Maajid Nawaz At The New York Times-The Education Of ‘Jihadi John’

Full piece here.

Interesting read:

‘By age 16, I had adopted Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s ideas wholeheartedly. I was asked to enroll at Newham College, a state-supported continuing education institution in east London, with the aim of gaining prominence on campus and recruiting other students to the cause. Once elected as president of the student union, I exploited the naïveté of the college, registering supporters to vote for me and consolidating our control.’

and:

‘Islamist “entryism” — the term originally described tactics adopted by Leon Trotsky to take over a rival Communist organization in France in the early 1930s — continues to be a problem within British universities and schools. Twenty years ago, I played my part as an Islamist entryist at college.’

al-Zawahiri’s Egypt, a good backstory: Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

Michael Moynihan jihad.com.

Repost: Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie’

Link sent in by a reader to Alexander Hitchens essay:  As American As Apple Pie: How Anwar al-Awlaki Became The Face Of Western Jihad

Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’From Foreign Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda After Attiyya’….From The AP: ‘Al-Awlaki: From Voice For Jihad To Al-Qaida Figure’

Trying To Keep Up With Events-A Few Middle-East Links

Michael Totten at World Affairs:

‘Hezbollah is fighting against Sunni jihadists in Syria on behalf of the Iranian and Syrian regimes, but that doesn’t mean it has abandoned its war against Israel. If the Syrian regime doesn’t survive, Hezbollah won’t be able to receive high-grade weapon systems from Iran anymore. It already has a formidable missile arsenal and can now—unlike during the 2006 war—inflict significant damage on Tel Aviv and even Jerusalem if it dares’

Eli Lake at Bloomberg-There’s diplomacy involved:

‘All of this gets to a paradox of the war on terror. It has never been a war on the tactic of terrorism, and it has always been a war against networks of radical Islamists. But in order to wage that war, the U.S. has had to ally with Muslim countries and people, many of whom believe the state should punish apostates, adulterers and blasphemers.’

Adam Garfinkle plays the mug’s game and makes some prognostications:

But, who really knows?  Here’s a reasonable one:

‘The P5/Iranian nuclear negotiations will not produce a deal, because no deal the Obama Administration can get would pass muster in Congress. The superficial thawing of U.S.-Iranian relations will refreeze; marginal violence in a new U.S.-Iranian shadow war will occur as Iran draws ever closer to breakout capacity. Israel will not strike Iran; the Obama Administration will try to buy time via a selected extension of the interim deal as the sanctions regime continues to fray.’

From The New Republic: ‘The U.S. Is Accidentally Pushing Kurdistan Toward Independence From Iraq’

Full piece here.

Things are getting interesting:

 The Kurdistan Regional Government’s efforts to export its own oil, against the wishes of the Iraqi and U.S. governments, saw a significant achievement last week: Reuters reported Thursday that a tanker carrying more that $100 million of crude oil was headed for Galveston, Texas.  But just days later, on Monday night, a U.S. judge sided with an Iraqi Oil Ministry complaint that the KRG had ‘misappropriated’ the one million barrels, and she ordered their seizure.’

If you’re Kurdish, I imagine after taking Erbil, you want to take further steps one at a time. America has a big stake in a stable enough Iraq to limit ISIS/ISIL, and coalitions that can keep the peace, as well as obligations to the Turkish government and others. Kurdish independence relies upon the continued disintegration of the nation-state of Iraq as we know it (it may be too late), and the disruption of Kurdish populations in highly militarized southeastern Turkey, chaotic Syria, and in Northwestern Iran.

Any reasonably interested observer wants to ensure that Kurdish fighting forces and Kurdish authorities are people we can do business with, not engaging in the kinds of sectarianism, tribalism and retribution so common in Iraq should they gain more autonomy, oil revenue and power.  As of now, the Kurdish portions of Iraq tend to be the most safe, taking in those fleeing the chaos unleashed.

See Also:  Dexter Filkins ‘From Kurdistan To New York’

During Christopher Hitchens’ 2009 appearance on Australia’s Q & A, he wore a Kurdish flag pin in solidarity and fielded a question from a Kurd (starts at minute 1:30…mentioned as the rest of the debate may be worth your time):

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Independent Kurdistan-A Good Outcome For American Interests?

In his book Where The West Ends, Totten describes visiting Northern Iraq briefly as a tourist with a friend, and the general feeling of pro-Americanism in Kurdish Northern Iraq that generally one can only feel in Poland, parts of the former Yugoslavia etc.

Related On This Site: Longer odds, lots of risk: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

The Call To Jihad Is Global, But A Lot Of Politics And Fighting Is Local-Some Friday Links

Adam Garfinkle at the American Interest: ‘To Strike Or Not To Strike, That Is The Question:’

‘The point is, limited airstrikes might be justified—and very soon—if we’re playing ordnance keep-away with ISIS, but it’s hard to see how airstrikes alone can do much good from a macro-military or political point of view, given the situation in Baghdad.’

A piece from Mashable on ISIS gains:

https://twitter.com/MsIntervention/status/482580268684173314

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Theodore Dalrymple at The City Journal: ‘The French (Jihad) Connection:’

They’re out there:

‘What they found instead in Nemmouche’s possession was a Kalashnikov rifle, a revolver, lots of ammunition, a gas mask, a short video of the weapons in his possession accompanied by a verbal commentary (probably in his voice) on the recent murder of four Jews at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, clothing similar to that worn by the perpetrator of that attack, and a white flag with the words Islamic State of Iraq and of the Levant in Arabic inscribed on it.’

France and Algeria have a complicated relationship, to say the least, but when even French ‘rock-star intellectual’ of the Left, Bernard-Henri Levy notes the anti-semitism in France these days…

Perhaps North-African Arab Muslims imported for cheap labor, many of whom live in ghettoes, coming into contact with an underlying native anti-semitism, French nationalism and somewhat fascistic far Right and socialist Left in a huge State complex…isn’t so great for a small French Jewish minority.

Paul Berman had a piece on Albert Camus and Algeria a while back.

Interesting note from Wikipedia (I know…it’s Wikipedia) from Berman on European nihilism:

‘Berman tries to trace the influence of these European movements into the modern Muslim world. He identifies two principal totalitarian tendencies in the Muslim countries, Baathism and radical Islamism – mutually hostile movements whose doctrines, in his interpretation, overlap and have allowed for alliances. Berman regards suicide terror and the cult of martyrdom as a re-emergence of totalitarianism’s nihilist strand.’

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On that note…some further speculation:

George W. Bush had commitments to a vision of human-freedom-based economic liberalism and democracy promotion in Iraq, along with I’m guessing a personal religious faith, social conservative alliances and the neo-conservative application of military force to achieve our aims there. His support of the unpopular surge to give the Iraqi government a monopoly on power in 2007 managed to stabilize the country somewhat, which has since been squandered by a sectarian Maliki coalition and no real follow-up during our withdrawal (whatever your thoughts on the war and invasion itself).

I wouldn’t be surprised if, via Bernard Lewis (and similar to Berman’s analysis above), Bush shared a view that the nihilist and totalitarian exports from the West grafted onto the Middle-East (Saddam party Ba’athism, Gadhafi’s Green Book and ultimately Islamism and Islamic terror) manage to constitute a very important threat to American liberty and security here at home. After all, 9/11 happened on his watch.  Hence, the War On Terror and the global hunt for bin Laden.  It was time to root out the threat and fight for a global vision of liberty against a global vision of Islamism.

As Bernard Lewis argued, perhaps an Islamic caliphate that isn’t radicalized and Islamist may be the Muslim’s world’s version of  power-sharing. This is something to think about:  The Muslim world may not really be that compatible with Western liberal democracy, but at least the Ottomans weren’t as bad as what we’ve got now.

Barack Obama seems to possess a kind of further-Left, pro-peace (and by my lights, impossibly ideal and utopian) democratic activist vision which often finds Clintonesque humanitarian intervention too much to swallow (as in Bosnia). The Obama foreign-policy coalition is pretty hostile to neo-conservatism, social conservatism etc.and frankly suspicious of even the humanitarian interventionists at times. Obama aims to, and has largely withdrawn, U.S. forces and influence from the region entirely, arguably without much strategic consideration or competence, by the looks of our State Department spokespeople and hashtag activism.

What do we do next?  What’s most important and how do we get there from here?

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition:  There are many factions to think about, neo-conservatives, many of whom haven’t properly examined their assumptions for the original invasion and have careers to protect, pro-peace Democrats who seem as angry at neo-conservatives as dealing much in foreign policy reality and have political power to maintain for progressive aims, anti-war libertarians and Hayekians with wisdom to offer, paleo-cons who want to return to a vision of conservatism at home and don’t support any more engagement abroad, middle-of-the-road Americans riding a surge of isolationism on foreign matters and showing disgust with D.C. here at home…

Stephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Ending The War In Afghanistan’

Full piece here.

Biddle pushes for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban:

‘The international coalition fighting in Afghanistan has long planned on handing over responsibility for security there to local Afghan forces. But the original idea was that before doing so, a troop surge would clear the Taliban from strategically critical terrain and weaken the insurgency so much that the war would be close to a finish by the time the Afghans took over. That never happened. The surge made important progress, but the tight deadlines for a U.S. withdrawal and the Taliban’s resilience have left insurgents in control of enough territory to remain militarily viable well after 2014. Afghan government forces will thus inherit a more demanding job than expected.’

There’s much reluctance at home, from bitterly bipartisan politics and deficit spending battles to isolationism and war exhaustion, as to why we should still be in Afghanistan (and addressing the AfPak issue, really).  Much of the fighting there has been pretty nasty for our troops with the enemy either dug-in or easily melting away across the border into Pakistan.

The primary objective was clearly getting bin-Laden and breaking up his network.  We wanted to inflict a real cost on them.  To do that it was decided that the Taliban, with roots in the mujahideen against the Soviets in 1979, as factions of Islamically purist warlords, needed to be removed from power without making war with Afghans nor other Muslims necessarily.  The Taliban have been cleared away for awhile, and coalition forces have gotten rid of bin-Laden, and while I’ve heard the Al Qaeda network still has presence over the border in the FATA region of Pakistan, basic conditions on the ground haven’t changed that much:  The Taliban are pretty much expected to fill right back in, and groups sympathetic to bin-Laden enough to fight alongside, shelter and harbor him are still likely going be active throughout the region.

How do we prevent this region from remaining a haven for terrorist activity?

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.  Any thoughts and comments are welcome:

Canadian documentarian Louie Palu covered the Kandahar region of southwest Afghanistan, where much of the fiercest fighting has occurred, and where the British, Soviets and coalition forces have fought.

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And again here’s Zbigniew Brzezinski on a brief visit with the Taliban in 1979, in a rather ‘conspiratorial’ video.  You do what  you’ve gotta do, sometimes:

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Related On This SiteFrom March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanStephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Running Out Of Time For Afghan Governance Reform’

Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry KissingerTom Ricks Via Foreign Policy: ‘American General Dies In Afghanistan; An American Lt. Col. Goes Off The Reservation

Via Circa: ‘Navy SEAL Launches Raid Of al-Shabaab Leader’s Villa In Somalia

Full report here.

NY Times article here.

‘A Navy SEAL team targeted a senior leader of the Shabab militant group in a raid on his seaside villa in the Somali town of Baraawe on Saturday, American officials said, in response to a deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall for which the group had claimed responsibility.’

That war on terror is still going on.  We often have Special Operations and SEAL teams operating in tricky areas.

The fundamental anarchy and lawlessness of Somalia continue to have consequences.

Related On This Site:  What map are you using to understand this conflict:  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

Ayan Hirsi Ali has used the ideals of the West (especially women’s rights) to potentially confront Islam; which has served her politically as well:  Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’

Is Islam incompatibile with freedom as we define it here in the West, or is this a false choice?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Najat Fawzy Alsaeid At The Center For Islamic Pluralism: ‘The War Of Ideologies In The Arab World’

Repost-Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

Via Foreign Policy: ‘Appraising Al-Qaeda: The Practitioner’s Perspective’

Full piece here.

‘What is the nature of al-Qaeda? Is it an organization with tight leadership structures and command and control, or is it an idea that takes harbor in the hearts and souls of disenfranchised or disillusioned young men and women seeking some greater meaning to their lives? Over time, the importance of these two schools of general thought has waxed and waned with various academics, authors, pundits and practitioners alternatively concluding the importance of one over the other largely depending on the nature of the latest plot to be disrupted.’

Addition:  Were there Libyan prisoners in Benghazi that the attackers on the consulate were trying to get back?

Another Addition:  Petraeus to face charges?

Another:  It’s becoming quite a mess.  Others are involved.

Eli Lake has a little more on Petraeus’ trip to Benghazi.

Related On This Site:  Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda Is The Weak Horse’Christopher Hitchens At Slate: ‘Lord Haw Haw And Anwar Al-Awlaki’From CSIS: ‘Rick “Ozzie” Nelson and Tom Sanderson on the Future of Al Qaeda’,Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Repost-Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

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Via Fox News: ‘CIA Operators Were Denied Request For Help During Benghazi Attack, Sources Say

Full post and video here.

‘Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to “stand down.” 

Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The rescue team from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.’

Woods was then killed by a mortar attack after about 6 hours and 20 minutes of fighting.  Still unfolding.

Addition:  Woods’ father spoke to Fox about the unsatisfying answers he got from the administration.  He’s not alone.  It would be nice to hear if there are good answers, and why the decisions that were made…were made.

Another Addition:  I should add that there may be good reasons why the above facts are simply incorrect.  Maybe there are sensitive reasons why no action was pursued.  I also recognize that there is a lot of populist and political motivation pushing to pursue the matter further, but there may also be political motivations for not pursuing the matter further.  We have four dead Americans involved in a 7 hour siege on what was essentially American soil.

Another:  Via Christopher Dickey, Eli Lake and Jaime Dettmer at Newsweek, the most accurate account of events about that night in Benghazi that I’ve come across.  A mess.

More from HotAir here.  There’s still a question of why it took so long to react, and why it’s taking so long, and how effective the current president’s policy is handling the rise of Islamism and those who will respond as enemies in the War On Terror.

Related On This SiteFrom Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘Exclusive: Libya Cable Detailed Threats’

Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

From Michael Totten’s Blog: ‘Two Hours’From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Lara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ’2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

The rise of Islamism across the region…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

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From Michael Totten’s Blog: ‘Two Hours’

Post here.

The administration may have known within two hours into the Benghazi attack that Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility:

‘Reuters claims to be in possession of three emails that, if authentic, should put to rest once and for all how long it took for the White House and State Department to learn that the terrorist attack in the Libyan city of Benghazi last month was, in fact, a terrorist attack.’

Still unfolding.   What’s the grand strategy here?

Addition:  How is the President’s strategy in Libya working out?  How is the War On Terror going?  What are the threats facing the U.S?  Why Libya and not Syria?  What kinds of people are we getting into bed with in Syria, Libya, Egypt and is the Muslim Brotherhood really the group to leverage to peel away from the radicals and terrorists?

Another addition:  Were we running guns out of Benghazi, destination Syrian opposition, many of which were falling into the wrong hands?

This would mean Stevens and his crew were in Benghazi on the sly.  In the bigger picture, this would back the Turks against Assad in Syria and also work against Iran who sees Assad as their best ally.

Another Addition:  Via Eli Lake, Benghazi suspect held in Tunisia.

Another:  Per The Atlantic, there is no story:

It sounds very plausible. There’s only one problem with that view: No evidence has surfaced so far to support the idea that the Obama Administration deceived the public deliberately.

Then it just appears incompetent, or not so good at handling the conflicting intelligence, of which there is a lot.  It would be nice to have some clarification from the President.  There’s quite a rift in our politics right now and we are sending a message to those who would harm and kill us.

Why push the video as the cause of the attacks?  And if it’s just incompetence and slow reaction…is the Middle East any more stable?  How’s the war on terror?

Another Addition:  White House declines comment.

Related On This Site:   From Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘Exclusive: Libya Cable Detailed Threats’

Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

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From Foreign Policy: ‘The Case For Intervention…In Obama’s Dysfunctional Foreign-Policy Team.’

Full piece here.

Rosa Brooks, former Obama Defense Undersecretary and State Department Adviser, writes:

‘Cronyism also reigns supreme when it comes to determining who should attend White House meetings: increasingly, insiders say, meetings called by top NSS officials involve by-name requests for attendance, with no substitutions or “plus ones” permitted. As a result, dissenting voices are shut out, along with the voices of specialists who could provide valuable information and insights. The result? Shallow discussions and poor decisions.’

Ouch.  A lack of leadership, executive experience and perhaps just American institutional experience.   I personally suspect, like domestic policy, Obama may be ideologically further Left than many of the people who might know something.  This could lead to fewer people he actually trusts and a smaller bubble.

Addition: A State Department Background Briefing On Libya; a conference call transcript of some of what happened during the Benghazi attack.

Related On This Site:  We’re still in a war on terror, so let’s talk about it: Lara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ’2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

From Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘Exclusive: Libya Cable Detailed Threats’

I don’t believe that we can appease Islamic extremists, which is the whole premise of this administration’s approach…blunt American power and incentivize Muslim societies to drive the extreme elements out through international cooperation: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

Just how far Left is this administration anyways? Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others