Category Archives: ISIS

Family Loses Seven in Egyptian Attack

Why isn’t the Muslim world enraged over this kind of activity by ‘their own’??
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WSJ  5/31/2017  BY DAHLIA KHOLAIF

CAIRO—For Samia Morkous and her family, the trip to a Coptic Christian monastery was meant as a pilgrimage of gratitude for her husband’s recovery from lung surgery. Then Islamic State gunmen ambushed the tour bus south of Cairo.

Her son Sameh opened the door of the small bus and then recoiled and fell back from shots to his head, said Mrs. Morkous. Several gunmen boarded the bus and demanded that the occupants recite the Muslim creed.

Those who refused—or who answered with Christian hymns—were immediately killed, Mrs. Morkous said at a Cairo hospital where she is recovering from bullet wounds to her thighs suffered in the Friday attack.

When it was over, Mrs. Morkous’s husband, Mohsen; two adult sons; a teenage grandson; a 4-year-old granddaughter; and two other rela- tives were among 30 people killed.

“We came to get blessings and rejoice with our children,” Mrs. Morkous, who lives in Tinley Park, Ill., said of the trip to the ancient St. Samuel Monastery.

“It was like the world flipped upside down around us,” she said of the attack.

The couple were on their first trip to Egypt in nearly two years, after immigrating to the U.S. several years ago.

Mr. Morkous had successfully recovered from lung surgery and recently became a naturalized American citizen. He worked at a nephew’s hair salon in Country Club Hills, Ill., said Rev. Samuel Azmy, his priest at the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church. Mrs. Morkous, who is 56, holds a green card.

The ambush in Minya province, about 190 miles south of Cairo, was the deadliest terrorist attack ever on Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority. It marked the latest in a series of Islamic State attacks on Copts since December, including three bombings of Coptic churches that killed 70 people.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, facing increasing criticism from Copts who say he has failed to protect them, ordered rare cross-border airstrikes on militant camps in Libya in the wake of the attack.

The strikes were aimed at the Libyan city of Derna. Forces headed by a Sisi ally, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, say the city is home to armed groups linked to al Qaeda, but not Islamic State, which was driven out in 2015.

On Tuesday, the Libyan National Army said it had set up an operations room to coordinate airstrikes with Egypt. Spokesmen for both militaries declined to give more detail on the arrangement, including whether Egypt had launched any additional airstrikes after the initial round.

A spokesman for Mr. Sisi also didn’t respond to messages and calls seeking comment. Mr. Sisi, in a televised speech following the Friday attack, said the gunmen had trained in unspecified militant camps in Libya.

Visitors to Mrs. Morkous’s hospital room kissed her hand, asking for her blessings and offering condolences. They told her that her family members were in a better place and marveled at an interview she gave to a local television station in which she said she is praying for the murderers.

She recalled the attack in a low voice and short sentences punctuated by deep breaths. “There was heavy gunfire,” she said.

In an effort to save a relative who had a gun pointed at him, Mrs. Morkous said she removed her gold jewelry and handed it to a gunman. He shot her family member anyway.

“May the Lord forgive them,” she said.

A family friend, Samuel Mokhtar, said Mrs. Morkous will return to the U.S. only if her daughters-in-law whose husbands were killed and her grandchildren who lost their fathers accompany her.

“She won’t leave them behind,” he said.

—Tamer El-Ghobashy and Shibani Mahtani contributed to this article.

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Morrissey on Manchester

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WSJ 5/25/2017
Celebrating my birthday in Manchester as news of the Manchester Arena bomb broke. The anger is monumental.

For what reason will this ever stop?

Theresa May says such attacks “will not break us”, but her own life is lived in a bullet-proof bubble, and she evidently does not need to identify any young people today in Manchester morgues. Also, “will not break us” means that the tragedy will not break her, or her policies on immigration. The young people of Manchester are already broken – thanks all the same, Theresa.

Sadiq Khan says “London is united with Manchester”, but he does not condemn Islamic State who have claimed responsibility for the bomb. The Queen receives absurd praise for her ‘strong words’ against the attack, yet she does not cancel today’s garden party at Buckingham Palace – for which no criticism is allowed in the Britain of free press. Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says the attack is the work of an “extremist”. An extreme what? An extreme rabbit?

In modern Britain everyone seems petrified to officially say what we all say in private. Politicians tell us they are unafraid, but they are never the victims. How easy to be unafraid when one is protected from the line of fire. The people have no such protections.

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The Islamic Hatred of Modernity

I give credit to Mauldin Economics, to which I encourage you to subscribe.
The liberal Left hates what Dr. Brock states, but that does not make it less true.  I highly recommend this article.

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The Islamic Hatred of Modernity

Dr. Woody Brock
Strategic Economic Decisions, Inc.
April 26, 2016

“Not free thought for those that agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate”
– US Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., 1929

Terrorism is here to stay, and it is now beginning to impact the economic performance of many nations – in particular the performance of the service sector. In this brief Memo, we set forth a few thoughts about what underlies this phenomenon, and what to do about it.

ISIS versus Modernity and the West

Relative Power of ISIS versus Europe: The usual determinants of relative power (e.g. wealth or the size of an army) are not very relevant to assessing the struggle between ISIS and the West. [By ISIS we refer not only to ISIS proper, but to any of its affiliated groups as well.] For the conflict is less a militaristic one than it is a war of nerves between Jihadists who carry out scattered sting operations, and Europeans and Americans lacking both the will and the coordination to properly respond. An additional source of Jihadist power stems from their status as True Believers, making them a very dangerous kind of opponent. Their moral certainty immunizes them against normal threats such as being killed. The number who do not fear death is sufficient to spell trouble for decades ahead.

What is it that makes these extremists so morally superior, and so hateful of the West? In part, their superiority stems from their absolute faith in the truth of the teachings of the Koran. But this is only the tip of an iceberg of hatred. For their religious convictions are amplified by their detestation of the cultural, economic, ethical, and political values of Westerners. At a deep level, their terrorism stems from their hatred of modernity itself. We in the West are seen as weak and morally dissolute. For not only do we possess no religious fervor, but we lack moral resolve of any kind due to the anesthetizing effects of our materialistic, welfare-based social system. Such ethical values as we have stem not from fear of any God, but rather from an attachment to mushy concepts of “fairness” ranging from the “right” to nine weeks of vacation, to t he right to never be drafted to fight a war. In the US, citizens’ erstwhile chant of “give me liberty or give me death” has morphed into “give me liberty or give me latte.” All in all, ISIS’ conviction of holding the moral high ground is a major source of their power over the West.

Reinforcing this power of fundamentalists is their strategy of implementing fragmented hit-or- miss strikes. They specialize in ongoing, unnerving terrorist attacks in public places. The West’s superiority in the number of security personnel and in intelligence-gathering does little to prevent these random attacks which can occur in hundreds of different emporia. In this regard, it is sobering that more than 5,000 EU-based fighters have already been to Syria for training in terrorist tactics, according to the US-based consultancy Soufan. This number will grow given the poor economic conditions in Europe where the unemployment rate of males under 30 exceeds 25% in many nations.

Finally, today’s ongoing Jihadist attacks are concurrent with the new European immigration crisis. Given the implications of soaring immigration for tighter border controls, the increasing threat of Brexit, and problems endemic to the Euro, it is likely that the EU as we have known it will cease to exist. There will then be no semblance of any “unified” EU stance against ISIS. Instead, we will observe fragmented and ineffectual responses as well as the suspension of many civil liberties now taken for granted.

This brief analysis suggests that the power of ISIS against Europe is much greater than might appear to be the case, despite Europe’s greatly superior power as traditionally measured.

A War against Modernity: The importance of the culture war underlying the Jihadists’ hatred of Westerners cannot be understated. In their eyes, we are modernist devil worshippers. Women should be kept at home, devoid of any rights. They should be virgins when they marry. Adultery is a sin punishable by death, as is homosexuality. The fact that many citizens of Muslim nations do not share these views does not seem to matter. Consider Iran: the majority of the people value democracy, and even look favorably on the US. But so what? The Mullahs and the Red Guard rule with an iron fist, as we have seen during the recent elections when the candidates favored by most voters were stricken from ballot list. Moreover, Iran’s autocratic leaders are out in front in an effort to fund terrorist groups, in one form or another.

Consider the words of the eminent Simon Schama in a recent March 26 Financial Times Op-Ed piece:

We are not talking fine points of Shia-Sunni theological controversy here. By every means possible Isis is at pains to let us know they will kill as many of us as it takes to sow such mayhem in the heartland of the kaffir world that it will be impossible to resist mobilising the “Crusader” army for the promised apocalyptic showdown out of which the Caliphate will emerge forever victorious.

Also consider the comments of Professor R. Vaidanathan of the IIMB in Bangalore:

Radical Islam is not fighting Christianity – which anyhow is dead in Europe – but it is fighting modernity. Islam is frightened of modernity destroying their religion and culture, however unacceptable this culture may be to European liberals…..

Europe thought – à la Merkel – that they can buy peace with radical Islam by “requesting” them to integrate. But integrate with what? Integrate with “immoral Europe” where women are exhibited as “open meat”[(in the words of the Australian Imam] who are “poisonous.” [https://rvaidya2000.com/2016/03/23/idea-of-europe-is-dead/]

Contrast ISIS’ moral resolve with the pusillanimous attitude of Westerners. Most assert their disapproval of fundamentalism, of course. But their live-and-let-live attitude sees it as a “right” for people to “express their views” and espouse any religion they wish – including the Religion of Hate. The problem with this view is that the Religion of Hate is unlike any other religion in espousing the murder of all non-believers. Excessive tolerance further undermines the will of the West to fight back against Jihadism in a resolute way.

How the West Can Best Deal with Fundamentalism – Insights from Game Theory

In game theory, there is a fundamental distinction between positive-sum bargaining games, and zero-sum games. In bargaining games, it is assumed that both sides can be better off by agreeing on a way to “divide the pie” instead of playing their optimal threat strategies and ending up with no pie – or worse. All such games are positive-sum in nature. In a zero-sum game, however, there is no pie to divide, and no bargaining compromise is possible.

Most of the analyses of how the West should confront fundamentalism fail to make this all-important distinction. Analysts implicitly assume that negotiation strategies exist, strategies that will somehow end up with an acceptable compromise. President Obama’s stance towards Iran, Russia and China offer examples of this approach. In all three cases, he turned the other cheek, and attempted to “reset” relations with these nations expecting they would reciprocate. All would end up better off. But his antagonists ended up taking full advantage of his weakness, reneged on many agreements, and made Obama look as incompetent at bargaining as he has proven to be.

Professor Schama is right in his comments above. He is stating that, in effect, we are playing a zero-sum game. ISIS wants nothing from us in exchange for something. They simply want to destroy us. Analogously, Iran has no intention of settling with Israel. Its stated goal is the elimination of Israel. In such cases, the optimal strategy (for the West) is to identify the enemy’s vulnerabilities, and having done so, to sow as much grief and pain as possible. The fact that the enemy are scattered and that some of their recruits are happy to blow themselves up does not relieve us of the responsibility to hit where it hurts: recruits that do not wish to die (the vast majority), all training camps (we know where some thirty of these are located), family members, etc. We must pursue such targets both on their home ground, as well as within the EU and the US. There is also the question of how to extract intelligence from terrorist murderers who are captured. Just as an intelligent economist does not believe in free trade for a nation unless other nations follow suit, likewise enemies should be treated in accord with the Geneva Conventions only if they themselves adhere to them, adherence enforced by, say, an effective United Nations if one ever exists. Saying this is, of course, politically incorrect in the extreme. But reality beckons.

The currently fashionable suggestion that what is needed is “for Europe to better ‘integrate’ immigrants” is as vacuous as the citations above assert. Most immigrants want to and are able to integrate over time. They end up great assets of the nations they immigrate to. But as a matter of faith, the bad guys will never integrate into that world of sinners they hate. The West needs a coherent, broad-based, long campaign dedicated to destroying every aspect of terrorist operations. This need not imply a decade with large numbers of troops on the ground. But there will be phases requiring such a presence. Just consider what Russia achieved in its recent and relatively mild strategy against the opposition to the Assad regime. They hit hard, it worked, and they have now pulled back – for the moment. Their effectiveness yet again renders the indecision of President Obama a national embarrassment.

Within Europe, security must of course be tightened, but not at the expense of the crippling day to day economic life of people – precisely the outcome ISIS seeks. Leaders should encourage a much more stiff-upper-lip response by citizens than they have.

POSTSCRIPT

Political Correctness and the Lack of Sense of Humor in All True Believers

There is one common denominator of all True Believers, namely a lack of sense of humor. This is as true of terrorists as it is of today’s political correctness police in the US, spearheaded by those who traffic in wooly ideas about gender and class. What is happening on US campuses is outrageous, and recalls the moral absolutism espoused by Jihadists overseas. Freedom of speech is being seriously abridged, as are rights of free association. To repeal the right to free speech, all that is needed is some belief that certain comments are “inappropriate,” to use the word of the moment. “Trigger notices” warning that eight Shakespeare plays should not be taught constitute a reductio ad absurdum on the part of university heads. As for the rights of male students to a fair hearing in the case of alleged sexual harassment, hyper-risk-averse “administrative panels” now serve as prosecutor, judge, and jury. There is often no way for an accused male student to receive a proper defense. When the right to self-defense is abridged, it is time to vacate the new status quo.

What US Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in 1929 about the all-important right of freedom of thought and speech (cited at the opening of this essay) remains as true today as it was eighty-seven years ago. Silencing people who say things you do not want to hear amounts to a surrender to oppression. If the PC police resent this reality, they should perhaps recall the words of President Truman: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

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President Canute

“Stop!”
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In the spring of 2013 Barack Obama delivered the defining speech of his presidency on the subject of terrorism. Its premise was wrong, as was its thesis, as were its predictions and recommendations. We are now paying the price for this cascade of folly.

“Today, Osama bin Laden is dead, and so are most of his top lieutenants,” the president boasted at the National Defense University, in Washington, D.C. “There have been no large-scale attacks on the United States, and our homeland is more secure.” The “future of terrorism,” he explained, consisted of “less capable” al Qaeda affiliates, “localized threats” against Westerners in faraway places such as Algeria, and homegrown killers like the Boston Marathon bombers.

All of this suggested that it was time to call it quits on what Mr. Obama derided as “a boundless ‘global war on terror.’ ” That meant sharply curtailing drone strikes, completing the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and closing Guantanamo prison. It meant renewing efforts “to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians” and seeking “transitions to democracy” in Libya and Egypt. And it meant working with Congress to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against al Qaeda.

“This war, like all wars, must end,” he said. “That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”

King Canute of legend stood on an English shoreline and ordered the tide to recede. President Canute stood before a Beltway audience and ordered the war to end. Neither tide nor war obeyed.

In 2010, al Qaeda in Iraq— Islamic State’s predecessor— was “dead on its feet,” as terrorism expert Michael Knights told Congress. World-wide, the U.S. government estimated al Qaeda’s total strength at no more than 4,000 fighters. That was the result of George W. Bush’s surge in Iraq, of Mr. Obama’s own surge in Afghanistan, and of the aggressive campaign of drone killings in Pakistan and Yemen.

But then the Obama Doctrine kicked in. Between 2010 and 2013 the number of jihadists world-wide doubled, to 100,000, while the number of jihadist groups rose by 58%, according to a Rand Corp. study. That was before ISIS declared its caliphate.

Today, the U.S. government estimates that ISIS can count on as many as 25,000 fighters. This is after a two-year campaign of airstrikes to destroy the group. In Libya alone, U.S. intelligence recently doubled its estimate of ISIS fighters, to as many as 6,000. Even “core” al Qaeda is surging again in its Afghan and Pakistani heartland, thanks in part to the military gains the Taliban have made in the face of America’s withdrawal.

Apologists for Mr. Obama will rejoin that it’s unfair to blame him for trends in terrorism, an argument that would have more credibility if he hadn’t been so eager to take credit for those trends only three years ago. The same apologists also claim that the U.S. cannot possibly cure what ails the Middle East, and that no law-enforcement agency can stop a lonewolf terrorist such as Omar Mateen.

But these arguments fail. The rise of ISIS was a predictable result of Mr. Obama’s abdication in Iraq and especially Syria—a result Mr. Obama himself foresaw in his 2013 speech. “We must strengthen the opposition in Syria, while isolating extremist elements,” he said, “because the end of a tyrant must not give way to the tyranny of terrorism.” Was the opposition strengthened? Were the extremists isolated?

As for lone wolves, one study from last year cited 38 cases of “lone wolf” terrorism between 1940 and 2001, another 12 during the eight years of the Bush administration— and more than 50 since then.

The phenomenon is catching in part because ISIS is canny at using the internet and social media to attract and activate recruits. But what ISIS mainly does is give aimless and insignificant young men what most young men secretly crave—a cause worth dying for. When Mr. Obama attempts to reassure Americans by suggesting, as he did Monday, that Mateen was not part of “a larger plot,” he demonstrates once again that he doesn’t understand the enemy. ISIS, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups are not criminal conspiracies. They are a religious movement. No coordination is required for the true believer to put his faith into action.

It would require more humility than Mr. Obama is capable of mustering to admit that what happened in Orlando is also a consequence of his decisions—of allowing Iraq and Syria to descend to chaos; of pretending that we could call off the war on terror because fighting it didn’t fit a political narrative; of failing to defeat ISIS swiftly and utterly; of refusing to recognize the religious roots of terror; of treating the massacre in San Bernardino as an opportunity to lecture Americans about Islamophobia, and Orlando as another argument for gun control.

This is the president’s record. His successor will have to do better to avoid future Orlandos. Will she?

Write bstephens@wsj.com.

Barack Obama discovers too late that he cannot order the tide of war to recede.

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