The Muslim Brotherhood and Terrorist Organizations by Valentina Colombo

“[T]he organization of the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization, and anyone who asks either to reconcile with them, to join them or to ally with them is himself a terrorist.” — Refaat Saïd, leader of Egypt’s Socialist party, al-Tagammu’, and previously close friend of former Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide, Mahdi Akef.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the motto of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is also the verse singled out by Hassan al Banna: “Fight them until there is no fitnah [discord], and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah.” [Qur’an, Sura VIII, verse 39]

The link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is clear, and confirmed by Article 2 of the Charter of Hamas, which reads: “The Islamic Resistance movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine”.

A new terror group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis [ABM], just officially entered the scene. Both the U.S. State Department and the British government included it, at the beginning of April, in their list of proscribed terrorist organizations.

The United Kingdom justified its decision as follows: “ABM is an Al Qa’ida inspired militant Islamist group based in the northern Sinai region of Egypt. The group is said to recruit within Egypt and abroad and aims to create an Egyptian state ruled by Sharia law. ABM is assessed to be responsible for a number of attacks on security forces in Egypt since 2011. The attacks appear to have increased since the overthrow of the Morsi government in July 2013. The group’s reach goes beyond the Sinai, with the group claiming responsibility for a number of attacks in Cairo and cross-border attacks against Israel. ABM has undertaken attacks using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and surface-to-air missiles. Examples of attacks for which the group has claimed responsibility include: an attack on the Egyptian Interior Minister in which a UK national was seriously injured (September, 2013); an attack on a police compound in Mansoura, killing at least 16 people, including 14 police officers (December 24, 2013), and an attack on a tourist bus in which three South Koreans and their Egyptian driver died (January 16, 2014).”

The decision taken by the British government against Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis came almost at the same time as the decision to start investigations on the activities of Muslim Brotherhood [MB] and its possible links with terrorism.

Terrorists from the group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

There is however a link between ABM and the Muslim Brotherhood: the justification of jihad, based on the Koranic text.

Although in January 2014, after the December 24 attack — linked by the British government statement to ABM — the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood issued a declaration in which it denied any connection with ABM, Refaat Saïd, the leader of the Socialist Party, Tagammu’, said otherwise.

Saïd pointed out, during the visit of Catherine Ashton to Egypt on the eve of its presidential elections, that Ashton “wants to open channels for a reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood despite knowing perfectly well that Dr. Mohammed Morsi himself imported the organization of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and placed it in the Sinai. Morsi released many of its members from prison so they could carry out terror attacks in the Sinai region to take him back to power.”

Saïd bluntly added that “the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization, and anyone who asks either to reconcile with them, to join them or to ally with them is himself a terrorist.”[1]

Saïd, previously a close friend of Mahdi Akef, the former MB Supreme Guide, knows the Brotherhood closely.

In September 2013, after an attack on the Egyptian Minister of the Interior, Major General Ahmad ‘Abd al-Halim explained that “Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is an organization including 15 organizations acting and working in Gaza and belonging to the sphere of al-Qaeda and Hamas.”[2]

Colonel Farouq Hamdan — an aide to former Egyptian Interior Minister — also commented that “the attack was carried out with the blessing of, and consultation between the organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which was funded by the Brotherhood.”[3]

The connection between Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, al-Qaeda and Hamas — already on the official lists of proscribed terrorist organizations in the West — and the Muslim Brotherhood — which is already presently on the proscribed terror organizations of Russia (February 2003), Syria (21 October 2013), Egypt (25 December 2013), Saudi Arabia (7 March 2013) and the United Arab Emirates (9 March 2014) — is sometimes a direct one, and sometimes an ideological link.

The link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is clear and straight, and confirmed by Article 2 of the Charter of Hamas, which reads: “The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era. It is characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.”

It would appear rather more difficult to demonstrate the link between the Muslim Brotherhood and some markedly jihadist movements such as Al Qaeda, Gamaat al-Islamiyya — also internationally recognized as a terrorist organization — and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

In 2005, Sylvain Besson published, for the first time in a Western language, a document in his book, The Conquest of the West: The Secret Project of Islamists, often referred to as “The Secret Project.”

The document, “Towards a global strategy of Islamic politics (starting points, elements, essential conditions and missions),” was found in 2001 by Swiss authorities in the house of Youssef Nada, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West

A similar version of the “Secret Project” was also aired in 2012 in a documentary film about the MB in the West by American journalist Glenn Beck. What is strange is that no one has given due importance to the contents of both documents.

“The Secret Project” explains the twelve starting points of the strategy of the Brotherhood in the West. For example:

“Step 5: Work to establish the Islamic state, in parallel make progressive efforts aiming at controlling the local centres of power through institutional work.

“Step 6: Work with loyalty alongside Islamic groups and institutions in various fields by agreeing on a common ground in order to cooperate on points of convergence while putting aside the points of divergence.

“Step 7: Accept the principle of temporary cooperation between Islamic movements and nationalist movements […]”

In Step 9, jihad is finally mentioned: “Build a permanent force of the Islamic preaching and support movements engaged in jihad in the Islamic world, in different ways and within the limits of the possible….Get in touch with any new movement engaged in jihad wherever in the planet, with Islamic minorities, and create walkways, according to requirements, to support and establish a partnership. Keep the jihad on alert in the umma [Muslim community] […].”

“The Secret Project” calls for a bond, a better collaboration with jihadi movements and it would seem that strategically, leaders and members of the MB consider both jihad and jihadi movements fundamental to achieve their goals.

Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1936, issued a call to “kings and princes, members of legal organizations and Islamic societies, to those who own judgment and sense of honour in the Muslim world,” to the so-called “Fifty requests” to return to a true Islamic society.

The third request reads: “Reinforce the army, multiply sections of young people and inflame them on the grounds of Islamic jihad.”

Jihad appears always to have been part of MB ideology. Sayyid Qutb, possibly the most important MB ideologue, in his commentary of Koran, In the Shade of Qur’an, defines jihad: “Islam gives the name jihad to such cumulative efforts. This includes efforts to change people through verbal advocacy. It also includes the possible armed struggle to end an oppressive system and establish justice. […] among the radical concepts of the revolutionary party named “Muslim” the most foundational is to engage every rebellious force that comes in Islam’s way: fight them, muster everything possible to replace them.”

Sayyid Qutb’s books and his theory of jihad have been fundamental in building the foundation of Al-Qaeda ideology as Ayman al-Zawahiri clearly states in his book Knights under the Prophet’s Banner.

In 1978, a Sudanese reformist and political leader, Mahmud Muhammad Taha, who was sentenced to death for apostasy in 1985, wrote, in the first part of his reflection, These are the Muslim Brothers: “In this age when humanity was predisposed to spread Islam at the scientific level based on persuasion, on reconciliation and peace, when the world opinion was inclined to renounce violence and not to resort to war to solve problems, here came the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood calling Muslims to jihad! Here is the shaykh Hasan al- Banna, the founder of their preaching, consecrating a letter of his to jihad, ‘The Letter of jihad.’ He quotes many Koranic verses calling for jihad […] He concludes the document with the following invitation: ‘Brothers, the umma is a factory of death […] and Allah reserved you the precious life on earth and eternal bliss in the afterlife, what a fragility leads us to love this life and hate death, be ready for an important action and long for death since it will give you life.'”[4]

In a letter about “teachings” (Risalat al-ta’alim), in “Point 7,” the paragraph dedicated to action, Hasan al- Banna wrote: “We must be the masters in spreading the Islamic preaching in every place, ‘And fight them until there is no fitnah [upheaval] and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah’ (Surat al-Anfal, VIII:39) […] and I want jihad as an obligation of the past that will continues until the Day of Judgment and that has as its main purpose the hadith of the Messenger of Allah — upon him the greetings and blessing of Allah: whoever dies without having fought and without having any intention of fighting is as if he had died in the era of ignorance.'”

The importance of jihad in the history of MB is further underlined by the title of an essay that Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of its main theologians: “The Muslim Brotherhood. Seventy years of preaching, education and jihad” (Beirut 2001).

Al-Qaradawi states that, “the movement engaged in real jihadi battles against the Zionists in Palestine and the British in Egypt and the movement sent the best of its sons to sacrifice.” (page 235)

It should come as no surprise, then, that the motto of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is also the verse singled out by Hassan al Banna: “Fight them until there is no fitnah [discord], and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah.” [Qur’an, Sura VIII, verse 39].

As stated in “The Secret Project” of the Muslim Brotherhood, the MB and Islamist movements are merely different but complementary ways to implement the goals of jihad.

Whereas the Muslim Brotherhood preaches jihad with pragmatism and “moderation,” the ABM, Hamas and al-Qaeda preach and practice it bluntly and with no delay. But whenever the Brotherhood enters what could be perceived as resistance, then open violence becomes permissible, as now in Egypt.

Recent statements to the Sunday Times by Ibrahim al-Mounir, whom many regard as the leader of the Brotherhood in Europe, sound as if they are a veiled threat: “If this [ban] happened, this would make a lot of people in Muslim communities think that [peaceful] Muslim Brotherhood values … didn’t work and now they are designated a terrorist group, which would make the doors open for all options.” When asked if he meant that the group was open to violence, he replied: “Any possibility.”

There can be no doubt about the ideological link between ABM and MB: both believe in jihad, in the conquest of power by Islam. The most important thing the West has to understand is the blunt pragmatism of MB, that is what Mohammed Charfi, former Tunisian minister of education, wrote in his essay, Islam et liberté: “Today the observers call a “moderate” Islamist the person who, with Westerners, uses reasonable language and who does not choose an openly violent action. However even though his style is calm and the rejection of violence seems sincere, since the movement is always linked to sharia and the sacralisation of history, his moderation remains provisional and indicates a strategy of waiting, because the ingredients of radicalization have not disappeared.”


[1] Website of the newspaper al-Shourouq, April 11, 2014.
[2] Al-Wafd, September 9, 2013.


Joe Heck M.D.(R) Incumbent**

Dr. Heck has more than 25 years in public service as a physician, Army Reservist, and community volunteer. Previously, Heck served as a volunteer firefighter and ambulance attendant, Search & Rescue team member, and SWAT physician. A Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, he was called to active duty three times, including a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I am concerned about the ever-increasing instability throughout the Middle East. During this time, the U.S. must remain committed to supporting our greatest ally in the region. I believe that U.S. assistance to Israel is vital to her security, and will do all I can to ensure that Israel maintains her qualitative military advantage.
The Administration must reject any Palestinian government that fails to renounce violence or refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. President Obama’s speech on May, 19, 2011 endorsed a key Palestinian demand that the borders of any future Palestinian state be based on the 1967 lines. I was extremely disappointed with President Obama’s statement. The mere suggestion that a two state solution be based on borders prior to the Six-Day War significantly undermines Israel’s ability to negotiate a practical and workable peace settlement. Additionally, retreating to the borders of 1967 would create an Israeli state only 8-10 miles wide, significantly inhibiting Israel’s ability to defend itself. I will continue to take a strong stance against any action that undermines this critical alliance.
As a strong supporter of Israel, I believe that we must work to prevent Iran from acquiring the technology to develop nuclear weapons. I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 850 which further strengthens sanctions against Iran by closing loopholes in the energy and financial sanctions. It denies visas to individuals who engage in Iran’s energy sector and increases the number of sanctions the Administration is required to impose. Additionally, it targets capital markets and activities by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and its affiliates significantly involved in the development, extraction, production, transportation, or sale of petroleum, oil, or liquefied natural gas in Iran.
This bill serves as a strong reminder to rogue states, such as Iran, that the U.S. will not stand idly by as they threaten the safety and security of our country, as well as the rest of the world. Please be assured that I will continue to support legislation that protects our national security and keeps countries such as Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The Obama health care take over hurts patients and cuts $500 billion from Medicare. Joe Heck is fighting for a better alternative. Joe Heck’s solution supports Nevada’s families by protecting the patient-physician relationship and reducing health care costs. Joe Heck is working to protect Medicare for Nevada’s seniors and preserve it for future generations.
On numerous occasions the House has voted to approve the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline project which would bring crude oil from Canada to refineries in the southeastern United States. I believe that this project would have a profound impact on the economy – both by creating jobs and increasing domestic energy supplies – which is why I have voted in favor of its construction. Unfortunately, its construction has been repeatedly delayed by the Administration despite strong bipartisan support in Congress. I will continue advocate for the approval of the project.
As the grandson of Italian immigrants, I welcome the debate on immigration reform and the opportunity to find real solutions for our broken immigration system. As the debate over this important issue continues, there are several provisions I will be looking for in legislation. Those provisions are improved border enforcement, a modern e-verify system, a more sustainable guest worker program, and improvements in the current legal immigration system. Finally, while I oppose blanket amnesty, I am open to considering proposals that address earned citizenship.


No, that’s not the actual title. Sharia-ism is Here: The Battle to Control Women and Everyone Else might have been called that but doubtless Joy Brighton, the author, would have encountered brand or trademark infringement problems with the publisher of the popular and successful For Dummies series, John Wiley & Sons. I also suspect that Wiley & Sons would have been horrified by the idea of publishing such an “Islamophobic” book anyway. It has published Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies, both of which, to judge by their Amazon descriptions, are treacly, inoffensive, sanitized guides to a highly “misunderstood” and “misperceived” religion-cum-ideology.

Brighton’s opus is a generously illustrated and annotated book intended as a “show n’ tell book for national security, civil right and women’s right activists and lobbyists in America.” It is meant to be read by, and serve as, a handy reference guide for anyone who is aware of the peril posed by Islam as it is practiced around the world, in the West, and especially in the U.S., but who really hasn’t digested the scale of the threat or any of its details. And it isn’t just about Islam’s crusade to control women. It truly is about Islam’s designs on everyone.

Before citing the book’s plenitude of virtues, however, there is one issue I must raise. Page 131, for example, under the heading, “Conversion to Islam or Sharia-ism in America? How do we help youth understand the difference?” highlights the conversion percentages of Americans to Islam. At the bottom of the page is an “Insight Box,” which reads:

How many of these American Converts have been converted to Islam the religion? How many are knowingly or unknowingly slowly being converted to Sharia-ism, the political movement of Radical Islam? How do we help young potential converts understand the difference and draw the line between Islam and Sharia-ism?

One point of disagreement between Sharia-ism is Here: The Battle to Control Women and me is that I do not draw a line between Islam and what Brighton calls “Sharia-ism.” Brighton writes in her Introduction:

You are holding in your hands a chronicle of the surprising inroads that Shariah, the guiding principles of Radical Islam, has made in America during the critical years of 2008-2013.


In 1945 one of every three Jews in the world had been killed during the Holocaust, and by normative measures the Jewish people, disheartened, oppressed and traumatized would have withered and disappeared. Only three years later the Jewish State of Israel was reborn and an epic in-gathering of the Jews of Europe and the Arab countries began. Those who had been at the precipice of hell were welcomed, protected and given counseling and homes and vocational training with the help of the Jewish people throughout the world.

As Yoram Ettinger has discovered in painstakingly accurate demographic research the birthrate of Jews is burgeoning in all of Israel including Judea and Samaria.

As David Hornik, discloses today there are 8.2 million citizens of Israel of who 75% are Jewish.”Since last year’s Independence Day 178,000 babies were born in Israel. Although Israel’s birthrate is already uniquely high among Western countries, this marks a new record. Also over that period 40,000 people died and 24,000 new immigrants arrived, for a net population growth of 162,000 or 2 percent.”

Hebrew, a language relegated to prayer and scattered scholars for centuries is now the official language spoken by all the citizens.

In spite of neighbors that are a blight unto the nations, Israel is a free wheeling democracy; Tel Aviv is considered on of the world’s best cities to visit; the beaches on the entire coast are beautiful and dotted with surfers, boats and yachts; restaurants and cafes abound even in more stolid Jerusalem; and when the sun goes down in Israel’s capital Jerusalem the city takes on an ethereal golden glow that is unparalleled in the world.

In Hebron where it all started Jews walk in the footsteps of the Patriarchs Abraham and Sarah who started a chain that remains unbroken for millennia.

It is wonderful.rsk

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the 66th Anniversary of Israel’s Independence – ****

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day:
“Today, on the 66th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, I would like to extend my warmest regards to all those celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut.
“The story of Israel is a great example to the world. It is a story of a people who have overcome great suffering and unspeakable tragedy to realize a two thousand year old dream and build a nation based on the values of freedom and democracy.
“The deep friendship that Canada enjoys with Israel is rooted in these shared values and it is my hope that this relationship will only continue to grow stronger with each passing year. Canada is proud to support the Jewish State of Israel. We believe that the Jewish people deserve the opportunity to live safely and peacefully in their ancestral homeland.
“Despite facing constant threats to their existence, Israel and its people have not only endured, but thrived. Israel is helping to shape the world through advances in many areas, most significantly through innovation in the fields of medical research and high technology.
“Earlier this year, Laureen and I were very pleased to visit Israel and to see first-hand the beauty of the land and the way in which this great country has flourished since its founding in 1948. It was a deeply moving trip with visits to Yad Vashem, the Western Wall, and many other holy and historic sites. I was honoured to be granted the privilege of speaking to the Knesset and delighted to visit the bird sanctuary in HulaValley that bears my name.
“The visit reinforced my image of Israel as a truly modern country, firmly ensconced in the family of democratic nations and as an example to others in the region.
“I wish all those celebrating this historic day a Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach.”


Israeli Independence Day, 2014

On Monday evening and Tuesday, Israel marks its 66th Independence Day. Each year this day is preceded by Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers. The one holiday segues into the other, a few minutes after sundown, with the raising of the national flag on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem from half-staff to full height.

That moment, one of the most defining and resonant in Israeli life, signifies that the country owes its existence to those who have been willing to sacrifice for it. And with Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers coming only a week after Holocaust Remembrance Day, it also represents a subtle, profound shift from mourning to celebration.

And celebrate is what Israel does on Independence Day. With all-night festivities in city squares; the awarding of the Israel Prize to twelve high-achieving citizens; a reception for 120 outstanding soldiers at the president’s residence; above, in the nation’s skies, amazing displays of prowess by air force jets; the International Bible Quiz in Jerusalem; massive flocking to parks and nature reserves; flags lining city streets and flying from balconies and car windows.

Although by now a veteran immigrant, I’m struck anew each year by the depth and authenticity of sentiment that this day evokes. After two thousand years of dispersion, 66 years of restored statehood is still a very short time. And I predict that in another 66 years this day, so permeated with history and meaning, will be no less intense.

Each year, a few days before Independence Day, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics releases numbers that get widely reported in the media.

The numbers tell remarkable stories. The country’s population now stands at almost 8.2 million—compared to 860,000 in 1948, the year the state was declared. Of today’s total, 75 percent are Jews, 21 percent are Arabs, and the rest are mostly Russian immigrants who are connected to Jewish families and identify with the Jewish collective.

May Southern Primaries Set Up GOP for Fall Battles By Rich Baehr

Kimberley Strassel has an article in the Wall Street Journal [1] suggesting that an array of conservative groups, including Tea Party organizations, seem headed for a string of defeats in GOP primaries in their attempts to knock off Republican Senate incumbents. Most of those efforts are in states where the Republican nominee, whether the incumbent or a challenger, is likely to win in November (e.g., Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina). Kentucky is the exception: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seems headed for a decisive primary victory on May 20 against Matt Bevin; after that, McConnell faces a close fall matchup [2] to retain his seat against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In the election cycles of 2010 and 2012, Republican contests in several Senate primaries produced either hopelessly unelectable nominees such as Christine O’Donnell, or badly flawed candidates such as Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Todd Akin, and Richard Mourdock. All of these candidates self-destructed in the general election campaign, losing winnable races. In each of these cases, the eventual nominee ran well to the right of more mainstream incumbents (Richard Lugar) or other primary contestants.

The GOP hopes for taking control of the Senate in November (by picking up a net six seats) rely on winning two open seats now held by Democrats in South Dakota and West Virginia, and the seat held by a recently appointed replacement senator in Montana. After these three races, all of which now look very good for the GOP, the task gets harder. They must defeat incumbents in Louisiana (Mary Landrieu), North Carolina (Kay Hagan), Arkansas (Mark Pryor), and Alaska (Mike Begich). Two other open seat races held by Democrats (Iowa and Michigan) and two other incumbents (Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire and Jeff Merkley in Oregon) now face bigger challenges than many expected.

In Georgia, the seat of retiring Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss has produced a wide open GOP primary. Five candidates at one time or another have held the lead, and four of the five are still tightly bunched [3] just days out from the May 20 primary (only Congressman Phil Gingrey has faded).

Georgia has become reliably Republican over the last five presidential races and in other statewide races, but is now experiencing rapid demographic shifts [4] that favor Democrats. Mitt Romney won the state by 7%, but the Obama campaign did not actively work the state as they did North Carolina or Virginia. The state’s rapidly expanding economy has attracted hundreds of thousands of Asians and Latinos, and the Atlanta area has always been an attractive location for African Americans, and many are moving to or returning to the area from other states.


Initial reports of high turnout and relative security during Iraq’s parliamentary elections have buoyed optimism that things might not be so bad there after all. Unfortunately, a smooth election and even the formation of a new government are not likely to reverse the negative security trends that are bringing Iraq ever closer to full-scale sectarian war.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) has established havens in Anbar, Diyala, and southern Baghdad in many of the locations from which al-Qaeda in Iraq, its ancestor, threatened the capital in 2006.

ISIS drove the Iraqi Security Forces from Fallujah in January. The Iraqi army has operated from the city’s outskirts but lacks the urban warfare capability to clear its interiors. It is shelling the city. Nearly 73,000 Iraqi families from Anbar have fled their homes, according to United Nations figures on internally displaced persons.

ISIS has been advancing on Baghdad since January. The gunmen who have controlled the Fallujah dam have twice flooded areas between Fallujah and Baghdad. ISIS destroyed an oil pipeline near the Tigris in ways that contaminated the capital’s water supply.

Shi’a militias have mobilized to counter the growing threat from ISIS and to serve the political parties with which they are affiliated. Militias have engaged in retaliatory executions and sectarian killings in several provinces. Some militias have forcibly displaced residents of Sunni villages; they have razed Sunni homes in Diyala province. Sunni families in remote areas have fled their villages en masse.

Cooperative relationships exist between Shi’a militias and the Iraqi Security Forces. These conditions do not bode well for any Iraqi government. Should Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki win a third term, he would do so having lost a province to terrorists and having entrusted terrain to militias. Meanwhile, competitors for power have organized militias with which to engage Mr. Maliki and one another.


For days I have been putting the same question to soldiers of the Afghan National Army: How do you feel about the imminent departure of Coalition forces? The answers are always variations on this one: “We are happy and sad,” they say. “The Americans are our friends and partners. They helped us tremendously. We are sad to see them go. But we are happy that they can go back to their families. And we are happy that we can now defend our own country and defeat the enemy.”

It’s a heartening reply, accompanied by assurances that they have the military situation well in hand. They had better. The fighting season begins in a few days, once the poppy harvest is brought in. Few places in Afghanistan have seen as much bloodshed as this fertile belt running along the banks of the Helmand River. The British, who lost more than 100 of their troops here, found it impossible to control. The U.S. Marines took over in 2010, losing another 50 men.

The Marines won the fight. But now they are gone for good. Late Sunday night, I watched them depart from Forward Operating Base Nolay, the last of what were once 30 bases in the valley. As a final order of business they picked up the trash, turned over the garbage cans, and drove away, a long convoy of heavily armored vehicles slowly making their way to Camp Leatherneck in the desert, 60 miles away.

So are the Afghans ready?

The Marines who have been training and advising them for the past year are cautiously optimistic. The Afghans have been conducting security operations on their own for a year while the Marines have mostly stuck to their bases. They have shown initiative, adaptability, discipline, coordination and a fighting spirit. “At a time when nobody’s talking about winning,” one Marine officer tells me, “they are talking about winning.”

The best evidence was the peaceful April 5 national election, in which Afghan soldiers and police were able to maintain security—and ballot-box integrity—at more than 6,000 polling places. Nobody expected the Afghans to perform so well. In Sangin alone, some 5,000 people, or 58% of the electorate, turned out to vote; in the 2009 election, just 179 people did.


Tal Fortgang has offended the offense-takers. The Princeton University freshman wrote an essay for a student publication, since reprinted in Time magazine, skewering the progressive trope “check your privilege.”

If you haven’t been told to “check your privilege,” you don’t spend enough time on college campuses, or on progressive websites, where the phrase is considered a debate-clinching rejoinder suitable for any occasion. It is an injunction to admit the privilege — whiteness, maleness, heteroness, middle-classness, and some other -nesses — behind any uncongenial point of view.

On websites, people with presumably too much time on their hands do for “checking your privilege” what Judith Martin does for etiquette — describe an elaborate system of rules for how the privileged can appropriately interact with the nonprivileged. It’s Emily Post meets Michel Foucault. Or “Ms. Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Politically Correct Behavior.”

One feminist writer explains that “just as you have to learn a bunch of new terms for things like science class, so too do you need to do so for non-privileged groups.” It evidently never occurs to them that treating the “non-privileged” as an alien class incapable of having normal interactions with other people is itself deeply insulting, but all is fair in the fight against privilege.

After being told to “check his privilege” a few times, Fortgang writes, he checked the family background that had produced the rank privilege he enjoys as a white, male Princeton student. He found grandparents who barely escaped the Nazis and came here with nothing, a father who earned his success, and parents who passed along their faith and belief in education.

“That’s the problem with calling someone out for the ‘privilege’ which you assume has defined their narrative,” Fortgang writes. “You don’t know whose father died defending your freedom. You don’t know whose mother escaped oppression. You don’t know who conquered their demons, or may still [be] conquering them now.”

The push-back against his essay — which has generated incredible attention, including a profile of Fortgang in the New York Times — has featured the snotty in the service of the ridiculous. The collective response could be summed up as “Please, try to check your privilege again.”