Al Qaeda

Yemen Kills 37 Al Qaeda Militants' in South Offensive

Submitted by Emily on Wed, 2014-05-07 04:05

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Islamism: What America Still Doesn't Understand

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei is a symbol of Iranian inflexibility and deception in dealing with the West. (Photo: © Reuters)

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei is a symbol of Iranian inflexibility and deception in dealing with the West. (Photo: © Reuters)

Barry Rubin

Around 2007, I gave a lecture at the Defense Department. One of the attendees presented a scenario suggesting that the "problem of Islam" was not political but a problem of verbiage.

There was a secret debate happening in the Defense Department and the CIA in which some people thought that all Muslims were a problem, some believed that only Al Qaeda was a problem, and still others thought the Muslim Brotherhood was a problem.

The main problem, however, was that all Islamism was a political threat, but it was the second position that eventually won over the Obama administration. Take note of this: Since 2009, if you wanted to build your career and win policy debates, only Al Qaeda was a problem. The Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat; after all, it did not participate in September 11. This view was well known in policy circles, but it was easy to mistake this growing hegemony as temporary.

Actually, it only got worse.

A Muslim Foreign Service officer recounted how some U.S. officials were trying to persuade the powers that be that Al Qaeda was split from the Muslim Brotherhood. Imagine how horrified he was. Still other officials told me that there was heavy pressure and there were well-financed lobbyists trying to force officials into the idea that Al Qaeda was the only problem. Some high-ranking defense department officials – for example, one on the secretary of defense's level – were pressured to fire anti-Muslim Brotherhood people. I know of at least five such incidences.

I personally was asked to participate in a contract and co-direct a project for the federal government, and my paper was to be on the idea that all Islamists posed a threat. To my surprise, I was told that my paper was rejected.

Shocked, I asked to speak to the two co-contractors on the telephone. Isn't it true, I said on the phone, that I was to have co-direction of this project? The response was, "Yes, it was." By the way, this co-director, who likely became interested in the Middle East in large part because of me, was very rude. I then told him that though the project had originally been my idea, and that I was going to walk away from it and not demand compensation.

In another incident, a high-ranking CIA official posited a paper that the Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat, only Al-Qaeda was, and U.S. policy should therefore depend on the Brotherhood. 

In another case, a U.S. official made a statement at a public function that neither Hezbollah nor Hamas posed a threat to U.S. interests.

By 2013, this thinking sprouted in a few people who argued that Iran could be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. The theoretical situation to government officials was thus clear: If you wanted to make some money in Washington, you would have to toe the line that the Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat. If sanctions ended against the Muslim Brotherhood or Islamists, including Iran, this could also lead to trillions of dollars in potential trade deals.

Note that in 2009 and 2010, an attempt was made to build such a model with Syria, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people were being murdered in a civil war.

But Iran was a far more valuable state. In fact, Tehran was a far easier target because it had far more money and could possibly be bought simply by agreeing not to build a nuclear weapon.

The following is what I predicted in my 1980 book Paved With Good Intentions: The American Experience and Iran:

United States-Iranian relations could not possibly have been worse in the months following November 4, 1979. From the American point of view, the central problem was obtaining the release of fifty-three American diplomats being held hostage at the American Embassy in Tehran. To the Iranians the capture of the American Embassy and its occupants marked a successful end to one revolution and the opening shots of a second. For Iran, like Russia in 1917, was to undergo both a February and a November revolution–the first a political struggle to unseat the old regime, the second a social, economic, and cultural revolution to build a new Islamic society.

In Iran's case, it was the fundamentalist mullahs and their Islamic Republican Party who were seeking to achieve what the Bolsheviks had done in Russia–monopolize power. Like Lenin, Khomeini would in time turn against moderate segments of the revolutionary coalition and purge their members from positions of authority; like the Bolsheviks, the fundamentalists, once in power, would refuse to compromise with those ethnic movements that had aided the revolution; and like the Leninists, Khomeini's supporters would try to create a totalistic structure, subsuming into their ideological framework all aspects of national life, from the courts to the schools, from the military to the conduct of commerce, and even the daily behavior of the citizenry.

Thus, the United States and Iran, two countries whose friendship had begun with such high expectations and whose relations had included fine moments of selfless cooperation as well as many shameful episodes of corruption and insensitivity, were now the bitterest of enemies.

In 2014, I am convinced that the leadership of the Iranian Islamist regime still feels the same way, just as American policy makers still don't understand that nice verbiage has not changed anything.

Note that President Ronald Reagan sending the Iranians a key-shaped cake –supposedly to symbolize the "opening" of U.S.-Iranian relations – also demonstrated little understanding of Iranian extremism.


Al Qaeda in Iraq: Certainly Not Misguided Nationalists

by Ryan Mauro

A popular viewpoint in the West is that Al-Qaeda and other Islamist militants are misguided nationalists who just want their land free from U.S. domination. Proponents of this view are quick to note that they deplore their tactics, but that their goal is admirable. The real solution, they say, is to mind our own business.

Unfortunately for them, Al-Qaeda and other extremists are sometimes honest about what their long-term objectives are. Getting U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan are just stepping stones towards a bigger objective.

A spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq, a part of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, just said in an audio recording that “We have never fought to [liberate] the land, but to establish a Caliphate and to instate Sharia” and “we fight to instate [the religion of] Allah worldwide.”

That’s not the only one. Bin Laden said, “Muslims are obligated to raid the lands of the infidels, occupy them, and exchange their systems of governance for an Islamic system, barring any practice that contradicts the Sharia from being publicly voiced among the people, as was the case at the dawn of Islam.”

The Muslim Brotherhood leadership says its goal is “mastership of the world” and “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” The Brotherhood even outlines how it wants to accomplish this through a process of “gradualism.”

The problem isn’t that we don’t “mind our own business.” The problem is the Islamist ideology.


Ryan Mauro is a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of and a frequent national security analyst for Fox News Channel.

Al-Qaeda, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood Have a Hay Day in Yemen

by Ryan Mauro

Osama Bin Laden (right) had more than a few good reasons to pick Yemen as the best opportunity to create an Islamic state.

Yemeni President Saleh was swept away in the Arab Spring, though the rest of his regime remains intact. The power vacuum that already existed under his rule has grown larger and Iranian proxies, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are all pouncing on the opportunity at hand.

Yemen is the one country where Al-Qaeda is clearly advancing. It has taken over Abyan Province, where it has instituted strict sharia law, going so far as to publicly lash four people 80 times for consuming alcohol. Apparently, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula decided to ignore Bin Laden’s advice to wait three years before moving forward.

Al-Qaeda recently declared Shabwa Province to be part of its Islamic Emirate and has 300 operatives in the town of Azzan alone. It is looking to grab the city of Mukallah in the province of Hadramaut. Its ranks have been reinforced with up to 800 operatives from Somalia, where the group’s affiliate, al-Shabaab, has been taking a shellacking.

At the same time, Iran is again sending arms to its Shiite Houthi allies in the north, including the advanced explosively-formed penetrators (EFPs) that the regime has sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. A “relatively small but steady stream of automatic rifles, grenade launchers, bomb-making material and several million dollars n cash” are flowing to the Houthis. The Iranians are also courting members of Herak, which seeks secession for the south.

Don’t underestimate the damage that the Houthis can do. In 2009, Iran waged a very bloody proxy war against the Yemeni government using them. The Saudis were forced to militarily intervene, prompting the Iranians to threaten to spread the war into the Royal Family’s land. With the current Yemeni government so weak, it could be easy for the Houthis to establish an enclave loyal to Iran.

Politically, the largest party by far is Islah, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Islah will dominate any free election that is held. Among its top leaders is Sheikh Zindani, who the U.S. accuses of being linked to Al-Qaeda. Islah supports establishing a religious police.

The Salafists have enormous political strength in Yemen and they often clash with the Houthis. It is very possible that they will form independent militias and religious police forces. After all, it just happened in Tunisia. The ruling Tunisian government even legalized the Salafist-formed religious police.

There’s no way to positively spin what is happening in Yemen. The country is ripe for the picking and Islamists of all kinds see it.

Ryan Mauro is a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of and a frequent national security analyst for Fox News Channel.

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