Will America’s New Counter Terrorism Chief Be an Honest Broker on the Roots of Terrorism?

The Acting Director of National Intelligence has announced the appointment of a new director for the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)—Lora Shiao.

Ms. Shiao’s impressive background includes numerous assignments within various defense and intelligence agencies of the federal government. Ms. Shiao will be responsible for maintaining the NCTC as “a center of gravity and leading voice that unifies counterterrorism intelligence for the homeland and abroad.”

Established in August 2004 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, the NCTC has more than 1,000 personnel perceived by other U.S. government partners, according to its website, as “‘honest brokers’ disseminating reliable information about terrorist threats.” Yet despite its mandate, the NCTC since its inception has largely failed to provide local, state, and federal partners with reliable information about the terrorist threat, at least when it comes to terrorist motivations.

The 9/11 Commission stated that “the enemy is not just ‘terrorism,’ some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism – especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its ideology.” The 9/11 Commission also pointed out that “Bin Laden and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say.”

Indeed, in 1998, Bin Laden told the Taliban, “I do not need to tell you that this sacred struggle should continue until…holy places of Muslims are liberated from the occupation of non-Muslims and the Islamic Sharia is enforced on the land of God. Obviously, for the enforcement of Sharia, it is essential for all Muslims that they should establish an Islamic system on the basis of teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.”

The 9/11 Commission described sharia as “the code of law derived from the Qur’an and the Hadith and since 9/11 numerous American terrorists who either planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks have made their intentions and their motivations quite clear in relation to the sharia.

Would be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad wrote, “We Muslims don’t abide by human-made laws, because they are always corrupt… I say to them, we don’t accept your democracy nor your freedom, because we already have Sharia law and freedom.”

Homegrown terrorists like Terry Lee Loewen, who attempted to conduct a suicide bombing at the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in December 2013, share the exact same doctrine. Loewen told law enforcement, “I have been studying subjects like jihad, martyrdom operations, and Sharia law. I don’t understand how you can read the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet and not understand that jihad and the implementation of Sharia is absolutely demanded of all the Muslim Ummah.”

Historically however there has been a profound lack of information about sharia and its doctrinal underpinnings pushed out by the NCTC to law enforcement around the nation, in preference for vague terms such as “Homegrown Violent Extremists,” where violent extremism is defined as “a complex and global phenomenon, which is not limited to a particular ideology.”

There have been signs of improvement. The Trump Administration’s National Security Strategy identified sharia as the motivating factor behind the terrorist threat facing the United States, and a 2019 NCTC document for First Responders did note that potential terror suspects may make references to their motivation to “establish the sharia,” which the document accurately defined, along with several other key sharia legal terms.

Ms. Shiao should build on these small improvements. It is imperative that NCTC analysts and leaders be honest brokers about the true motivation for the vast majority of terrorist activity in the United States and worldwide.

Members of local, state, and federal governments charged with protecting American citizens from terrorism rely on the NCTC to uphold the ethical standards of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to, “seek the truth; speak truth to power; and obtain, analyze, and provide intelligence objectively.”  Our newest NCTC director needs the courage to be an honest broker on this subject, banish the institutional “vagueness” and lift the veil on sharia.

Tommy Waller serves as Director of Infrastructure Protection at the Center for Security Policy. Prior to joining the Center, Waller served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps in the infantry and reconnaissance specialties, with combat service overseas in numerous theaters, and service on both active duty and in the reserves. Waller currently manages the Secure the Grid Coalition—a group of policymakers, defense professionals, and activists working diligently to secure America’s most critical infrastructure—the U.S. electric grid. Learn more at www.SecureTheGrid.com

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Author: Tommy Waller

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