an intelligence community decision in late 2018 to start winding the program down, officials familiar with the matter have said.

A slightly garbled sign of that move first came to light in March, when a senior Republican congressional aide said in a national security podcast interview, with what was apparently overstatement in terms of the timing, that the N.S.A. had not been using the program “for the past six months.” But for months, the government had refused to say what its status was.

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Israel Barring Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Was the Right Move

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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., listens as Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought testifies before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, during a hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

This morning, news broke that Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib were being barred from entry into Israel. This has set off a firestorm on the left, who after years of cheering on cities and countries telling Trump he’s not welcome, have suddenly decided it’s deeply wrong to bar political figures from entry.

To those complaining, security in Israel is simply a game where only appearances and news headlines matter In reality, it’s much more serious than that. Any provocation can lead to violence and people dying. Is that worth letting a couple of anti-Israel, pro-BDS Americans walk around for photo-ops to push propaganda for Palestinian terrorists?

The answer is no, it’s not worth it. Omar and Tlaib have had an opportunity to show a level head when it comes to Israel and they’ve instead pushed a movement that seeks the destruction of the Jewish state while delving in their own frequent anti-Semitism. Am I really supposed to be mad at the Israelis for not wanting to host them? The United States doesn’t grant visas to people who seek the overthrow of our government and Israel shouldn’t be expected to do so just because these two women happen to be members of the US Congress.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu defended his decision this morning.

As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country. In fact, in the past the US did this to an Israeli member ofKnesset, as well as to other public figures from around the world.

Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress. Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy. For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.

A week ago, Israel warmly welcomed some 70 Democratic and Republican members of Congress, who expressed broad bipartisan support for Israel, which was also demonstrated a month ago in a resounding bipartisan vote against BDS in Congress.

However, the itinerary of the two Congresswomen reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.

In addition, the organization that is funding their trip is Miftah, which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel.

Netanyahu is exactly correct. Their planned trip was nothing but a propaganda stunt meant to stir up further resentment against Israel. They didn’t even have enough respect to refer to Israel by name, instead saying they were visiting Palestine (which doesn’t exist).

The trip was being paid for by Miftah, which is an anti-Israel organization whose members have supported terrorism in the past. You’d think two Congressional members being hosted by such a group would make our media uneasy, but they apparently think it’s fine.

Part of the concern over the visit was a possible visit to the Temple Mount with Palestinian authorities. This would have been a disaster because either Israel allows it and legitimizes a terrorist government’s claim over the site, or they bar them from the site and violence inevitably erupts from the Palestinians.

This is the kind of game playing Omar and Tlaib were obviously seeking and Israel was 100% right to shut their trip down. I hope the pressure doesn’t cause an about-face here from Israel. They owe these women nothing.

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The Next Massacre? Ohio Teen Arrested for Terroristic Threats Had 13,000 Rounds of Ammo & Over 25 Guns

Westlake Legal Group dangerous-1282330_1280-620x413 The Next Massacre? Ohio Teen Arrested for Terroristic Threats Had 13,000 Rounds of Ammo & Over 25 Guns Violence Uncategorized Terrorism Ohio menacing threats mass shootings mahoning justin olsen inducing panic Guns Front Page Stories Culture armyofchrist Allow Media Exception

 

 

This world has some problems.

In Ohio, a teenager was arrested Wednesday for making several threats against law enforcement.

18-year-old Justin Olsen — who used the handle ArmyOfChrist in the chat room iFunny — posted his support for mass shootings and Planned Parenthood terrorism. That got the attention of the FBI, as such things are inclined to do.

Also not helping: his June entry which offered, “in conclusion, shoot every federal agent on sight.”

That comment was in reference to the Waco fiasco of 1993. As for the 1995 Oklahoma bombing, Justin had this to say:

“[S]hows that armed resistance is a viable method of political change.”

According to the Tribune Journal, the youngster wrote that he “‘could not wait to start stockpiling weapons.’”

Upon his arrest, law enforcement discovered…get ready for this…13,000 rounds of ammo.

Additional goodies: 15 rifles, approximately 10 semiautomatic handguns, a machete, and camo gear.

As indicated by the FBI, Justin ‘fessed up to ominous online behavior.

He’s now resting his head at the Mahoning County Jail, charged with inducing panic and aggravated menacing threats against an officer.

Good grief.

-ALEX

 

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Aussie heroes: Bad guy with a knife gets stopped by good guys with … a milkcrate?

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You make do with what you have, and these four Australian men made the most of the tools at their disposal. They subdued and detained a lunatic with a knife on the streets of Sydney, but unfortunately not before one woman was killed and another seriously wounded:

The four men knew something was about to happen even before it began, and took steps to contain the situation as best they could:

The Prime Minister and the NSW Police Minister have praised bystanders who put themselves at risk by tackling a man armed with a knife in central Sydney and holding him down until police arrived.

Armed with nothing more than chairs, a milk crate and crowbar, several men chased the man as he ran up Clarence Street and jumped on the bonnet and roof of a car.

Four of those men — Paul O’Shaughnessy, Luke O’Shaughnessy, Lee Cuthbert and Alex Roberts — said they instinctively sprung into action when they saw the commotion below the York Street recruitment office where they work. …

The man was allegedly waving a large knife and then jumped back down from the car roof and into the middle of the road, shouting as his pursuers continued to close in.

They eventually knocked him down with a cafe chair, and then used a milk crate to hold his head to the footpath as first firefighters then police arrived to restrain him.

The suspect turns out to be a mental-health patient who had just recently left a hospital. Police at the moment aren’t treating it as a terrorist incident, but they’re leaving the possibility open:

A knife-wielding man with a history of mental illness who is suspected of killing one woman and stabbing another in Sydney, Australia was stopped when members of the public were able to pin him on his back using a milk crate, authorities said.

The man is believed to be responsible for the slaying a woman in a downtown Sydney apartment before wounding another woman nearby and attempting to stab other people Tuesday. Police and witnesses say they heard the suspect yelling “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”

Police have not labeled the rampage an act of terrorism, although the 21-year-old assailant — who was restrained by members of the public before being arrested — had collected information on his computer about mass killings in North America and New Zealand, New South Wales state Police Commissioner Michael Fuller said.

“It is not currently classed as a terrorist incident. Obviously, as the investigation continues we will reassess that,” Fuller told reporters.

Here’s more footage from the attack and the capture. The audio’s a little clearer on this one, in which the suspect shouts “Shoot me in the [expletive] head” and “I want to die.” The four men didn’t grant either wish, but they do offer some colorful commentary on what they witnessed at the end:

This looks less like a terrorist incident than an attempted murder-suicide by cop plot. The radical-Islamist chant might have been a tactic designed to get police to open fire, a tactic thwarted by the four sharp-thinking men in Sydney. The police are assigning this to their homicide bureau rather than counter-terrorism, which indicates that they’re thinking the same thing.

Kudos to these Sydney men. They not only saved lives, but they made sure this lunatic will get what’s coming to him … we hope.

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Inside the Government, Addressing Domestic Terrorism Has Been Fraught

WASHINGTON — Not long after Barack Obama took office in 2009, a Homeland Security Department analyst produced a report presciently predicting that the deep economic downturn, the rise of social media and the election of the first black president would combine to make race-driven extremism a growing and serious threat to national security.

But when the report was made public, it ignited a storm of protest, mostly from the right. Mike Pompeo, then a Republican congressman from Kansas and now secretary of state, said focusing on domestic terrorism was a “dangerous” undertaking born of political correctness that denied “the threat that radical Islamic terrorism poses.”

Inside the Obama administration there was concern that highlighting the issue would only fuel white supremacist conspiracy theories or give unwarranted publicity to fringe figures, according to six former administration officials.

Within weeks, Janet Napolitano, then the homeland security secretary, rescinded the threat assessment. The report’s primary author left the government, and the department’s unit dedicated to tracking domestic terrorism was essentially disbanded.

A decade later, there is clear evidence that violence by white extremists is an undeniable and intensifying problem, especially after the racially motivated mass shooting in El Paso. But the question of how the government should attack domestic extremism, especially white supremacists, remains as politically fraught as ever, if for far different reasons, under President Trump.

Federal law enforcement has been tracking the rise of domestic terrorism. The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, told lawmakers last month that the bureau had arrested almost as many domestic terrorists as foreign terrorists this year. He said most of the racially motivated domestic terrorism cases were probably connected to white supremacy.

But a look at the experience of the Homeland Security Department, which is responsible for collecting data on and analyzing threats to the United States, shows how political considerations have constrained efforts to give the problem more prominence and develop policies to counter it.

During the Obama years, the pressure to minimize the problem came largely from outside the administration, primarily from Republicans who saw it as a diversion from fighting Islamic extremism but also to a lesser degree from people on the left concerned about the implications for the civil liberties of American citizens.

Under Mr. Trump, the skepticism is rooted inside the White House.

Officials at the department have felt they could not broach topics like domestic terrorism and white supremacist violence with Mr. Trump because he was not interested in those concerns, two people familiar with deliberations inside the administration said.

At one point, Kirstjen Nielsen, then the homeland security secretary, sought a regular meeting with Mr. Trump to brief him on a variety of topics including domestic terrorism, but her proposal was rejected by the White House, a person with knowledge of the effort said.

And Mr. Trump continues to harbor a deep distrust of the F.B.I., which has made public statements about the threat of domestic terrorists and racially motivated violence as growing national security threats.

Since Mr. Trump took office, the Homeland Security Department has focused primarily on foreign terrorism and immigration, giving little attention to domestic extremism.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155944254_25fc67b1-a19d-4e2d-a32b-206e0e23c5bc-articleLarge Inside the Government, Addressing Domestic Terrorism Has Been Fraught Whites United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Terrorism Raskin, Jamie (1962- ) Race and Ethnicity Obama, Barack Nielsen, Kirstjen Homeland Security Department Fringe Groups and Movements Federal Bureau of Investigation Civil Rights and Liberties

Michael C. McGarrity, an F.B.I. official, told Congress that racial extremism has been fueling the most-lethal domestic attacks.CreditJacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting homeland security secretary, said domestic terrorism was becoming a national counterterrorism priority “for the first time,” but confirmed that the department had devoted most resources to “border and international issues.”

One program left over from the Obama administration, a $10 million pot of money to pay for a community partnership program to prevent violent extremism, withered as participants withdrew after Mr. Trump issued a ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. Intelligence analysts in the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis who focused on domestic terrorism and collaborated with local law enforcement on domestic terrorism were dispersed to other counterterrorism programs.

In the language he uses, the president has also at times played down the threat of white supremacy at home and around the world. Mr. Trump said this spring that he did not see a global increase in the threat of white supremacy. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” he said. After the El Paso shooting he said the nation “must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” but the next day accused a Democratic presidential contender, Beto O’Rourke, of using a “phony name” to play up his Hispanic heritage.

The United States has always been plagued by violence associated with white nationalism. Violence associated with white nationalism has spiked at intervals in recent decades, including the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. But government data shows that, since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, far-right extremists carried out nearly three times as many attacks on Americans in the United States as Islamic extremists did.

Incidents of white supremacist propaganda such as the posting of fliers increased 182 percent in 2018, from 421 in 2017 to 1,187 last year, and the number of racist rallies increased nearly 20 percent, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Hate crimes have increased over the past several years, and reached a nine-year high in 2017, the latest year available, according to F.B.I. data.

“Individuals adhering to racially motivated violent extremism ideology have been responsible for the most lethal incidents among domestic terrorists in recent years,” Michael C. McGarrity, an official in the F.B.I.’s counterterrorism division, testified before Congress in June.

The figures were already rising at the time Mr. Obama won the presidency. But the backlash against the 2009 report from the Homeland Security Department underscored how the nexus of race, national security and civil liberties would limit the effort to confront the problem.

Former law enforcement officials say white supremacists were energized by the 2008 election. On social media they discussed the possibility of a race war should Mr. Obama become president. Hate crimes peaked that year in October, according to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, when his election seemed assured.

And traffic to white nationalist websites like Stormfront increased after the election, said Derek Black, a former white supremacist whose father founded Stormfront. Mr. Black, who has left the movement, said that having a black president motivated new recruits to join.

The Homeland Security Department report, issued amid this activity, predicted the growth of “right-wing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements,” and said the recession could help recruitment because people economically at risk were more susceptible to extremists of all stripes. Internet platforms, the report said, would let domestic extremists meet and radicalize others individuals — just as foreign extremists like the Islamic State would do.

The multipronged Republican backlash included criticism of the term “right-wing extremism,” and a near disavowal of the existence of domestic terrorism. Republican politicians and pundits echoed Mr. Pompeo’s assertion that the idea of domestic terrorism was a feint, born of political correctness, meant to distract from foreign terrorism.

The report, said John D. Cohen, who acted as the Homeland Security Department’s counterterrorism coordinator in the Obama administration and a senior adviser to the director of national intelligence in the George W. Bush administration, had a significant problem: It did not clearly distinguish between hateful speech, which is protected by the First Amendment, and violent behavior. Mr. Cohen said that problem made the job of defending the report much harder by raising substantial civil liberties concerns.

“The C.I.A. and the intelligence community don’t have to distinguish between extreme ideas and violence because they deal with foreign actors whose speech and affiliations are not protected by the First Amendment,” Mr. Cohen said.

A rally Tuesday near the White House calling for President Trump to curb his language on immigrants and for lawmakers to pass gun reform legislation. Officials have felt they cannot broach topics like domestic terrorism and white supremacist violence with Mr. Trump because he is not interested in those concerns.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Republicans pushed back against the idea that domestic terrorism was a serious national security threat for the duration of the Obama administration, even as local law enforcement officials said white supremacists and other right-wing groups were contributing to crime and endangering officers in the field.

At the same time, Democrats were concerned that clamping down on domestic extremism could pose grave civil liberties risks. The Obama administration’s plan to work with community groups to identify signs of radicalization was seen with some skepticism even inside some corners of the Justice Department at the time because it could smack of inappropriate surveillance, according to a former Justice Department official.

The criticism from the right and qualms from the left meant there was no strong constituency pushing to address policy toward domestic terrorism more effectively, people involved in the issue during the Obama years said.

“The public criticism did at times limit our ability to get the message out,” said George Selim, the former director of the Office of Community Partnerships at the Homeland Security Department, which oversees the counterradicalization program. He left in 2017.

Rather than pursuing a big public strategy, the Obama administration “did a lot of good and often quiet work in this arena,” said Ned Price, a former C.I.A. official and member of Mr. Obama’s National Security Council staff.

By 2016, after much quiet lobbying, the Homeland Security Department obtained the $10 million in funding from Congress for the community partnership program, seeing it as a step toward preventing radicalization.

Mr. Trump’s 2016 election, and his early efforts to implement the travel and to build a wall along the southern border, upended the program. For those already wary of the government, “it was a worst fear come true for organizations we spent literally years building trust with,” Mr. Selim said. “Participants in the program withdrew.”

The White House rejected the previous administration’s decision to counter violent extremism broadly, and instead focused primarily on foreign terrorism, limiting references to domestic extremism in its national counterterrorism strategy, people involved in the issue said.

Republicans who are willing now to acknowledge a growing threat from domestic terrorism and white supremacy still face a difficult political challenge in navigating issues of race and identity, especially given their party’s heavy reliance under Mr. Trump on white voters.

And their efforts would run up against Mr. Trump’s own focus on the threat from foreigners and immigrants.

At a recent hearing, Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who is chairman of a House Oversight Committee subcommittee with jurisdiction over homeland security, told officials with the Homeland Security Department that “we could not find that it had any comprehensive strategy to address white supremacist violence.”

The department, Mr. Raskin said in an interview, responded that it “would work on it and brief us at the end of the summer.”

The department did not respond to requests for comment.

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