Monday, July 11, 2005

Enemy At The Gate and Open Door Policies

A foreign service blog highlights two important concerns in the war on terror. The Daily Demarche is a blog written by "underground" conservative Foreign Service personnel. They refer to themselves as "undergroungd" because conservative views on foreign policy, regardless of current administration, are not widely accepted at the State Department.

The first post from July 7th discusses identifying the enemy and their aims, referencing an open letter from ex Mossad chief Efraim Halevi:

We are in the throes of a world war, raging over the entire globe and characterized by the absence of lines of conflict and an easily identifiable enemy. There are sometimes long pauses between one attack and another, consequently creating the wrong impression that the battle is all over, or at least in the process of being won.

There are those who want to deny we are at war or believe that this war can be averted through appeasement and acquiescence to certain demands that I have recently heard referred to as "reasonable" by Tamimi Azzam of CAIR on an interview on MSNBC Friday, July 8th. Of these demands, Tamimi sites such things as Western (infidel) military forces leaving the Holy Land of Saudi Arabia, replacing "corrupt" governments with "just" governments that adhere to Islamic law insuring the rights of their Muslim people and giving the Palestinians back their land. Of course, there are several problems and contradictions with his demands which could be highlighted as not exactly a principled demand without some hypocracy, but the most important aspect of Osama's demands seem to be regularly dismissed or "overlooked" by his apologists and anti-war people:

1) The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.

(a) The religion of the Unification of God; of freedom from associating partners with Him, and rejection of this; of complete love of Him, the Exalted; of complete submission to His Laws; and of the discarding of all the opinions, orders, theories and religions which contradict with the religion He sent down to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Islam is the religion of all the prophets, and makes no distinction between them - peace be upon them all.

It is to this religion that we call you; the seal of all the previous religions.

Read the rest of the Daily Demarche post.

Will we be able to agree as to who the enemy is, and what must be done, before it is too late?

The Demarche highlights an important issue in fighting the war on terror within the United States. They made this point long before the television news magazines thought to review it and is still a important area that has not been resolved in our immigration porcesses:

The LA Times has a story about the currently-incarcerated Lodi imam being known in Pakistan for his fiery anti-American rhetoric, but nonetheless receiving a visa to come to the US as a religious worker. The story may be found here.

The story points out that the imam had made flagrantly anti-American speeches, but that the consular officers who interviewed him did not see the imam as a threat to the US. There are three possibilities for why that is, which I do not know, not having seen the imam's application or the vice-consul's notes. One is that no one in the Embassy knew about what he was saying in other settings. Two is that someone knew, but no one thought to enter any lookout on him in the State Department's computer database (called CLASS). Three is that the vice consul was aware of everything that he had said, but that the officer didn't feel there was any grounds for denying the visa.[snip]

The reporter highlighted the problem of vice consuls on the visa line not knowing everyone's background, but the article missed the larger hole in the R-1 visa, which is that the State Department's regulations (the Foreign Affairs Manual) do not permit consular officers to refuse an R-1 under section 214(b), which is the catch-all refusal used to turn down applicants (tourist, business, student, etc) that the officer feels are not being truthful, or has other suspicions about.

The rest can be read here.

While discussions on border control and other aspects of omeland security continues without abate, regardless of a few changes in visas such as requiring "biometric" indicators and longer interviews with possible candidates, a problem still remains. All of the terrorists from the first WTC attack in 1993 to September 11 to Madrid to London (suspected) arrived in the country's attacked via legitimate visas. At this time, even London expects that the perpetrators are either naturalized nationals or in country through legitimate means.

In the most current incidentUnder investigation within the United States, the Lodi suspects are in country via legitimate processes. While the southern border and illegal immigrants can present a security problem, it does not mitigate the problems in the programs that extremists are most likely to use to enter here and for a very good reason. The hopes of the terrorists are to blend in, not just in the Muslim community, but within the mainstream of the American populace, acting as others do with homes, families, jobs and every appearance of legal, non-threatening and productive citizens until such a time as they enact their terrorist plan.

Another missing issue that is present from the problems on the European continent is that it is not simply current immigrants that have been "radicalized" outside of the country before entering. European observers indicate that many long time immigrants, even children that have either been raised most of their lives in the west or second generations born in western countries, are being radicalized by the imams and other "religious" workers that have come into these countries within the last two decades as "legitimate" religious workers to administer to co-religionist as well as prosletyze. In western countries with very open "freedom of religion" laws, this is an open invitation to creating an internal problem.

Friday, July 8th, CNN presented a panel on Larry King discussing these issues, though there was no mention of the problem within our visa process. One expert insisted that Europe has a higher proportion of radicalized nationals due to problems of integration and unemployment. The expert insisted that the US does not have this problem because the immigrants are more likely to assimilate into the culture across a broder spectrum of cultures.

This is the thinking that may have infiltrated the US State Department and government as a whole. Freedom House highlighted issues with Wahhabist extreme Islamic doctrine being dessiminated within the US through "official" offices of the Saudi Embassy. This was noted by a number of bloggers and by Bill O'Reilly of Fox news several months ago. However, this is only one method through which insidious extremism is propagated among US Muslim populations. Magazines, online websites and chat forums and, unfortunately, a number of Imams and other extremists having entered the US on visas or as political assylum seekers, much as Europe has experienced today, continue unabated within the US and many other countries.

The difference within the US, one expert claims, is that the Muslim population is more dessiminated across all regions of the US and not constrained within specific cities or neighborhoods/communities as is the problem within European cities. This may also be a false sense of security and American elitism. Some communities may be smaller than those in the European cities, but they are still often insular and, as proven by studies on immigration, new immigrants usually migrate to places where they feel comfortable among the populace, usually to communities that already have relatives or relations back in the "old country". This has been true for many groups that have migrated to the United States whether they were German, Russian or Chinese to name a few.

In cities such as Newark, NJ; Dearborne, Michigan; New York, NY; San Diego, CA there are large and androgenous communities of Muslim immgrants. While, for the most part, these communities do not represent any large threat to secuirty within the US as a whole, it is from these communities, or smaller but consolidated communities in many other states and towns, that the next attack is most likley to derrive as the Madrid and London bombings indicate along with scores of arrests for suspected ties to terrorist groups across Europe and the United States.

As proven, it does not take a large radicalized populace to perpetrate these acts, but very small groups that are selected from the larger populace as a whole to join, what Prince Turki of Saudi Arabia once called, a cult or, in more American terms, a gang. A cult or gang that operates within and around the basic tenets of a known religion and offers what cults have often offered: recognition, acceptance, expression of discontent, legitimizing and magnifying complaints as part of a larger conspiracy, a desire to be closer to God or some other higher entity, community and ability to act out against supposed oppressions and wrongs.

The experts also estimate that somewhere around 10% of the European Muslim communities are "radicalized" or subscribe to the extremist Wahhabi doctrine espoused by Imams in countries such as Saudi Arabia and such notables as bin Laden, Zawahiri and older "philosphers" such as Azzam and Qutb, supported by publications from these communities originating countries or religious bases. These same experts indicate that this is an unlikely number for the United States based on their view of the Muslim population within the US. It is estimated that the US has a population of approximately 3 million Muslims (both naturalized and born citizens) of many different ethnic origins. Even 10% would be approximately 300,000 around the country that could provide a pool of actors from which recruiters from outside or within these communities could develop their "cell".

Still, from a country of approximately 300 million citizens and 3 million Muslims, this is a very small number of people to attempt to find and head off before an attack can occur by an even smaller security force that is equally responsible for other crimes within the country such as kidnappings, bank robberies, serial kilers, hate crimes, anti-government and anarchist organizations and other non-ideological based crimes. There are very few good choices by which to combat the situation and several less than satisfactory bad choices that could be made.

These choices may become more prominent, painful and less satisfactory in a free society if the war on terror and extremism escalates.


Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

One of the bad consequences of upping security measures in response to terrorism, is that it lends artificial credibility to conspiracy theories about parallels to the "Reichstag fire", and also makes the news less credible, of terrorists having breached said security to carry out their attacks.

People I know in England are starting to mutter, "the average citizen in the U.K. is on camera at least 300 times a day, and yet they don't have any shots of who it is that did this?" It's hard to argue against that when it inspires conspiracy theory.

They might even be right.

Kat said...

Actually, I agree and have another post in line on the subject of security measures and what would be possibly more appropriate activities. I believe very much that this is a tough information war. It's why no one really wants to say "Islam" in reference to these terrorists because they fear very much the xenophobia that would invade the country (everybody sees the Japanese and German internments during WWII and shudders).

So a delicate process but it can't be ignored all together and may need to be a little more robust. I think the country can take it. Frankly, we need to focus on exactly the ideas that make us strong like immigration, assimilation and "multi-cultural" heritage. (I hate to use that word, but I think it has some advantages).

You know, some ad campaigns like the rather popular "I am an American" campaign post Sept 11 could be helpful as well as radio and press that shows all the different religions and communities in the US and last but not least contrasting free muslims withiin the US to activities of extremists. Peace vs. War.

Problems with this is the words "propaganda" and that some of this may need to be sustained within designated communities more than to the entire country.

But, I digress, I'll talk on that tomorrow and some things that we can do.

My concern is that as we tiptoe through these things fearing the outcomes from these actions, we do nothing or less than nothing that allows the extremists in these communities to gain root and expand.

On the camera thing, you missed my post where I said "terrorists 1 and Big Brother 0". I also said that those of us that have feared big brother have forgotten that big brother can't really be effective when he has lots of input but little ways in which to output coordinated data.

The other problem is, big brother sucks at maintenance since apparently the big red bus camera was broken for awhile and not fixed. thus, no good picture of what would have been the easiest to review and evaluate for suspects.

Moron99 said...

Sorry, I don't see the big problem. We have a loophole in our interpretation of the law that allows non-state agents to enjoy virtual diplomatic immunity while they incite violence, recruit volunteers, and raise funds. All you have to do is label him as an imam and the state is unable to take any action against him. It's time to close the loopholes. Religous freedom was not intended to protect those who recruit, fund, or conspire with mass murderers. If an imam comes here and starts preaching hatred then it's time to revoke his visa and show him the door. No excuses, no compromise.