Thomas Joscelyn Articles


Why Colin Powell's Emails Are Not Like Hillary's

1:37 PM, Feb 05, 2016

The Washington Post claims that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has “gained an apparent ally…in her fight to limit the political damage from her growing email controversy."

The supposed ally is another former secretary of state, Colin Powell. Why? Two of Powell's emails have been retroactively classified. (He doesn't think they should be.)

But there are obvious differences between Powell's receipt of two emails and Clinton's robust private email operation. Let's compare the facts as set forth in the Post's own piece.

First, "tens of thousands of emails…passed through the private server Clinton used while in office." Powell did not have a private server for his State Department emails.

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Obama Releases Dangerous Jihadists - Then Misleads Country About It

11:13 AM, Dec 14, 2015

President Barack Obama says his administration will continue releasing terrorists from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so long as those released are less dangerous than the jihadists currently fighting against the U.S. and its interests.

The bizarre argument comes in a new interview with Olivier Knox of Yahoo! News and is one of several comments in their discussion that reinforces the president's stubborn nonchalance on issues related to jihad. Obama also shrugs off concerns about recidivism of former Guantanamo detainees, suggesting that only a "handful" of former detainees have returned to the fight and claiming that only "low-level" terrorists have been released from the detention facility. Both claims

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More of the Same

Even after San Bernardino, Obama fails to change course.
Dec 21, 2015

On December 6, Barack Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office for just the third time in his tenure. The president sought to reassure the American people that he has a strategy for defeating ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), just days after supporters of the self-declared "caliphate" massacred 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California.

Given recent events, Obama could have announced a change of course. He could have said that the time has come to end, once and for all, ISIL's grip on its de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, and second city of Mosul, Iraq. Instead, the president simply offered a bullet point summary of what his administration has done to date.

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The Long War Continues

Whatever President Obama may say
Nov 30, 2015

In many ways, the reaction to the horrific attacks in Paris has been familiar.

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Al Qaeda Hasn't Been Neutralized

11:52 AM, Nov 20, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry believes that al Qaeda’s “top leadership” has been “neutralize[d]” as “an effective force.” He made the claim while discussing the administration’s strategy, or lack thereof, for combating the Islamic State (ISIS), which is al Qaeda’s jihadist rival. Kerry believes that the U.S. and its allies can finish off ISIS quicker than al Qaeda. There’s just one problem: It is not true that al Qaeda or its top leaders have been “neutralize[d].”

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America is at War Right Now, With or Without Obama

Hosted by Michael Graham.
5:17 PM, Nov 16, 2015

THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Senior Fellow and frequent contributor Thomas Joscelyn on the fight against terrorism in the Middle East.

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Not a Conspiracy

We really do know a lot about Osama bin Laden’s death.
Nov 16, 2015

In May, the London Review of Books published a 10,000-word exposé by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh on the killing of Osama bin Laden. It was widely read online, receiving “more than two million page-views,” according to an editor’s note inserted at the bottom. While Hersh’s account was popular in the Internet’s fever swamps, however, it was given little credence by the mainstream press. The New Yorker, where Hersh has published much of his work, passed on the story. Indeed, the thinly sourced piece seems implausible on its face.

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Britain's New Jihadist Hero Released from Gitmo

7:24 AM, Oct 31, 2015

For years, the British government and a network of anti-Guantanamo activists have agitated for the release of Shaker Aamer. Now their wish was finally granted. Aamer has been released from Guantanamo. He is receiving a hero’s welcome in the UK, where much of the media has treated him as an innocent who was wrongly detained.

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Every Candidate Should Know Baghdadi, Zawahiri

11:58 AM, Sep 04, 2015

Hugh Hewitt’s interview with Donald Trump has received a fair amount of attention, mainly because Trump didn’t know the answers to some of Hewitt’s supposed “gotcha” questions.

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More Than 100 Ex-Gitmo Recidivists At Large

10:48 AM, Sep 04, 2015

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released its latest statistics on the number of former Guantanamo detainees who are either confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight. As expected, there has been a slight increase in the number of ex-detainees who have rejoined the jihad.

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Iran Is Working with al Qaeda

So why are we working with Iran?
Aug 03, 2015

On July 21, the Pentagon announced that Muhsin al-Fadhli, an al Qaeda operative who had been wanted for more than a decade, was killed in an airstrike in Syria earlier in the month. Fadhli has been dead at least once before. In September 2014, the United States launched airstrikes against his so-called Khorasan Group (a cadre of al Qaeda veterans plotting attacks against the West), and some officials told the press that Fadhli had perished. That wasn’t true. Still, Defense Department officials are confident they got their man on July 8.

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Why Was a Key Benghazi Suspect Free?

11:26 AM, Jun 23, 2015

On Monday, the Pentagon announced that Ali Ani al Harzi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Mosul, Iraq. For those who have followed the public reporting on the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attack  closely, al Harzi’s name will ring a bell. He was one of the first suspects to be publicly identified by name. Eli Lake, then of The Daily Beast, got the scoop in October 2012.

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Slow Release

A few more documents from the bin Laden raid are finally revealed. They do not flatter the judgment of the Obama administration.
Jun 01, 2015

After four years of fierce internecine battles and inexplicable delays, the intelligence community last week started the process of releasing more documents captured in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) posted on its website several dozen documents of uneven importance, bringing the total number of bin Laden documents available to the public to slightly more than 100. 

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Ayatollah Khamenei Accuses WH of 'Lying,' Being 'Deceptive,' and Having 'Devilish' Intentions

4:42 PM, Apr 09, 2015

President Obama has long known that the real decision maker in Iran is Ayatollah Khamenei, the so-called supreme leader. While other Iranian officials have negotiated with Western powers over the mullahs’ nuclear program, Khamenei’s opinion is the only one that really counts. It is for this reason that Obama began writing directly to Khamenei early in his presidency.

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The al Qaeda Files

Open the bin Laden trove.
Mar 30, 2015

During a terror trial in Brooklyn last month, federal prosecutors entered into evidence several files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound. The documents, consisting mainly of letters to and from bin Laden during the last year of his life, gained more and more attention over the weeks that followed. There are simply too many revelations to ignore. And so the documents have been featured in news coverage around the globe, from primetime television in Pakistan to the front page of the New York Times.

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Produce the Fatwa

12:05 PM, Mar 20, 2015

In his annual statement marking the Persian new year, President Obama said he believes that Iran and the U.S. “should be able” to resolve the dispute over the mullahs’ nuclear program “peacefully, with diplomacy.”

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Bin Laden Files Reveal CIA Money Got to Al Qaeda

1:51 PM, Mar 16, 2015

Tom Joscelyn breaks down the latest revelation from the Osama bin Laden documents on Fox News:

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Doomed Diplomacy

There’s no way Iran will ever help fight al Qaeda.
Mar 02, 2015

Not long after his inauguration in January 2009, President Barack Obama penned a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran. As a presidential candidate, Obama had promised to conduct “tough, direct diplomacy” with the Iranians. And Obama figured, correctly, that all diplomatic entreaties would end up on Khamenei’s desk. So, the newly elected president decided to write Iran’s ultimate decision-maker directly. And he has written several letters since. 

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New Docs Reveal Osama bin Laden's Secret Ties With Iran

Show availability of Iran for al Qaeda training, plotting.
12:27 PM, Feb 27, 2015

This week, prosecutors in New York introduced eight documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan as evidence in the trial of a terrorism suspect. The U.S. government accuses Abid Naseer of taking part in al Qaeda’s scheme to attack targets in Europe and New York City. And prosecutors say the documents are essential for understanding the scope of al Qaeda’s plotting.

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Podcast: The Most Important Battlefield in the War With ISIS

Hosted by Michael Graham.
1:05 PM, Feb 13, 2015

THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Senior Fellow and frequent contributor Thomas Joscelyn on the fight against ISIS.

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Al Qaeda Uses ISIS to Try to Present Itself as Respectable, Even Moderate

7:36 AM, Feb 09, 2015

In response to the Islamic State’s horrific burning of a pilot, the Jordanian government has released from prison one of the most influential al Qaeda-allied ideologues in the world. Sound strange? It is.

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A Deliberately Grotesque Execution

3:38 PM, Feb 03, 2015

The Islamic State, a self-proclaimed “caliphate” that rules over large portions of Iraq and Syria, has released a video showing a Jordanian pilot, Mu’adh al Kasasibah, being burned alive. He is shown standing and praying in the middle of a cage as a fighter sets fire to him. The video is horrific, but not surprising. We should know by now that there is no limit to the group’s brutality.

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CNN: 1 of the Taliban 5 Back in the Game

6:10 PM, Jan 29, 2015

CNN’s Barbara Starr reports that the U.S. military and intelligence community thinks that one member of the so-called Taliban Five “has attempted to return to militant activity from his current location in Qatar.” Officials aren’t saying which one of the five Taliban leaders, who were held at Guantanamo before being transferred to Qatar last year, has fallen under suspicion. But the U.S. has been monitoring their communications and one of the five has “reached out” to other jihadists. 

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Former U.S. Marine Killed by Islamic State’s Tripoli ‘Province’

1:48 PM, Jan 28, 2015

Two gunmen entered the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli Tuesday morning. When their shooting rampage was over, at least ten people had been killed. For jihadists in Libya, the hotel was an inviting target. Foreign diplomats, Western tourists and officials from Libya’s rival governments are known to frequent it. Indeed, the victims were five foreigners, including an American, and five Libyans.  

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Argentine Prosecutor Found Dead, Fought Iran-Backed Terror Around World

11:45 AM, Jan 19, 2015

Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor who had been investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (the AMIA building) in Argentina, has been found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment. Nisman was famous in intelligence and law enforcement circles for amassing evidence that implicates Iran in the AMIA attack, which left 85 people dead and hundreds more wounded.

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Jihad Comes to Paris

The long arm of al Qaeda.
Jan 19, 2015

The jihadists responsible for the most successful terrorist attack in France in decades hunted down cartoonists. They did not target a significant historical landmark, such as the Eiffel Tower, or any well-known French politicians. They did not seek to maximize civilian casualties in a suicide bombing, a trademark of previous attacks. Instead, they methodically killed Stéphane Charbonnier, the editorial director of Charlie Hebdo, and other members of the French magazine’s staff. This was deliberate.

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The Uruguay Six

They weren’t kidnapped. They’re not refugees.
Dec 29, 2014

On Sunday, December 7, a U.S. military medical aircraft landed in South America, to deliver six jihadists from the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay to Uruguay. For more than a dozen years, these six men had been held as dangerous enemies of the United States. Suddenly, Uruguay treated them as refugees, even victims, and the Obama administration didn’t object.

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A Tortured Report

Dec 22, 2014

For most of last week, the report on enhanced interrogations produced by Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence dominated headlines. To the extent that there was a debate at all, it was one-sided. News coverage routinely described the findings as the “Senate torture report,” often failing even to note that it was written exclusively by Democratic staff or account for the differences between techniques used as part of the CIA program and abuses committed outside of that program. 

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CNN, Washington Post Peddle Gitmo Snitch's Story

Jihadist Moazzam Begg, the Gitmo snitch
8:01 AM, Dec 17, 2014

Ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg is back in the news this week. On Sunday, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria interviewed Begg to get his perspective on the recently released report, written by Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, concerning the CIA’s controversial interrogation program. Zakaria teased Begg’s segment at the beginning of his show, saying, “Moazzam Begg wants an apology. He was held in U.S. prisons and says he was abused and witnessed torture. What is his response to the report?

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The Benghazi Report

An ongoing intelligence failure
Dec 15, 2014

After a long day on November 13, 2013, Speaker of the House John Boehner walked down the marble hallways of the Longworth House Office Building to the personal office of Representative Devin Nunes for a drink, a cigarette, and maybe a brief reprieve.

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