WASHINGTON – Clare Lopez looks more like the prototypical all-American mother she is than the highly trained government CIA operative she was for 20 years.
Sitting across the table at a Washington eatery, the somewhat petite, charming blonde with a friendly and engaging smile was generally soft-spoken but often emphatic in delivery, especially while unloading a bombshell analysis that turned the common understanding of U.S. foreign policy on its head.
According to the former CIA operative, President Obama’s plan for the Middle East is just what Osama bin Laden wanted: removing U.S. troops and putting the jihadis in power.
Lopez spent two decades in the field as a CIA operations officer; was an instructor for military intelligence and special forces students; has been a consultant, intelligence analyst and researcher within the defense sector; and has published two books on Iran. She currently manages the counterjihad and Shariah programs at the Center for Security Policy, run by Frank Gaffney, former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy during the Reagan administration.
Lopez told WND she sees a pattern in Obama’s actions, or inaction, that reveals his blueprint for the Middle East and Northern Africa is to let the warring jihadi factions, the Sunnis and the Shiites, divide the region into two spheres of influence, and for the U.S. to withdraw.
“The administration’s plan, I believe, is to remove American power and influence, including military forces, from Islamic lands,” Lopez asserted.
When WND remarked that was just what Osama bin Laden had demanded, Lopez pointed out that is the aim of all jihadis, “Because that is what Islam demands, that foreign forces be kicked out of Islamic lands.”
Does Obama think if we leave the Mideast the jihadis will then leave us alone?
“I don’t know,” she said. “I can just see the pattern that is enabling the rise of Islam, empowering the Muslim Brotherhood domestically and abroad, alienating and distancing ourselves from our friends and allies and debilitating the American military.”
Even if she doesn’t have inside information, the former operative said, “I can see what he is doing; it seems to be a clear agenda. It is clear that is what he is doing.”
WND spoke with Lopez about the current crisis in Iraq, in which the Islamic terrorist army ISIS has blitzed across the country, capturing large chunks of territory while slaughtering Christians and other Muslims and threatening genocide. In a wide-ranging interview, the foreign policy expert also assessed the current state of the Mideast.
She believes Obama’s hesitance in the face of the horrific violence in the current crisis comes from a basic mistake, not recognizing the true motivation of the jihadis is an ideology of relentless conquest.
But she isn’t advocating a return to the Iraq War. Lopez believes the U.S. should protect its interests and those minorities facing genocide, but otherwise, let the warring parties sort it out, for the time being.
Lopez believes regimes such as Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey play all sides of the jihadi game and have “enabled a monster in ISIS” they can no longer control, and “they should be allowed to reap what they’ve sown.” Furthermore, she maintained, U.S. leadership has proven incapable of sorting out who’s who or who’s backing whom.
Besides, she observed, there isn’t much else left for the U.S. to protect in Iraq.
When WND asked her if Iraq is lost, she had a startling but succinct reaction: “Iraq doesn’t exist anymore. I liken it to Humpy-Dumpty. It’s fallen off the wall, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put it back together again.”
Given that bleak assessment, the former CIA operative described what she believes the U.S. must now do to preserve its core interests in Iraq, Syria and the Persian Gulf region:
- Protect American personnel and facilities at the Embassy in Baghdad and the Irbil and Basra consulates with either airstrikes or evacuation.
- Provide as much humanitarian aid as possible to beleaguered minorities facing genocide, as well as to friendly countries like Jordan that are burdened with overwhelming economic demands to care for millions of refugees.
- Stand by allies and partners in the region, especially Israel and Jordan.
- Help the Kurds survive by providing diplomatic support, intelligence, logistics and modern weapons.
- Deploy a Special Forces capability to the region to gather intelligence and provide early warning of threats to U.S. interests, and provide the ability to project power and influence as required.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently criticized Obama for not arming what she called moderate rebels in Syria when the civil war there began, which, she claimed, could have prevented the rise of ISIS.
WND asked Lopez if it really would have been possible to form a credible, non-Islamist, fighting force.
“No, I don’t think it was possible to find a truly credible, capable, pro-Western force in Syria,” she said. “Yes, there were those who were not jihadi. Early in the conflict in Syria, in 2011, there were (acceptable) groups. There were military defectors from Assad’s regime who could have been classified as genuinely secular. Pro-Western? Not so sure. Genuinely pro-democracy? Not so sure.”
(Lopez also explained she doesn’t use the term Islamists, “because I can’t figure out a difference between Islam and Islamism. It’s either Islam or it’s not Islam. They are either Muslim or have declared themselves not to be Muslims, in which case, they’re apostates.”)
When WND asked whether the U.S. should have armed those groups, the former CIA operative said she was not sure that would have been effective, simply because their numbers were never going to be credible and significant enough in size and capability to overthrow Assad.
Did Obama really have bad intelligence on ISIS, as he had claimed?
Lopez said it was hard to know, but he was “certainly getting bad intel” in general.
“The CIA has proved it is completely incapable of operating in this environment,” she said. “But I’m not on the inside, and can’t be sure what they are telling him. What we do know is what we see.”
As an example, she described how U.S. special forces were sent to Jordan to train people who turned out to be jihadis, even though it was reported they “vetted everybody.”
“They vetted them and asked, ‘Did you ever belong to al-Qaida?’ and they said ‘Oh, no – not me!’ But did they ever ask them what their ideology was? They’re not allowed to. We’re not allowed to define our enemy so how can we even identify our enemy? So, we fall into things like this where we actually train future ISIS jihadis, according to the Jordanian security officials.”
Lopez lauded the reporting of WND’s Aaron Klein in exposing the U.S training of what would become ISIS troops, saying, “Aaron is super. I did a radio interview with him in Tel Aviv. He is a very good reporter, very careful.”
Regardless of the quality of our intelligence, somehow, she said, we still ended up training the bad guys.
“We gave them tactics, intelligence and arms,” she noted.
Although it is often said the devil is in the details, in this instance, Lopez said the problem is really the administration’s myopic view of the big picture.
The analyst described a U.S. leadership that simply no longer recognizes the threat posed by the jihadist agenda, whether from ISIS or Iran, to U.S. regional interests, to friends and allies and, eventually, to the homeland itself.
“This sort of understanding demands a sharp reversal of existing policy that refuses even to acknowledge the Islamic ideology that animates this enemy’s threat doctrine. Only once that basic professional responsibility is met can an overall strategic policy that makes any sense be formulated and implemented.”
Lopez spoke of three keys to understanding the big picture and what is wrong with U.S. foreign policy.
- One was the aforementioned failure by the administration to appreciate that the jihadis are motivated by ideology, not political grievances.
- Another was the fact Obama appears bent upon empowering rather than confronting Iran.
- And, last but not least, she asserts the jihadist organization the Muslim Brotherhood has deeply infiltrated the Obama administration and other branches of the federal government.
‘Obama wants to empower Iran’
Lopez doesn’t just think Obama wants to withdraw entirely from the Mideast.
She believes he wants to turn most of it over to Iran.
“I am convinced that this administration intends Iran to become the nuclear power hegemon of the entire Persian Gulf region – and that includes especially the oil-rich areas. This includes the east coast of Saudi Arabia as well as southern Iraq and Iran itself.”
Lopez said the key to understand the president’s behavior is in a book written by a fellow former-CIA operative, “The Devil We Know,” by Robert Baer.
“I now believe this book is the blueprint for the Obama administration’s Middle East plan,” she explained.
She strongly disagrees with the book’s premise that the U.S. should empower and partner with Iran, and says it is mistaken on a number of points, but it is still important because the recommendations it made to the then-incoming administration in 2009 seem to have been adopted by Obama.
Lopez said the author knows Saudi Arabia very well and absolutely hates the Saudis. His premise was the Obama administration ought to assist Iran to become the dominant power of the Persian Gulf, and, essentially, the entire Middle East.
“I am not making this up. You can’t make this up to save your life,” she marveled.
Lopez said the book advises America to seek a truce with Iran, deal with it as an equal and reach settlements on one issue at a time, “until Iran is ready for détente and maybe more.”
And, she believes the Obama administration is, in fact, following a plan to let Iran become the dominant power in the Middle East, with the intention of turning the state that sponsors more terrorism than any other, into a security partner of the U.S.
“We pull all our forces out, which has been done, and we let them take over,” Lopez explained. “I think that’s already underway. This book’s argument says Iran should be enabled to do exactly what it is doing, which is take over the entire Persian Gulf region.”
She then quoted from the book: “We cannot and should not stand in the way of Iran’s quest to dominate Islam.” That includes throwing Israel under the bus, she added.
WND asked why the Obama administration would do something, were it known, that would be widely perceived as opposed to the best interest of the U.S.
“Its not in the United States’ best interests, but it is one way of getting us out of Muslim lands, which is what this administration wants done. They are trying to be even-handed between the Shiites and the Sunni, especially with the Muslim Brotherhood clamoring in their ear,” she said. “So, what happens? Arab Spring. North Africa goes to the Sunnis: al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. They should be happy with that: They get Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The Persian Gulf region goes to Iran.”
And Iran is permitted to be a nuclear power.
“I think it already is a nuclear power,” Lopez said. “I think they have functioning warheads. They obviously have functioning missiles, including ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles). The Pentagon has published openly its estimate by next year, 2015, Iranian ICBMs will be capable of reaching the continental U.S. from Iran. This is open, unclassified, open-source publication.”
WND noted that made sense out of remarks Obama recently made that we were witnessing “a transition from an old order to a new order” in the Mideast, along with “the terrible violence that occurs as a result,” which seemed to indicate he believed the bloodshed was akin to birth pains.
Lopez said Americans have no clue what he is talking about, which is dividing the Middle East between two sets of jihadis, Sunni and Shiite.
Just in case it wasn’t already clear enough, she spelled out exactly what Obama’s plan would mean: A return to the barbaric past of the Dark Ages.
“So, the plan of this administration is to pull out of the Middle East, allow it to revert to Islamic control, as in the caliphates of old, or imamates, in the case of the Shiites. And to allow Islam to resurge, which is exactly what’s happening.”
WND asked, Obama’s plan is to take us back 1,300 years?
“Well, not us, but to let the Middle East do that,” she clarified.
“There have been monkey wrenches,” she said. “Syria was supposed to be (reserved) for Iran and under the control of (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad. He winds up with a rump state. Syria is another Humpty-Dumpty. Also, the Kurds are a fly in the ointment. They are Muslims, but not jihadis. They should be our natural allies in the Middle East. Recent events have forced the hand of the administration to assist the Kurds, especially as they are assisting such minorities as Yezidis and Christians to escape this savage slaughter.”
Lopez described how the administration had no other option but to support the Kurds now because ISIS has captured so much top-of-the-line American weaponry from the fleeing Iraqis, and they now have access to income from the oil wells they’ve captured as well as their income from kidnap ransoms.
She added, none of the shocking ISIS behavior, including beheadings and attempted genocide, should be considered strange or unknown, because “it is totally in keeping with Islamic doctrine. There is nothing ISIS is doing that is not what Muhammad did. It is completely according to Islamic doctrine, law and scripture, as well as Muhammad’s biography. But people now look at it and they’re horrified, as we all should be.”
But why, WND asked, would Obama have threatened to bomb Assad last summer for his alleged use of chemical weapons, if he wanted to see Iran’s influence spread?
That brought her to what she described as the biggest problem in the big picture, the influence of the jihadist group the Muslim Brotherhood over the U.S. government.
‘The Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government’
Lopez said Obama only threatened Assad, “because of the infiltration of his government by the Muslim Brotherhood, who are clamoring in his ear at the National Security Council, ‘Do something, do something.’”
“They wanted help for their Muslim Brotherhood brothers. But the Middle East and Syria is designated for Iran, so what’s Obama gonna do? He decided on half and half. Give the Muslim Brotherhood Sunnis a little bit of aid, but not enough to overturn Assad. Make the Brotherhood happy. But don’t overturn Assad. And, at the same time, back and support Iran to be the hegemon.”
Lopez said, in addition to infiltrating the administration, the Brotherhood has established influence over many branches of the federal government over the last few decades.
She asserted the infiltration accelerated in the 1990s during the Clinton administration, picked up even more steam during the George W. Bush administration and is now in “hyper-drive” during the Obama administration.
The analyst maintains that infiltration has caused our elected political leadership, political appointees, the intelligence community and the military to all become “gradually blindfolded to what actual Islam really is.”
“They became incapable of seeing the history of Islam, the doctrine, the law, the scripture that motivates and animates Islamic terrorism,” she explained. “Those things became divorced. You were not allowed to talk about them anymore. Between 2011 and 2012 there was an actual purge in our government that removed hundreds of pages of presentations, PowerPoint presentations, curriculum and the instructors. They were taken out of all government curriculum, including the military.”
How could this have happened?
“It was done under the request, pressure and urging of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood, as a matter of fact, were the advisers who oversaw the purge. They were the ones who actually supervised the purge.”
“No, directly,” she replied. “They were tapped to become advisers about what should be removed from the curriculum.”
Was this when former Egyptian Muhammad President Morsi was still in office in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood was our supposed ally?
Lopez said the purge of references to Islamic terrorism in U.S. government materials occurred from late 2011 into 2012. Morsi became president in the summer of 2012, so the purge was well under way before that.
“But it was the purge and the domination of the Muslim Brotherhood within our leadership that predisposed the Obama administration to be supportive of the Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere through what they call the Arab Spring.”
Lopez said the closest adviser for the National Security Council has been an imam named Muhammad Magid.
“He heads up something called the ADAMS Center, the ‘All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center,’ near Dulles airport. He is the son of the Muslim Brotherhood’s grand mufti of Sudan. He is also the president of something called ISNA, Islamic Society of North America, the largest Muslim Brotherhood front group in the country. And, ISNA is an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation Hamas terror funding trial.
Indeed, in February 2013, WND’s Diana West warned that Magid was working with the National Security Council with the support of John Brennan, who for four years was the president’s top counterterrorism adviser and is now CIA director. West reported then-deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough also heaped praise on Magid. McDonough is now Obama’s chief of staff.
WND also reported that one of the FBI’s former top experts on Islam even claims that Brennan became a Muslim while serving overseas. Brennan did, indeed, serve as CIA station chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the 1990s.
Whether the claim about Brennan is true or not, from the above accounts, it appears Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the Obama administration could not have reached much higher.
Lopez explained that ISNA’s close connection to the Muslim Brotherhood is indisputable.
“ISNA is actually listed by the Muslim Brotherhood on its own documents called the ‘Explanatory Memorandum,’ which was submitted in evidence at that Holy Land Foundation trial; that’s how we know about it. The last page is a list of organizations, and it says it’s a list of our friends and the organizations of our friends. And ISNA is one of them.”
Lopez’s Center for Security Policy describes the Explanatory Memorandum as the guide to the Muslim Brotherhood’s goals, modus operandi and infrastructure in America, as written in 1991 by a member of the Board of Directors for the Muslim Brotherhood in North America and senior Hamas leader named Mohammed Akram. It had been approved by the Brotherhood’s Shura Council and Organizational Conference and was “certainly not intended for public consumption.”
“Magid, the head of ISNA, is probably the closest adviser to our national security council. Inside the White House,” she said. “See how this works?”
So, WND asked, the enemy is our consultant on how to deal with our enemy?
Lopez said, not only that, but “all of this infiltration completely suborns our national security apparatus.”
“They’re very smart,” she added. “These guys are not camel-jockeys with towels on their heads. These are sophisticated operators. This has been going on for more than 1,300 years. It just happens that we live in the 21st century. That doesn’t make us unique or immune or in some kind of historical bubble.”
Is cultural jihad a bigger threat than the military jihad?
The former CIA operative said that is true inside the United States, but in the Middle East, the bigger threat is military conquest.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is the vanguard of Islam and Islamic jihad. The forces of Islam, historically, have conquered every, single major civilization they’ve ever taken on, except for two. Western Civilization, or whatever’s left of it, and the Han Chinese. The Muslims have defeated the Buddhists, the Byzantines, Christianity in the Middle East, Jews in the Middle East, Hindus and the Persians. This includes huge, sophisticated civilizations.”
Did Muslims conquer those civilizations by using the same methods as they are applying against us?
“In part, yes. Infiltration first. Co-option and subordination of leadership. These are intelligence terms, okay? I recognize this because of my background. Infiltration and subordination from within are intelligence operations. These are information operations. We are completely ignoring the information battle space and yet that is the one where they are defeating us first.”
Lopez described terrorist acts such as Sept. 11 as “punctuation marks” for the overall campaign. She described the attacks as warnings that say, “Look, we can do this to you, you can’t stop us from doing this to you, and if you don’t shape up and accept what we’re telling you to accept, you’re going to get more of it.” It’s also punishment because the West has not accepted the call to Islam.
She said to remember that Osama bin Laden gave us two warnings because Islamic doctrine obligates them to do that, and we should take them seriously when they warn us.
In her criticism of Obama’s Mideast policy, Clinton advised practicing containment against radical Islam. WND asked if instead of seeking an elusive peaceful coexistence, should the U.S. pursue a more Reaganesque policy of confronting and defeating the enemy?
“Certainly peace through strength should be our policy. But, when you’re talking about containment, it sort of brings up this image of ‘They’re over there, and we can just draw this barrier around them and hold them in.’”
She said there is a bigger problem.
“They’re already inside the wire,” she said. “They’re already deeply embedded inside our own national security infrastructure. It’s no longer a question of manning the barricades and pointing outward. They are inside.”
The former operative advised going back to an intelligence-led strategy that understands information operations, stealth operations, and how to conduct counter-intelligence within our own ranks.
“Very much as back in the ’30s, ’40s and the ’50s, when the communists infiltrated our government, and the same phenomenon took place, our top leadership refused to acknowledge that, refused to accept it, refused to confront it, even to the point that Joe McCarthy was vilified. And he was 100 percent correct about communist infiltration, as documents released after the collapse of the Soviet Union verified.”
WND noted she was identifying our top priority as cleaning out our own stables, but that even a change to a hawkish administration would not, by itself, improve security.
“No,” she said. “Unless they understand the things I’ve just been telling you, that won’t help. This infiltration took place over multiple administrations. It’s not a partisan thing. It’s institutional now.”
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