TBR News July 31, 2016

Jul 31 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. July 31, 2016: “The loud protestations by the Democrats about the release, and the pending release, of  highly embarrassing filched documents from the DNC files concerning the activities of Hillary Clinton seem to be missing the point…on purpose. It doesn’t really matter if the Russians, the Swedes, the Saudis or perhaps the Aztecs located and exposed these documents. The question is are these original documents? The DNC has not gotten anywhere near this issue but instead is making a childish attempt to deflect voter interest by claiming Putin did this. It’s not that any American agency ever uses the internet to attack perceived enemies. The release of DoS papers that caused the Arab Spring came from the US Army’s DARPA program but the subsequent rebellions and mass murders that resulted from the release of these genuine papers were blamed  on Bradley Manning and not the Pentagon.”

World order in 2035: US could lose ability for global dominance, DoD paper says

July 30, 2016


By 2035, the US could find itself in an environment where Russia or China may match or even exceed the West’s military and economic might in some areas, taking advantage of a “disordered and contested world,” the Pentagon’s research unit said.

In just 20 years, the US and its allies will live in a world where shaping a global order the way they have since the end of the Cold War would be increasingly difficult, if not impossible, Pentagon’s research division, the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), warned in a new foresight report.

“The future world order will see a number of states with the political will, economic capacity, and military capabilities to compel change at the expense of others,” reads the paper entitled “The Joint Force in a Contested and Disordered World.”

“Rising powers including for example, China, Russia, India, Iran, or Brazil have increasingly expressed dissatisfaction with their roles, access, and authorities within the current international system,” it states.

“Russia will modernize its land, air, and sea-based intercontinental nuclear forces” and make use of deterrent operations such as “snap nuclear exercises, bomber flights, and strategic reconnaissance overflights into US territory,” the Pentagon’s researchers predict.

The report admits Russia and China are among countries dissatisfied “with the current Western-derived notion of international order.”

Russia, China, India, and others, labeled “revisionist states” in the report, would promote alternate international alliances, while the West’s shrinking resources would also have an impact on Washington’s dominance across the globe.

“Although seemingly insignificant today, organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union could grow as China, Russia, India, and others turn to these multinational groups to reorder international rules in their favor.”

“Demographic and fiscal pressures will continue to challenge NATO’s capacity and capability,” the paper warns. “In Asia, perceptions of reduced US commitment may encourage current allies and partners to pursue unilateral military modernization efforts or explore alternative alliances and partnerships.”

However, though the Pentagon’s report states that “no power or coalition of powers has yet emerged to openly oppose US global influence and reach,” it claims “the United States will operate in a world in which its overall economic and military power, and that of its allies and partners, may not grow as quickly as potential competitors.”

A number of states “can generate military advantages locally in ways that match or even exceed that of the Joint Force and its partners,” while American technological superiority “will be met by asymmetric, unconventional, and hybrid responses from adversaries.”

Offering a vision of the world in 2035, the paper says in conclusion it is unclear if the US “can be simultaneously proficient at addressing contested norms and persistent disorder with currently projected capabilities, operational approaches, and fiscal resources.”

“There may be times when it is more appropriate to manage global security problems as opposed to undertaking expensive efforts to comprehensively solve them.”

Moscow has repeatedly denied allegations of it harboring global ambitions as opposed to that of the US.

Russia “is not aspiring for hegemony or any ephemeral status of a superpower,” President Vladimir Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last year, adding: “We do not act aggressively. We have started to defend our interests more persistently and consistently.”

Earlier this year, Russia adopted a new edition of its foreign policy doctrine, which mentions a shift towards a multipolar and a “polycentric” world.

“A transition to polycentric architecture should be ideally based on the interaction of leading centers of power,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in April. He added however, that he was not sure if that was achievable.

As ‘caliphate’ shrinks, Islamic State looks to global attacks

July 31,2016

by Stephen Kalin and Ahmed Tolba


BAGHDAD/CAIRO-Islamic State, losing territory and on the retreat in Iraq and Syria, has claimed credit for a surge in global attacks this summer, most of them in France and Germany.

The wave of attacks followed a call to strike against the West during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in June and July, in an apparent shift in strategy by the jihadist group, which has been hammered by two years of U.S.-led coalition air strikes and ground advances by local forces.

Instead of urging supporters to travel to its self-proclaimed caliphate, it encouraged them to act locally using any means available.

“If the tyrants close the door of migration in your faces, then open the door of jihad in theirs and turn their actions against them,” said an audio clip purportedly from spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, referring to Western governments’ efforts to keep foreign fighters from traveling to the join the group.

Radicalized followers have responded to that call repeatedly in the past two months, in countries part of the international coalition battling Islamic State, including shooting people at a Florida nightclub, running them over with a truck in the French Riviera, and hacking them with an axe on a train near Munich.

The perpetrators had varying degrees of connection to the Middle East-based jihadists. Some had tried to travel to Syria and were on the authorities’ radar, while others displayed few outward signs of radicalism until their deadly acts.

“There’s a growing understanding that the idea of the caliphate is dying and more and more the leadership is calling on foreign fighters not even to come to Iraq and Syria but to go elsewhere or to commit violence locally,” said Max Abrahms, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston who studies extremist groups.

Looking ahead, security experts and officials in the Middle East and the West predict the military campaign against the group in Iraq and Syria will ultimately end its goal of establishing a caliphate but in doing so may lead to a sustained increase in militant attacks globally.


For more than a month, Islamic State supporters on social media have been encouraging would-be “lone wolf” attackers in the West to choose from methods ranging in sophistication from bombing and shooting to stabbing and assault.

“Pledge your allegiance in secret or in public to (Islamic State leader) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and each one of you will be a soldier of the caliphate, no different from those present in the Islamic State,” said one supporter.

Claims of credit for recent attacks issued by Islamic State via Amaq news agency, which supports the jihadist group, referenced Adnani’s appeal.

The attackers “carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of countries that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria, said statements following four incidents in Europe this month.

In France, a Bastille Day truck attack killed 84 people in Nice and a raid on a church killed an elderly Catholic priest in Normandy; In Germany, an axe attack and a suicide bombing in Bavaria injured about 20 people in total.

Most of the assailants, in pre-recorded messages pledging allegiance to Islamic State and taking responsibility for the attacks, echoed Adnani’s rhetoric and encouraged others to emulate them.

“Brothers, go out with a knife, whatever is needed, attack them, kill them en masse,” said Abdel Malik Petitjean, one of two men who killed the priest in northern France last week.

“If you are unable to travel to the Levant (Syria), then fight the apostate armies in your country,” 17-year-old Muhammad Riyad, the Afghan refugee who carried out the axe attack on a train in Bavaria earlier this month, urged other Muslims in a similar video.


As Islamic State is weakened militarily, it is trying to commit violence anywhere in the world, said Abrahms, including by claiming credit for acts even when they have only a tenuous link to the group.

“It’s indiscriminate about who can be a soldier of the caliphate … and it’s indiscriminate about which attacks the group will claim as its own,” he said.

In the last 18 months, the group has been pushed off a quarter of the lands it seized in Iraq and Syria in 2014, research firm IHS said this month; other estimates put losses closer to half.

Iraqi authorities have pledged to retake Mosul – the largest city still under the group’s control – later this year, but the militants will likely maintain safe havens in remote desert areas and revert to more traditional insurgent techniques.

Islamic State’s defeat is a longer way off in Syria, and it has established footholds in pockets of lawlessness or instability from Libya to Afghanistan to the Philippines.

FBI Director James Comey said this week he expected the eventual defeat of Islamic State could lead to an increase in attacks in the United States and Europe by drawing militants out of Syria in much the same way that al Qaeda came about from fighters who had been radicalized in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Analysts including J.M. Berger, a fellow at George Washington University who researches Islamic State, have supported that prediction.

“Projecting strength through terrorist attacks is a factor in the recent violence, but down the road, when (Islamic State) supporters have nothing to lose, things are likely to get worse,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Lin Noueihed, Mostafa Hashem and Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Pravin Char)

Germany’s far-right AfD claws back some support after attacks

July 31, 2016

by Paul Carrel


The anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (Afd) gained support as Germany was hit by a spate of attacks this month, including by Islamist militants, but support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives held steady, a poll showed.

Germany remains deeply unsettled after 15 people were killed and dozens wounded in five separate attacks between July 18-July 26. Two were claimed by Islamic State, and three of the attackers were asylum seekers.

This has led to accusations that Merkel’s open-door refugee policy is to blame, under which over a million migrants, many fleeing war in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, entered Germany in the past year.

An Emnid poll for weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag showed support for the AfD rising by 2 percentage points from the prior week to 12 percent. The poll was conducted between July 21 and July 27.

Officials say two of the assailants, a Syrian asylum seeker who blew himself up in Ansbach and a refugee from either Pakistan or Afghanistan who attacked people on a train in southern Germany, had links to Islamist militancy.

The death toll of 15 includes four assailants. France also suffered two attacks claimed by Islamic State in July, including one in which a gunman drove a heavy truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing at least 84 people.

The AfD enjoyed 15 percent support earlier this year and voters turned in droves to the party in three regional elections in March, giving a thumbs down to Merkel’s refugee policy.

But earlier this month, the AfD, which was founded in 2013 on a eurosceptic platform and then shifted focus to an anti-immigration stance, lapsed into party infighting over what some regional lawmakers called the anti-Semitic views of a colleague.

However, the Emnid poll showed support for Merkel’s conservatives and their coalition partners, the left-leaning Social Democrats, was unchanged at 35 percent and 23 percent respectively.

The AfD’s gains came at the expense of the Greens, support for whom dipped by 1 point to 11 percent, and the far-left Linke, who also suffered a 1 point fall, to 9 percent. Germany is set to hold a federal election in autumn next year.

The resilient support for her conservatives is positive news for Merkel, who on Thursday defiantly repeated her “we can do this” mantra on handling the migrant influx into Germany, and vowed not to bend her refugee policy.

(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Hillary Clinton and Her Hawks

Focusing on domestic issues, Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech sidestepped the deep concerns antiwar Democrats have about her hawkish foreign policy, which is already taking shape in the shadows

July 30, 2016

by Gareth Porter


As Hillary Clinton begins her final charge for the White House, her advisers are already recommending air strikes and other new military measures against the Assad regime in Syria.

The clear signals of Clinton’s readiness to go to war appears to be aimed at influencing the course of the war in Syria as well as U.S. policy over the remaining six months of the Obama administration. (She also may be hoping to corral the votes of Republican neoconservatives concerned about Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.)

Last month, the think tank run by Michele Flournoy, the former Defense Department official considered to be most likely to be Clinton’s choice to be Secretary of Defense, explicitly called for “limited military strikes” against the Assad regime.

And earlier this month Leon Panetta, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director, who has been advising candidate Clinton, declared in an interview that the next president would have to increase the number of Special Forces and carry out air strikes to help “moderate” groups against President Bashal al-Assad. (When Panetta gave a belligerent speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, he was interrupted by chants from the delegates on the floor of “no more war!”

Flournoy co-founded the Center for New American Security (CNAS) in 2007 to promote support for US war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then became Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the Obama administration in 2009.

Flournoy left her Pentagon position in 2012 and returned to CNAS as Chief Executive Officer. She has been described by ultimate insider journalist David Ignatius of the Washington Post, as being on a “short, short list” for the job Secretary of Defense in a Clinton administration.

Last month, CNAS published a report of a “Study Group” on military policy in Syria on the eve of the organization’s annual conference. Ostensibly focused on how to defeat the Islamic State, the report recommends new US military actions against the Assad regime.

Flournoy chaired the task force, along with CNAS president Richard Fontaine, and publicly embraced its main policy recommendation in remarks at the conference.

She called for “using limited military coercion” to help support the forces seeking to force President Assad from power, in part by creating a “no bombing” zone over those areas in which the opposition groups backed by the United States could operate safely.

In an interview with Defense One, Flournoy described the no-bomb zone as saying to the Russian and Syrian governments, “If you bomb the folks we support, we will retaliate using standoff means to destroy [Russian] proxy forces, or, in this case, Syrian assets.” That would “stop the bombing of certain civilian populations,” Flournoy said.

In a letter to the editor of Defense One, Flournoy denied having advocated “putting US combat troops on the ground to take territory from Assad’s forces or remove Assad from power,” which she said the title and content of the article had suggested.

But she confirmed that she had argued that “the US should under some circumstances consider using limited military coercion – primarily strikes using standoff weapons – to retaliate against Syrian military targets” for attacks on civilian or opposition groups “and to set more favorable conditions on the ground for a negotiated political settlement.”

Renaming a ‘No-Fly’ Zone

The proposal for a “no bombing zone” has clearly replaced the “no fly zone,” which Clinton has repeatedly supported in the past as the slogan to cover a much broader US military role in Syria.

Panetta served as Defense Secretary and CIA Director in the Obama administration when Clinton was Secretary of State, and was Clinton’s ally on Syria policy. On July 17, he gave an interview to CBS News in which he called for steps that partly complemented and partly paralleled the recommendations in the CNAS paper.

“I think the likelihood is that the next president is gonna have to consider adding additional special forces on the ground,” Panetta said, “to try to assist those moderate forces that are taking on ISIS and that are taking on Assad’s forces.”

Panetta was deliberately conflating two different issues in supporting more US Special Forces in Syria. The existing military mission for those forces is to support the anti-ISIS forces made up overwhelmingly of the Kurdish YPG and a few opposition groups.

Neither the Kurds nor the opposition groups the Special Forces are supporting are fighting against the Assad regime. What Panetta presented as a need only for additional personnel is in fact a completely new US mission for Special Forces of putting military pressure on the Assad regime.

He also called for increasing “strikes” in order to “put increasing pressure on ISIS but also on Assad.” That wording, which jibes with the Flournoy-CNAS recommendation, again conflates two entirely different strategic programs as a single program.

The Panetta ploys in confusing two separate policy issues reflects the reality that the majority of the American public strongly supports doing more militarily to defeat ISIS but has been opposed to US war against the government in Syria.

A poll taken last spring showed 57 percent in favor of a more aggressive US military force against ISIS. The last time public opinion was surveyed on the issue of war against the Assad regime, however, was in September 2013, just as Congress was about to vote on authorizing such a strike.

At that time, 55 percent to 77 percent of those surveyed opposed the use of military force against the Syrian regime, depending on whether Congress voted to authorize such a strike or to oppose it.

Shaping the Debate

It is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for figures known to be close to a presidential candidate to make public recommendations for new and broader war abroad. The fact that such explicit plans for military strikes against the Assad regime were aired so openly soon after Clinton had clinched the Democratic nomination suggests that Clinton had encouraged Flournoy and Panetta to do so.

The rationale for doing so is evidently not to strengthen her public support at home but to shape the policy decisions made by the Obama administration and the coalition of external supporters of the armed opposition to Assad.

Obama’s refusal to threaten to use military force on behalf of the anti-Assad forces or to step up military assistance to them has provoked a series of leaks to the news media by unnamed officials – primarily from the Defense Department – criticizing Obama’s willingness to cooperate with Russia in seeking a Syrian ceasefire and political settlement as “naïve.”

The news of Clinton’s advisers calling openly for military measures signals to those critics in the administration to continue to push for a more aggressive policy on the premise that she will do just that as president.

Even more important to Clinton and close associates, however, is the hope of encouraging Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have been supporting the armed opposition to Assad, to persist in and even intensify their efforts in the face of the prospect of U.S.-Russian cooperation in Syria.

Even before the recommendations were revealed, specialists on Syria in Washington think tanks were already observing signs that Saudi and Qatari policymakers were waiting for the Obama administration to end in the hope that Clinton would be elected and take a more activist role in the war against Assad.

The new Prime Minister of Turkey, Binali Yildirim, however, made a statement on July 13 suggesting that Turkish President Recep Yayyip Erdogan may be considering a deal with Russia and the Assad regime at the expense of both Syrian Kurds and the anti-Assad opposition.

That certainly would have alarmed Clinton’s advisers, and four days later, Panetta made his comments on network television about what “the next president” would have to do in Syria.

Some Observations on Hillary Rodham Clinton

July 30, 2016

by Joseph Rawls

Cranston Institute

Hillary Clinton (Hillary Rodham) was raised first in Chicago and then, from the age of three, in suburban Park Ridge, Illinois.

Her father, Hugh Rodham was a curtain salesman.

The family name of ‘Rodham’ was once ‘Rodomski’ and her father’s family came from the Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland and settled in England before immigrating to the Chicago area.

Hillary was, according to a California State Police report, found naked in bed with a black woman! Wonderful but not a surprise to those who know her. This was written up, and published, by San Francisco ‘Chronicle’ columnist, Herb Caen. When Bill became President, he sent the FBI to seize the report but copies had been made and circulated.

Dr. Alma Bond writes of Hillary’s oppressive upbringing by her father Hugh Rodham.

“Hillary yearns for an intimate relationship with a powerful woman,’ claims Dr Bond.

Her father,Hugh Rodham, was a combative, working-class man from eastern Pennsylvania who was riddled with prejudices against anyone who wasn’t like him.

“He raged about minorities in derogatory terms when he was not subjecting his family to his own violent emotions.”

Hugh Rodham was “was a ‘bullshit artist”, a family member once said.

Hugh “excessively spanked the couple’s three children. He verbally abused Hillary’s mother, Dorothy, and Bond describes their relationship as ‘sadomasochist’.”

All three Rodhan children were, in fact, abused children, Dr. Bond writes.

(More to come!)

The wrath of ISIS: Four men are beheaded for helping terrified citizens escape in Iraq while women and children are executed by firing squad for trying to flee in Syria

  • ISIS launches savage crack down on those trying to flee from their territory
  • Four men executed for helping families flee from city of al-Bukamal in Syria
  • Five women and a child shot by firing squad for trying to leave Mosul, Iraq

July 29, 2016

by Julian Robinson

Daily Mail/UK

ISIS has launched a brutal new crack down on civilians trying to flee from their territory, gunning down women and children and beheading a group of men for helping people escape.

Fanatics executed the four men in public after arresting them for helping families out of the besieged city of al-Bukamal in Deir Ezzor province in Syria.

In a separate murderous clampdown, the terror group executed 14 Iraqis, including five women and a child, who tried to flee from ISIS-held Mosul for the safety of liberated villages to the south.

They were reportedly surrounded by jihadis as they tried to reach Ahjila village – controlled by Iraqi forces – before being gunned down by a firing squad.

It comes as it emerged that ISIS has executed at least 24 civilians after seizing a village in northern Syria from a Kurdish-Arab alliance.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIS carried out all of the killings ‘in the last 24 hours’ after seizing the village of Buyir close to the northern town of Manbij from the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Earlier, the respected monitor suggested as many as 2,353 Syrian civilians had been executed by ISIS during the 25 months since declaring its so-called caliphate.

Yesterday, the AhlulBayt News Agency reported that the terror group had executed 17 of its own commanders for fleeing from a key battlefield south of Mosul.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned today that up to a million people could be forced to flee their homes in Iraq soon as fighting intensifies in a government offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS.

U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces have stepped up their military campaign against ISIS in an expected push on Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the militants’ biggest bastion, later this year.

‘Up to a million more people could be forced to flee their homes in Iraq in the coming weeks and months, posing a massive humanitarian problem for the country,’ the Geneva-based ICRC said in an statement.

It said 10 million Iraqis already require assistance in the country, including more than 3 million internally displaced whose numbers could swell with fresh uprooting of civilians.

New Jewish PAC Aims to Burnish Hillary’s pro-Israel Credentials

Jews for Progress to target Jewish voters in swing states; ‘In Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania, they could swing the election,’ says activist.

July 28, 2016

by Debra Nussbaum Cohen


NEW YORK – A few votes can make all the difference in swing states, where votes are almost evenly divided between the two presidential candidates. Just ask Al Gore, who in 2000 lost the presidency to George W. Bush by all of 537 votes cast in Florida.

Jews for Progress (JFP) aims to not let that happen, at least not when it comes to Jewish voters, in 2016’s battleground states, which include Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada. The new pro-Hillary Clinton Democratic Super Political Action Committee, or PAC, is officially being launched Thursday, its goal being to raise between $2.5 million and $5 million to reach Jewish voters in battleground states and convince them that she is the best choice when it comes to Israel-related issues.

That’s just a fraction of the $25 million they say the Republican Jewish Coalition and allied donors are raising to tout Donald Trump as best for Israel. Fred Brown, spokesman for the RJC, would neither confirm nor deny that amount, saying, “We never discuss our spending plans or donors.”

“We know there’s going to be a micro campaign from them targeting the Jewish community in the swing states, and we think there needs to be a response,” said Marc Stanley, immediate past chair of the National Jewish Democratic Coalition, who has an untitled but central role in the new super PAC.

Trump currently has a slight edge in key battleground states, according to some recent polls, though candidates generally enjoy a bounce immediately following their party’s convention.

The people behind JFP say they are worried about what may happen closer to election day in November.

“There has been a repetition each presidential cycle of an orchestrated misinformation campaign promoted by the Republican Jewish Coalition and [casino magnate/Republican super-donor] Sheldon Adelson,” said Ron Klein, chair of Jews for Progress and a former Democratic congressman from south Florida. “They go into the community with all sorts of lies, misinformation and exaggerations, things to distort the record of Democrats to the Jewish community. There’s a very public effort to discredit Hillary Clinton. They recognize that two thirds to three quarters of American Jews are naturally Democrats, but they try to shear off 10 percent.”

“We are very pleased with our success, making inroads with Jewish voters in five of the last six presidential elections and increasing our vote share by over 300%,” said RJC’s Brown, when asked to respond.

In a close election like the 2000 contest, when Klein’s district was the heart of the hard-fought war over “hanging chads,” or which way votes were actually cast on the paper ballots used at the time, “it can make all the difference. It affected the whole country,” said Klein. He now heads the Israel-practice group at a south Florida law firm, connecting Israeli companies with American investors and distributors.

Jews’ votes pivotal in swing states

Jewish voters can make a critical difference in many elections, said Stanley. When Democrat John Kerry challenged George W. Bush in the 2004 election, “Kerry lost Ohio by about 17,000 votes and did not become president,” said Stanley, an attorney whose firm is in Dallas. “In swing states, if there’s a close election, the Jewish community plays a very pivotal role. The Jewish vote in Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania could swing an election.”

The RJC, which is backing Republican nominee Trump, had strong words about Clinton in response to the criticism of its criticism.

“Hillary Clinton’s support for the Iran nuclear deal, her acceptance of radical Democrat policies, and overseeing the foreign policy agenda of an administration that has weakened our relationship with Israel speaks for itself,” Brown told Haaretz. “Today’s Democrat Party has moved far out of the mainstream of Jewish American voters and can no longer be considered a reliable friend of Israel. Just look at what’s been happening at the Democrat convention, as the Palestinian flag flies on the floor while the Israeli flag burns outside.”

Brown referred to the burning of an Israeli flag outside the Philadelphia convention center on the second night of the Democrats’ gathering, and the unfurling of a Palestinian flag by a few attendees inside the arena.

Connecting things like that to Clinton “is misleading,” said Klein. “Those are issues that have nothing to do with her.”

And despite efforts by some delegates dedicated to former candidate Bernie Sanders to make the Democratic Party platform tilt toward Palestinians, the people behind Jews for Progress say the party is as strongly pro-Israel as ever.

In its Israel section, the Democratic platform reads very similarly to the Republicans’ platform. Both voice commitment to Israel’s security and military edge over its enemies. Both also explicitly oppose the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, and say that Jerusalem should remain Israel’s capital.

Day-to-day running of Jews for Progress is in the hands of Steve Rabinowitz and Aaron Keyak of the Washington D.C. firm Bluelight Strategies. They also run the office of the National Jewish Democratic Coalition.

Jewish Dem money spread thin

During the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Jews for Progress leaders are making the rounds of potential backers. They hope to raise money from some who have already donated big to the Clinton campaign or one of her supporting super PACs, as well as from new sources. “Jewish donors have so many homes in the Democratic party. That money’s spread all over the campaign, PACs supporting Hillary and the DNC,” Stanley said.

“In the Republican Party it’s a much smaller sea and the Jewish donors tend to aggregate their funds within the RJC. [Israel is] the pet cause of their lead donor, Sheldon Adelson, [who] is worth over $18 billion,” Stanley said. “He’s the Jewish community’s version of the Koch brothers, and he can influence whatever he wants.”

In response, the RJC’s Brown said, “Maybe you should ask them if they’ll be soliciting and accepting donations from George Soros,” referring to the billionaire who is viewed by conservatives as someone as extreme on the left as Adelson is viewed on the right by liberals.

Adelson, who has given hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican candidates over the years, is on the RJC board of directors. In May, according to The New York Times, he pledged to give Trump as much as $100 million in support of his effort to beat Clinton.

Indeed, Jews top the list of donors to the second largest pro-Clinton PAC, Priorities USA. It has raised over $100 million, and its list of donors  includes Soros, who has donated $7 million of the overall $25 million he has committed to donating to Clinton. Soros’ son Alex, who started his  own Jewish PAC focused on domestic issues, gave Priorities USA $1 million. Hollywood fixture and longtime Clinton supporters Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, have donated $10 million. Chicago media magnate Fred Eychaner contributed $5 million. And SlimFast founder S. Daniel Abraham has kicked in $3 million.

Jews for Progress’ strategy will center on a “multi-media social media effort to communicate the true story of Hillary Clinton’s support for Israel and Jewish values,” Klein said. “As a U.S. senator she supported Israel on Iron Dome, funding and appropriations, on the issues important to having a more stable environment. As secretary of state she negotiated cease fires between Hamas and Israel,” Klein said. “We want Jewish voters to know that she is very strong, from her heart, on Israel.”

“Most of it will be highly targeted at individual Jews, particularly in swing states through direct voter contact,” said another person centrally involved with the Super PAC, who asked not to be named. “We’ll use email, postal mail, phone. Whether or not there’s a field program involving door knocks is a more complicated question. There will be tons of [advertising on] ethnic media, newspapers, video. Tons of social media, maybe even television,” said the source.

When asked how the RJC plans to deploy its $25 million in those swing states, Brown declined to offer details, saying, “We won’t make our 2016 strategy publicly available for our Democrat opponents to access.”

Research Paper: Turkey-ISIS Oil Trade

by David L. Phillips

Huffington Post


The sale of oil products by ISIS garners about $500 million/year. The US led multinational coalition has pledged to destroy ISIS. Its strategy includes depriving ISIS of financial support. Allegations abound that Turks are engaged in oil trade with ISIS. Additionally, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family are allegedly implicated. Erdogan takes these charges seriously. He promised “to vacate his post of Turkey’s presidency if the claims are substantiated by concrete evidence.”

The Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights appointed a team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Turkey to investigate the allegations. Researchers focus on secondary media sources. This research paper cites relevant reports.

Smugglers transport oil using a variety of means, generating significant revenues for ISIS. Smuggled oil finds its way into Turkey’s export facilities and onto tankers in Ceyhan bound for international markets. There is no “smoking gun” linking the Government of Turkey or Erdogan directly to ISIS oil sales. It is apparent, however, that Turkey turned a blind eye to ISIS oil trade. Turkey failed to seal its border, facilitating ISIS oil exports. Turks have profited at stages of the supply chain.

Transport Trends

George Kiourktsoglou (Visiting Lecturer, University of Greenwich, London) and Dr. Alec D. Coutroubis (Principal Lecturer, University of Greenwich, London) provide the most extensive account of the ISIS oil industry and potential links to Turkey. ISIS began taking over oil fields in late spring 2014. Since then, ISIS has expanded its operations by creating a loosely integrated and thriving underground economy, consisting of approximately sixty percent of Syria’s oil assets and seven oil producing facilities in Iraq.

ISIS has set up an extensive network of middlemen in neighboring territories and countries, with the aim of trading crude oil for cash and in kind. Upon extraction, oil is first lightly refined on site and then a supply-chain network brings it to the market. The supply chain comprises the following localities in Turkey: Sanliura, Urfa, Hakkari, Siirt, Batman, Osmaniya, Gaziantep, Sirnak, Adana, Kahramarmaras, Adiyaman and Mardin. The string of trading hubs ends up in Adana, home to the major tanker shipping port of Ceyhan on the Eastern Mediterranean. The terminal is operated by Botas International Limited (BIL), a Turkish state company.

The authors examine tanker charter rates, in order to establish transport patterns. They look at the map for crude oil loading terminals that geographically fall within, or border the sphere of ISIS control, over a period of years. They consider deviations in the patters from July 2014, when ISIS started off its smuggling operations, until mid-February 2015. They also consider the integration of ISIS smuggled crude within the global oil markets. A part of ISIS smuggled crude oil is fed into the global oil markets, transported in tankers leaving the port of Ceyhan.

Whenever the Islamic State is fighting in the vicinity of an area hosting oil assets, the exports from Ceyhan promptly spike. Unusual spikes are found from July 10-21, 2014. This spike coincides with the fall of Syria’s largest oil field, Al-Omar, to ISIS. Another spike takes place between the end of October and the end of November 2014. It happens at the same time as fighting between ISIS and the Syrian army over the control of the Jhar and Mahr gas fields, as well as the Hayyan gas company in the east of Homs province.

The authors believe that there is active shadow network of crude oil smugglers and traders, who channel ISIS crude to southeast Turkey from northeast Syria and northwest Iraq. The illicit supply chain along Route E90 delivers ISIS crude to Ceyhan.

Smuggler Citings

The Islamic State takes in up to $50 million a month from selling crude from oilfields under its control in Iraq and Syria. Washington has been talking to regional governments, including Turkey, about its concerns over the export of energy infrastructure into ISIS-controlled territory in Syria (e.g. equipment for extraction, refinement, transport and energy production). ISIS management of its oil fields is “increasingly sophisticated,” with assistance from international actors in the region. According to Iraqi intelligence officials, ISIS sells the crude to smugglers who in turn sell to middlemen in Turkey. ISIS is believed to be extracting about 30,000 barrels per day from Syria, smuggled to middlemen in neighboring Turkey. This amount is augmented by up 20,000 barrels per day, mostly from two oilfields outside Mosul. The ISIS “finance ministry” puts at 253 the number of oil wells under ISIS control in Syria. Of these, 161 of them were operational, benefitting from production equipment originating in neighboring countries including Turkey.

ISIS oil is transported to Turkey via multiple routes. Oil from the Raqqa region is transported via the northwest route. A satellite image of the motorway at Azzaz Shows 240 trucks waiting on the Turkish side of border, and 46 trucks on Syrian side of border (13-11-2015). Trucks travel to Dortyol and Iskenderun Port. Satellite images of Deir Ez-Zor show hundreds of tankers carrying oil to towards Qamishli (18-10-2015). After entering Turkey, oil is sent to the “Tupras” refinery in Batman, about 100 kilometers away. Oil is also transported from Syria to Cizre. A satellite image shows 1,104 trucks (14-11-2015). Smugglers load larger jerry cans (50-60 litres) of oil into metal tubs or small row boats to move cargo across the river and into Turkey. On the other bank, tractors pick up the supply and took it to a local market. Some Syrian and Turkish border towns (e.g. Besalan) have co-operated by burying small rubber tubes under the border. A popular crossing point for smugglers carrying jerry cans of fuel on their backs has been from Kharbet al-Jawz in rebel-held Syria to Guvecci in Turkey.

ISIS has no traditional export facilities or access to the open market. As a result, ISIS transports oil by truck to the Turkish border where oil brokers and traders purchase the oil with cash at a steeply discounted price, as low as $18/barrel. Oil sales initially provided the majority of ISIS revenue, but gradually declined due to an extensive campaign of US-led air strikes. The US and Turkey co-chair the Financial Action Task Force, which has studied ISIS revenue streams and recommended measures to prevent cash flow.

The oil-smuggling operation of Abu Sayyaf, an ISIS leader, has been drastically reduced, although tankers still make it to the Syria-Turkey border. According to an ISIS member, “I know of a lot of cooperation… I don’t see how Turkey can attack the organisation too hard. There are shared interests.”

ISIS oil exports are managed by a colonel in the Iraqi Intelligence Services. He indicated, “After the oil is extracted and loaded, the oil tankers leave Nineveh province and head north to the city of Zakho, 88 kilometers north of Mosul. After IS oil lorries arrive in Zakho – normally 70 to 100 of them at a time – they are met by oil smuggling mafias. The person in charge of the oil shipment sells the oil to the highest bidder. Once in Turkey, the lorries continue to the town of Silopi, where the oil is delivered to a person who goes by the aliases of Dr Farid, Hajji Farid and Uncle Farid.”

Vladimir Putin detailed the scope of the operation in meetings with his G20 colleagues. “I’ve shown photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products,” he told journalists on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Antalya. The very same day, the US destroyed some 116 ISIS oil trucks, an effort that was widely publicized in the Western media. In the two weeks since Russia’s revelations, Moscow and Washington have destroyed 1,300 ISIS oil transport vehicles.

Turkey amended its transport, trade and custom policy in June 2014. Regulations govern the “transiting of raw Petrol and Fuel via Turkey by road or railways.” (Approved by Ministry of Trade and Customs on June 24, 2014, item no. 1208098). The Reyhanli border gate is not officially used for trade of oil products. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense provided satellite imagery of oil tankers crossing at Reyhanli.

Iran says it has proof of oil smuggling from ISIS to Turkey. Iran’s Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, Mohsen Rezaei, says the government has photographs of truck tankers bringing ISIS oil to Turkey. Rezaei is quoted, “If Turkish government does not have information of the oil trade in the country, we are willing to give it to them.”

According to Claudia Roth, deputy speaker of the Bundestag and a Green Party MP, Erdogan’s “dealings with the ISIS are unacceptable. Also that the ISIS has been able to sell its oil via Turkey is extraordinary.”

Smuggled fuel came from oil wells in Iraq or Syria controlled by militants, including ISIS, and was sold to middlemen who smuggled it across the 900-kilometer Turkish-Syrian border. Analysts estimate that the Islamic State group gets up to $3 million a day in revenue from oil fields seized in Iraq and Syria. Western intelligence officials have alleged that Turkey is turning a blind eye to a flourishing trade that strengthens ISIS, and Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Turkey to do more to stem the trade. Oil smuggling was a booming business until about six months ago, when Turkish authorities cracked down in response to media reports. New checkpoints and border controls were set-up in Hatay Province. Turkey says it seized nearly 20 million liters of oil at the border in the first eight months of 2015, about four times as much as in the same period the year before.

There are about 8 million people living in ISIS-controlled territory who desperately need fuel and energy supplies. ISIS crude oil is either refined in small facilities or exchanged across the border — mostly in Turkey — for refined oil products. The southern corridor of Turkey has thus become a gateway for oil products and illicit trading. Cross-border trade violates U.N. Security Council resolution 2170 requiring Members States cut the finances of ISIS, Nusra front and other Qaeda splinter groups.

CHP İzmir MP Zeynep Altıok HDP İzmir MP Ertuğrul Kürkçü accused Turkey of oil trade with ISIS in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (27-7-2015 and 27-7-2015). They referenced Martin Chulov’s article in The Guardian (26-7-2015). Chulov maintains that when Abu Sayyaf was in charge of energy trade for ISIS before he was killed in an air strike on May 15. US Special Forces recovered Sayyaf’s computer records confirming that Turkey was the main buyer of oil from ISIS. Chulov is referenced in Birgun newspaper saying that Turkish security forces were protecting the oil trade (28-7-2015).

CHP MP Aykut Erdoğdu alleged that partner companies of Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, and his brother-in-law, Ziya Ilgen, were involved in the ISIS oil trade (17-12-2014). A court case has been brought against him for “insulting the President.”

Ali Ediboglu, an opposition MP, said: “$800 million worth of oil that ISIS obtained from regions it occupied this year (the Rumeilan oil fields in northern Syria and most recently Mosul) is being sold in Turkey. They have laid pipes from villages near the Turkish border at Hatay. Similar pipes exist also at the Turkish border regions of Kilis, Urfa and Gaziantep. They transfer the oil to Turkey and sell it at a discount for cash. They refine the oil in areas close to the Turkish border and then sell it via Turkey. This is worth $800 million.”

Hursit Gunes, a member of Turkey’s opposition, accuses the Turkish authorities of ignoring oil smuggling by ISIS. “The money they get from smuggling could be stopped if the Turkish government and the neighbor countries had decided that they shouldn’t get a coin.”

Last October, the US Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said Islamic State was earning $1 million a day from oil sales. “According to our information, as of last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey, who then transported the oil to be resold. It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey.”

The Arabic-language Al-Akhbar newspaper quoted unnamed sources inside ISIL: “ISIL regularly sells crude it obtains from Iraqi and Syrian oil wells to Turkey through some Qatari middlemen”. In some transactions, oil is bartered for weapons.

On September 13, 2014, The New York Times reported the Obama administration’s efforts to pressure Turkey to crack down on ISIS sales of oil. James Phillips, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, maintained that Turkey has not fully cracked down on ISIS’s sales network because it benefits from a lower price for oil, and that there might even be Turks and government officials who benefit from the trade.

Fehim Taştekin wrote in Radikal on September 13, 2014 about illegal pipelines transporting oil from Syria to nearby border towns in Turkey. The oil is sold for as little as 1.25 liras per liter. According to Taştekin, many of these illegal pipelines were dismantled after operating for 3 years, once his article was published.

According to Diken, David Cohen, a Justice Department official, says that Turkish individuals act as middlemen to help sell ISIS oil through Turkey.

Analysts say it’s very unlikely Ankara has anything to do with ISIS oil. “To go as far to say that Turkey would shoot down a plane to protect its oil supply is unfounded,” says Valerie Marcel of Chatham House. Fawaz Gerges, Professor of International Relations in the London School of Economics and Political Science, agrees that the claims amount to a conspiracy theory. “I think it would be very misleading to say there is an unholy alliance with Turkey and the Islamic State,” he says. According to TIME, “That’s not to say ISIS oil isn’t being imported to Turkey. Getrges adds, “ISIS sells to anyone, it’s not about ideology.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry accused President Erdogan’s family members of being involved in the trade of petroleum with ISIS. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Turkey was the biggest buyer of “stolen” oil from Syria and Iraq. Antonov presented satellite images showing oil tankers travelling from IS-held territory to Turkey. The trucks, travelled to three locations, including refineries, in Turkey. Some oil was sent to a third country. Antonov indicated, “According to available information, the highest level of the political leadership of the country, President Erdogan and his family, are involved in this criminal business.”

An opposition MP claimed this week “that there is a very high probability” that Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law, was linked to the supply of oil by the terrorists.

Berat Albayrak was chief executive of Calik Holding, a pro-government conglomerate with an interest in energy and oil, until 2013. Albayrak also managed Powertrans, a company that trucks oil from Iraqi Kurdistan. Albayrak was targeted as part of a thwarted corruption investigation in December 2013, on allegations of tender-rigging and bribery. He was elected as AKP deputy in June 2015, and then appointed energy minister.

Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, was appointed Minister of Energy and Natural Resources in November 2015. Erdogan’s son, Bilal, has a marine transport company – BMZ group. This company also owns a Maltese shipping company involved in oil transport. Erdogan denies involvement by members of his family. He maintains that the Assad regime and “supporters of that regime” are the buyers of ISIS oil.

Gürsel Tekin, CHP vice-president, said: “President Erdogan claims that according to international transportation conventions there is no legal infraction concerning Bilal’s illicit activities and his son is doing an ordinary business with the registered Japanese companies, but in fact Bilal Erdogan is up to his neck in complicity with terrorism. As long as his father holds office he will be immune from any judicial prosecution.” Tekin adds that Bilal’s maritime company doing the oil trades for ISIS, BMZ Ltd, is “a family business and president Erdogan’s close relatives hold shares in BMZ and they misused public funds and took illicit loans from Turkish banks.”

Finian Cunningham, who worked for British and Irish press (The Mirror, Independent, Irish Times) alleges that Bilal Erdogan who controls BMZ group is implicated in the oil trade. He says that oil comes from Deir Ez-Zor to Batman in Turkey and then transported to Iskenderun Port where it is loaded onto BMZ group-owned tankers for export to world markets.

The BMZ Group, a company owned by President Erdoğan’s son, Bilal, purchased two tankers in the last two months at a total cost of $36 million. According to the Deniz Haber news agency, the two tankers bought by the BMZ Group, named Türkter 82 and Armada Fair, will be registered in October.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said, “All of the oil was delivered to a company that belongs to the son of Erdogan. This is why Turkey became anxious when Russia began delivering airstrikes against the IS infrastructure and destroyed more than 500 trucks with oil already. This really got on Erdogan and his company’s nerves. They’re importing not only oil, but wheat and historic artefacts as well.”

Bilal Erdogan allegedly took $1 billion to Italy in October, 2015. Lawyer Massimiliano Annetta filed a petition with the Bologna prosecutor’s office about alleged money laundering by Bilal Erdogan, requesting an investigation into the money he brought into Italy.

US Views

US Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen said, “Last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey. It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey.”

The State Department has dismissed Moscow’s charge that Erdogan and his family are involved with ISIS oil trade. According to Amos Hochstein, U.S. special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, “The amount of oil being smuggled is extremely low and has decreased over time and is of no significance from a volume perspective – both volume of oil and volume of revenue.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “The irony of the Russians raising this concern is that there’s plenty of evidence to indicate that the largest consumer of ISIL oil is actually Bashar Assad and his regime, a regime that only remains in place because it is being propped up by the Russians.”

Mr. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He served as a senior adviser to the State Department under President Obama. He was also a senior adviser and foreign affairs expert to the State Department under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Phillips is author of Losing Iraq: Inside the Post-War Reconstruction Fiasco. His most recent book is The Kurdish Spring: A New Map for the Middle East.

Wahhabism, ISIS, and the Saudi Connection

by Lincoln Clapper

Geopolitical Monitor

By U.S. Department of State from United States – Secretary Kerry Sits With Saudi King Salman Before Bilateral Meeting in Riyadh, Public Domain, $3

The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has become somewhat of a revelation to the international community over the last several months. Commencing with the desertion from Al-Qaeda, to the self-proclamation of Caliph by its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and finally the surge in Iraq and Syria, each move has occurred without a countervailing effort. In order to conceptualize the mentality of ISIS and its motivation, look no further than inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to examine how its puritanical Wahhabi doctrine has enabled the ideology of ISIS and terrorist groups alike, and will continue to do so for potential Islamic extremist groups in the future.

It’s all too obvious that the theology of ISIS is reciprocal to the Wahhabi religious doctrine that has governed Saudi Arabia from its inception to this very day.

A Brief History of the Deal at the Heart of Saudi Society

Wahhabism refers to the Islamic doctrine founded by Muhammad Ibn’ Abdul-Wahhab. Born in 1703, Abdul-Wahab grew up in Nejd (present-day Saudi Arabia) and was a religious zealot who believed the two most important aspects of religion were, “the Quran and the sword.” As a young teen, he was introduced to the works of Ibn Taymiyyah, an atavistic theologian whose works still resonate in present-day Sunni militant theology. Ibn Taymiyyah’s belief that, “misguided Muslims who do not abide by his interpretation of Shari’ah law should be fought as if they were infidels,” is a foundational principle of Al-Qaeda and ISIS alike. Abdul-Wahhab continued his devotion to the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah throughout his early adult life and began to travel across Nejd projecting his views on Shi’ite communities. Due to his excessive, puritanical beliefs he was forcibly expelled from the city of Basrah by Shi’ite clerics after they revolted against his teachings and attacked him. His rejection eventually led him back to the place of his birth, Al-‘Uyaynah, where his radicalism started to gain excessive adulation. On one prominent occasion, he arranged for the public execution of a woman who confessed to her adultery, had her tied down, then stoned her to death. As this story disseminated throughout the region a local tribal ruler issued a decree that Abdul-Wahhab had to either be stopped or killed. With his life in jeopardy, Abdul-Wahhab traveled to a small market town called Dir’iyyah, which at the time was under the control of one Muhammad Bin Sa’ud. Little did they realize that the events that followed would set a precedent for the future of the region.

Bin Sa’ud, under the religious conviction that this man was “driven to him by Allah,” struck a deal with Abdul-Wahab in 1744 that remains solidified to this day between the House of Saud and the House of Ash-Shaykh (the descendants of Abdul-Wahab).  Abdul-Wahhab and Bin Sa’ud’s army went about waging wars against Muslim and non-Muslim tribes alike across Arabia, spreading Wahhabism as the predominant religion. This bond between Abdul-Wahab and Bin Sa’ud legitimized the use of religion as the instrument for consolidating power and establishing Bin Sa’ud as the ruling family. The alliance forced obedience from the conquered tribes to the House of Saud and their policies, of which Abdul-Wahab strongly encouraged. At that point, Wahhabism became compliantly submissive to the new royal family and continues to be so to this day, evidenced by the 2003 statement from the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, Grand Mufti Abdul-Aziz Bin Abdullah Al Ash Shaykh that, “ the rulers should always be obeyed, even if unjust.”

Every Saudi ruler since Bin Sa’ud has followed his predecessor’s domestic policy by ensuring that the religious establishment remains in significant control of public affairs. Present-day Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia is very much like that of the first Saudi state. The religious police, Mutawwa’ah, still roam the streets with sticks enforcing Wahhabism’s strict standards regarding the separating of sexes, women’s dress code, use of alcohol or drugs, and religious observances. Shi’ites are highly discriminated against, any type of political dissent is immediately suppressed on the basis of religious violations, and public beheadings are still routinely used as a type of capital punishment for “sorcery, drug trafficking, and rape.”

The relationship between the ulama (political elite) and muftis (religious authorities) has been honored and respected as the royal family has allowed the appointment of a member of the House of Shaykh to be the Grand Mufti since 1744. The only exception to this was ‘Abdul-‘Aziz Bin ‘Abdullah Bin Baz, better known as Bin Baz.

In 1993, Bin Baz became the first non-member of the House of Shaykh to hold the position, and has since played an instrumental role in the political legitimization for the House of Saud with his obscurantist views of Islam that resembled the early teachings of Abdul-Wahab. It is argued that he is responsible for the religious propagation and extremely radical interpretation of Islam through this viewpoint of Wahhabism. His rulings and fatwas range from: disputing the landing on the moon — the banning of pictures, statues and relics — the banning of prayer behind a man wearing a suit and tie — rejection of the rotation of the earth — the banning of singing and music — banning women from driving — and declaring Muslims who do not believe the stories of the Prophet as infidels. Bin Baz enforced strict dress codes for women, as well as men, forbade people who practiced martial arts from bowing to each other, and continued anti-Shi’ite, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic propaganda through public statements.

His hostility towards other religions was apparent through his sermons and fatwas: “It is incumbent upon Muslims to take as enemies the infidel Jews and Christians and other polytheists, and to avoid their amiability,” and “(Shi’ites) are the most polytheist, and none of the people of passion are more lying than them, and more remote from monotheism, and their danger on Islam is very great indeed.” This was the same rhetoric and propaganda used during the inception of Al-Qaeda by Bin Laden, and Bin Baz was no different regarding militant legitimization for religious superiority.

Shortly after 9/11 this history became quite relevant to US intelligence analysts. Saudi Arabian credibility was immensely damaged internationally, and officials found themselves backtracking on the theology of their state religion. With eleven of the hijackers having been Saudi citizens, the Saudi regime was put on the defensive. This resulted in a political effort to marginalize the extremism of Al-Qaeda by relieving what they viewed as, “extremist,” Imams from their duties, reforming some of the educational indoctrination, and advocating for the condemnation of terrorist activity worldwide. This was done by the House of Saud to appease their Western allies and keep the lucrative oil relationship intact, but by no means did any radical transformation of the House of Shaykh take place in this process.

Saudi Arabia Back in the Spotlight

The Saudi religion was slowly forgotten by the international community as a correlative issue with Al-Qaeda due to the political focus toward ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has since subtly entered back into the international spotlight since the Syrian civil war outbreak in 2011. With the uprising against Bashar Al-Assad, many Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia in particular, have used the conflict as a proxy war for Sunni vs Shia supremacy by funneling millions of dollars to Wahhabi militant factions to assist in the overthrow. In 2012, Saudi Arabia’s own intelligence chief Bandar Bin Sultan was formally sent to Syria to round up and organize Sunni militants for the opposition movement. Initially, financial support and arms were transferred to Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, and Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), before it formally partitioned itself as ISIS.

The plan for the Saudi-backed AQI to enter Syria became botched when Hezbollah and Iran began funneling cash, arms, and personnel into Syria to combat the overthrow, creating a rift between AQI, Al-Qaeda leadership, and Saudi leadership on a plan of action. The leader of AQI, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, after months of ideological conflict with Al-Qaeda leadership decided to defect, thus creating the present-day Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. What is important in this transformation is the amount of Wahhabi influence on the ideology of Al-Baghdadi and subsequently ISIS. The biographies of Al-Baghdadi and others in ISIS leadership positions show how they’ve absorbed the Wahhabi doctrine and mastered its details. Documents reveal the groups explicitly stated goals of, “establishing the religion and dissemination monotheism, which is the purpose and calling of Islam,” — this is the same rhetoric in Abdul-Wahab’s interpretations of Islam. Their main goal is nothing more than to create a Wahhabi state that is inherently identical to the theology of Abdul-Wahhab, and Al-Baghdadi has resorted to the teachings of Abdul-Wahhab for his arguments to support the means of creating that state.

His stated principles are practically replicas of Wahhabi sources such as “the need to demolish and remove all manifestation of polytheism and prohibits its ways,” and “the need to resort to the law of God through seeking adjudication in the Islamic courts of the Islamic State.” Al-Baghdadi’s process of establishing an Islamic State is conducted in the same manner that Abdul-Wahhab and Ibn Saud used in the 18th century by conquering territory and ruthlessly forcing the conquered to conform or die. ISIS’s brutal tactics of beheading and flogging, the banning of smoking and music, and dress codes enforced on women, along with the continual circulation of Wahhabi books and documents among the schools it controls is extremely reflective of the Wahhabi ideology — these same books and documents being circulated can currently be found in Saudi Arabia.

This all has created a deleterious consequence for the House of Saud. As ISIS has garnered further international publicity and continues to become a security concern for the West and Middle East, it has also created a situation where Saudi Arabia’s image is becoming severely damaged. As more and more investigations delve into the ideology of ISIS and the stark similarities and principles of ISIS and Saudi Arabia are discovered, one may ask why the royal family in Saudi Arabia does not distance itself from the religious establishment as a whole? Herein lies the paradox behind the Saudi state: without the House of Shaykh using the Wahhabi ideology to legitimatize the religious duty of the House of Saud to rule, the royal family will no longer have a substantial claim for political power over the kingdom. Therefore, the House of Saud is constantly oscillating between condemning ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and any other Sunni militant groups that live by the creed of Wahhabism (that is essentially one-in-the-same with the religious authority in Saudi Arabia), appealing to the global community that Saudi Arabia is not a state that supports ISIS’s ideology, and not upsetting the religious Ash-Shaykh establishment in Saudi Arabia. The damage-control mode taken by Saudi Arabia in recent months is evident by their foreign policy actions, with Saudi Arabia now part of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.

Yet public opinion of ISIS in the kingdom remains very empathetic. In June 2014, a poll taken in Saudi Arabia showed that 92% believed, “ISIS conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic Law,” and families of sons who have died fighting with ISIS have expressed “joy,” regarding the martyrdom of their child. Saudi intelligence has taken notice of this level of public sympathy (due in part to pressure from the U.S.) especially of the blatant Twitter campaigns showing support for the Islamic State and pleadingly allegiance to Al-Baghdadi. However, as the House of Saud wages its condemnation against ISIS, it is clear that the Wahhabi ideology is firmly cemented in the religious culture of Saudi Arabia casting significant doubt on a change in public opinion.

The danger that ISIS poses for the international community is that it preaches and institutes the same religious teachings of Abdul-Wahhab, carrying aspirations of creating an Islamic state that has been tried for nearly two centuries since the creation of the first Saudi state. Only this time, the group has resources that were never accessible to its predecessors. Firstly, ISIS is effectively using social media campaigns to recruit new members from all over the globe. Secondly, the size of the group (estimates are around 30,000) is large enough to conclude that a small-scale counterinsurgency campaign would not be enough to suppress its progress across the region due to their massive territorial control over northern Syria and parts of Iraq. Thirdly, ISIS controls oil fields that are estimated to be making them $3 million per day on the black market, and the toppling of the Iraqi bank in Mosul gave them an inheritance of nearly $400 million in cash. The continued kidnapping of foreigners and reporters will serve as possible additional funding from European and Asian governments due to their willingness to negotiate with terrorist organizations. ISIS’s financial resources, recruiting tactics, and military strength are all imperative issues facing the international community moving forward.

It is blatant that the state religion in Saudi Arabia has both directly and indirectly led to the formation of ISIS. The Wahhabi ideology taught, enforced, and supported in Saudi Arabia is essentially a mirror image of the religious establishment ISIS is implementing in its attempt to form an Islamic state, with both the House of Shaykh and Al-Baghdadi adhering to the same teachings and theology of Wahhabism. While the conduct of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia is not at the same level of brutality that ISIS displays by leaving beheaded bodies mounted in the streets, enslaving women and girls of different religions, or massacring towns and villages at point-blank range, the fundamental ideas behind the importance of living by the Koran and ruling by the sword still pertain to both sides — this is evidenced by public opinion polls and support for the groups across internet platforms.

As long as the Wahhabi ideology prevails as the religious authority in Saudi Arabia, the potential will always remain for additional Sunni groups to emerge with the same pious philosophies and inclinations as ISIS. The House of Shaykh and House of Saud have deep, intertwined family ties with each other, as members of both houses have married one another over the last two centuries. The House of Saud will most likely never allow the House of Shaykh to lose its religious authority in the Kingdom because of the need for the House of Shaykh to legitimize the power the royal family possesses. If the Saudi Arabian establishment is continually supported and backed by the West, their existence will be incompatible with countering Islamic radicalism.  Moving forward, expect to see any rise of religious fanaticism inside the Kingdom suppressed while extremist groups outside of the Kingdom’s grasp, particularly in neighboring countries, continue to emulate the Wahhabi doctrine that Saudi Arabia has lived under since its founding.













































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