- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2007

Jihadist threat

The international Sunni jihadist group Muslim Brotherhood set up numerous U.S. front groups since the 1990s that should be regarded as hostile and a threat to the United States, a Pentagon Joint Staff analyst said.

Stephen Caughlin, a lawyer and military intelligence specialist on the Joint Staff, stated in a Sept. 7 memorandum that many U.S. Muslim groups viewed as moderate by the Justice Department and other government agencies secretly are linked to the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. The groups also are engaged in influence and deception operations designed to mask their true aims, he said.

Documents entered into evidence in the federal terrorism trial in Dallas of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity charged with illegally funding the Palestinian Hamas terrorist group, reveal new security threats from a network of more than 29 U.S. Muslim groups.

“These documents are beginning to define the structure and outline of domestic jihad threat entities, associated nongovernmental organizations and potential terrorist or insurgent support systems,” Mr. Caughlin said.

Specifically, a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum “describes aspects of the global jihad’s strategic information warfare campaign and indications of its structure, reach and activities,” Mr. Caughlin said.

The Muslim Brotherhood memo on organizing Muslims in North America said that all members “must understand their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within, and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Mr. Caughlin said in his memo that “consequently, outreach strategies must be adjusted in the face of credible information that seeming Islamic humanitarian or professional nongovernmental organizations may be part of the global jihad with potential for being part of the terrorist or insurgent support system,” he said.

Mr. Caughlin said the 1991 memorandum identifies the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) as part of the Muslim Brotherhood. The ISNA, one of more than 300 unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial, recently became a subject of controversy among officials who opposed the Justice Department’s participation in a conference held last month, despite opposition from two members of Congress.

In August, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, and Rep. Sue Myrick, North Carolina Republican, wrote to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to oppose the Justice Department’s attendance at the ISNA conference in Chicago as a “grave mistake” because it would legitimize a group with “extremist origins.”

The Justice Department said in response that its participation at the Labor Day weekend meeting was part of “outreach efforts … to educate the public about how the department works to protect religious freedom, voting rights, economic opportunity, and many other rights.”

Mr. Caughlin warned in his memo that such outreach “can cause those responsible for its success to so narrowly focus on the outreach relationship that they miss the surrounding events and lose perspective.”

“This could undermine unity of effort in homeland security, lead to potential for embarrassment for the [U.S. government] and legitimize threat organizations by providing them domestic sanctuary.”

No war of Ideas

Sen. Joe Lieberman pressed senior U.S. intelligence and security officials this week on what the Bush administration is doing to counter the ideology of Islamic extremism domestically and internationally.

The answer from the top officials: Not much.

Mr. Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said during a hearing Monday that a war of ideas is needed to counter Islamic extremists.

“Because this is a war, but it is ultimately a war against, and with, an ideology that is inimical to our own values of freedom and tolerance and diversity,” the Connecticut independent said.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III revealed during the hearing that the FBI has no counterideology response other than its “outreach” to Muslim-American communities so they “understand the FBI” and address “the radicalization issue,” he said.

Asked whether the FBI has a responsibility to wage a battle of ideas within U.S. Muslim-American communities, Mr. Mueller said: “You put that where I would say no, that it would not be our responsibility for any religion to engage in the war of ideas.”

The FBI’s responsibility, he said, is “to explain that once one goes over the line and it becomes not a war of ideas but a criminal offense, this is what you can expect, and to elicit the support of those in whatever religious community to assist us in assuring that those who cross that line are appropriately investigated and convicted.”

The comment shows that despite the creation of a dedicated FBI intelligence-gathering branch, the bureau remains limited to investigation and law enforcement.

Retired Vice Adm. Scott Redd, head of the National Counterterrorism Center who has a strategic operational role in countering terrorism, said one of the “four pillars” of the U.S. war strategy is the “war of ideas,” but he noted that there is no “home office” for that effort in the United States.

Retired Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, said the intelligence community does not conduct any battle of ideas against terrorists in the United States unless there is a foreign connection.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also said nothing is being done domestically to battle Islamist extremist ideas. The department’s incident management team, he said, is focused on civil rights or civil liberties — not fighting terrorists’ ideology.

USS New York

One place the World Trade Center attacks of six years ago will never be forgotten is aboard the Navy’s new transport ship the USS New York, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock. The warship is unique because part of its hull was cast from 24 tons of salvaged steel recovered from debris at the World Trade Center.

Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Davis said the use of World Trade Center steel in building the ship is one of the most often asked questions. “I think people see it forwarded around on e-mail and think it sounds so incredible that it must be an urban legend, but it’s absolutely true,” he said.

The ship will haul Marines and U.S. special operations commandos once it is commissioned in the summer of 2009.

The new ship will be a key element of the Navy’s 21st-century strategy of moving troops and equipment more rapidly around the world with amphibious ready groups, expeditionary strike groups or joint task forces.

It will carry advanced weapons and communications gear, including Marine aircraft, air cushion landing craft and advanced amphibious assault vehicles.

First kill

The Army’s Hunter unmanned aerial vehicle recently scored its first combat kill by blowing up two Iraqi insurgents with a smart bomb as the enemy fighters were involved in planning an improvised explosive device attack.

The landmark bombing took place Sept. 1 near Qayyarah, Iraq, in Nineveh province after a scout team spotted the two enemy fighters and radioed in the Hunter strike. It was the first time an armed Hunter, a twin-tail drone that can fly for up to 15 hours and at heights of up to 20,000 feet, made such a kill.

“It”s very humbling to know that we have set an Army historical mark in having the first successful launch in combat from an Army weaponized UAV,” said Capt. Raymond Fields, commander, Unmanned Aerial Surveillance Company.

“We will see more weaponized Army unmanned vehicles being used instead of manned platforms to save not only our aviator brethren but our Army ground brethren from enemy contact.”

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