Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

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The Perenial Language Problems Demonstrate Conceptual Problems
The Washington Post's stunning revelation that only 33 of the FBI's 12,000 agents have even generously-defined minimal Arabic-none working on terrorism issues-is a symptom of a much broader problem within much of the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

The Post piece on the catastrophic lack of language ability five years after 9-11 says that we have still not taken this war seriously. There is no widespread effort to understand radical Islam, read the literature, understand what their plan is or what their motivations are.

After five years, one would think every IC and law enforcement person involved in terrorism issues would have read the Muslim Brotherhood literature, al Qaeda literature, "Ghost Wars," "The Looming Towers," "Imperial Hubris," etc. This should not be optional, but required. There are different perspectives presented and one can debate the meanings, the way forward and the tactical and strategic responses, but only if everyone is starting from the same point.

The fundamental flaw is an ongoing inability or unwillingness to identify the enemy as Islamist who want to kill us, and deal with that enemy for what it is-a sophisticated, multi-pronged, coherent group that constantly runs intelligence, counterintelligence and propaganda operations.

The most visible of these operations is the huge success Brotherhood front groups like CAIR, MPAC, NAIT and others have consistently had in getting invited by the FBI, DHS and other U.S. government authorities as representatives of the Muslim community. These groups, which have members who have and continue to support violence and push the separtist Islamist agenda, have worked and planned for years for the credibility they now enjoy.

Once these groups meet with the FBI, they set the agenda and work assidously to exclude any other Muslim voices. Then the State Department and White House meet with them because, well, the FBI did, so they must be okay. The ciruclar reasoning and unwillingness to even use the public record on what these groups represent and what their leaders say, is truely scary. Each such meeting is a victory for the Islamist movement and shows how little we know about the war we are fighting and will be fighting for a long time. Each is a defeat for the Muslims who came, intergrated into American life without the agenda of making the United States an Islamic nation and living in Islamic enclaves.

The use of front grops is not a new tactic. The U.S. ran some successful operations like this during the Cold War, as did the Soviets. In El Salvador and the rest of Central America, front groups were widely used by all sides, in an effort to move the body politic in a certain direction and set an agenda. It is standard political warfare. But we have forgotten those lessons, I believe, in part because of the political correctness of not wanting to attack anything that has religion attatched it. Or maybe we think they are too stupid to know how to do this.

I would say the same of Christians, Hindus and Jews who define themselves and their agenda in starkly religous terms (as Islamists do) and work to support violence here and abroad. The Islamist agenda is to convert the world to Islam by whatever means necessary. They write it, preach it, teach it to their children. There is no ambiguity. There are no nuances in what they say about themselves and how they define themselves.

We dumb down what these groups stand for and what they ARE because we are uncomfortable with it. If there is one lesson to be learned about the Islamists it is that they mean what they say. They may sound crazy, marginal, paranoid and isolated. But they have advanced this far because we think that means they are stupid, incapable and unable to advance their agenda. No matter how many times they prove our assumptions wrong, we retreat to them.

Yesterday's New York Times piece on the struggle of the FBI to adapt to the new world shows how true this remains.

The Times quotes the assessment of Amy Zegart, the author of a new counter-terrorism book on the FBI: If you look at, for example, the four key ingredients for counterterrorism success-agents, analysts, managers and computers-the FBI is struggling to get the basics right on all of them. New agents still get more time for vacation thatn they do for counterterrorism training. Analysts are still treated as glorified secretaries."

So, this is where we are five years later. Scary indeed.

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