Donald Trump to Propose Ideological Tests for Immigrants

Donald Trump to Propose Ideological Tests for ImmigrantsPhoto: AP

In a speech on Monday, Donald Trump is expected to propose the institution of a new, ideological test that immigrants to the United States would be required to take, the Associated Press reports, so as to determine their positions on social issues like religious freedom, gender equality and gay rights. In any case where it cannot perform adequate screenings, the U.S. would not issue a visa.

After the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida, in June, Trump wanted to temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. “As he laid out in his Orlando remarks, Mr. Trump will describe the need to temporarily suspend visa issuances to geographic regions with a history of exporting terrorism and where adequate checks and background vetting cannot occur,” campaign spokesman Jason Miller wrote in an email. And how would that vetting occur? From the AP:

Through questionnaires, searching social media, interviewing friends and family or other means, applicants would be vetted to see whether they support American values like tolerance and pluralism.

The candidate is also expected to call in the speech for declaring in explicit terms that, like during the Cold War, the nation is in an ideological conflict with radical Islam.

Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and top U.S. government officials have warned of the dangers of using that kind of language to describe the conflict, arguing that it plays into militants’ hands.

“Mr. Trump will outline his vision for defeating radical Islamic terrorism,” Miller wrote in an email, “and explain how the policies of Obama-Clinton are responsible for the rise of ISIS and the spread of barbarism that has taken the lives of so many.” Last week, Trump said that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the co-founders of ISIS.

Trump: Not Only Was Obama the “Founder of ISIS” So Was Clinton and Also They Are Both ISIS MVPs

In an appearance on CNBC, Donald Trump reiterated his claim at a campaign rally in Florida on Wednesday that Barack Obama is the “founder of ISIS,” as was Hillary Clinton. “What,” Trump asked on Thursday morning, “are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?”…

“In sports they have awards—he gets the Most Valuable Player award,” Trump said. “Him and Hillary. She gets it too.”

The Republican nominee also went on a brief tangent complaining about how Obama refers to ISIS as “ISIL.” “He calls it ‘ISIL’ even though nobody else does,” Trump grumbled. “Probably he wants to bother people by using a different term.”

Ever aggrieved, the New York City real estate developer claimed not to care whether his comments alienate voters in swing states. (Or, presumably, anywhere.) “All I do is tell the truth,” he said. “I’m a truth teller.”

Donald Trump: President Obama “Founded ISIS”

At this point, are you even fucking surprised?

ISIS Is the Alt-Right

ISIS Is the Alt-RightImage: Dabiq

The newest issue of the Islamic State magazine Dabiq hit digital news stands on Monday, with front of book stories on “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You” and the “Near-Extinction of the Western Woman.” The feature essay, “Break the Cross,” is a lengthy critique and repudiation of Christian and Jewish theology. “Why do you disbelieve in the signs of Allah?” Dabiq asks. “Be assured, Allah witnesses what you do.” The nonprofit Clarion Project notes that this is the first issue addressed to non-Muslims and potential converts.

The most interesting piece, however, is found towards the end of the magazine: a short essay called “By the Sword,” specifically addressing the intersection of violence and religion. It begins by excerpting passages from the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospels that Dabiq interprets as providing theological justification for religious violence.

Exodus is full of examples of God exhorting the Jews to slaughter their enemies and conquer foreign lands. “Cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed,” Jeremiah 48:10 reads. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth,” Jesus tells his followers in the Gospel of Matthew (10:34). “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” And yet, Dabiq points out, “many people in Crusader countries express shock and even disgust that Islamic State leadership ‘uses religion to justify violence.’”

It is true that mainstream political discourse in the West does not adequately address or acknowledge the ties between state- and Church-sponsored violence, either throughout history or today. Certainly, young Christians at Sunday School do not grapple with verses from the Gospels in which the Prince of Peace appears to be advocating for militant insurrection. (This is in no small part a consequence of the Catholic Church having aggressively repressed, until very recently, any hermeneutic that might imply a religious justification for political violence on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.)

According to the Islamic State’s apocalyptic understanding of history, this hypocrisy will be the West’s undoing. From Dabiq (emphasis ours):

The clear difference between Muslims and the corrupt and deviant Jews and Christians is that Muslims are not ashamed of abiding by the rules sent down from their Lord regarding war and enforcement of divine law. So if it were the Muslims, instead of the Crusaders, who had fought the Japanese and Vietnamese or invaded the lands of the Native Americans, there would have been no regrets in killing and enslaving those therein. And since those mujahidin would have done so bound by the Law, they would have been thorough and without some “politically correct” need to apologize years later. The Japanese, for example, would have been forcefully converted to Islam from their pagan ways – and if they stubbornly declined, perhaps another nuke would change their mind. The Vietnamese would likewise be offered Islam or beds of napalm. As for the Native Americans – after the slaughter of their men, those who would favor small-pox to surrendering to the Lord – then the Muslims would have taken their surviving women and children as slaves, raising the children as model Muslims and impregnating their women to produce a new generation of mujahidin. As for the treacherous Jews of Europe and elsewhere – those who would betray their covenant – then their post-pubescent males would face a slaughter that would make the Holocaust sound like a bedtime story, as their women would be made to serve their husbands’ and fathers’ killers.

Furthermore, the lucrative African slave trade would have continued, supporting a strong economy. The Islamic leadership would not have bypassed Allah’s permission to sell captured pagan humans, to teach them, and to convert them, as they worked hard for their masters in building a beautiful country. Notably, of course, those of them who converted, practiced their religion well, and were freed would be treated no differently than any other free Muslim. This is unlike when the Christian slaves were emancipated in America, as they were not afforded supposedly government-recognized equal “rights” for more than a century – and their descendants still live in a nation divided over those days.

“ISIS think western nations were too soft in their imperialism. Amazing,” the journalist Sunny Hundal marveled on Twitter. But really, how surprising is that? This is not so much an argument against Christianity as against liberalism and the Enlightenment. It is, in other words, essentially the same argument posed by the Anglo-American “alt right,” found scattered across 4chan’s /b/ and /pol/ boards and Reddit and Twitter, consolidating around culture-war causes like Gamergate and the permabanning of Milo Yiannopoulos, which is at bottom an expression of the fear brought on by the fracturing of cultural hegemony. It is, literally, an argument against political correctness—with all of the attendant anxiety and panic about strength, masculinity, and fear of emasculation.

American conservatives have been wringing their hands about President Barack Obama’s perceived desire to “apologize” for darker moments in United States history—especially its involvement in foreign wars—since the beginning of his administration. In June 2009, the Heritage Foundation, a well-financed think tank, published a listicle under the headline, “Barack Obama’s Top 10 Apologies: How the President Has Humiliated a Superpower.” Resentment over the (entirely imagined) “apology tour” has festered for nearly eight years.

Now, the cult of strength before which conservatives have prostrated themselves has produced a Republican candidate who, a year ago, said, “Why do I have to repent or ask for forgiveness, if I am not making mistakes?” In January, Trump said “I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good.” He has only recently begun to modulate this position of outrageous arrogance. “I will be asking for forgiveness,” Trump said in June. “But hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness.”

In November, Donald Trump, the reactionary’s candidate of choice, claimed that as president he would “bomb the shit” out of ISIS, and in December, he said that he would “take out” accused terrorists’ families. “The enemy is cutting off the heads of Christians and drowning them in cages,” he wrote in a February op-ed, “and yet we are too politically correct to respond in kind.”

This is not to imply what would surely be a false equivalence between the Islamic State and neo-fascist American reactionaries, nor is it to suggest that skepticism of Christianity, liberalism, or the Enlightenment necessarily ends in totalitarianism. Rather, this is just to say that as the world comes apart at the seams, it is worth noting where those tears in the social fabric are actually taking place—that ISIS, Trump, and the alt-right have more in common than either would ever be likely to admit.

Dozens More Civilians Reportedly Killed in U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Syria

Dozens More Civilians Reportedly Killed in U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrikes in SyriaSmoke rises from the Syrian city of Manbij. Photo: AP

On Wednesday, the U.S. military announced that it was pursuing a formal investigation into the July 19 airstrike in a northern Syrian city that observers estimate killed at least 73 civilians. A subsequent airstrike in the same city “may have resulted” in yet more civilian casualties, Centcom disclosed late Thursday.

“U.S. Central Command initiated an assessment following internal operational reporting that a strike today near Manbij, Syria may have resulted in civilian casualties,” the military said in a statement. “We can confirm the Coalition conducted airstrikes in the area in the last 24 hours.”

The airstrikes took place around the strategically-critical city of Manbij, where clashes between U.S.-backed Syrian militants and Islamic State fighters have dragged on for months. Local and outside activists described the horrific aftermath of a coalition bombing run against the village of Tokkhar, outside Manbij, earlier this week.

“The death toll is 117. We could document [the identity of] 73 civilians including 35 children and 20 women. The rest of the dead bodies are charred, or have been reduced to shreds,” Adnan al-Housen, an activist from Manbij, told the Guardian. The Syrian Institute for Justice, a Turkey-based human rights group, also found that 73 civilians had been killed. Chris Wood, director of the U.K.-based AirWars, described it as “likely the worst reported civilian toll of any coalition attack since the bombing campaign against ISIS began nearly two years ago.”

At least 28 more civilians were killed in the latest incident, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, including women and children. “The death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation,” the Observatory said in a statement. The Guardian reports:

The Observatory said 13 others were killed in the airstrike. It is not known if those 13 are civilians or members of Isis, which has been fending off ground and air attacks for more than two months from the US and its Syrian allies.

US military officials have said they expect the battle for Manbij to drag on, as Isis has dug into a position both sides consider a critical buffer between US-backed forces and the Isis capital of Raqqa. Manbij has strategic value for another reason: it provides a pathway for Isis to exfiltrate fighters through Turkey to the outside world.

Syrian allies of the US, advancing through extreme fighting, have accumulated terabytes’ worth of digital information on Isis from computers and mobiles left behind in the battle.

“We take all measures during the targeting process to avoid or minimize civilian casualties or collateral damage and to comply with the principles of the Law of Armed Conflict,” Centcom’s statement on Thursday concluded.

Four Dead in Holy City of Medina as String of Suicide Bombings Rock Saudi Arabia

Four Dead in Holy City of Medina as String of Suicide Bombings Rock Saudi ArabiaPhotos: AP

Four people were killed Monday in a suicide bombing near the Prophet’s Mosque, Islam’s second-holiest site after Mecca, in the Saudi city of Medina. There were also bombings in the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Qatif.

The Prophet’s Mosque (Al-Masjid an-Nabawī) was built by Muhammad and is where he is buried—militant attacks on Medina are unprecedented. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, who also serves as the Saudi interior minister, visited those injured in the Jeddah bombing.

Four Dead in Holy City of Medina as String of Suicide Bombings Rock Saudi Arabia

“I know that terrorist operations are not a simple thing, and the minor impacts that you feel now will go away, God willing,” Prince Mohammed said, according to Reuters. “I had been through this in the past and feel what you feel.” The crown prince, who is credited with ending am al Qaeda bombing campaign in Saudi between 2003 and 2006, survived a suicide bombing in his office in 2009.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, although the Islamic State—whose spokesman, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, urged supporters to carry out lone wolf attacks during Ramadan—is widely considered the primary suspect. “It’s an attempt to actually embarrass the Saudi government, because it boasts of protecting the pilgrims and the holy places,” Middle East expert Madhawi al-Rasheed told Agence France-Presse. The trifecta of bombings seems indicative of an “organised effort by the perpetrators to coordinate their work,” she continued.

The Saudi Interior Ministry identified the man behind the Jeddah bombing as 34-year-old Abdullah Qalzar Khan, a Pakistani man who had been living in the kingdom for over a decade. In a statement, the ministry said Khan lived in the Jeddah, a port city, “with his wife and her parents.” The Associated Press reports:

In that attack, the bomber detonated his explosives after two security guards approached him, killing himself and lightly wounding the two guards, the Interior Ministry said. No consular staff were hurt.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said authorities in Islamabad were working to get more details about the man. He condemned the attacks and expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom valued the contributions of Pakistani guest workers.

“Terrorism is a global phenomenon and is not country- or people-specific,” Zakaria said.

The attacks drew condemnation from governments across the Middle East, AFP reports, and across Islam’s theological divide. “This crime, which causes goosebumps, could not have been perpetrated by someone who had an atom of belief in his heart,” the Grand Mufti, Abdullah al-Sheikh, said.

“There are no more red lines left for terrorists to cross,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter. “Sunnis, Shiites will both remain victims unless we stand united as one.”

Officials: French Jihadi Recruiter Broadcast Stabbing Death of Police Commander on Facebook Live

Officials: French Jihadi Recruiter Broadcast Stabbing Death of Police Commander on Facebook LivePhoto: AP

A Frenchman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State stabbed a policeman outside his home in Magnanville, a northwestern suburb of Paris, on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. French officials said the man recorded the attack and broadcast it on Facebook Live.

The attacker, Larossi Abballa, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2013 for recruiting jihadis. He was from the nearby suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie. After stabbing the policeman repeatedly, Agence France Presse reports, Abballa went inside, where he found the policeman’s partner—an employee of the French Interior Ministry—and their three-year-old son.

Loud detonations were heard at the scene as elite RAID police moved in following failed negotiations with the attacker.

Officers found the woman’s body after they stormed the house, and her attacker was killed during the assault, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

The couple’s toddler son was “in shock but unharmed,” a prosecutor added, saying the boy was receiving medical attention.

At one point in the Facebook Live video, the AP reports, Abballa wondered what to do with the boy. In a statement, the ISIS-linked Amaq news agency said, “Islamic State fighter kills deputy chief of the police station in the city of Les Mureaux and his wife with blade weapons.”

ISIS Posthumously Accepts Orlando Nightclub Shooter’s Declaration of Loyalty

ISIS Posthumously Accepts Orlando Nightclub Shooter's Declaration of Loyalty

Islamic State radio has dubbed Omar Mateen, who killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando Sunday, “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America,” the Associated Press reports. Whether ISIS is accepting Mateen’s declaration of loyalty as a simple matter of convenience remains an open question, however.

Rukmini Callimachi, a reporter for the New York Times who focuses on ISIS and al-Qaeda, posted a translated excerpt of Monday’s announcement on Twitter:

The brother Omar Mateen, one of the soldiers of the Caliphate in America, carried out a security raid in which he was able to enter into a gathering of Crusaders in a nightclub for followers of the people of Lot [homosexuals] in Orlando, Florida.

Allah enabled him to subdue the impure Crusaders, killing & wounding more than 100 of them before he was killed - may Allah accept him.

It should be pointed out that this invasion is the largest in America in terms of number killed.

Mateen reportedly called 911 before entering the nightclub, Pulse, to pledge his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. On Sunday, a news agency associated with the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

It would not be the first time that the organization retroactively accepted a loyalty oath from an assailant with which it had no real contact and to whom it had provided no support. Last year, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS on social media before killing 14 people at a social services clinic in San Bernardino. From the Guardian:

Isis subsequently accepted that pledge, though it came from two individuals who had no previous contact with the group, and thus accepted responsibility – as well as credit among supporters of Islamic militancy – for the attack.

This was in line with the longstanding Isis strategy of seeking to inspire sympathisers to do whatever they can wherever they find themselves, particularly if they are unable to perform their duty of hijra (migration) and relocate to the caliphate.

Isis also made it clear that the shooting had not been commissioned by senior commanders in the Middle East, as was the case with the Paris attacks in November. This suggests that Isis felt clearly that the fact that it was inspiring distant attackers was worth emphasising as a vindication of its ideology and strategy, as well to inspire greater fear among Americans.

Last month, in a speech made annually, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani specifically encouraged such ‘lone wolf’ attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. “The smallest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer to us than the largest action by us,” he said, “and more effective and more damaging to them.”

“There are no innocents in the heart of the lands of the Crusaders,” al-Adnani added. “Do not ask for anyone’s permission.”

In a report issued following al-Adnani’s address, the State Department’ Overseas Security Advisory Council warned Americans abroad that “martyrdom during the month may hold a special allure to some,” the Boston Herald reported at the time. It also noted that ISIS declared its caliphate during Ramadan of 2014.

“I think what the Islamic State has done is very clever,” Charlie Winter, senior research associate at Georgia State University’s Transcultural Conflict and Violence Initiative, told the Times’ Callimachi. “And that is create a situation where someone can carry out an attack without any direct link to the organization.”

“They can pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before or during, and that catapults them from being a self-starter jihadist guy, or girl, to someone who can be lionized as a soldier of the Islamic State and regarded as a warrior.”

Jihadis on Twitter celebrated Sunday’s attack, Callimachi reports, many changing their avatars to Mateen’s face.

Iraq Begins Major Assault on ISIS-Held City of Fallujah

Iraq Begins Major Assault on ISIS-Held City of Fallujah

Early Monday morning, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went on live TV to announce the launch of a military campaign to retake the city of Fallujah, which has been controlled by ISIS since early 2014.

“Today, we will tear down the black flags of these despicable strangers who abducted this dear city,” said al-Abadi. “The time has come to liberate Fallujah and the victory will be ours.”

Citing an unnamed security official, NBC News reports 20,000 federal troops have now been sent to the key ISIS stronghold with 15,000 more on their way. From The Washington Post:

Few expect an easy fight. Islamic State militants have dug in and built defenses in the city since capturing it more than two years ago, the first in the country to fall to the extremist group. Fallujah has long been considered a hotbed of rebellion and extremism, with even the heavy-handed Saddam Hussein struggling to control its tribes. U.S. Marines fought Sunni insurgents during two battles for the city in 2004, the second of which marked the heaviest urban combat for U.S. troops since the Vietnam War, killing nearly 100 service members.

It’s not an order of battle that correlates to U.S. military policy, which had focused on an offensive targeting Mosul, the Islamic State-held city farther north. President Obama has said he expects the recapture of Mosul to be close to complete by the end of the year. But a drawn-out battle for Fallujah could delay the already sputtering buildup to that offensive.

On Sunday, Iraqi security forces urged civilians to flee the city once home to 300,000, but residents say that extremist-controlled checkpoints have made escape impossible for most, the Associated Press reports.

According to CNN, thousands of leaflets promising safe passage for civilians have been dropped on the city by Iraqi planes. Those who cannot leave were asked to fly white flags over their homes.

Dead ISIS Leader Will Be Remembered as Guy Who Looked Like a Huge Kebab Meat Tower

Dead ISIS Leader Will Be Remembered as Guy Who Looked Like a Huge Kebab Meat Tower

Murderous ISIS officer Abu Wahib is dead, killed by an American airstrike. He was a bloodthirsty killer, who both participated in execution videos and organized military strategy. But in death, we should remember him as he lived: looking like a big-ass shawarma meat stack.

Dead ISIS Leader Will Be Remembered as Guy Who Looked Like a Huge Kebab Meat Tower

Abu Wahib, a former al-Qaeda militant, became part of the menacing public face of ISIS on social media—one notorious recording showed him pulling over three Syrian truck drivers and sentencing them to death on the spot. Then, sometime last year, the image at the top of this post started circulating on Twitter, making the comparison between Abu Wahib’s desert camo fatigues and an enormous, delicious pile of halal meats being prepared for countless savory meals undeniable. Abu Wahib gained renowned for his menacing, Hollywood-villain appearance, but it was hard to find him so threatening once you saw just how much he resembled lunch food. The joke followed mentions of Abu Wahib, once known as the “Desert Lion,” wherever reports of his grisly command extended online. He could not shake the kebab meme in life, and he will not shake it off in death.

Goodbye, Abu Wahib. You looked, really, so much like a bunch of kebab meat.

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