What I Told The Homeland Security Committee

by | Nov 7, 2013

Michael Scheuer

The material below the dotted line is the written version of my part in a six-member panel’s presentation  to the House’s Homeland Security Committee on 9 October 2013.  I ran late on 8 October 2013 and so failed to provide the committee’s members with a typed-up version of my opening statement before the hearing. I submitted it to them on 10 October 2013.

As things turned out, my tardiness did not really matter. The committee’s Chairman was knowledgeable, polite, and interested in what each panel member had to say, agreeing with some and challenging others. The rest of the Committee — at least those who showed up — was a train wreck of ignorance, arrogance, partisanship, and incompetence.

The Democratic members used most of their allotted time to chastise the Republicans for the government’s shutdown. The three Republicans who spoke to me — especially one from New York — had no interest in what I said about the growing certainty that the Islamists’ war soon will be fought, in part, in North America. Instead, the Republicans used most of their time to satisfy their AIPAC paymasters by praising and defending Israel, for whom they have what Alexander Hamilton would describe as a “womanish attachment.”

One lad from South Carolina also added a short homily on how the religion of Moses and Abraham made the United States and Israel one and the same. And another fellow from Utah was bent on getting me to name the names of people at the CIA who know what is blisteringly obvious to all but the 535 members of Congress — that our ties to Israel are a clear and increasingly mortal threat to U.S. security, its economy, and the lives of Americans because it is one of the central motivations of our Islamist enemies. I refused to play ball.  Utah’s contemporary version of Tail-gunner Joe McCarthy also added that he “knows” all Muslims hate all Americans, their freedoms, and women’s rights and that is why they are attacking us. He must have been briefed by that preacher from South Carolina, or by Senators Graham and McCain, the Knesset members masquerading as U.S. Senators. (1)

Finally, in what has been a genuine and touching surprise, I have received several dozen e-mails from Americans who said they appreciated what I had to say to the committee. I want to thank them publicly for their kind words, and say that while they encourage me to continue speaking out, I must confess that I think there is little hope of preventing combat against Islamist forces in the United States in the years ahead. The quite large Homeland Security Committee probably is a pretty good microcosm of the attitudes of both the House and the Senate on these issues, and, if this judgment is correct, most of these ladies and gentlemen do not give a damn about the safety of American lives and property here at home.

Indeed, after listening to some of the members of this committee, as well as to the last three presidents and many others in Congress and the media for the last fifteen years, it seems likely that many would silently welcome attacks in the United States so they could say “we and Israel and now in the same a boat.” They then could go on with their daily businesses of war, taxing, and graft as usual.

What this means for Americans is that time is running out, and that there is every reason for them to exercise their rights under the 2nd Amendment as soon and as fully as possible. It seems likely that within the foreseeable future Americans will be called to defend themselves against Islamist fighters and/or an oppressive federal government that too-late sees that its deliberate lies about Islamist motivation, its willingness to facilitate U.S. military defeat overseas, its failure to control U.S. borders, and its groveling to Israel and the Saudi police-state have combined to bring war to our shores and that the only response it has is severe martial law — which is better known as tyranny.

One hopes that Phillip Bobbitt was right in his fine new book about Machiavelli’s thought when he argues that, in times when a republic’s leaders “become unsuitable,” one of the great strengths of a republic lies in “the ruthlessness of the public, which can replace its leaders according to the demands of circumstances.” (2)


–1.)  http://homeland.house.gov/hearing/hearing-al-shabaab-al-nusra-how-westerners-joining-terror-groups-overseas-affect-homeland

–2.) Phillip Bobbitt. The Garments of Court and Palace. Machiavelli and the World He Made. New York: Grove Press, 2013, p. 90



9 October 2013

Michael F. Scheuer

(1.) As America enters the seventeenth year of the war that much of Islam formally began waging against it in 1996, American and other Western Muslims have been traveling to support and/or fight alongside the mujahedin since the mid-1980s.

  • The first Western jihadis went to fight with the Afghan mujahedin against the Red Army in the mid-1980s.
  • Westerners continued to trickle into the jihads in such places as the North Caucasus, Somalia, and the Balkans in the 1990s, but the big increase in their numbers occurred after Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States in August, 1996, and especially after al-Qaeda’s impressive victories on 9/11.
  • Today, Syria and Somalia seem to be the most prominent destinations for U.S. and Western Muslim fighters, although some have turned up in North Africa and the Sahel as well.

(2.) From the 1980s through today, U.S. Muslim citizens who go overseas to fight jihad return to America with several attributes, some old and some knew, but all strongly held.

  • They return home, of course, with the same religious faith  that motivated to travel abroad to fight, but it will be strengthened by the simple fact that they were on the winning side.
  • Since 1996, America has been engaged in what is preeminently a religious war for those who are waging it, not withstanding the deliberately misleading protests against this reality by our last three presidents.
  • That American Muslim fighters have traveled, fought, survived, won, and returned home safely proves two things to themselves, their families, and their religious communities:
  • God was pleased by their actions and ensured they were successful.
  • And for the younger people in the U.S. Muslim community — especially for young males — they will become role models in terms of an individual fulfilling his religious responsibility to defend Islam.
  • They also will return with increased talent in the use of small arms and explosives — a teachable talent — and with increased skills at building covert organizations. They will likewise return with confidence that victory is possible. They and their colleagues know that they inflicted humiliating defeats on the U.S. and NATO militaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that knowledge will boost morale and recruitment.
  • Finally, the American fighters will return with a greatly enhanced knowledge of and contacts with other similarly minded men from across the Muslim world. All of the jihads to which American Muslims travel are fought by locals and an assortment of other men from countries that span the globe. The Americans will come home fully aware that the movement bin Laden started and led is now truly international in scope, and is quickly growing in numbers and geographical reach. They also will come home with a list of contacts among their fellow mujahedin from whom they can seek advice or more material forms of assistance.

(3.) As I noted at the start, the subject of our discussion today is about a phenomenon  that is nearly 40 years old. It is clearly more dangerous today than ever before, but the factors that cause the problem — the factors that motivate young Muslim Americans to jihad — have been the same over time.

  • And while there are a number of factors that motivate these young people — including Saudi-sponsored and funded religious education in the United States, and the bonds of family, clan, tribe, and nationalism that remain strong and vibrant even after immigration — the first and most important motivation for these American Muslims to go to war is the bipartisan and interventionist foreign policy of the U.S. government and the existence of Israel and numerous un-Islamic tyrannies in the Arab world, all supported by the United States.
  • Indeed, since Laden declared war on America in 1996, al-Qaeda and its allies have had — from their perspective –only two indispensable allies: Allah and U.S. and Western interventionism.

(4.) To conclude my opening statement, I would say that while what American Muslim mujahedin bring back with them from jihad is important, what they find in the United States upon returning is will be much more important in motivating what I believe will become combat situations — like the recent event in Nairobi and others much worse — in the United States over the next decade.

  • And what they will find on their return will be a steady-as-she-goes interventionist U.S. foreign policy which has been a constant for more than thirty years.
  • We will be continuing to unquestionably arm, support, and justify Israel.
  • We will continue to support tyranny in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria, and elsewhere in the Muslim world.
  • We will continue preaching democracy but stand ready to immediately intervene to undermine fairly elected governments in places like Palestine and Egypt.
  • And certainly most dangerous for U.S. national security, we will continue to prosecute the clash of civilizations, initiated by President Bush and accelerated by President Obama and Mrs. Clinton, designed to impose secularism, democracy, and women’s rights on an Islamic world ready and willing to fight forced Westernization to the death.
  • In terms of the length of our war with Islam, this attempt to teach our little, brown Muslim brothers to be just like us will lengthen the war every bit as much as the unprovoked and unnecessary military interventions in Libya, Mali, and Iraq.

(5.) And if you think that I place too much emphasis on the motivation provided to U.S. citizens and other Western mujahedin by U.S. and Western interventionism, I would draw your attention to the reality that, to the best of my knowledge, neither we nor any of our NATO partners have yet to capture a Western Islamist fighter whose words or documents have shown a motivation to attack based on hatred for liberty, elections, or gender equality. Invariably, they attribute their motivation to U.S. and Western military intervention in the Islamic world and U.S. and Western support for Israel and various Muslim tyrannies.


  • Michael Scheuer

    Michael Scheuer is an American former intelligence officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, blogger, author, commentator and former adjunct professor at Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies.

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