Threat of ISIS Still Real

Threat of ISIS Still Real
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

During his 2018 State of the Union speech, President Trump delighted in reporting that Islamic State forces had been defeated in virtually all of the territory they had seized over recent years. But even he admitted, “There is much more work to be done.”

American artillery soldiers respond to a fire mission in Iraq. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. F. Cordoba, public domain.

It is certainly true that ISIS forces no longer dominate portions of Iraq and Syria. But what became of the thousands of fighters who waged bloody warfare remains a concern of realists who comment about developments regarding ISIS. One assessment of what happens next was provided by Otso Iho, a senior analyst at London-based Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center. As noted by the New York Times, this expert reported: “The group is transitioning into an underground organization that places more weight on asymmetric tactics like suicide bombings against soft targets in government-secured areas like Baghdad.”

Iho pointed to a recent suicide attack in Baghdad that killed several dozen and wounded close to 100. The incident occurred at a busy location in the Iraqi capital where laborers gather daily in hopes of being hired by someone.

How many of the thousands of ISIS warriors have discarded their uniforms and are melting into the populations of Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere isn’t known. But anyone who has studied ISIS and its efforts over the past four years knows that the number of dedicated Islamic warriors reaches into the tens of thousands. Some of these who have fled the formerly held caliphate and can be found in Libya, Yemen, Turkey, even the Philippines. Of these, many have joined never-defeated branches of Al Qaeda in those nations.

The number of Americans who traveled to ISIS-held territory in order to become an Islamist warrior number less than one thousand. But, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s senior counter terrorism official, more than  5,000 Europeans left their homes and became ISIS fighters. Some perished and a few are still fighting. But 1,500 have returned to their European countries and each can be legitimately by labeled a potential terrorist. America’s vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Paul Selva summarized the situation in grim detail:

The thought that these foreign fighters who have participated in this fight now for over two years will quietly leave Syria and return to their jobs as shopkeepers in Paris, in Brussels, in Copenhagen, and elsewhere is ludicrous. That’s a very compelling problem.

The motivation keeping these men tied to ISIS and its determination to establish a dominant Islamic caliphate surely includes the promise of heavenly bliss for those who perish for Allah. It additionally promises the same glorious afterlife for suicide bombers. In other words, the problem presented when ISIS emerged several years ago hasn’t been solved by routing its military arm.

The West, certainly including the United States, has to expect more terror-inspired attacks.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Erdogan A Dictator?

Erdogan A Dictator?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the election as Turkey’s president in 2014. His time in office has amounted to travelling down a rocky road. The relaxation of strict Islamic rules accomplished by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk after World War I won plenty of applause. But Erdogan, a stricter Muslim, has set out to reverse the nation’s course, and he has done so with what resembles severe dictatorial power.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has brought Turkey down a rocky road (Photo from Wikimedia Commons by http://www.kremlin.ru CC BY 4.0).

Turning back the cultural clock back to Ataturk days seemed to be the goal of an attempted coup only a year ago. In a matter of days after it was quashed, 9,000 police officers and 21,000 teachers were fired. Thousands more soldiers, judges, lawyers, university deans, and government officials lost their posts. Many were jailed. In addition, the Erdogan government closed several dozen television, radio, and print outlets. And more than 60 newspapers, a score of magazines, two dozen publishing houses, and several news agencies have been shut down. Censorship became the new rule.

Erdogan has blamed the continuing unrest on the followers of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric living in the United States for the past 16 years. But he denies having any role in the opposition to Erdogan. Still, the ferment among the people hasn’t faded. Erdogan more recently arranged for a nationwide referendum so the people could either choose his style of rule or revert back to the pre-2014 modern style of governing attributed to Ataturk. The result of the mid-April plebiscite had Erdogan winning by the slimmest of margins (51.4 percent) amid widespread belief that the vote count wasn’t accurate.

Nevertheless, with new powers available to him as a result of the referendum, Erdogan initiated a new round of arrests, firings, and suspensions. Close to 4,000 additional civil servants have been fired and 45 civil society groups and health clinics have been shut down. The government even shut down Wikipedia.

In just the past year, therefore, approximately 140,000 individuals have lost their jobs, free press has been scuttled, and more than 200 journalists remain imprisoned. Erdogan insists that his reforms don’t merit calling him a dictator. But international election monitors released a negative report on the conduct of the recent referendum. Many in Turkey believe the election was rigged.

Turkey is one of the 50 original members of the United Nations (there are now 193 members). The nation won acceptance in NATO in 1952, three years after the alliance’s launching. Long seeking approval for membership in the European Union, Turkey’s hopes to be part of the Brussels-based super government have never been realized. Perhaps the fact that 97 percent of Turkey’s land area is in Asia with the remaining three percent at its western tip considered part of Europe keeps the EU from conferring membership. Turkey has long been considered a “bridge to Europe” for many nations in Asia Minor.

But Turkey needs to understand that entangling alliances come with a price detrimental to independence, just as Brexit has demonstrated. From an American standpoint, let’s work to untangle ourselves from our UN and NATO alliances to preserve American liberty and independence. Inform yourself and others on the dangers of foreign entanglements.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Digging Into Turkey’s Attempted Coup

Digging Into Turkey’s Attempted Coup
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

On July 15th, the government Turkey survived a coup attempt that sought to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As a member of both the United Nations and NATO, an ally in the conflict seeking to defeat ISIS, and with a bid for acceptance into the European Union on the table, faraway Turkey became an instant concern to the West. The unrest especially drew attention because of Turkey’s proximity to the land currently possessed by the Islamic caliphate ISIS.

The government Turkey survived a coup attempt that sought to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pictured above. (Image by Government of Chile [CC BY 3.0 cl], via Wikimedia Commons).

What happened in Turkey clearly stems from its early 20th century moves away from militant Islamism. For 600 years, the Islamic Ottoman Empire ruled the region from which it launched several attempts to conquer Europe. Perhaps the most famous of these was the naval battle at Lepanto in 1571 when an outnumbered fleet of Europeans defeated the Islamic foe. Other forays by Islamic forces met defeat at Vienna and Belgrade. This series of setbacks led to several centuries of a most welcome live-and-let-live policy by the Islamic world.

After World War I, in which Turkey participated, a more modernized nation began to take shape. Determined Islamists bristled under the leadership of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, who became Turkey’s leader in 1923. The term “Ataturk,” meaning father of Turkey, is an addition to the name of the country’s leader who is greatly revered by more secular Turkish Islamists. A Muslim himself, Ataturk relaxed but didn’t destroy the Islamic hold on the nation. His rule had always angered some who resented the acceptance of numerous Western ideas and values for their country.

In 2014, a more determined follower of Islam, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, won election as the nation’s president. The July 15th coup, led by those who preferred Ataturk’s ways, sought to erase numerous trends and revisions in Turkish life. But quick action by Erdogan and his followers overwhelmed the less militant Muslims in the military and many other posts within the nation. In a matter of days, Erdogan’s followers accomplished firing 9,000 police officers and 21,000 educators. They suspended 21,000 schoolteachers and either detained or suspended 10,000 soldiers, 2,700 judges and lawyers, 1,500 university deans, and 1,500 of the government’s finance officials. Added to this upheaval, the government shut down more than 100 electronic and print media outlets and instituted censorship over other suspected adversaries of the government. President Erdogan had quickly demonstrated his determination to reemphasize Islamic practices as he put an emphatic stop to the modernization of the past century.

Turkish officials blamed the attempted coup on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for the past 15 years. The Erdogan government calls his followers in Turkey the Gulenist Terror Organization (FETO). Gulen has emphatically denied having any role in the failed coup, but the Erdogan government has demanded his extradition from America. He remains – for now – at his home in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, the Turkish government has enraged secular Turks by canceling some celebrations honoring Ataturk while commemorating past Ottoman victories and celebrating the birthday of Mohammed.

It seems completely correct to believe that Turkish Islamists led by President Erdogan have gained more power because of the incident and their success in quashing it. Erdogan has reached out to some of his adversaries in hopes of calming fears, but Turks who wanted modernization – and they include freedom from some of the Islamic-style strictures seen in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere – are the losers. Will there be more unrest generated by those who want a return to Ataturk’s ways? Only, time will tell. But Turkey is now in the hands of a more regimented government that has gained more power by severely putting down the forces behind the failed coup.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Orlando Was Not a Senseless Crime

Orlando Was Not a Senseless Crime
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Headlines and electronic media have been full of the gory details surrounding the horrendous crime in Orlando. At least 50 are dead (one being the killer) and more are wounded. But many reporters and commentators have claimed that the rampage was a “senseless” crime. That assessment is itself senseless.

Omar Mateen (Photo by Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (Omar Mateen: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons).

Omar Mateen, an American citizen, was born in New York City into a Muslim family. In 2006, he earned an associate degree in criminal justice technology. After a few years of bouncing from one job to another, he found steady employment as a security guard. In 2009, he got married and bought a home. But the marriage ended in divorce after, according to his wife, he had abused her. By 2013, co-workers reported suspicions that he possessed ties to terrorism. The FBI investigated him twice but found no reason to act on the worries of the co-workers.

In an interview with ABC News, his ex-wife and his father claim that he was not radicalized, yet when the ex-wife was interviewed by federal authorities, she said he was radicalized within the last year.

During his deadly rampage, Mateen shouted “Allahu Akbar,” a phrase regularly used by Muslims at the start of prayers and other occasions. Among several meanings, the most popular is “God (or Allah) is great!” He called 911 during the shooting and stated allegiance to ISIS, a revealing fact confirmed by California Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

What motivated this man to kill so many others? Why did he commit his crime when he certainly could expect to be gunned down himself?

President Obama termed Mateen’s horrific deed “an act of terror and an act of hate.” But he carefully avoided what else the crime was – the act of a radical Islamic terrorist. Marine Corps University instructor Sebastian Gorka said it amounted to “individual jihad.” Security Policy Analyst Clare Lopez said Mateen’s crime was not the act of a “lone wolf,” but that of a deliberate individual concretely carrying out his obligations of Sharia.

According to the Telegraph, Syed Shafeeq Rahman, the imam of Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, where the gunman prayed four days a week, said his moque’s teaching is “peaceful and moderate.” Regarding radicalization, he said, “This is nothing that the Mosque is teaching them. They get it from the Internet.”

He continued, “It is not written in the religion that you go and kill 50 people in the middle of the night. So if he blames religion for it, he has to explain it- where do you get it from?”

The article states another young man who occasionally visited the mosque became America’s first suicide bomber in Syria in 2014.

Fox News reported that the gunman was enrolled in the online Fundamental Islamic Knowledge Seminary run by Marcus Dwayne Robertson. Here is an excerpt from the article explaining more about Robertson:

FoxNews.com has reported extensively on Robertson, a former U.S. Marine who served as a bodyguard to the Blind Sheik involved in the 1993 World Trade Center Attack and led a gang of New York bank robbers called “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves” before resurfacing in Orlando, where he started an Islamic seminary.

The school, recently renamed the Timbuktu Seminary, is operated by Robertson, a 47-year-old firebrand known to his thousands of followers as Abu Taubah.

Robertson, who recently spent four years in prison in Florida on illegal weapons and tax fraud charges before being released by a Florida judge one year ago, has openly and enthusiastically preached against homosexuality.

Robertson is reportedly being questioned by federal authorities.

In 2006, Pentagon-based U.S. intelligence analysts issued a document entitled Motivations of Muslim Suicide Bombers. It concluded that “most Muslim suicide bombers are in fact students of the Quran who are motivated by its violent commands.” The analysts noted: “The selfless sacrifice by the individual Muslim to destroy Islam’s enemies becomes a suitable, feasible and acceptable course of action.”

Vast numbers of Muslims want to be left alone to raise their families and live in peace. They do not become jihadists. But even if a minuscule amount of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims become radicalized, the non-Muslim world must be on guard.

Omar Mateen’s rampage wasn’t “senseless.” Nor could the murders and mayhem committed by the San Bernardino pair, the Boston bombers, the Fort Hood killer, and so many other criminals be deemed “senseless.” These were deliberate deeds carried out by deliberate individuals. It is senseless, and potentially even suicidal, to conclude otherwise.

Editor’s Note: Keep up with The New American’s coverage of this as a more comprehensive profile takes shape of who exactly was Omar Mateen, from an alleged homosexual to a security guard working as a Department of Homeland Security contractor.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


U.S. Ground Forces Entering the Syrian Conflict

U.S. Ground Forces Entering the Syrian Conflict
by JBS President John F. McManus

The civil war to oust Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is now in its fourth year. No end is in sight.

American planes have bombed selected targets in Syria and nothing changed. President Obama has seven times insisted that he would not order U.S. ground forces into the fray. “No boots on the ground,” he repeatedly stated. But that just changed when he decided to send 50 of our nation’s Special Forces into the war-torn country. Will they be outfitted with sneakers instead of boots? We are told they are not supposed to participate in any battles, just play an advisory role. What happens when any of the 50 Special Forces get killed or wounded? The likely outcome of such a development would be sending in more U.S. troops.

Watch the press briefing discussing the Special Forces deployment below:

At least three factions are seeking to replace Assad. One is backed by Russia, another is allied with ISIS (already controlling a sizable portion of the country), and still another consists of Syrians fed up with Assad. American planes have already made at least a thousand bombing runs against factions not approved by our leaders. There could easily be an air war over the country if Russian planes and U.S. planes bomb the other’s favored group. Will the mess escalate into a conflict between the U.S. and Russia?

Meanwhile, the Obama promise to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan has been cancelled and 10,000 will remain. Elsewhere, our intervention in Libya has been a disaster. Also, U.S. drones have wreaked havoc in Yemen with nothing to show for the effort except death and destruction for Yemenis. And Iraq remains in turmoil after all the lies about weapons of mass destruction spurred President G.W. Bush to invade.

The American people ought to be asking why previous failed policies in several countries are being repeated in others. We can only hope that the Obama policies will become a serious debate topic during the current presidential race.

All of the actions noted above constitute war. But the U.S. Constitution clearly places sole power to have the U.S. at war in the hands of Congress, not the President. Yet UN authorization here and NATO (a UN subsidiary) direction elsewhere have been employed to have our forces go to war. Questions have to be asked: Is our nation’s military effort being dictated by the world body? Is Mr. Obama quietly seeking or receiving orders from the UN to dispatch U.S. forces in limited roles all over the Middle East?

One or more of the GOP candidates should be asking these questions. Let’s hope they do so.

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Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Threat Posed by ISIS Spreads

Threat Posed by ISIS Spreads
by JBS President John F. McManus

Recently, when ISIS revolutionaries murdered 21 Christians in Libya, they sent a video message to the world threatening to move on to Rome. It stated: “Today we are south of Rome. We will conquer Rome with Allah’s permission.” Many Italians laughed at such blustering. We don’t think they should be laughing.

ISIS made headlines during the past year when its forces seized portions of Syria and Iraq and declared the conquered area a “caliphate” and announced that its leader was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. More headlines announced a series of beheadings, a threat to move on to Baghdad, and a campaign against Yezidism, a small religious sect whose adherents were classified as infidels. Now seemingly stalled within the confines of their caliphate, ISIS has recently gained additional partisans in Libya and in northern Sudan where the murderous Boko Haram has terrorized area residents.

Recruits by the tens of thousands have relocated to the ISIS caliphate in order to assist al-Baghdadi. They came from France, England, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, United States, and elsewhere to enlist in a force that intends to rule the planet. A report in the New York Times told of three teenage girls from Scotland who had just abandoned their families and moved on to Syria where they will marry jihadists and support the caliphate. The recruiter for these girls, also from Scotland but living in Syria after relocating a year ago, contacted her anguished parents and informed them that she had no intention of returning and would see them again only on “judgment day” in heaven.

Passports of some French young people suspected of wanting to go to Syria have been confiscated by the authorities. In Australia, Prime Minister Abbott announced measures to tighten security and prevent possible emigration of anyone seeking to travel to ISIS. Similar moves have been taken in the U.S.

Writing in The Atlantic after meeting with ISIS supporters in England, Australia, and elsewhere, journalist Graeme Wood pointed to the importance held by ISIS believers in establishing their caliphate. In Britain, well-known Islamic State cheerleader Anjem Choudray explained that haphazard offensive jihad is of no value without a caliphate and that waging war to expand its domination is essential. Choudray even claims that crucifixions and beheadings are “sacred requirements.” Wood noted that, according to the Islamic scholars he interviewed, sacred doctrine requires believers to reside in the caliphate. This impels Muslims to drop everything wherever they currently reside and head for the portion of Syria controlled by ISIS.

President Barack Obama insists that that ISIS is “not Islamic.” Is he correct? Does he agree with the Italians who consider laughable any threat from ISIS? He insists that Islam is a peaceful religion that is being used by bad people. Time will tell if the threat posed by ISIS is a local problem or a threat to the entire world.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Egypt’s Leader Pinpoints a Real Enemy of Peace

Egypt’s Leader Pinpoints a Real Enemy of Peace
by JBS President John F. McManus

In July 2013, Egypt’s military chieftain, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, ousted President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood-backed leader who had recently been elected President of the country. Egypt has experienced an escalating rocky period ever since that change in the country’s leadership.

Late in January, President Sisi blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for bombings in northern Egypt that killed as many as 30 people. A Muslim himself, Sisi described the Muslim Brotherhood as “the strongest secret organization of the last two centuries.” Some analysts of Muslim-dominated countries claim that the various militant Islamic factions – al Qaeda, ISIS, and others – are ultimately in league with the Brotherhood.

As the dawn of the new year of 2015 arrived, President Sisi courageously appeared at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University where he told a gathering of Islamic clerics of a need for a “revolution” within Islam. He called on them to assist in altering the world’s reputation of Islam as the cause of worldwide violence. The clerics listened but issued no comment.

Sisi then went to St. Mark’s Cathedral where he told the Coptic Christian congregation that “Egypt has brought a humanistic and civilizing message to the world for millennia, and we are here today to confirm that we are capable of doing so again.” The Coptic minority received that message with jubilation because it has experienced numerous attacks over recent years from militant Islamists.

Writing at World Net Daily, Middle Eastern reporter F. Michael Maloof claimed that Sisi’s condemnation of the Muslim Brotherhood has received the backing of Saudi Arabia but a rebuff from Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish leader has offered leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas “safe haven” in Turkey’s capital city and even shown support for ISIS.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi deserves admiration for attempting to reverse the gathering storm presented by militant Islamists. His call for moderation extends beyond his own nation. But the cool reception he received from Muslim leaders within Egypt does not indicate success. And it may indicate the possibility of trouble ahead, even personal retaliation aimed at the man himself. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood is working to repair its image while planning new steps to restore its power.

Jerusalem Post contributor Dr. Martin Sherman noted that Sisi’s speech at Al-Azhar University was delivered at the very location where, in 2009, President Obama delivered a speech to the clerics. Unlike the current Egyptian president who chided Islamic extremism, the U.S. President, in effect, boosted the Muslim Brotherhood and its ambitions. Dr. Sherman feels that Obama’s message in 2009 even “insisted on places of honor within the government for senior Brother representatives.”

The so-called “Arab Spring” that has brought misery to Libya, Iraq, Egypt, and elsewhere has, in fact, spurred the rise of Islamic extremism. President Sisi hopes to reverse this trend and people of goodwill worldwide wish him well.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.