Radical Islam Pervades UK Mosques... Is the U.S. Next?
by Jonathan Schanzer
RJC Bulletin
November 27, 2007

Extremist literature from Saudi Arabia that encourages hatred and mistreatment of gays, Christians and Jews is sold at one quarter of UK mosques, according to a late October survey released by the Policy Exchange, a London think tank. Days later, the head of Britain's MI5 intelligence agency revealed that more than 2,000 people were involved in an "al-Qaeda brand" of terrorist activities inside the UK, thanks to a permissive preaching environment and lax laws. Is this happening in U.S. mosques, too?

It's happening here, but to a lesser extent. According to one FBI agent interviewed in Ronald Kessler's new book The Terrorist Watch, about one in ten of the United States' 2,000 mosques are believed to preach hatred. That number was higher before 9/11, however, as radicals now seek to evade U.S. intelligence agencies.

But the problem extends beyond mosques. Islamic schools play a role, too. According to scholar Daniel Pipes, a Saudi textbook at the Islamic Saudi Academy of Alexandria, VA, teaches first graders that, "all religions, other than Islam, are false, including that of the Jews [and] Christians," while books used by New York City's Muslims schools include, "sweeping condemnations of Jews and Christians."

A new report issued by the New York Police Department indicates that radical Islam continues to have an appeal among Manhattan's Muslims, often through "informal groups or clusters of young men…usually associated with a particular venue – community center, non-governmental organization, university group, housing project, café or even a particular mosque." NYPD also noted the, "growing trend of Salafi-based radicalization that has permeated some Muslim student associations (MSA's)."

This environment has undoubtedly impacted America's Muslims. According to a Pew Research Poll, roughly one-quarter of young Muslims (ages 18-29) in the United States believe that suicide bombing is justified under certain circumstances.

Could radical Islam in America grow to be as bad as it is in the UK? Unfortunately, the extent to which radical Islam has penetrated the United States is not known. The aforementioned reports, along with scores of others, provide only a thumbnail sketch of the problem.

Moderate Muslims must voluntarily come to U.S. authorities with reports of extremist activities, networks and institutions. Until they consistently and voluntarily do so, our picture of Muslim extremism at home will remain hazy, at best.

Jonathan Schanzer is director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center, and editor of inFocus Quarterly.


Auctioning Jerusalem Foretells Israeli PM's Demise
by Jonathan Schanzer and Asaf Romirowsky
The American Thinker
November 13, 2007

"Peace is achieved through concessions. We all know that," said embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to crowd of businessmen last week, implying that parts of Jerusalem could be offered to the Palestinians in exchange for peace.

This is not the first time Olmert indicated that he was willing to split up Israel's capital. Last month, he publicly pondered whether it was really "necessary to also add the Shuafat refugee camp, Sawakra, Walaje and other villages and define them as part of Jerusalem."

Drawing from the history of other desperate Israeli prime ministers who have put Israel up on the auction block, Olmert's time in office is probably near its end.

The prime minister's recent statements can be seen only as a last gasp effort to revive his flatlining premiership. After demonstrating an utter lack of leadership during Israel's confrontation with Hizbullah last summer in Lebanon, few Israelis have any confidence in their prime minister. Indeed, he has miserably low approval ratings (as low as 2% in recent polls), with political challengers circling for the right moment to pounce.

Olmert is now chasing peace with the Palestinians at all costs, in a desperate attempt to secure his place in world history, knowing full well that future Israeli history books will not be kind. This fits a sad but familiar trend of other sputtering Israeli prime ministers in recent history.

Take Israel's current Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Under pressure from the Clinton administration during the July 2000 Camp David talks, he became the first Israeli Prime Minister to officially consider re-dividing Jerusalem. Despite the fact that this infuriated a majority of the Israeli public, as demonstrated in popularity polls, the embattled Barak forged ahead. When the talks ultimately failed, thanks to Yasir Arafat's intransigence, the Palestinians launched the al-Aqsa intifada. Barak was blamed for the violence, leading to an even steeper drop in his popularity. Ariel Sharon went on to win the 2001 elections by a landslide 63 percent.

Barak's plummeting popularity even before the intifada was inextricably linked to the former Israeli commando's willingness to violate Israel's longstanding red lines: no division of Jerusalem, no return to the 1949 borders, no return of Arab refugees, and no foreign army west of the Jordan River. But, faced with a legacy of failure, Barak clung to the notion that a peace deal ceding parts of Jerusalem might ultimately secure his place in history. In the end, it only ensured his defeat.

One can also argue that Shimon Peres, who became prime Minister by default in 1995 after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, also ensured his own demise by dangling Jerusalem as a concession to the Palestinians. An architect of the Oslo process, Peres pushed tenaciously forward toward peace, even when Israel was bloodied by a brutal campaign of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad suicide bombings. Despite the fact that the PA never reigned in Hamas, Peres never stopped pushing for peace. And he never took the question of Jerusalem off the table. Instead, he allowed the Palestinians to hold elections in Jerusalem in 1996, which was largely viewed as a gesture of possible future concessions. Thus, when Benjamin Netanyahu challenged Peres in the next election, he hammered Peres' blind commitment to a failing peace process, and charged that Peres would even surrender control of Jerusalem. This, alone, may have cost Peres the election.

When Olmert, Barak, and Peres raised the specter of Jerusalem, their political shelf lives had all but expired. Indeed, when Israeli politicians discuss the fate of Jerusalem to please the U.S. State Department or Palestinian negotiators, they are indicating to the Israeli public that they have given up on popular support. Instead, they make a last ditch effort to secure their own place in history.

Olmert's recent talk of dividing Jerusalem is a sign that new Israeli elections are almost assuredly around the corner. Refusing to go quietly, he is endangering the unity of Israel's capital just as his moment in history comes to an end.

Jonathan Schanzer is director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center, and editor of inFocus Quarterly. Asaf Romirowsky is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum and Manager of Israel & Middle East Affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.


The Terrorist Watch
Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack
by Ronald Kessler
Crown Forum, 260 pp., $26.95

Reviewed by Jonathan Schanzer

New York Post
November 4, 2007

Honoring Those Who Prevented Another 9/11

If you like Michael Moore movies, don't buy Ronald Kessler's newest book. It does not heap scorn upon President George W. Bush. It does not inspire panic over "spy programs" that trample Americans' civil liberties. Nor does it sneer at American patriotism.

Kessler's book celebrates the intelligence community's successes. It is a series of vignettes (27 short chapters) praising the "unsung heroes" who have not allowed an attack on American soil since September 11, 2001. "Those who are fighting the silent battle against terrorism have produced an American success story," Kessler concludes, despite the legions of critics alleging failures or abuse of power.

Drawing from interviews with intelligence professionals and administration officials, Kessler notes that by the end of 2002, the intelligence community had thwarted "about a hundred" terrorist attacks. By 2003, the CIA had "rolled up 3,000 terrorists" in dozens of countries. Highlights include: the capture of Abu Zubayda in 2002, the raid that yielded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on March 1, 2003, and the neutralizing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2006.

So, why do many Americans treat this branch of the government like a redheaded stepchild?

The mainstream media is a big part of the problem. The Washington Post's exaggerated 2005 headline, "FBI Examines Records of Ordinary Americans," misled many to believe that the FBI willfully violates civil liberties, instead of protecting them. The New York Times, for its part, all but ignored Osama bin Laden before 9/11, but "quickly became experts on how flawed" the intelligence community was in responding to al Qaeda.

Congress also got into the act. Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.) attacked the CIA's inability to prevent 9/11 as "inexcusable" and "outrageous." Never mind that Congress had slashed the CIA budget, leading to a 16 percent decline in employees, and a 25 percent decline in covert officers.

Kessler aptly notes 9/11 was not an "intelligence failure." That would imply faulty intelligence. The problem was that the government - particularly in the 1990s - did not take terrorism seriously enough. CIA employees joked that when a small Cessna plane crashed into the White House in 1994, it was Director of Central Intelligence Jim Woolsey just trying to get President Bill Clinton's attention.

In a new era of vigilance, President Bush wants daily counterterrorism briefings. He demands better intelligence sharing and coordination. Indeed, the National Counter Terrorism Center, established in 2005, now facilitates intel sharing where there was none before.

The ACLU, for its part, claims that Bush exploited 9/11 to gain wider powers. This is akin, Kessler writes, to saying that FDR "exploited the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor" to enter World War II. The Patriot Act simply provides the FBI "the same powers in terrorism cases that it already had in cases targeting drug traffickers, spies and mafia figures."

As one NCTC analyst told me, the intelligence community, "is like an incredible hockey goalie. We've stopped every shot taken against us since 9/11."

Jonathan Schanzer is the author of "Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror."

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