The American Taliban Marches

These fucking wankers:

An anti-Muslim activist group is rallying in numerous cities across the country, marching in opposition to Islamic law, which the group believes is a threat to American society.

ACT for America, a lobbyist organization with close ties to the Trump administration that has helped pass state-level bills targeting Islamic law and refugees, organized the protests as a nationwide “March Against Sharia.”

While demonstrators argue they are protecting free speech and defending traditional American values, counterprotesters say the marchers underscore a larger trend of intolerance that is increasingly evident across a politically divided country.

Here’s a background on these nutters from the SPLC, who is also live-blogging this nationwide douchebag cosplay.



ISIL Attacks Iran

Earlier today ISIL conducted two attacks in Iran with a third being thwarted. The first was at the Iranian majlis or parliament. The second was a suicide bombing at the shrine to Ayatullah Uzma Khomeini. The BBC has the details:

Twin attacks on the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in the capital, Tehran, have killed at least 12 people and injured many more.

The assault on the parliament appears to be over, after hours of intermittent gunfire there. A suicide bomber detonated a device at the mausoleum.

Iranian officials say they managed to foil a third attack.

The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed it carried out the attacks, which would be a first in Iran.

Unlike the attacks we’ve seen throughout Europe, ISIL quickly claimed responsibility.

This is significant as it indicates a directly coordinated attack, rather than actions taken by self radicalized actors on behalf of/in the name of the Islamic State. The New York Times‘ Rukmini Callimachi, who has done a magnificent job in her reporting on ISIL, breaks this down on her twitter feed:

This is a very significant point that Callimachi is making:

Brisard’s and Callimachi’s reasoning is further supported by this piece of analysis from yesterday at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

The Islamic State (IS) extremist group has recently expanded its campaign to recruit Iranians and disseminate its message to Persian speakers.

In late March, IS published a rare video in Persian in which it called on Iran’s Sunni minority to rise up against the Shi’a-dominated Iranian establishment. The video was dismissed by Iran’s state broadcaster as “nonsense” and an attempt by the group to cover up mounting losses in Iraq.

Since then, IS has published four issues of its online propaganda publication Rumiyah in Persian. Rumiyah, whose title means Rome in Arabic in an allusion to prophecies that Muslims would conquer the West, is already published in several languages, including English, Russian, French, and Indonesian.

Iran has deployed senior military advisers and thousands of “volunteers” in the past six years to help regional ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad battle an armed insurrection that includes IS and other Islamist fighters as well as groups supported by Turkey and the United States.

IS advocates a radical Salafi version of Sunni Islam and regards Shi’a as heretics, and controls parts of Iraq and Syria under what it describes as a “caliphate.”

This attack is significant for several reasons. The first is that even as ISIL is being squeezed on the ground, with the long delayed start of the operation to clear ISIL from Raqqa finally seeming to be under way and operations to finish driving ISIL from Mosul coming to a completion and other parts of northern Iraq well under way, we are seeing an increase of ISIL related attacks well outside of the self proclaimed caliphate. This makes a certain logical sense. It allows ISIL, or those that objectively (have formally joined/under direct ISIL control) or subjectively (consider themselves to be in solidarity with, but haven’t formally joined/not under direct ISIL control) ISIL, to demonstrate that they are still relevant and have significant operational capability even as they lose more and more ground in Iraq and Syria. To a great extent this was always going to be part of the potential negative effects of the US’s strategy of degrading and reducing ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The more successful Operation Inherent Resolve is, the more ISIL inspired and/or directed terrorist activity would be seen well away from the actual declared caliphate in the Levant.

Read more



Update on the London Bridge and Borough Market Attack

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has issued a statement in regard to the attack at London Bridge and Borough Market.

As we wait for the Metropolitan Police and other British authorities to provide further information, please take note that a variety of social media accounts, both automated bots and the alt-right, are using bogus imagery and information for their own particular ends.

Unfortunately not everyone has gotten the message!

Bjorn Stritzel of Bild reported that ISIS has been promoting these types of attacks:

(Before anyone asks, that is a full sized Springfield Armory XDM and based on the size of the muzzle I’m relatively sure it is a .45 ACP in caliber)

James Cox of The Sun has reported that the explosions are controlled detonations:

NBC has reported that a number of folks fought back in a very British sort of way:

Until more information comes in it is important to remember that no matter how good law enforcement, intelligence and counter-terrorism services are, it is virtually impossible to stop every act of terrorism. Especially in a liberal democracy where freedom of movement, speech, association, and religion is valued and protected. This is largely because of resources and not limited just to money. There is only so much time and so many personnel to go around. As a result people and their plans are going to slip through the cracks.

Just yesterday the Irish authorities were able to break up an IRA plot for a massive car bomb in Dublin.

A massive New IRA bomb plot was foiled after gardai seized a staggering 6kg (13.2lb) of explosives in Dublin’s north-inner city.

Heavily armed detectives carrying sub-machine guns stopped a seven-seater taxi during a dramatic arrest in Ballybough shortly after 6pm yesterday.

Gardai, aided by the army and the bomb disposal unit, arrested two men and seized the lethal explosives.

Investigating gardaí now believe the material seized is TNT. It was initially believed to be semtex.

The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation by the Special Detective Unit (SDU) into dissident republican activity.

The Herald can reveal that:

  • A massive 6kg of explosives, as well as detonators, were recovered.
  • The new, military grade explosives were recently sourced and brought into the State.
  • Two men were arrested at the scene, one with close links to the New IRA.

It has also emerged that the second man arrested has no known connections to any criminal gang, leading to fears of a new recruitment drive by the dissident republican terror group.

Armed gardai also raided the house of a politician’s relative, who has close ties to one of the men arrested.

A senior source last night stated that the explosives recovered were “big enough to blow up a street”.

Damage

The explosives “would have caused serious damage if used. It is a major catch for gardai,” said the source.

With relatively easy access to the Internet and social media the drift into radicalization and extremism is easier than ever. And harder to detect and stop. If these attacks are inspired/coordinated by ISIS, then expect to see more of them as they are squeezed and ultimately run out of the physical caliphate they attempted to establish in the Levant. Such attacks will be an attempt to pressure coalition members to abandon the US led coalition against ISIS.



We Must Take Strong Measures to Protect our Nation…

To slightly modify the President’s remarks at this year’s State of the Union address we must take strong measures to protect our Nation from radical Islamic white Christian terrorism!

To go further, and to once again slightly modify his remarks from the October 9th, 2016 presidential debate, the President’s wisdom and counsel are important in these dark times.

Whether we like it or not, and we can be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not there is a problem. And we have to be sure that when Muslims white Christians come in and report when they see something going on. When they see hatred going on they have to report it. But as an example in San Bernardino Portland many people saw the bombs all over the apartment of the two people that killed 14 and wounded many, many peoplethreats on social media and the multiple arrests and convictions for violent felonies of the one man who killed two and wounded a third, horribly wounded he’ll never be the same. Muslims White Christians have to report the problems when they see them. And, you know, there’s always a reason for everything. If they don’t do that it’s a very difficult situation for our country. Because you look at Orlando and you look at San Bernardino and you look at the World Trade Center the University of Maryland bus stop attack and you look at Mother Emmanuel Church and you look at the Murrah Federal Building and you go outside and look at Paris Quebec City look at that horrible, these are radical Islamic white Christian terrorists. And she I won’t even mention the word. Nor will President Obama Vice President Pence. He They won’t use the term radical Islamic white Christian terrorism. Now to solve a problem you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least state the name. She I won’t say the name. President Obama Vice President Pence won’t say the name, but the name is there. It’s radical Islamic white Christian terror. And before you solve it, you have to say the name.

An April 2017 Government Accountability Office report states:

of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far-rightwing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73%) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27%).

It is incumbent on our white Christian leaders, like Vice President Pence, Senator Cruz, Governor Huckabee, Reverend Jerry Fallwell, Jr,  Reverend Franklin Graham, Reverend Pat Robertson, and many, many others to speak out and condemn these horrific acts. And it is incumbent on our white Christian neighbors that if they see something, they must alert the government and say something!

Across the nation, we’re all part of communities. In cities, on farms, and in the suburbs, we share everyday moments with our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends. It’s easy to take for granted the routine moments in our every day—going to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. But your every day is different than your neighbor’s—filled with the moments that make it uniquely yours. So if you see something you know shouldn’t be there—or someone’s behavior that doesn’t seem quite right—say something. Because only you know what’s supposed to be in your everyday. Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe. “If You See Something, Say Something™” engages the public in protecting our homeland through awareness–building, partnerships, and other outreach.

 



The Turkish Referendum: The US is Now on the Wrong Side of History

Turkey held a referendum yesterday in regard to the structure of the Turkish government. On its face it was intended to modernize the 1980 constitution, which was drafted after the last military takeover to preserve the Kemalist system. The referendum involved constitutional reform that increases the power of the President of Turkey.

The plan turns Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential republic. Among the numerous changes:

  • The role of prime minister will be scrapped. The new post of vice president, possibly two or three, will be created.
  • The president becomes the head of the executive, as well as the head of state, and retains ties to a political party.
  • He or she will be given sweeping new powers to appoint ministers, prepare the budget, choose the majority of senior judges and enact certain laws by decree.
  • The president alone will be able to announce a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
  • Parliament will lose its right to scrutinise ministers or propose an enquiry. However, it will be able to begin impeachment proceedings or investigate the president with a majority vote by MPs. Putting the president on trial would require a two-thirds majority.
  • The number of MPs will increase from 550 to 600.
  • Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on the same day every five years. The president will be limited to two terms.

There appear to be a number of observed and reported irregularities in the voting and the tallying of the votes regarding the referendum.

As Arab News reports:

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s two main opposition parties on Sunday said they would challenge the results putting the ‘Yes’ camp ahead in the referendum on expanding the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after alleged violations.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said that whatever the final result, it would challenge two-thirds of the vote, saying: “There is an indication of a 3-4 percentage point manipulation of the vote.”
The deputy head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Bulent Tezcan, denounced “violations” by the election authorities in allowing ballot papers without an official stamp to be used.
Another CHP deputy head, Erdal Aksunger, said it could appeal up to 60 percent of the vote.
“Believe me, this election is not over,” he told CNN Turk, quoted by the Dogan news agency. “This is totally invalid. We are declaring this here.”
He said that the CHP was appealing 37 percent of the ballot box results, and this figure could eventually rise to 60 percent. “Since the morning, we have detected violations,” he said.
Turkish media said that CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu was convening a special meeting of its executive board.

The EU had its monitors on site because Turkey still has an open application to join the European Union. Both the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) sent monitors.

… observers from the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said on April 17 that the legal framework for the referendum “remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum.”

The monitors also said the referendum campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field” and that the counting of ballots in the April 16 referendum had been marred by “late procedural changes.”

President Erdogan responded by calling out the EU and its monitors:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan treated a crowd of supporters gathered outside his presidential palace on Monday evening to a speech laced with invective against Europe, saying his victory in a referendum on Sunday took place under conditions that were democratic beyond compare.

“We don’t care about the opinions of ‘Hans’ or ‘George,’” Erdogan said, using the names as stand-ins for his European critics. “All debates about the constitutional referendum are now over.”

This, unfortunately, fits with President Erdogan’s ongoing attempts to reorient Turkey away from an EU he perceives as perpetually dragging its feet regarding Turkish membership (he is not wrong) and from the EU’s attempts to restrict his power and his remaking of Turkish politics and society. Even more unfortunate was the President’s response to the outcome of the referendum.

I think that it is highly likely that despite what the EU monitors have observed and reported, and the challenges by Turkish opposition parties, that the outcome of the referendum will stand. This will significantly increase President Erdogan’s power, which he is eligible to wield all the way through the 2029 Turkish elections if repeatedly reelected. In many ways this referendum put the democratic process to work to achieve a very anti-democratic and authoritarian outcome, or at least an anti-democratic outcome that will allow Erdogan to become more authoritarian. In many ways it is the logical follow on from last summer’s abortive coup. Regardless, it is neither a positive outcome for Turkey, nor was the President’s response to this in his call to Erdogan a good thing.

(Full disclosure: One of my former students, from my first year assigned to USAWC, has been accused by the Erdogan government of participation in the failed coup. I was his front line supervisor/academic advisor and his research advisor/supervisor. I have been unable to reach him or his wife since the night the coup began. The last time I heard from him was in 2015 when I wrote a letter of reference for his application to a Belgian graduate program while he was assigned at NATO headquarters. He is an excellent officer, a true gentleman, and a loyal Turk.)



Actions Have Consequences: Lysistrata Edition

I’ll just leave this here for your schadenfreude and viewing pleasure. Albo is quitting the Virginia House of Delegates.



Oh and About that Reasonable Republican John Kasich

This is horrifying:

Ohio lawmakers passed a bill that would prohibit abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — at around six weeks, before many women realize they are pregnant. Here’s what you need to know about the bill. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

Ohio lawmakers passed a bill late Tuesday that would prohibit abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — at around six weeks, before many women realize they are pregnant.

If Gov. John Kasich (R) signs the bill, it would pose a direct challenge to Supreme Court decisions that have found that women have a constitutional right to abortion until the point of viability, which is typically pegged around 24 weeks. Similar bills have been blocked by the courts. Because of this, even many antiabortion advocates have opposed such measures.

But some Ohio Republicans said they were empowered to support the bill because of President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion nationally.

This no Christo-fascist regime is going to take decades to unwind.