- Radical Islam expert Brigitte Gabriel says ISIS is capable of anything from shopping mall shooting sprees to nuclear attacks in the United States and believes the best way to ward off calamity is for Americans to wake up their elected officials and demand they "throw political correctness in the garbage can" and confront the radical threat as it truly exists.
Gabriel was a victim of terrorism in her native Lebanon. She is founder and president of actforamerica.org and is author of numerous books, including "They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It." She says the danger to the U.S. posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is significant but says the threat is nothing new.
"We know that radical Islamists have been trying t attack the United States. It doesn't matter what organization they identify with, whether it's Al Qaeda or ISIS or whatever name du jour that's exciting and dominating the news," said Gabriel. "Since President Obama became president, we have arrested on American soil 226 home grown terrorists. And that was before ISIS."
She does acknowledge a significant difference with ISIS: the deep pockets of the terrorist army. Gabriel says those kind of resources can finance a whole lot of trouble for the U.S. and other western nations.
"ISIS has their hands on biological weapons. They have captured the oil fields. They have their hands on nuclear material. And they certainly have the money to be able to buy the technology to put missiles together with nukes on top of them or be able to smuggle something into our country. We cannot afford to let our president, even though he is blind to the issue, to let the issue go ignored," said Gabriel, who adds that ISIS can strike a devastating psychological blow to Americans with far less complicated plots.
"It doesn't take a mega-attack. All they need is a few crazies to strap bombs to their bodies and walk into malls in different states across the United States. That would literally strike terror in the hearts of Americans," she said.
The Obama administration and many other public officials and organizations are taking great pains to insist ISIS does not speak for Islam or any other religion. Gabriel says Islam and radicalism are seamlessly intertwined throughout the past 1,400 years.
"They are basing their actions on the words of the Quran. What IS is doing right now is no different than what Prophet Mohammed himself did," she said.
"They are using scriptures from the Quran. For example Quran 8:12 talks about striking fear into the hearts of disbelievers. Therefore, cut off their fingers and toes because they disobeyed Allah. So what ISIS is doing is no different than what any other group or devout followers of the Quran will do," said Gabriel.
She says we've seen with numerous radical Muslim groups just since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Gabriel pointed to mass executions and stonings in Afghan soccer arenas by the Taliban, the Al Qaeda beheading of Daniel Pearl, the terrorist beheadings of Nick Berg and 35 other people in just one year in Iraq and the horrific murders, rapes, abductions and church burnings carried out by Boko Haram in Nigeria.
"When you look at these different groups across the world, whether they are Al Shabab in Somalia, or Boko Haram in Nigeria, or Lashkar-e-Taiba in India, or Hamas in Gaza, or Hezbollah in Lebanon or Al Qaeda. The name doesn't matter. They all are operating out of the same manual, sharing the same ideology and the same goal," said Gabriel.
Speaking of Hamas, Gabriel says the recently announced cease-fire in Gaza is nothing but a chance for the terrorists to regroup and eventually pose a greater threat than before.
"Israel has got to decapitate Hamas and destroy its infrastructure. Otherwise, Hamas is going to come back stronger than ever. It may take them a year, two years, three years. They're going to come back and we're going to see the same thing," said Gabriel.
Act for America is hosting its annual security conference in Washington, a three-day event beginning on Septmeber 11. Gabriel says our elected officials need to understand the gravity of the terrorist threat facing our country and the urgency with which it must be confronted. However, she says it's up to the American people to make sure Washington takes notice and takes decisive action.
"The American public must come together and put pressure on our elected officials to throw political correctness in the garbage where it belongs and start speaking the truth about the threats we are facing," said Gabriel. "(We need to) remind our elected officials as to the importance of securing the United States, securing American lives, protecting American cities and doing what is right to fight evil."
Part of that, says Gabriel, is working to thwart the rise of home grown terrorists. She says rudderless young people are especially attracted to the cause.
"What we're suffering in the west today is the lack of structure in the family, the lack of guidance. Many families are broken. Young people feel disenfranchised," said Gabriel. "What Islam offers is a way to tell you how to live your life, down to the simple things and how many times you can wash your hands and how many times to pray and everything to that detail. That's what they're attracted to.
"A lot of people are also resentful of America. A lot of the youth are very easily drawn to very attractive recruitment videos on the internet," said Gabriel, noting that ISIS is even recruiting people most would consider the least likely to join their cause.
"Right now ISIS is focused on recruiting women on the internet, offering them safety and security and stability and a home life if they would come and marry a jihadist and take care of a jihadist's needs," she said.
- Multiple new polls show tea party activists see the border crisis as the most important issue of the 2014 midterm elections and the movement once known for its insistence upon less spending and smaller government is ready to make border security a critical issue heading into November.
Surveys from Gallup, The Polling Company and the Tea Party Patriots show immigration as the top issue for voters in 2014. Democrats historically have an edge in the debate due to their insistence that the vast majority of those in the country illegally are good people trying to make a better life for their families and they are deserving of a chance. However, the recent flood of illegal border crossings have changed some opinions, including those of congressional Republicans.
GOP leaders from the Republican National Committee to House Speaker John Boehner to 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan consistently pushed for comprehensive immigration reform in the wake of President Obama's re-election. Their plans were scuttled by GOP House members earlier this year. By July, while the border crisis raged, a majority of Republicans seemed very hesitant to move in that direction.
Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin says she things Republicans officially got the message.
"What we saw happen at the end of July in the House of Representatives showed that the House of Representatives were finally listening to the people and doing what the people want. People do not want amnesty granted to people who have broken the law and come to our country illegally," said Martin.
According to Martin, grassroots tea party activists see immigration as a bedrock issue this year both on grounds of economic fairness and the rule of law.
"While the economy is slightly improving, there are more people who are underemployed than have been in many, many years in this country. The thought of bringing even more people into the country to compete for jobs that Americans that are still having trouble finding is very concerning," said Martin.
"You watch what has happened at the border and the way people are coming across the border, ignoring the rule of law and being unfair to those who have actually obeyed the law to immigrate to the country on a legal path to citizenship. Americans are concerned about that. We understand America is a nation of laws, not a nation of men," said Martin.
She says that legal path is the not only the key to observing the rule of law but a winning political argument against the Democratic case for compassion towards illegal immigrants.
"There is a legal path to citizenship already. There are people who come to this country because they truly do want a better life for themselves and for their family. They want to pursue the American dream. They respect our country and they respect the rules and laws that are in place already," said Martin.
"It's not fair or just or right to those people who are obeying the rules to allow somebody else who has disrespected the rule of law special privileges and allow them to cut in line in front of those who have been waiting patiently," she said.
Martin also expects a fierce backlash from American of all political stripes if President Obama makes good on his promise to address illegal immigration through executive action, which some believe could mean authorizing work permits for up to five million people in the U.S. illegally. Martin says Americans expect Washington to follow the Constitution.
"Americans want to the president to work with Congress. They don't want the president acting without working with Congress. We have a system in place where we have elections for members of Congress and we have elections for the president. Those elections have consequences. Sometimes that means you can't get your way," said Martin.
Martin is upbeat on the midterm elections, despite numerous fierce battles between tea party candidates and the national Republican Party. The Mississippi GOP primary, in which incumbent Thad Cochran edged challenger Chris McDaniel in a particularly nasty runoff, is emblematic of a frayed relationship between the GOP and grassroots activists. Still, Martin says both sides agree the immediate goal for both groups is winning in November.
"There is certainly a major divide and it's going to take some time to resolve that. In the next 60-70 days, as we're looking toward the November election, I think that tea party activists and people within the Republican leadership can agree that the one thing we need to focus on is how can we stop the president's agenda from continuing in the United States Senate. And how can we get the Senate functioning again so that they're voting on bills that the House has passed," she said.
"The way to do that is to change the majority in the United States Senate," said Martin.
- Retired Israeli Brigadier Gen. Elihu Ben-Onn says Israelis welcome a long-term cease-fire with Hamas even though the major objectives were not achieved and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is paying the political price for failing to achieve a quick, clear-cut victory.
In addition, Ben-Onn says the United States is seen as a diminished player in Middle Eastern affairs. The Obama administration repeatedly spoke up for Israel's right to defend itself but also regularly expressed outrage over the civilian deaths in Gaza.
"We really appreciate the Americans for their support for the state of Israel, but it is clear that President Obama is not as strong as other presidents were before. So there's a feeling that's in the Middle East now that the United States is not such a strong figure as it used to be in the past. I hope the United States will be able to rebuke this image," said Ben-Onn.
On Tuesday, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a long-term cease-fire brokered by Egypt. Israel's stated goal heading into the 50-day conflict was to deny Hamas the ability to threaten Israeli citizens with rockets. As the ink dries on the cease-fire, Hamas still has rockets capable of hitting Israel.
Ben-Onn says the Israel people are relieved to see a possible end to the fighting at least for a time. However, he says there is also a clear understanding of the results of the operation.
"It is clear that after 50 days, we haven't reached the goal we planned about," he said.
That performance is unacceptable to the Israeli people and Prime Minister Netanyahu is already paying a political price for it. In the early days of the conflict, Netanyahu's approval rating stood at 82 percent. Fifty days later, a new survey from Channel 2 in Israel shows the him with just 38 percent approving of him and 50 percent actively disapproving.
Ben-Onn is not surprised.
"Fifty days, that's the reason, that's the answer. The Israelis have a history and legacy that when you have an enemy like Hamas, we can stop the hostility and fire within a couple of days," said Ben-Onn, referring to very quick military victories in the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
"They believe the government and the prime minister can deliver the goods in one week or two weeks, but after 40 days or 50 days and Hamas can still target Israeli cities and villages, not only near the border but far away near Tel Aviv. It is clear that the popularity of the prime minister will go down because the people are used to having a very clear and clean victory. In this case, that's not the situation," said Ben-Onn.
Instead of forcibly disarming Hamas, Ben-Onn says there are now a series of questions left unanswered about the future of Gaza and what lies ahead for Israel and Hamas. When it comes to Gaza, he says there are several possibilities moving forward.
"What will be the future with these people? Can Israel leave after one week or two weeks or six months? Will Egypt go back and take responsibility in the Gaza Strip as it used to be until 1967. This question, I must tell you, is still unsolved," said Ben-Onn, noting Hamas has big decisions to make as well.
"Does the Hamas regime understand that after such a war that they will never try again to attack Israel, and that now, after a big and hard lesson that the Israel Defense Forces taught them, with so many casualties and so much damage that they will not dare to shoot again? Or will they try to do it once more?" asked Ben-Onn.
The general admits the region could return to the cycle of rocket launches that triggered Operation Protective Edge, but he says there is a possibility of some peace and quiet on the border for awhile and he points to the aftermath of Israel's 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon as proof.
"We have more than eight years of cease-fire and a balance of deterrence between us and Hezbollah on the Lebanon border. They don't dare to shoot . I believe that's what will happen now with Hamas. When they understand they are short of ammunition, short on supplies, short on cash money and the people are not happy with this regime, they will not start firing again," said Ben-Onn.
- British intelligence has reportedly identified the terrorist responsible for beheading American James Foley, prompting fears of homegrown Islamic State sympathizers striking in the west and American experts insisting it's time for politicians and the media to stop sanitizing the threat we face and where it comes from.
Reports suggest that hundreds of people holding American passports may be fighting alongside the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria. The number of Europeans assisting the terrorist army could be well into the thousands.
American Freedom Defense Initiative President Pamela Geller says, if anything, the real numbers are probably worse.
"I think the numbers are probably low, because they haven't taken the threat terribly seriously for the past ten years. They've been discounting and completely avoiding or omitting the motive," said Geller, who is not shocked that some Muslims in western nations are attracted to ISIS.
"It's not surprising at all that Muslims in the west would express support for the Islamic State. The idea of a caliphate transcends national allegiance and goes beyond anything current. It goes back to the beginning of Islamic history," said Geller.
According to Geller, Muslim immigrants come in with a very different attitude than most who yearn to live in the west.
"Many Muslims come to the west with a ready made model of society, of government that they believe is superior to what is currently in place," she said, noting most immigrants throughout history come not to change the west but to embrace it.
"Immigrant populations, whether from eastern Europe, whether from Asia, they would come to America for freedom. That was the idea of the shining light on the hill, it's freedom, it's individual rights. This is the uniqueness of America. This us what makes American exceptionalism exceptional. It's individual exceptionalism," said Geller.
One of the biggest problems for western nations is that they've largely allowed Muslims to export their vision for a nation to their adopted homelands, most notably through implementation of Sharia Law.
"The Muslim population, for example, in France is over ten percent. You see outside of Paris...it can be very frightening. The no-go zones, the Sharia zones, where firefighters and police cannot go. They are many times lured by particular criminal activity into these zones, only to be ambushed. We see it in the UK, increasingly, the imposition of Sharia Law. And people think it can't happen here, but it is happening here," said Geller.
Geller says American examples of capitulation to the Muslim agenda include mandatory prayer breaks at major companies like Heinz and Hertz and Muslim cashiers at Target and Walmart being excused from handling non-Halal meats. She says Muslim employees of Disney insist on wearing hijabs but objected when Disney tried to incorporate the head covering into costumes.
"It starts off with demands and then accommodation and more demand and so on and so on. We are at stage two, Europe is stage three. You look somewhere like Sudan. That's stage five of the islamization of a particular country. It's drip, drip, drip, drip. That's how it's happening," said Geller.
"As you can see, the islamization of the workplace, of the public school, of the public square, of the national dialogue, where literally the media is self-enforcing the Sharia. They will not criticize Islam. They will not offend Islam," she said.
So how can western nations prevent their people from becoming victims of home-grown radicals? Geller says it starts with educating the public, starting with an honest critique of a press that won't tell the truth.
"The biggest weapon that the enemy has in their arsenal is the media," said Geller. "The key is educating the public. First, they must understand who and what they're up against. They don't because it's like they're Helen Keller and someone moved the furniture."
"We cannot defeat an enemy that not only do we not understand but we dare not say its name. This is what we have to do first and then we can strategize how you can defeat jihad," she said.
Geller says President Obama is a prime example of trying to deal with a threat while simultaneously obscuring where the threat comes from and the ideology behind its actions.
"He's woefully unprepared to face the threat of the Islamic State. He can't even say it. He said it has nothing to do with religion. Their name is the Islamic State. I don't know if he's clueless. I don't believe he's clueless. I believe he's complicit because we've seen him align with the jihad force in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, in Libya with Al Qaeda-linked groups, in Gaza with Hamas. You know, Hamas is ISIS in Gaza," said Geller.
Obama deserves much of the blame for the rise of ISIS, according to Geller, who says the president has botched virtually every step of addressing this threat.
"He created the threat of the Islamic State by leaving Iraq precipitously and giving an opportunity to this group. He has denied it has anything to do with Islam, despite its name. He has denied that the Foley killing has anything to do with the U.S., despite the fact that the Islamic State has made explicit threats, that Foley was beaten more than any other of the hostages because he was American, that Foley was literally was hung and crucified on a wall because his brother was a member of the U.S. Army," said Geller.
"This shows that Obama is encased in denial and willful ignorance. This is not a recipe for success or a sign that he's prepared to deal with the threat," she said.