Two weeks ago, al Qaeda-linked jihadists attacked the Splendid Hotel in Burkina Faso and murdered 28 people, including an American missionary. It was the work of al Qaeda’s Algerian franchise, one of the world's deadliest jihadist groups, albeit one less known to Westerners. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is led by the one-eyed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a charismatic terrorist who has evaded death and capture numerous times and in the process transformed AQIM into a major threat across West Africa. It's time we paid more attention to Belmokhtar and his jihadist gang—as well as to the troubled country that produced them.Read more
It was a great year for the Obama administration’s foreign policy . . . says the Obama administration. The State Department even created a new hashtag to celebrate the White House's annus mirabilis—#2015in5Words. "Protecting Arctic Climate and Communities" and "Protecting Health of Our Ocean" are among two of the administration's big wins.
A few of the claims are of course questionable, like "Winning Fight Against Violent Extremists." Okay, congratulations to the White House for hosting a conference on countering violent extremism in February.Read more
Nigeria, once known only as Africa's most populous country, now mainly makes headlines for the eruption in its northeast of the brutal jihadist force, Boko Haram ("Western education is prohibited"). Boko Haram has occupied parts of Nigeria and invaded neighbors, including Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. It declares itself a West African province of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).
The four countries attacked by Boko Haram and another Muslim-majority state, Benin, have formed a coalition against it, with support from the United Nations, the United States, Britain, and France. But resistance to the jihadis has been weak.Read more
President Obama needs to accept that our current conflict is as much against the idea of radical jihadism as it is against the physical presence of ISIS. Furthermore, by failing to define the religious-political ideology underpinning the enemy, the president contributes to an environment where all Muslims are increasingly looked at with suspicion. And when President Obama says that we are not at war with Islam, he is implicitly acknowledging to the public that Islam does have something to with extremism, disorder, and violence.
President Obama has also inadvertently cast a blanket of suspicion on the Muslim community through his rhetoric and framing of the challenge.Read more
It's one thing to read debates about Navy budget decisions and the aging of our submarine fleet, and quite another to visit one of our 71 submarines and see what the fuss is about. This November, I spent 24 hours on the USS Georgia—one of four Ohio-class subs redesigned in 2004 for counterterrorism, with Tomahawk cruise missiles replacing nuclear warheads and some missile silos retrofitted as lockout chambers to allow Navy SEALs to exit in combat zones. I came away with a profound respect for the submarine culture.
Many of my expectations were wrong. Happily, I didn't feel claustrophobic for a minute.Read more
Should the United States militarily defeat jihadist outfits in the Middle East? After 9/11 the answer seemed easy, but after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Barack Obama is not alone in arguing that large-scale offensive campaigns against radical Muslim movements aren't worth the cost. Even if the president's go-slow approach is actually more likely to provoke more terrorism, is it the sensible policy for America? And can Western governments actually defeat the Muslim radicals who live in the West and are a nightmare for domestic intelligence services to find, let alone stop? These questions are as much about Europe as the Middle East.Read more
"The magazine of the Islamic State orders Muslim parents to withdraw their children from French schools and calls for them to kill those who teach there." Thus declares a recent headline in the French press.
In a recent article in Le Figaro, Marie-Estelle Pech discusses the latest issue of Dar al Islam, the online French language magazine of ISIS. As Pech writes, "Titled 'France on its Knees'… Dar al Islam returns with evident delight in its latest issue to the attacks in Paris on November 13th." Pech describes the magazine as a propaganda tool directed toward French-speaking future jihadists.Read more
Not so very long ago, commentators used to talk about human evolution. No, not actual, Darwinian evolution. This evolution was more along the lines of wishful thinking. In the 19th century, Marx and his followers rejected so-called "bourgeois morality" (which properly recognized that humans, if freed from all restraints, act horribly) in order to tout the view that humanity was naturally decent. Not long after, science, rather than Christianity, became the new religion of the European left. Unlike either Catholicism or the various denominations of Protestantism, both of which believe in some form of original sin, science offered and continues to offer for some an answer for all social ills.Read more
In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting by a radicalized Muslim couple, House and Senate Democrats have spent the week pushing a dead-on-arrival measure to restrict gun purchases by those on the FBI's no-fly list.
Today, Senate Rs again blocked bill to prevent suspected terrorists from getting guns https://t.co/l3I7SHYv8B pic.twitter.com/fQvP2wwB0j— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) December 8, 2015
The proposal has drawn criticism from Republicans, liberals not in Congress, gun rights organizations, and civil libertarians (with the exception of the ACLU). Democrats are using the tragedy to push the gun control measure, with a series of coordinated speeches in the Senate.Read more
Law enforcement officials in San Bernardino and Los Angeles may have investigated Syed Farook one week before the shooting on the community development center on December 2, 2015, that left 14 dead and 17 injured, according to a review of police communications immediately following the attacks.
Federal and local authorities have insisted that neither of the attackers had aroused suspicion before the assault earlier this month and that both Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were unknown to law enforcement and US intelligence. But conversations between law enforcement officials in the hours after the shootings leave a different impression.
Farook is first identified by name at approximately 11:40am local time, justRead more
Ben Sasse, a Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska, went to San Bernardino last night to deliver a rebuttal to President Obama's speech to the nation on terrorism.
Sasse argues that the U.S. was attacked "Because we're an open society, we're a free society, and our enemies hate freedom." And that we are at war.
"We are most certainly though at war with militant Islam. We are at war with the violent Islam. We are at war with jihadi Islam. We are not at war with all Muslims. We're not at war with Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan who want the American dream for their kids. But we are at war with those who believe that they will kill in the name of religion."
But, Sasse explains, "We are not at war with terrorism,Read more
Barack Obama says he wants the truth. On November 21, the New York Times reported allegations that military intelligence officials provided the president with skewed assessments that minimized the threat from ISIS and overstated the success of U.S. efforts against the group. The Times story was an update of reporting from the Daily Beast earlier this fall.Read more
If you get your news from the headlines, you can be excused for thinking that “Minnesota men” pose a special risk of taking up the terrorist jihad at home and abroad. As the Wall Street Journal reported this past April, for example, “U.S. charges six Minnesota men with trying to join ISIS.” The “Minnesota men” featured in such headlines are almost invariably drawn from Minnesota’s swelling population of Somali Muslim immigrants.Read more
It's inspiring when a leader meets a moment and takes charge. President Obama didn't come close to doing that Sunday night in his Oval Office speech.
If it wasn't a letdown to most Americans, that's only because their expectations were so low. Obama's streak of failing to come to grips with the terrorist threat, both substantively and rhetorically, remains intact.
He retreated to a euphemism to assess the menace of ISIS. He said it's "evolving." Please, Mr. President, it's growing in front of your eyes – in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and, most alarmingly of all, here at home.
We've now had two bloody attacks – in Paris and last week's slaying of 14 Americans in San Bernardino, California.Read more
President Obama used the terror attack in California this week to push gun control. In his weekly address, Obama called the massacre an "act of terror" but then pivoted to talking about American gun laws.
"We know that the killers in San Bernardino used military-style assault weapons—weapons of war—to kill as many people as they could. It's another tragic reminder that here in America it's way too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun," Obama said in his weekly address.
"For example, right now, people on the No-Fly list can walk into a store and buy a gun. That is insane. If you're too dangerous to board a plane, you're too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun. And so I'm calling onRead more
It seems that:
… [Tashfeen] Malik underwent and passed a Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism screening as part of the process of getting [her] K-1 visa. The visa would have been effective for 90 days, after which Malik would have had to apply for green card status through the Department of Homeland Security as the wife of an American. It was not immediately clear whether she did so.
This would have been after she met Syed Farouk in Saudi Arabia in September 2013. After which she:
… applied for a K-1 visa at the American embassy in Islamabad in May 2014 and Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia that July to bring her to the U.S.Read more
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that President Obama thinks that gun control would help deter terrorists. Earnest made the comments today at the White House's daily press briefing.
Peter Doocy: "President Obama yesterday jumped to say that this mass shooting means it's time for commonsense gun laws. Does the President really think that common sense gun laws would deter terrorists now that he has admitted that these two may have been terrorists?"
White House press secretary Josh Earnest: "Yes. The president believes that passing common sense gun laws that makes it harder for people with bad intentions to get guns, makes the country safer.Read more
News stories this week have brought attention back to the name Lori Berenson, and that was truly a blast from the past.
Berenson was, twenty years ago, a young American radical who worked with Communist guerrillas first in El Salvador and then in Peru. She was convicted of treason in a military trial in Peru in 1995, and convicted again a few years later in a civilian trial. The charge was in essence being part of a Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement plot to assault and seize Peru's congress and hold all its members hostage. The Tupac Amaru group, also known as MRTA, was listed as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the EU.Read more
In the confusion and horror of Paris in shock, the details stay with you. In the bleary early Saturday morning, behind the police barriers, a lone tour bus was still parked on Boulevard Voltaire in front of the Bataclan concert hall, where the Eagles of Death Metal gig had been bloodily interrupted by Daesh terrorists the night before.Read more
Speaking in Paris on November 17, Secretary of State John Kerry made what are already infamous comments about the fight against terrorists and terrorism. He spoke to the staff and families of the U.S. embassy in Paris, and his remarks deserve quoting at some length—because they display a deep misunderstanding of what we are up against and how it must be fought. In State Department lingo his remarks would be called “deeply troubling.” In normal English usage, they are astonishing and unforgivable. Here are two paragraphs.Read more
After the astonishing German break through the French lines in May 1940, Winston Churchill flew to Paris to meet his French counterpart, Prime Minister Paul Reynaud, and army chief Maurice Gamelin. Reynaud had called Churchill in near-hysterics, but even Churchill wasn’t prepared for the utter despondency he would find amongst the French command. “Où est la masse de manoeuvre?” Churchill asked in his charmingly awful French.Read more
For those of us who were in Mumbai during the 2008 terrorist attacks there, the bulletins from Paris on Friday night evoked queasy déjà vu. With each shocking addition to the story—drive-by shootings at one crowded restaurant and then another, explosions reported at the other end of town, casualty estimates rising sharply, and then the first social media hints at hostages being calmly slaughtered—the feeling intensified.Read more
The New Hampshire Union Leader has endorsed Chris Christie for president. The state's largest daily newspaper, which has a conservative-leaning editorial board, published the endorsement Saturday. Here's an excerpt:
Our choice is Gov. Chris Christie. As a U.S. attorney and then a big-state governor, he is the one candidate who has the range and type of experience the nation desperately needs.Read more
New Jersey governor Chris Christie directly challenged an account from presidential rival Donald Trump that "thousands" of Muslims in the Garden State cheered on the day of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"Thousands of people did not cheer in Jersey City on 9/11. It just didn’t happen. I was there that day. Nothing like that was ever shown on the news. There’s no video of that. It didn’t happen," Christie told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Tuesday. "As I understand it, he says he saw it on the news. It didn’t happen!"Read more
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) during President Obama's tenure, went on the Kelly File last night to talk about the possible manipulation of ISIS intelligence. He said the investigation should "start at the top. Where intelligence starts and stops is at the White House."Read more
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