Drone Rules and Targeted Killing: Huffington Post Live Segment

Today I appeared on Huffington Post Live on a panel discussing rules for the use of drones in targeted killings.  The panel information and video clip appear below.

In anticipation of the election, the Obama administration started working to codify drone policies. Why did they wait so long and what might the rules look like?  Originally aired on November 27, 2012

Hosted by:

  • Josh Hersh (Washington, DC) HuffPost Foreign Policy Correspondent @joshuahersh
  • Hina Shamsi (New York, NY) Director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. @hinashamsi
  • Gregory S. McNeal (Malibu) Professor, Pepperdine University @gregorymcneal



Terrorist Attacks in Uganda– Islamist Terrorist Group Al Shabab Believed Responsible

Tragedy struck Uganda in the form of an Islamist terrorist bombing attack on World Cup watchers.  Among the dead and wounded are Americans serving on charitable missions —I hope readers will keep all of the victims in their prayers.

Last month I wrote about a poorly reasoned New York Times article which argued that the Islamist terrorism in Somalia was a “civil war” suggesting that the violence there was limited to domestic concerns.  Sadly, today’s al Shabab attacks in Uganda, which thus far caused 64 deaths and injured 71 are evidence of what I wrote last month.  The conflict in Somalia is parter of the broader conflict against Islamist extremists.  Al Shabab gains in Somalia are seen by Ayman al-Zawahiri and other terrorists as part of the broader jihad, and that gains there were seen as “a step on the path of victory for Islam.”

Andy McCarthy, summarizing my post wrote the New York Times wanted “you to understand that al Qaeda-connected al-Shabab’s recruitment of Somali-based Americans is strictly about fighting a civil war — not anything so ambitious as a global jihad.”

Today’s news tells a different story more consistent with the global jihad that Andy and I have been arguing Somalia is a part of.  For example, the Washington Post got it partly right noting:

Uganda’s Police Chief Kale Kaihura immediately pointed blame at Somalia’s al-Shabab, a hard-line militia with growing ties to al-Qaeda that has perpetrated several bombings in recent months inside Somalia. 



Last week, the militia’s top leader Sheikh Mukhtar Abdurahman Abu Zubeyr accused African Union peacekeeping forces in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu of committing “massacres” against Somalis. Ugandan and Burundian troops comprise the peacekeeping force. Abu Zubeyr warned that his forces would take revenge against the peoples of Uganda and Burundi.

Uganda, a key U.S. ally, is also a training ground for soldiers for Somalia’s transitional government, which al-Shabab is seeking to overthrow, in a program backed by the United States and European nations. The United States officially considers al-Shabab a terrorist organization.


They use the odd term “militia” to describe al Shabab, but otherwise get the Islamist details right, even explaining that “The militia, which seeks to create an Islamic emirate and has imposed Taliban-like dictates, has banned playing soccer in many areas and prohibited broadcasts of the World Cup, describing the sport as “a satanic act” that corrupts Muslims.”  The Associated Press, quoted al Shabab leader Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa as saying “Uganda is one of our enemies, whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us.”  More details to follow…



Islamic Group Recruits for Civil War, Not Jihad—File This Story Under Stupid

Well, it hasn’t taken long for The New York Times to show that they are fully on board with the Obama-Brennan nameless “extremist ideologies,” please don’t call it a war, and definitely don’t call it jihad garbage.  Consider today’s headline which reads “Islamic Extremist Group Recruits for Civil War, Not Jihad.” This comes on the heels of two Americans who were picked up at JFK after training for…wait for it…. jihad!

According to the complaint (h/t Bobby Chesney), one defendant stated “I leave this time, God Willing, I never come back. I’ll never see this crap hole. Only way I would come back here is if I was in the land of jihad and the leader ordered me to come back here and do something here. Ah, I love that.” According to the Department of Justice, the defendants “preparations included saving thousands of dollars, physically conditioning themselves, engaging in paintball and other tactical training, acquiring military gear and apparel for use overseas, and purchasing airline tickets to Egypt with the intent to then travel to Somalia. The defendants also discussed their obligation to wage violent jihad and at times expressed a willingness to commit acts of violence in the United States.” I’m not a fancy journalist for the New York Times, but it sure sounds like these guys believed they were going to fight jihad, not some civil war, but why believe that our enemies mean what they say?

Sadly, the average reader of this article would never know what motivated these guys to fight (and it’s not just the headline, note the HTML header “Al Shabab Recruits Americans for Somali Civil War”) as the piece goes on to characterize the fight in Somalia this way: “For several years, an intense civil war has raged in Somalia between a weak American-backed government and radical Islamist groups that are trying to overthrow it. The insurgents include fighters from Al Shabab, which has sent hundreds of young recruits to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and a rival group, Hizbul Islam.”

Ahhhh yes, a Civil War, between that evil American-backed government and radical Islamist groups, this must just be some dispute about self governance without the interference of evil colonialist Americans, or maybe it’s about religious liberty, or minority representation in the legislature?  Or maybe it’s about, oh, I don’t know, the establishment of an Islamic state, which I know I read somewhere (Tip: let’s try Ayman al-Zawahiri’s statement that Shabab gains in Somalia were “a step on the path of victory for Islam.”)  Of course these types of fights are the point of jihad, it’s not a holy war for the sake of war, it’s a holy war to achieve an end, that end is the establishment of a global Islamist caliphate governed by sharia law.  And it’s on that point that the New York Times really struggles to get this story wrong.  For example, they note that both al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam share a “hard line Islamist” ideology…which called for amputations and public stonings for violations of Islamic law” plus “harsh rules prohibiting music, television and even bras.” Unfortunately this is buried in the story, chopped up between paragraphs, as the authors and their headline writer do verbal backflips to avoid calling a jihad what it is.  This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this, as Andy McCarthy notes in The Grand Jihad (pp. 335-336):

“Despite the extensive history of Muslims flocking to any ‘field of jihad’ where Islamists are in combat, the Bureau was instinctively quick to rationalize that ‘the primary motivation’ for their travel to Somalia was ‘to defend their place of birth [i.e., the place they couldn’t get out of fast enough] from the Ethiopian invasion.’  But the criminal charges filed by the Justice Department tell a different story:  one of a call to jihad that sounded in mosques from Minneapolis to Mecca.  Thus, even the FBI has had to concede, however grudgingly, that ‘an appeal was also made based on their shared Islamic identity.'”

And so it goes, despite ample evidence to the contrary it looks like the Obama-Brennan nameless “extremist ideologies” narrative is beginning to take hold.  How this is a good thing for our national security is beyond me, but at least we’ve got that narrative thing down.

Paging Andy McCarthy, please send a copy of The Grand Jihad to Eric Schmitt c/o The New York Times.