Radical Islam and the International Intelligence Summit 2007: A Report
Helene Fragman Abramson
Writer and researcher Helene Fragman Abramson spent two days at the International Intelligence Summit in St. Petersburg (March 4-7, 2007), "where I was invited to join Impossible Spy executive producer Harvey Chertok to honor the memory of both Eli and Maurice Cohen by providing historical context during the Q&A. I offer my kudos and deep-felt gratitude to Summit organizers Dr. Robert Katz and John Loftus for making the return of Eli’s remains from Syria to Israel a priority."
The following is Helene's recap of what she heard and learned at the summit. After her observations are appendices related to the conference.
"From the shores of Tripoli"
It seems not much has changed since Thomas Jefferson, according to Congressional meeting notes, was told by the Warlord of the Barbary Coast that “all nations who should not have acknowledged the authority [of the laws of the Prophet, Mohammed] were sinners, that it was their [Muslim] right and duty to make war upon [the sinners] wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners.” As president, Jefferson took the Islamic leaders to task for piracy and hostage taking in 1805; U.S. Marine bombardments eventually forced them to abandon their ways.
Today, anyone who turns on a television in this post 9-11 era is aware of the dangers of radical Islam. Never before have so few posed such a grave danger to so many regardless of where we live. Yet we barely shudder when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publicly calls for the destruction of Israel and the United States or when his close ally and beneficiary, Hizbollah leader Hassan Nazrallah, tells Washington Post reporter David Ignatius that there are no terms under which Islamic militants would agree to halt their suicide bombings.
As with hostage taking, such acts are a continueing part of U.S. international relations. But America’s failure to respond in kind to attacks on our own soil—our embassies are on American soil—according to former al Qaeda associate Dr. Tawfik Hamid, was a clear signal that radical Islamic terror tactics could be successful. During his keynote address at the Intelligence Summit, Hamid's observations on the motivation for suicide bombers included the idea that Americans have a short memory and no stomach for a long war while radical Muslims have eternity to rid the universe of non-believers. Every Muslim steeped in Koran knows killing an infidel can save him from the horrific hell-fires of the sinner, explained Dr. Hamid. (Hamid made his remarks despite a fatwah [Muslim religious edict] calling for his death.)
Gaps in Intelligence
The annual Intelligence Summit, hosted by the Intelligence and Homeland Security Education Center (IHEC) to offer a non-partisan forum for information exchange in the fight against terrorism, drew speakers with expertise ranging from biological warfare to international law to linguistics in the private, military, academic and intelligence sectors. Unfortunately, forums like these tend to attract the already-converted. The rest of us remain nonplussed and secure that our everyday lives and personal priorities take precedence—we hope.
Alas, “hope is not a strategy” according to Lieutenant General Thomas G. McInerney.
McInerney's summit address underscored Dr. Hamid’s message noting the need for success in Iraq is the turnkey if we are to convince the followers of radical Islam that America won’t pack up and go home before the job is done. The benefits of covert operations are not lost on the General who wants Iran to turn into the ‘most accident-prone place on the planet’. At least all seems well along the back channels. Just days after the summit, missing Iranian General Ali Rez Asghani turned up at a German NATO base with his family despite Gen. McInerney’s concerns about culling resources for covert endeavors in the face of both a lame-duck president and the effects of a less-than-informed public.
An "uninformed public" is but one of the issues cited for making the "War on Terrorism" difficult. Of course, the pundits of D.C. have long held the American populace as incapable of digesting more than a sound byte. It comes as no surprise that this Administration has been less than forthright, and the Bush team has much to be embarrassed about. First among them, of course, was the Iraqi initiative supposedly launched to locate WMDs but moving troops so slowly that Saddam Hussein could relocate them. According to a Belgium-based biological weapons development expert, the difference between a pharmaceutical research lab and a biological warfare manufacturing site is in the minute details, like the depth of a facility’s walls or the level of safety precautions in place, among others. Even those critical of the Iraqi invasion assert that having bio-warfare experts on the ground in Iraq would have made it far more difficult to elicit the current level of public anti-war support. More embarrassing still is that U.S. back channels ignored information that live weapons-grade bacteria were being transferred to Syria well before American forces arrived in Iraq.
It’s no wonder we couldn’t intercept them; we don’t understand Arabic. We have few reliable translators able to speak the local dialect. This poses a significant hurdle in gaining strategic intelligence for those in the field and serves to keep the majority of Americans ignorant as well.
Apparently lessons come hard: The 1979 American failure to have a single reliable translator during the takeover of the American Embassy in Teheran led us to disregard the warning from Israeli Intelligence in the days before the takeover as well as incapacitated our ability to quickly negotiate the release of American hostages there. Current hiring practices of our governmental agencies, according to Colonel Jerry Gordon, places such severe restrictions on the pool of available language resources that naturalized, patriotic Americans like Brigitte Gabrielle, a former Arabic World News anchor who speaks six dialects of Arabic along with Hebrew and English, are immediately rejected in favor of male Muslims of such questionable allegiance that several have been prosecuted for intentionally mistranslating in order to protect the Ummah (or Islamic community as a whole). He sees strategic objectives of this nation outweighed by bureaucracy and personal job security of government employees. Lack of awareness in the public sector means little is done to heighten accountability and fill the critical gaps.
Poor public awareness also provides cover for our government’s failure to acknowledge and respond to the dangers of now-nuclear but poverty-ridden North Korea and Kim Jong Il’s readiness to capitalize on it. Il, who now operates without international or public scrutiny, has few obstacles to selling arms to well-financed radical Muslim organizations. The diplomatic front is equally dismal in dealing with North Korea, according to former KGB Lieutenant Colonel Konstantin Preobrazhensky, who said at the summit that asking Russian leader Vladimir Putin to join America in negotiating a solution to North Korea’s nuclear proliferation is ridiculous. He sees Putin and Il in bed for the long haul: North Korea’s border with the former USSR is completely unsecured and, although religion is banned in North Korea, Il recently erected a Russian Orthodox temple as homage to Putin.
In addition, intelligence efforts have long been stymied by an ill-informed, fragmented decision-making bureaucracy that, in the business jargon of the day, has no skin in the game. American ability to monitor activity in China is no exception. It is ironic that American auto manufacturers seem unable to produce a single interchangeable part for a car, while China, Syria and Iraq were able to secretly collaborate on and build a missile that, once assembled, is nuclear. Save for the missile bodies manufactured in Iraq before America stepped in, Syria is free to go on enriching uranium and China can continue making the warheads. Given the lucrative opportunities of the arms business, surely someone will soon fill the gap left by Iraq.
If any theme was clear throughout the summit, not only is the world a more dangerous place than it’s ever been but, left unchecked, America will be the last big battleground. Terror opportunities have indeed already landed on our shores. Most recently, last year John Loftus, IHEC President who formerly worked for the CIA and as an attorney for the Justice Department, prosecuted and won a case against Sami Al Arian for smuggling stolen cars out of Tampa Bay to be used as car bombs and fund Hamas terror activities.
Europe, with its massive Muslim population, has also long ignored the danger. One would think Europe would be more proactive given the history of the last century. Instead, radical Muslim attacks on citizens and the burning of cars and synagogues remain mostly unreported across the continent. Reliance on Arab oil and the incredible wealth oil has generated in Saudi Arabia has made us soft on the Saudi export of Wahabism, a radical form of Islam that ultimately results in terror. Squelching it demands policy set to condemn terror wherever it occurs whether it be in America, in Israel or in Europe.
Dr. Louis Rene Beres, an international law professor at Purdue University, has a controversial and unpopular opinion within the academic world. “No country,”
he asserts, “is obligated to wait for annihilation.” He believes that anticipatory self-defense passes the litmus test of jurisprudence for a pre-emptive military response to threats like those from Iran’s Ahmadinejad, along with others who support, fund or harbor terror networks. Given the potential danger America faces, we’d be loath to let public opinion obfuscate the facts.
Putting it all together for this mother of four whose sons have never even owned a toy gun is a formidable task. Truth lies beyond labels: ‘on the right’ or ‘on the left’, them and us, liberal and conservative. To positively impact public policy ordinary Americans must step outside the comfort zone and reassess the world with wider eyes and more critical thinking.
Even if al Qaeda’s Dr. Hamid is only partially right, terror networks are growing and the danger is real. He says slowing their activities demands a powerful and direct blow in a language understood by the proliferators of terror—whether they are in Iran, Syria, North Korea, Gaza, the West Bank, Pakistan or elsewhere. Everyone agrees public opinion will be hard won; casualties and civilian deaths are likely regardless of whether we wage a war of arms or a war of words. Summit organizers and speakers say we must determine if we, as a nation, have the stomach to limit those casualties to the Arab Middle East, places former Israeli spokesman Ra’anan Gissin calls “Greenhouses of terror,” or, if we opt to wait for it on our trains, our bridges, our food supply, our backyards.
Courage to do the kind of self-examination that differentiates between hating radical Muslim promoters of terrorism and hating Muslims is essential, no matter how much the media tries to blur that line or academia brands us ‘unintelligent and biased’ in sorting it out. Finding reliable information outside the political agenda of this or any other Administration and reading between the lines might just be our saving grace and is a job no American can afford to outsource.
The world has surely changed since the Vietnam war was my dinner companion. Our perspective needs to shift as well. A terrorist who blows up a disco in Tel Aviv is no less a terrorist than one who hijacks and pilots a plane into the World Trade Center. Like Jefferson, we must take them to task. The question is “how?”
For more info, check the links listed at www.intelligencesummit.org.
The American Congress for Truth, spearheaded by Brigitte Gabriel, at
www.americancongressfortruth.com has an extensive list of domestic and international media links.
Copyright © 2007 by Helene Fragman Abramson. All rights reserved. The opinions of Ms. Abramson are her own and not necessarily those of SpyWise.net
In conjunction with the Intelligence Summit,a Secular Islam Summit was held at the same location with many of the same participants. On March 5, 2007, delegates to the Secular Islam conference released "THE ST. PETERSBURG DECLARATION" which reads:
We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not
between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.
We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.
We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.
We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.
We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called "Islamaphobia" in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason
We call on the governments of the world to[:]
• reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostacy, in
accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;
• eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women;
• protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;
• reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims
• foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.
We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy.
We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free
scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.
We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine;
to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens;
and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.
Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must
choose for themselves.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Manda Zand Ervin
Other reactions to the summit were posted at:
Politics And Islam: The first Secular Islam Summit was a success if for no other reason than it intimidated the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the PR machine of militant Islam.
Investor's Business Daily stock analysis and business news
ight Web Profile International Intelligence Summit
“About Intelligence Summit”
rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/3594 - 22k -
(Includes commentary on participants.)
Mapping Strategy: The International Intelligence Summit.
cartegic.typepad.com/mapping_strategy/2006/03/belated_review_.html - 46k -
(Comments by one presenter.)
Southpinellas: Intelligence conference draws criticism
www.sptimes.com/2007/03/06/Southpinellas/Intelligence_conferen.shtml - 33k -
(Criticizes motives and organization by summit leadership.)