WASHINGTON – It's an explosive charge, one that puts the president's motives into question.
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A former CIA officer bluntly told WND, America has switched sides in the war on terror under President Obama.
Clare Lopez was willing to say what a few members of Congress have confided to WND in private, but declined to say on-the-record.
She said the global war on terror had been an effort to "stay free of Shariah," or repressive Islamic law, until the Obama administration began siding with such jihadist groups as the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates.
Why the switch?
Lopez explained, when the so-called Arab Spring appeared in late 2010, "It was time to bring down the secular Muslim rulers who did not enforce Islamic law. And America helped."
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And why would Obama want to do that?
As she told WND earlier this month, Lopez believed the Muslim Brotherhood has thoroughly infiltrated the Obama administration and other branches of the federal government.
She also came to the conclusion Obama had essentially the same goals in the Mideast as the late Osama bin Laden: "to remove American power and influence, including military forces, from Islamic lands.”
Why would Obama order the killing of bin Laden?
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Because the president "couldn't delay any longer," once the opportunity was presented, Lopez told WND.
There were "no more excuses" available to avoid it and he "thought it might look good," she mused.
The former CIA operative's perspective affects her prescription for what the U.S. should do about the terror army ISIS, as she called for caution and restraint.
While there has been a sudden chorus of politicians and military experts calling for the immediate elimination of the terrorist army after it beheaded American journalist James Foley last week, Lopez believes the U.S. should have an overall strategy in place before fully re-engaging in the Mideast militarily.
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Any military action would be further complicated, she told WND, if it were not clear which side the U.S. is on, either in the short term or in the overall war on terror.
Lopez's insights are backed by an impressive array of credentials.
She 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. Lopez currently manages the counter-jihad 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.
In a previous interview with WND, Lopez described the stunning extent of infiltration of the administration and other branches of the federal government by the jihadist group the Muslim Brotherhood.
She said the infiltration began under former President Bill Clinton but really took hold under the Obama administration, which, she said, "includes various levels of understanding and misunderstanding of Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood."
"Some in the administration genuinely appear to believe the Muslim Brotherhood can act as a foil or counterweight to al-Qaida, although with what's going on in Syria, it's hard to understand how they would still think that," she observed.
Lopez felt it was impossible to understand why the president and some of his top appointees, such as CIA Director John Brennan, "consistently seem to apologize for Islam, even in the face of such atrocities as the Foley beheading," adding, they "take pains to assure the world they don't think IS, (or the Islamic State, also called ISIS) or whichever perpetrator it was, has anything to do with Islam. How can they possibly believe that genuinely when everything these jihadis do tracks directly to the literal text of Quran, hadiths and Shariah?"
"In any case, and for whatever motivations, there is no doubt this administration switched sides in what used to be called the Global War on Terror," she said. "Even though President George W. Bush was obviously confused and mistaken when he called Islam a 'religion of peace' the day after 9/11, he wasn't deliberately exonerating the perpetrators. Surrounded by Muslim Brotherhood agents of influence, he simply didn't understand."
She said Obama and his administration "have no excuse" for not knowing better, given the extensive investigation, research and studies done since Sept. 11.
Instead, Lopez maintained, it was the Obama administration "that actively purged truthful curriculum about the inspirational relationship between Islamic doctrine, law, and scripture and Islamic terrorism."
In fact, she said, they were told what to purge by groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and even allowed some of those same groups to supervise the purge. All of that, she observed, "would seem to indicate certain knowledge about the Islamic threat, and a determined effort to ignore that threat."
Lopez chastised the Obama administration for what she called beating a hasty retreat, under fire, out of Afghanistan and Iraq, knowing full well they would both fall to Islam, the Taliban and Iran, respectively.
"But we'd already written their Shariah constitutions, so the actual ultimate physical domination was already prepared with the legal precedent and foundation," she observed.
By 2014, she maintained, U.S. leadership had purged all its training curriculum and official discourse of any terminology that would accurately identify the Islamic enemy, "and the time was right. Al-Qaida receded and [ISIS] arose. The U.S. couldn't tell the difference between jihadist militias to save its life anyway, quite literally."
The former CIA operative said, "as Israel fought enemies on all sides to remain free, secure and Jewish, America began to move away from Israel and toward its Muslim enemies. And, as Iran moved inexorably toward a deliverable nuclear weapons capability, America helped."
WND asked Lopez: How did America help Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism worldwide?
She said the Obama administration "consistently has engaged with this Iranian regime, pleaded with it to engage, and continue to engage, in obviously fruitless negotiations over their nuclear weapons program. The administration extended deadlines repeatedly, refused to hold Iran to account meaningfully for its terror support, including involvement in Sept. 11, lethal support to Iraqi militias in the 2000s and continuing harboring al-Qaida operations cell on its soil."
Furthermore, Lopez insisted the administration refused to even broach certain key topics in negotiations (such as Iran's intercontinental ballistic missile program) and failed to insist that earlier U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding Iran halt all nuclear enrichment be implemented before any further talks. Instead, she said the administration explicitly signaled, in the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action agreement, it would allow Iran to continue enrichment permanently.
After the ISIS threat first burst into public view, as the terrorist army sprang from Syria and shockingly began capturing great swaths of Iraqi territory with a savagery evidenced by its many massacres and beheadings, Lopez urged caution before the U.S. re-engaged in the area militarily.
She told WND 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.
Obama briefly spoke to reporters Thursday about his options in dealing with ISIS, and sounded, at least on the surface, very much like he is doing as just Lopez has recommended, but with one big difference.
The president resisted calls to escalate airstrikes and destroy ISIS, emphasizing the U.S. is currently engaged in only limited efforts to protect American personnel and consulates, as well as providing humanitarian relief and protection of minorities where possible.
In fact, the president even admitted, “We don’t have a strategy yet. ... We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans. As our strategy develops, we will consult with Congress.”
Like Lopez, Obama said a broader strategy for the region was needed, but notably, he did not state what the goal should be.
The goal of the global war on terror, or GWOT, launched after Sept. 11, was understood to be the defeat of jihadism both in the Mideast and globally.
Obama articulated no such goal, and has, in fact, declared there no longer is a global war on terror.
That is where Lopez and Obama veer in entirely different directions.
She names the enemy as jihadis and states the goal should be their destruction.
"Above all, we must acknowledge that the enemy is supremacist forces of Islamic jihad," Lopez told WND. "We must name, acknowledge, confront the enemy as he is – not as we wish him to be."
She scoffed at the notion that what others call radical Islam was a "defeated ideology."
"Oh? What ideology is that? The 1,400-year-old one that's already made mincemeat out of six or seven major world empires? That one?"
In her previous interview with WND, Lopez explained what she thought was Obama's real goal: Far from seeking the defeat of jihadism in the Mideast or globally, Obama preferred to let Sunni and Shiite jihadists each have their own spheres of influence in the Muslim world and America should withdraw its troops and influence from the region.
However, the ISIS crisis has caused Obama to re-engage militarily in Iraq, ordering airstrikes even while many commentators clamor for much more.
Ever since the video of the ISIS beheading of American journalist James Foley appeared last week, numerous military experts and political commentators have called upon the administration to wipe out ISIS before it makes good on its threat to attack the U.S. homeland.
Even Obama seemed to take the ISIS threat much more seriously than he did in January when he referred to jihadi factions in Syria as "jayvee teams."
And, suddenly, an apparent ISIS emergency had set in, with these headlines appearing just over the weekend:
- General: 'Destroy ISIS Now'
- ISIS threat to Chicago
- Senator: ISIS developing plan to 'blow up' major city
- "Most dangerous position we've ever been in'
- White House: ISIS could pivot to 9/11 style attack
- Law enforcement intensifying efforts to identify sympathizers
- FBI, Homeland Security, warn police to be alert
- Has ISIS jumped the Mexican border?
- Obama considering airstrikes in Syria against ISIS
After that barrage, WND asked Lopez if she still believed the U.S. should protect just its interests and endangered minorities, or whether it should try to destroy ISIS (which she referred to as IS).
Lopez held firm, declaring, "It's remarkable to me how unanimous our intelligence, media, military and political leadership all are about the need to 'destroy [ISIS].' It's like they all were touched at the same moment by some magic wand, woke up to this threat, and fell into lock-step about the solution, without another thought. The epitome of groupthink, in my opinion."
She did maintain Foley should be avenged, and other captives freed, if at all possible. In fact, she said the captors should be obliterated.
Furthermore, she recommended arming the Kurds and declaring them U.S. partners in the region, who should be supported in their national aspirations.
As for the terrorist army, "If [ISIS] makes one move against our regional partners – Israel, Jordan, the Kurds – we clobber them, then leave. If we determine that [ISIS] is plotting by itself or in conjunction with a nation-state, or other sub-national terror organization like Hezbollah, again – like Iran did with al-Qaida and Hezbollah – we clobber both of them, all of them, then leave. No nation building. They pick up the pieces, not us."
But unless ISIS further threatens the interests of the U.S. or its allies, Lopez believes the U.S. should proceed only with extreme caution.
"I don't think the USA should act as cats' paw for either side of an intra-Islamic sectarian squabble, which has at least a 50-50 chance of winding up a pan-Islamic alliance against us, even as Iran and al-Qaida remain joined in an operational terrorist alliance that began in 1990, brought us Sept. 11, and continues to this day. No one is talking about Iran and its role, whatever it is, regarding [ISIS]. That concerns me."
Other than protecting American interests and minorities, she recommended something Obama said on Thursday he would look into, inviting regional powers that feel threatened by ISIS to form a plan and deal with it. Lopez dryly noted, "We've already sold them enough advanced weaponry to take over the entire galaxy."
One former Pentagon analyst, who wished to remain anonymous, appeared to speak for an emerging consensus in the defense community, when he told WND the ISIS threat needed to be addressed more vigorously, decisively and immediately, "considering that ISIS is now a full-blown army encompassing territory the size of Great Britain."
"We, along with the regional powers, need to come up with a strategy to defeat them," the analyst advised, echoing Lopez.
However, the analyst added, "In effect, we will have to go into full-blown warfare mode to do so, because they're coming and nothing seems to be stopping them."
The former Pentagon analyst then went a step further than many other commentators in suggesting, "the U.S. and allies may have to begin working with Syria and Iran to defeat a common threat. It isn't the Shiites of Iran launching these jihadist groups. It's the Sunnis under the control and financing of Saudi Arabia and a number of the other Gulf Arab states."
Lopez disagreed on two fronts. She cited the danger in partnering with Iran, and she urged caution in implementing a short-term plan of confronting ISIS before developing a coherent long-term strategy for the Mideast and to defeat jihadism.
"I remain concerned that we not tip the balance in favor of either side in this essentially intra-Islamic sectarian fight between Shiites and Sunnis. Both sides are jihadist enemies of the U.S., our friends, allies and security interests," said the former CIA operative.
She noted, at the moment, IS is occupied with taking and holding territory in what used to be Iraq and Syria, while establishing administration and governance (including enforcement of Shariah) in that territory.
Lopez pointed out how ISIS is also fighting at least six adversaries on multiple fronts at the same time: against the Iraqi and Syrian governments; al-Qaida militias in Syria, non-al-Qaida militias in Syria; the U.S. and U.K. airstrikes; the Kurds; and maybe the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or Qods Force, too.
And, she previously told WND, while countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey may have initially instigated and bankrolled ISIS, those regimes and others, such as Iran and Qatar, "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.
"Right now, I think the most serious threat to the homeland comes from individual or small groups of individual jihadis carrying U.S. or other Western passports, who return home or can easily cross borders, including our own collapsed southern border, and mount attacks in the West, including America."
Lopez said she would like to see more consideration given to exactly who and what ISIS is, where it came from and what it represents. She wants to know if it is the leading edge, "the current violent vanguard," of what she called the 1,400-year-old supremacist forces of Islamic jihad.
"In many ways, al-Qaida prepared the ground for the Islamic State. Al-Qaida, which means, 'the base,' did its job, which was to awaken the Muslim masses, to prod the ummah to action against the infidel after a long hiatus. It spawned off-shoot franchises across the globe, not to mention in the virtual spaces of the Internet. It did its job and may now be superseded by [ISIS]. We shall see about that."
She described how Sept. 11 accomplished its mission of drawing the leader of the free world, "the greatest obstacle to establishment of a universal Caliphate," into devastating and costly wars in Muslim lands.
Lopez said the steady infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into positions of advice and appointment at top levels of U.S. national security ensured maximum confusion about whom Americans were fighting, why, "and even whether we Americans have anything worth defending in the first place."
Now, she sees the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, a 57-member head of state organization of all Muslim states in the world plus Palestinians, as "sitting by idly as [ISIS] gobbles up its member states' territory and threatens the borders of others."
Lopez said Shiite Iran responded to some verbal threats and barbs by sends some Qods Force advisers to "prop up" what she called its Baghdad proxy, and to protect the Shiite shrines from ISIS attack, but not much else.
"Everybody waits for the U.S. to stumble into the scene once again like some deus ex machine, so the whole charade can begin all over again. American blood and treasure spent, amidst clamor for infidels to exit Muslim lands, boiling Muslim rage about the imperative to strike 'the far enemy' again, hit the kuffar (non-Muslim) in his homeland, even while the Caliphate consolidates its rule, begins to govern as the Islamic State it claims to be, and, all the while, the wealthy-beyond-imagination sheikhdoms supposedly most threatened by this 'un-Islamic' horde - and the emerging Shi'ite hegemon of the Persian Gulf - respond lackadaisically, if at all. What is wrong with this picture?"
Lopez told WND she was concerned that nobody in American leadership really sees or understands the big picture, and the U.S. seems to be manipulated to fulfill objectives not in its best interests.
"From my perspective, I'm seeing American national security interests steadily eroded, almost everywhere we look, and the forces of adversaries and enemies advancing. But, of course, to see this, it's necessary first to know who we are as a people, what are our 'first things'?"
She wondered whether Americans were still willing to fight and die for such principles as independence, individual liberty, Bill of Rights freedoms, consent of the governed under rule of man-made law, noting, "At the very least, we are badly off the track envisioned by our Founding Fathers."
"Our current national policy doesn't even seem to consider 'first things,' or know what they are, when formulating and implementing recent foreign policy."
She cited such examples as providing guns to al-Qaida in Libya, backing jihadist rebels in Syria, and what she described as enabling the mullahs' nuclear ambitions while ignoring the Iranian people's desperate struggle for liberty.
Lopez argued, before U.S. leaders could deduce the right course of action on the other side of the world, first they must figure out the right things to do at home.
She asked, "When do we go back to fighting for 'first things' again?"
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth