Ayman Zawahiri and Egypt: A Trip Through Time

December 3, 2012
(Ayman Zawahiri)

(Raymond Ibrahim, an expert on al-Qaeda and author of The Al Qaeda Reader, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. via algemeiner.com) Around 1985, current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri fled his homeland of Egypt, presumably never to return. From his early beginnings as a teenage leader of a small jihadi cell devoted to overthrowing Egyptian regimes (first Nasser’s then Sadat’s) until he merged forces with Osama bin Laden, expanding his objectives to include targeting the United States of America, Zawahiri never forgot his original objective: transforming Egypt into an Islamist state that upholds and enforces the totality of Sharia law, and that works towards the resurrection of a global caliphate.
This vision is on its way to being fulfilled. With Islamist political victories, culminating with a Muslim Brotherhood president, Muhammad Morsi, Egypt is taking the first major steps to becoming the sort of state Zawahiri wished to see. Zawahiri regularly congratulates Egypt’s Islamists—most recently the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo—urging them to continue Islamizing the Middle East’s most strategic nation.
He sent a lengthy communiqué during the Egyptian revolution in February 2011, for example, titled “Messages of Hope and Glad Tidings to our People in Egypt.” In it, he reiterated themes widely popularized by al-Qaeda, including: secular regimes are the enemies of Islam; democracy is a sham; Sharia must be instituted; the U.S. and the “Zionist enemy” are the true source behind all of the Islamic world’s ills.
Zawahiri continues to push these themes. Late last month, he sent messages criticizing Morsi, especially for not helping “the jihad to liberate Palestine;” called for the kidnapping of Westerners, especially Americans—which the U.S. embassy in Cairo took seriously enough to issue a warning to Americans; and further incited Egypt’s Muslims to wage jihad against America because of the YouTube Muhammad movie.
In short, a symbiotic relationship exists between the country of Egypt and the Egyptian Zawahiri: the country helped shape the man, and the man is fixated on influencing the country, his homeland. Accordingly, an examination of Zawahiri’s early years and experiences in Egypt—a case study of sorts—provides context for understanding Zawahiri, the undisputed leader of the world’s most notorious Islamic terrorist organization and helps explain how Egypt got where it is today. The two phenomena go hand-in-hand.
In this report, we will explore several questions, including: What happened in Egypt to turn this once “shy” and “studious” schoolboy who abhorred physical sports as “inhumane” towards jihad? What happened to turn many Egyptians to jihad, or at least radical Islam? What is Zawahiri’s relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis—Egypt’s two dominant Islamist political players? Did the 9/11 strikes on America, orchestrated by Zawahiri and al-Qaeda, help or hinder the Islamists of Egypt?

Background
Little about Zawahiri’s upbringing suggests that he would become the world’s most notorious jihadi, partially responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocents in the September 11 attacks and elsewhere. People who knew him stress that Zawahiri came from a “prestigious” and “aristocratic” background (in Egypt, “aristocrats” have traditionally been among the most liberal and secular). His father Muhammad was a professor of pharmacology; his mother, Umayma, came from a politically active family. Ayman had four siblings; he (and his twin sister) were the eldest. Born in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on June 19, 1951, Zawahiri, as a BBC report puts it, “came from a respectable middle-class family of doctors and scholars. His grandfather, Rabia al-Zawahiri, was the grand imam of al-Azhar, the centre of Sunni Islamic learning in the Middle East, while one of his uncles was the first secretary-general of the Arab League.”
According to the Islamist Montasser al-Zayyat, author of the Arabic book, Al Zawahiri: As I Knew Him (translated in English as The Road to Al Qaeda: the Story of Bin Laden’s Right-Hand Man), Zawahiri was “an avid reader” who “loved literature and poetry.” He “believed that sports, especially boxing and wrestling, were inhumane…. people thought he was very tender and softhearted…. nothing in his youthful good nature suggested that he was to become the second most wanted man in the world…. He has always been humble, never interested in seizing the limelight of the leadership.”
Even so, he exhibited signs of a strong and determined character, as “there was nothing weak about the personality of the child Zawahiri. On the contrary, he did not like any opinion to be imposed on him. He was happy to discuss any issue that was difficult for him to understand until it was made clear, but he did not argue for the sake of argument. He always listened politely, without giving anyone the chance to control him.”
For all his love of literature and poetry, which Islamists often portray as running counter to Muslim faith, Zawahiri exhibited a notable form of piety from youth. “Ayman al-Zawahiri was born into a religious Muslim family,” al-Zayyat wrote. “Following the example of his family, he not only performed the prayers at the correct times, but he did so in the mosque…. He always made sure that he performed the morning prayers [at sunrise] with a group in the mosque, even during the coldest winters. He attended several classes of Koran interpretation, fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] and Koran recitation at the mosque.”
Otherwise, he appeared to lead a normal, privileged lifestyle. Like his family, he followed a prestigious career path. Zawahiri joined the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University, graduating in 1974 with the highest possible marks. He then earned a Master’s degree in surgery from the same university in 1978. He went on to receive a PhD in surgery from a Pakistani university, during his stay in Peshawar, when he was aiding the mujahidin against the Soviets. People who know Zawahiri say that the only relationship he had with a woman was with his wife, Azza, whom he married in 1979, and who held a degree in philosophy. She and three of Zawahiri’s six children were killed in an air strike on Afghanistan by U.S. forces in late 2001.
Death of a Martyr
The initial influence on Zawahiri’s radicalization appears to have come from his uncle Mahfouz, an opponent to the secular regime and Islamist in his own right, who was arrested in a militant round up in 1945, following the assassination of Prime Minister Ahmed Mahfouz. In reference to this event, Zawahiri’s uncle even boasted: “I myself was going to do what Ayman has done,” according to Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.
Though Mahfouz was likely the first to introduce young Ayman to the political scene of radical Islam, no one appears to have had an impact on Zawahiri’s development as much as Uncle Mahfouz’s mentor and Arabic teacher, Sayyid Qutb—often referred to as the “godfather” of modern jihad. Qutb, then the Muslim Brotherhood’s premiere theoretician of jihad, has arguably played the greatest role in articulating the Islamist/jihadi worldview in the modern era, so much so that Zawahiri and others regularly quote his voluminous writings in their own work.
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, “Three basic themes emerge from Qutb’s writings. First, he claimed that the world was beset with barbarism, licentiousness, and unbelief (a condition he called jahiliyya, the religious term for the period of ignorance prior to the revelations given to the Prophet Mohammed). Qutb argued that humans can choose only between Islam and jahiliyya. Second, he warned that more people, including Muslims, were attracted to jahiliyya and its material comforts than to his view of Islam; jahiliyya could therefore triumph over Islam. Third, no middle ground exists in what Qutb conceived as a struggle between God and Satan. All Muslims—as he defined them—therefore must take up arms in this fight. Any Muslim who rejects his ideas is just one more nonbeliever worthy of destruction.”
Qutb’s primary target—and subsequently Zawahiri’s—was the Egyptian regime, which he accused of being enforcers of jahiliyya, obstructing the totality of Sharia. Because Qutb was so effective at fomenting Islamist animosity for the regime, President Gamal Abdel Nasser had him imprisoned and eventually executed in 1966. That act that only succeeded in helping propagate Qutb’s importance to the jihadi movement, which came to see him as a “martyr” (a shahid, the highest honor for a Muslim), turning his already popular writings into “eternal classics” for Islamists everywhere.
As Zayyat observes, “In Zawahiri’s eyes, Sayyid Qutb’s words struck young Muslims more deeply than those of his contemporaries because his words eventually led to his execution. Thus, those words provided the blueprint for his long and glorious lifetime, and eventually led to its end…. His teaching gave rise to the formation of the nucleus of the contemporary jihadi movements in Egypt.”
It is no coincidence, then, that Zawahiri founded his first jihadi cell in 1966 – the year of Qutb’s execution – when he was only 15-years-old. Embracing Qutb’s teachings—that jihad is the only answer, that talk, diplomacy, and negotiations only serve the infidel enemy’s purposes—his cell originally had a handful of members. Zawahiri eventually merged it with other small cells to form Egyptian Islamic Jihad, becoming one of its leaders. Zawahiri sought to recruit military officers and accumulate weapons, waiting for the right moment to launch a coup against the regime; or, in Zawahiri’s own words as later recorded by an interrogator, “to establish an Islamic government …. a government that rules according to the Sharia of Allah Almighty.”
Humiliation of Defeat
A year following the establishment of Zawahiri’s cell, another event took place that further paved the way to jihad: the ignominious defeat of Egypt by Israel in the 1967 war. Until then, Arab nationalism, spearheaded by Nasser, was the dominant ideology, not just in Egypt, but the entire Arab world. What began with much euphoria and conviction—that the Arab world, unified under Arab nationalism and headed by Nasser would crush Israel, only to lose disastrously in a week—morphed into disillusionment and disaffection, especially among Egyptians. It was then that the slogan “Islam is the solution” spread like wildfire, winning over many to the cause.
At the time of the 1967 war, the future al-Qaeda leader was 16 years old. Like many young people at the time, he was somewhat traumatized by Egypt’s defeat—a defeat which, 34 years later, he would gloat upon in his 2001 book Fursan Taht Rayat al-Nabbi, (“Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet”):
“The unfolding events impacted the course of the jihadi movements in Egypt, namely, the 1967 defeat and the ensuing symbolic collapse of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was portrayed to the public by his followers as the everlasting invincible symbol. The jihadi movements realized that wormwoods had eaten at this icon, and that it had become fragile. The 1967 defeat shook the earth under this idol until it fell on its face, causing a severe shock to its disciples, and frightening its subjects. The jihadi movements grew stronger and stronger as they realized that their avowed enemy was little more than a statue to be worshipped, constructed through propaganda, and through the oppression of unarmed innocents. The direct influence of the 1967 defeat was that a large number of people, especially youths, returned to their original identity: that of members of an Islamic civilization.”
This theme—that the “enemies of Islam” – first the secular dictators, followed by the USSR and then the U.S., were “paper tigers” whose bark was worse than their bite—would come to permeate the writings of al-Qaeda and other jihadists. For instance, in March 2012, in response to President Obama’s plans to cut Pentagon spending, Zawahiri said, “The biggest factor that forced America to reduce its defence budget is Allah’s help to the mujahideen [or jihadis] to harm the evil empire of our time [the U.S.],” adding that American overtures to the Afghan Taliban for possible reconciliation was further evidence of U.S. defeat.
The 1973 war between Egypt and Israel appears to have had a lesser impact on Zawahiri, who by then had already confirmed his worldview. Moreover, it was during the 1970s that he was especially busy with “normal” life—earning two advanced university degrees (one in 1974, another in 1978), getting married, and starting a family. Even so, the subsequent peace treaty that the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed with Israel incensed many Islamists in Egypt, including Zawahiri, who saw it as a great betrayal to the Islamic Nation, or Umma, prompting jihadis to act now instead of later.
Accordingly, Sadat was targeted for assassination; the time had come for a military coup, which was Islamic Jihad’s ultimate goal. But the plan was derailed when authorities learned of it in February, 1981. Sadat ordered the roundup of more than 1,500 Islamists, including many Islamic Jihad members (though he missed a cell in the military led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli, who succeeded in assassinating Sadat during a military parade later that same year).
Prison Torture
Zawahiri was among the thousands of Islamists rounded up after Sadat’s assassination, leading to one of the most talked-of episodes of Zawahiri’s life: his prison experience. He was interrogated and found guilty of possessing firearms, serving three years in prison. During that time, he was among many who were tortured in Egyptian prisons.
Much has been made of Zawahiri’s prison-time torture. (It is curious to note that when Egyptian officials called to investigate the officers accused of torturing the Islamist inmates, Zawahiri did not file a case against the authorities, though many others did, and though he bothered to witness to the torture of other members.) Several writers, beginning with al-Zayyat, suggest that along with the dual-impact of the martyrdom of Qutb and the 1967 defeat, this event had an especially traumatic effect on Zawahiri’s subsequent development and radicalization.
Still, one should not give this experience more due than it deserves. Zawahiri was an ardent jihadi well over a decade before he was imprisoned and tortured; the overly paradigmatic explanation of humiliation-as-precursor-to-violence so popular in Western thinking is unnecessary here.
On the other hand, in the vein of “that which does not kill you makes you stronger,” it seems that Zawahiri’s prison experience hardened him and made his already notorious stubbornness and determination that much more unshakeable. In short, if his prison experience did not initiate his jihadi inclinations, it likely exacerbated it.
Moreover, being “found out”—had an indirect impact on his radicalization. After he was released, and knowing that he was being watched by the authorities, he was compelled to quit his native Egypt, meeting other Arabic-speaking Islamists abroad. He met Osama bin Laden as early as 1986 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. That led him to relocate to the Afghan theater of jihad, where the final coalescing of his global jihad worldview culminated.
Shifting Strategy
During his time in Egypt, Zawahiri was a staunch proponent of jihad—believing that no real change or progress can be achieved without armed struggle. This never changed. However, his strategic goal of toppling the Egyptian regime grew more ambitious over time, especially after the Afghan war experience and partnership with bin Laden.
In Egypt, Zawahiri’s goal was clear: overthrowing the regime and implementing an Islamic government. The enemy was internal, the secular Hosni Mubarak regime, that took over after Sadat’s death. In Zawahiri’s thinking, one could consider fighting the far or external enemy until he had beaten the near one. (This is the famous “near/far enemy” dichotomy Islamists have written much on.)
Accordingly, until the late 1990s Zawahiri rarely mentioned what are today the mainstays of Islamist discontent, such as the Arab/Israel conflict, or other matters outside Egypt’s borders. In fact, in a 1995 article titled “The Way to Jerusalem Passes Through Cairo” published in Al-Mujahidin, Zawahiri even wrote that “Jerusalem will not be opened [conquered] until the battles in Egypt and Algeria have been won and until Cairo has been opened.” This is not to say that Zawahiri did not always see Israel as the enemy. Rather, he deemed it pointless to fight it directly when one could have the entire might of Egypt’s military by simply overthrowing the regime—precisely the situation today.
Then, in 1998, Zawahiri surprised many of Egypt’s Islamists by forming the International Islamic Front for Jihad on the Jews and Crusaders, under bin Laden’s leadership. It issued a fatwa calling on Muslims “to kill the Americans and their allies–civilians and military, an individual obligation incumbent upon every Muslim who can do it and in any country—this until the Aqsa Mosque [Jerusalem] and the Holy Mosque [Mecca] are liberated from their grip.” Until then all of Zawahiri’s associates believed that his primary focus was Egypt, overthrowing the regime—not the Arab-Israeli conflict and the United States.
Zawahiri’s “Mistake”?
It is for all these reasons that many of Egypt’s Islamists, beginning with the Muslim Brotherhood, saw al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks, partially masterminded by Zawahiri, as a severe setback to their movement. The attacks awoke the U.S. and the West, setting off the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and also giving many Arab regimes – including Mubarak’s – free reign to suppress all Islamists. Those regimes happily took advantage. As al-Zayyat, Zawahiri’s biographer, wrote:
“The poorly conceived decision to launch the attacks of September 11created many victims of a war of which they did not choose to be a part…. Bin Laden and Zawahiri’s behavior [9/11] was met with a lot of criticism from many Islamists in Egypt and abroad…. In the post-September 11 world, no countries can afford to be accused of harboring the enemies of the United States. No one ever imagined that a Western European country would extradite Islamists who live on its lands. Before that, Islamists had always thought that arriving in a European city and applying for political asylum was enough to acquire permanent resident status. After September 11, 2001, everything changed…. Even the Muslim Brotherhood was affected by the American campaign, which targeted everything Islamic.”
In retrospect, the “mistake of 9/11″ may have indirectly helped empower Islamists: by bringing unwanted Western attention to the Middle East, it also made popular the argument that democracy would solve all the ills of the Middle East. Many Western observers who previously had little knowledge of the Islamic world, were surprised to discover post 9/11 that dictatorial regimes ran the Muslim world. This led to the simplistic argument that Islamists were simply lashing out because they were suppressed. Failing to understand that these dictatorships were the only thing between full-blown Islamist regimes like Iran, many deemed democracy a panacea, beginning with U.S. President George W. Bush, who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, partially to “spread” and in the name of democracy.
With the so-called “Arab spring” that began in 2011, the Obama administration has followed this logic more aggressively by throwing the U.S’s longtime allies like Egypt’s Mubarak, under the bus in the name of democracy—a democracy that has been dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, which, as has been mentioned, shares the same ultimate goals of Zawahiri and other jihadists. Recent events—including unprecedented attacks on U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya, ironically, the two nations the U.S. especially intervened in to pave the way for Islamist domination—only confirm this.
Zawahiri and the Muslim Brotherhood
While Zawahiri’s early decades in Egypt are mostly remembered in the context of the above—prestigious and academic background, clandestine radicalization, jihad, prison, followed by fleeing the country—the al-Qaeda leader has a long history with other Islamists groups in Egypt, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the “Arab Spring” and ousting of longtime President Hosni Mubarak, it has been the Brotherhood who have, not only dominated Egyptian politics, but have a member, Muhammad Morsi, as Egypt’s first elected president.
Zawahiri joined the Brotherhood when he was only 14, then abandoned it to form his own cell less than two years later after Qutb’s execution. A proponent of the slogan “jihad alone,” Zawahiri soon became critical of the Brotherhood’s pragmatic strategies, and wrote an entire book in 1991 arguing against their nonviolent approach.
Titled Al Hissad Al Murr, or “The Bitter Harvest,” Zawahiri argued that the Brotherhood “takes advantage of the Muslim youths’ fervor by bringing them into the fold only to store them in a refrigerator. Then, they steer their onetime passionate, Islamic zeal for jihad to conferences and elections…. And not only have the Brothers been idle from fulfilling their duty of fighting to the death, but they have gone as far as to describe the infidel governments as legitimate, and have joined ranks with them in the ignorant style of governing, that is, democracies, elections, and parliaments.”
It is perhaps ironic that, for all his scathing remarks against them, time has revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy of slowly infiltrating society from a grassroots approach has been more effective than Zawahiri’s and al-Qaeda’s jihadi terror. The Brotherhood’s patience and perseverance, by playing the political game, formally disavowing violence and jihad—all of which earned the ire of Zawahiri and others—have turned it into a legitimate player. Yet this does not make the Brotherhood’s goals any less troubling. For instance, according to a January 2012 Al Masry Al Youm report, Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badie stated that the group’s grand goal is the return of a “rightly guided caliphate and finally mastership of the world“—precisely what Zawahiri and al-Qaeda seek to achieve. Half a year later, in July 2012, Safwat Hegazy, a popular preacher and Brotherhood member, boasted that the Brotherhood will be “masters of the world, one of these days.”
Zawahiri and Egypt Today
In light of the Egyptian revolution that accomplished what Zawahiri had tried to accomplish for decades—overthrow the regime—what relevance does the al-Qaeda leader have for the Egyptian populace today? The best way to answer this question is in the context of Salafism—the popular Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere that is grounded in the teachings and patterns of early Islam, beginning with the days of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and under the first four “righteously guided” caliphs.
As a Salafist organization, al-Qaeda is very popular with Salafis. Its current leader, the Egyptian Zawahiri, is especially popular—a “hero” in every sense of the word—with Egyptian Salafis. Considering that the Salafis won some 25 percent of votes in recent elections, one may infer that at least a quarter or of Egypt’s population looks favorably on Zawahiri. In fact, some important Salafis are on record saying they would like to see Zawahiri return to his native Egypt. Aboud al-Zomor, for instance, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader who was implicated for the assassination of Sadat, but who has now been released and is even a leading member of the new Egyptian parliament, has called for the return of Zawahiri to Egypt, “with his head held high and in safety.”
Zawahiri’s brother, Muhammad, is also an influential Islamist in Egypt, affiliated with the Salafis and Al Gamaa Al Islamiyya. He led a mass Islamist demonstration last spring with typical jihadi slogans. He also was among those threatening the U.S. embassy in Cairo to release the Blind Sheikh—the true reason behind the September attack, not a movie—or else be “burned down to the ground.” When asked in a recent interview with CNN if he is in touch with his al-Qaeda leader brother, Muhammad only smiled and said “of course not.”
Under Zawahiri’s leadership, al-Qaeda has made inroads on Egyptian territory. For example, several recent attacks in Sinai—such as the attacks on the Egypt-Israel natural-gas pipeline—were in fact conducted by a new group pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda. Zawahiri publicly congratulated them for destroying the pipelines, and the organization itself has pledged its loyalty to Zawahiri. More recently, al-Qaeda in the Sinai has been blamed for attacking and evicting Christian minorities living there.
This highlights the fact that groups like the Brotherhood and the Salafis have the same goals—establishment of a government that upholds Sharia law—though they differ as to achieve this. Salafis like al-Qaeda tend to agree that jihad is the solution. Yet, given the Brotherhood’s success using peaceful means—co-opting the language of democracy and running in elections—many Salafis are now “playing politics” even though many of them are also on record saying that, once in power, they will enforce Islamic law and abolish democracy.
It is not clear where Zawahiri stands regarding Egypt. Because of his deep roots there, Egypt undoubtedly holds a special place for Zawahiri. But as the leader of a global jihadi network, he cannot afford to appear biased to Egypt—hence why he addresses the politics of other nations, Pakistan for example, and themes like the Arab-Israeli conflict, with equal or more attention.
Likewise, there are different accounts regarding his personality traits and how they would comport with Egypt’s current state. For example, whereas his biographer described young Zawahiri as averse to the limelight and open to others’ opinions, most contemporary characterizations of Zawahiri suggest he is intractable and domineering—a product, perhaps, of some four decades of jihadi activities, as well as the aforementioned experiences. While the personality traits attributed to him in youth would certainly aid him in influencing Egyptian Islamist politics, those attributed to him now would not.
He has been away too long, and others have stepped in. Either way, to many Islamists around the world, Egypt in particular, Zawahiri is a hero—one of the few men to successfully strike the “great enemy,” America. Such near legendary status will always see to it that Ayman Zawahiri—and the Salafi ideology al-Qaeda helped popularize—remain popular among Egypt’s Islamists.


FBI Agent in Petraeus Case Under Scrutiny

November 13, 2012

imageWhy is the Media sharing all the juicy details of a CIA sex affair, but failed to say anything about a Gay man who got sodomized by Muslims before an election? The progressives are turning this into tabloid in an attempt to obscure really serious security threats to people. We sent a gay man as an ambassador to meet with a known terrorist group that kills gay people. We did not send any backup or security when requests were made. Now that there are these weird sex angles they are reporting on it, but they did not give the public the information they needed to choose proper leaders for the next four years. so the media tells you that the FBI agent sent a shirtless pic of himself to a woman he was supposed to be protecting, but you don’t doubt the integrity of the FBI? You don’t think this whole episode was to kill the career of a general who would spill the beans on an incompetent presidency? The media is trying to make this complicated, but keep your eye on the ball. The presidency did nothing to protect their ambassador. Hillary Clinton had a preference for gay muscle in a country run by a terrorist group. The media wants to turn this into a joke, but these people are running our country!The FBI knew, as early as May, of the harassing emails sent by Petraeus’ paramour Paula Broadwell to social planner Jill Kelley, event coordinator at MacDill Air Force Base, where Central Command, which Petraeus headed, is based. The probe commenced at that point and led to full knowledge of the affair by late summer.  The timing of the Petraeus resignation is curious — just days after the presidential election and days before he was scheduled to testify before Congress, under oath, regarding the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell is expected to testify in his place. lawmakers want to hear from Petraeus.  the woman Broadwell thought was competing for Petraeus effection was Lebanese and highly questionable as a person. The media previously made her into some kind of hero. I suspect that Broadwell had good reason to fear this woman would be a competitor. Petraeus had interests in middle eastern women… which explains the Arabist bent of his tenure as head of our troops and at the CIA

(WSJ)A State Department official’s complaints about email stalking launched the months-long criminal inquiry that led to a woman romantically linked to former Gen. David Petraeus and to his abrupt resignation Friday as CIA chief. Photo: REUTERS.
WASHINGTON—A federal agent who launched the investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he had become personally involved in the case, according to officials familiar with the probe.

New details about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggest that even as the bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus’s personal life, the agency struggled with questionable conduct by one of its own—including allegedly sending shirtless photos of himself to a woman involved in the case.

Associated Press

Jill Kelley leaves her house Monday.


FBI officials declined to identify the agent, who is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI, according to two officials familiar with the matter.

The revelations address how the investigation first began and ultimately led to Mr. Petraeus’s downfall as director of the CIA. The new developments also raise questions about the role played by the FBI and the adequacy of notification to administration and congressional leaders about the scandal.

The FBI agent who started the case was a friend of Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who received harassing, anonymous emails that led to the probe, according to officials. Ms. Kelley, a volunteer who organizes social events for military personnel in the Tampa area, complained in May about the emails to a friend who is an FBI agent. That agent referred it to a cyber crimes unit, which opened an investigation.

However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials.

The FBI officials found that he had sent shirtless pictures of himself to Ms. Kelley, according to the people familiar with the probe.

image

The Charlotte Observer/Associated Press

Paula Broadwell, at the center of the Petraeus case, poses with her biography of the former CIA Chief in January.


That same agent, after being barred from the case, contacted a member of Congress, Washington Republican David Reichert, because he was concerned senior FBI officials were going to sweep the matter under the rug, the officials said. That information was relayed to top congressional officials, who notified FBI headquarters in Washington.

By that point, FBI agents had determined the harassing emails had been sent by Paula Broadwell, who had written a biography of Mr. Petraeus’s military command.

Investigators had also determined that Ms. Broadwell had been having an affair with Mr. Petraeus, and that the emails suggested Ms. Broadwell was suspicious of Ms. Kelley’s attention to Mr. Petraeus, officials said.

The accusatory emails, according to officials, were sent anonymously to an account shared by Ms. Kelley and her husband. Ms. Broadwell allegedly used a variety of email addresses to send the harassing messages to Ms. Kelley, officials said.

One asked if Ms. Kelley’s husband was aware of her actions, according to officials. In another, the anonymous writer claimed to have watched Ms. Kelley touching “him” provocatively underneath a table, the officials said.

The message was referring to Mr. Petraeus, but that wasn’t clear at the time, officials said. A lawyer for Ms. Kelley didn’t respond to messages Monday seeking comment, nor did a lawyer for Ms. Broadwell. Neither woman has replied to requests for explanation.

By then, what began as a relatively simple cyberstalking case had ballooned into a national security investigation. Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell, both of them married, had set up private Gmail accounts to contact each other, according to several officials familiar with the investigation. The FBI at one point was concerned the CIA director’s email had been accessed by outsiders.

After agents interviewed Ms. Broadwell, she let them examine her computer, where they found copies of classified documents, according to the officials. Both Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell denied that he had given her the documents, and FBI officials eventually concluded they had no evidence to suggest otherwise.

Even as the probe of the relationship between Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell intensified in late summer and early fall, authorities were able to eventually rule out a security breach, though intelligence officials became concerned Mr. Petraeus had left himself exposed to possible blackmail, according to officials.

Finally, a day after the Nov. 6 election, intelligence officials presented their findings to the White House. Mr. Petraeus met with White House officials last Thursday and announced his resignation the following day.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have questioned whether Mr. Petraeus needed to resign over the affair, and some have argued that the FBI should have alerted both the White House and Congress much earlier to the potential security implications surrounding Mr. Petraeus.

In a separate twist in the tangled matter of Mr. Petraeus’s resignation, the CIA disputed a theory advanced by Ms. Broadwell that insurgents may have attacked the U.S. consulate and a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 in a bid to free militants being held there by the agency. Ms. Broadwell suggested that rationale for the consulate attack in an address at the University of Denver on Oct. 26.

“I don’t know if a lot of you had heard this, but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think the attack on the consulate was an attempt to get these prisoners back,” she said then. “It’s still being vetted.”

A CIA spokesman said there were no militant prisoners there, noting that President Barack Obama ended CIA authority to hold detainees in 2009. “Any suggestion that the agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless,” said the spokesperson.

Some critics pointed to Ms. Broadwell’s remarks in Denver as an indication that she may have been passing on classified information, leading to speculation that Mr. Petraeus may have been the source. Based on descriptions by U.S. officials, the romantic relationship had ended by then.

In addition, the source of her comment may not have been intelligence information, but news reports. Earlier in her address, she cited findings of a report that day by Fox News. Immediately after, she mentioned the possibility that the CIA had held militants at the site, which the Fox report also mentioned.

The Sept. 11 consulate attack resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. One person briefed on U.S. intelligence said that reports focused on two main motives for the attack: inspiration from the violent protest that day at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, and the exhortation of al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri to avenge the death of his second in command. The possibility of attackers trying to free detainees never came up, this person said.

This week, lawmakers are slated to receive a series of closed-door briefings on the FBI investigation that turned up the affair between Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has one such briefing scheduled Tuesday. On Wednesday, leaders of the House intelligence committee—Rep. Michael Rogers, a Michigan Republican who chairs the panel and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat—will be briefed by FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce and acting CIA director Michael Morell.

Senate intelligence committee staffers are working to schedule similar briefings. On Thursday, both the House and Senate intelligence committees were already slated to receive testimony on Benghazi from top intelligence and law-enforcement officials. The investigation that uncovered the affair is now expected to also be a central issue at those hearings, which won’t be public.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), who chairs the Senate intelligence committee complained Sunday that she and her colleagues should have been told of the Petraeus-Broadwell affair when the FBI discovered it because of national-security concerns.
Write to Devlin Barrett at devlin.barrett@wsj.com, Evan Perez at evan.perez@wsj.com and Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com

doh!


Benghazi: Ambassador Stevens was smuggling with the Muslim Brotherhood, Libyan arms to Syrian rebels

November 2, 2012


(Harsh Indictment: Benghazi Reveals Obama-Islamist Alliance via Doc)(James Lewis)

The nature of the Benghazi disaster is now clear. Ambassador Stevens was engaged in smuggling sizable quantities of Libyan arms from the destroyed Gaddafi regime to the Syrian rebels, to help overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. Smuggling arms to the so-called “Free Syrian Army” is itself a huge gamble, but Obama has been a gambler with human lives over the last four years, as shown by the tens of thousands of Arabs who have died in the so-called Arab Spring — which has brought nothing but disaster to the Arab world.

For the last four years, the Obama policy has been to offer aid and comfort violent Islamic radicals in the delusional belief that their loyalty can be bought. We therefore betrayed Hosni Mubarak, our 30-year ally in Egypt, so that the Muslim Brotherhood led by Muhammed Morsi could take over. Obama indeed demanded publicly that Mubarak resign, for reasons that never made any sense at all. Egypt went into a political and economic tailspin, and the Muslim Brotherhood were elected. The Muslim radicals have now purged the only other viable political force, the army and police, to protect their monopoly on power. We have colluded in that betrayal.
In Libya, we betrayed Moammar Gaddafi, who had surrendered his nuclear program to the Bush administration. In Afghanistan, we betrayed the central government set up by the Bush administration and negotiated with the fanatical war sect of the Taliban to take over. The Taliban entered our history when they gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda in the years before 9/11/01 to plan, train, equip, and implement the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The Taliban are our fanatical theological enemy, as shown by their sadistic attempt to assassinate 14-year-old women’s rights advocate Malala Yousuf.
Afghanistan has many thousands of Malalas we will never hear about.
Our consistent policy of betrayal of moderate Muslims in favor of radical Islamofascists goes hand-in-hand with our appeasement of the Iranian Khomeinist regime, which is the most America-hating Shiite regime, now facing competition from America-hating Sunni regimes in Egypt and elsewhere. It also fits our cooperation with Turkey’s “neo-Ottoman” regime, which has also purged the Turkish army and police to remove modern-minded Turks from power. Egypt and Iran will soon have nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles.
We have therefore followed a single “community disorganizing” policy toward the Muslim world, consisting of betraying moderates to bring theocratic fascists to power. Obama “explained” that policy in a publicized argument with Hillary Clinton at the White House when Mubarak was overthrown. His explanation? Fascist revolutions are “organic,” and therefore more stable than moderate revolutions. Obama’s fantasy policy runs contrary to U.S. foreign policy since World War I.
The biggest loser in this mad administration has been hundreds of millions women of the Muslim world, who were on a path to modernity and freedom until Obama and Hillary Clinton betrayed them. Today they are shut inside the prisons of sharia law.
The second-biggest loser has been relative stability in a great geographical swath of the Muslim world, from Afghanistan and Pakistan across the Middle East, all the way to Tunisia and Morocco.
The third-biggest loser has been our anti-proliferation policy against the spread of weapons of mass destruction among developing nations. From fighting proliferation, we have turned to aiding it.
Those three Horsemen of the Apocalypse are now out of the barn and riding free.
In Benghazi, al-Qaeda showed that they could not be bought even by our back-stabbing policy. Our Benghazi arms-smuggling base was attacked by elements of AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Maghreb) in an act of betrayal against our fantasy-driven way of doing things. The American betrayer was itself betrayed, and Obama-Hillary could do nothing to defend the Americans under attack at the Benghazi arms-smuggling base, because any public revelation of the truth would rip the cover off our mad actions and focus the hatred of Muslim nations on the United States.
The evidence now shows that Obama was aware of the attack within 55 minutes of the start. It lasted for six or seven hours, and Obama consistently countermanded standing orders to protect Americans under attack in the Africom command area. General Ham may have been fired for following standard U.S. policy to defend American personnel.
In Syria, the Assad regime now has a legitimate basis to convict us of deadly dabbling in the Syrian civil war. Russia and China are likely to take up Assad’s cause at the United Nations. They would be right on the facts.
Because the Benghazi attack coincided exactly with the AQ attack on our Cairo Embassy, both on September 11 of this year, this was apparently a central command decision by AQ, presumably ordered by Osama bin Laden’s successor, Al Zawahiri, in Pakistan using a video released on the web shortly before those attacks. The message was “al-Qaeda lives!” Everybody who saw the news photos that day got that message. Only Obama is in public denial.
Because the Egyptian regime chose not to defend our embassy, we know that Muhammad Morsi was in cahoots with the AQ attack. Host governments always have the first responsibility to defend accredited embassies. Egypt “forgot” to defend us, and that was the message.
The purpose of the AQ attacks was to embarrass the United States, and to show us to be a paper tiger, precisely the way Ayatollah Khomeini did to Jimmy Carter. AQ also wanted to tear off the cover of the Benghazi arms-smuggling operation, to make us look like a treasonous ally, which, as it turns out, we are. All of our allies around the world, from South Korea and Japan to Israel, Australia, and Norway, must now be reassessing our reliability. One major betrayal of our allies is enough to shatter sixty years of faith in American leadership.
Here is the evidence as published in the Jerusalem Post, in an interview with retired counterintelligence professional Clare Lopez. The credit for the exposing the U.S. arms-smuggling conspiracy that just capsized goes to Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org) and other alert conservative columnists around the web.

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Bin Laden was ‘one-eyed:’ Qaeda leader Zawahiri.

September 27, 2012


Bin Laden was ‘one-eyed:’ Qaeda leader Zawahiri.(AA).Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri resurfaced for the second time in a month on Wednesday in an online video on the life of his late predecessor Osama bin Laden who he said was blind in one eye. In the almost hour-long video, the third in a series entitled “Days with the Imam,” Zawahiri narrates stories about bin Laden who was killed by elite U.S. Navy SEALS in May 2011 at his compound in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan. Dressed in a white thawb cloak and turban, Zawahiri revealed “for those who do not know” that Saudi-born bin Laden was left blind in the right eye after an accident in his youth.
He also said bin Laden was a former member of the Saudi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood before being evicted for insisting on jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Bin Laden travelled to Pakistan to deliver cash aid to the jihadists in Peshawar but defied orders from the Brotherhood and joined the armed struggle, Zawahiri said. Zawahiri’s latest video posted on a jihadist forum appeared to be around two months old as he offered greetings to Muslims for the start of the fasting month of Ramadan which ended on August 20.Read the full story here.


Muhammad Al-Zawahiri, Brother Of Al-Qaeda Leader, Proposes 10-Year ‘Hudna’ To The West.

September 17, 2012



Muhammad Al-Zawahiri, Brother Of Al-Qaeda Leader, Proposes 10-Year ‘Hudna’ To The West.(Memri).Hmmm…..To use a historical term ” NUTS”!