Skip to main content

tv   Forum Explores U.S. Counterterrorism Policy Beyond Al- Qaeda and ISIS  CSPAN  August 9, 2017 5:49pm-6:55pm EDT

5:49 pm
school, a number of students won honorable mention and $250 per group. won for her documentary on the national debt. won for their documentary on terrorism. an honorable mention for a documentary on global warming. thank you to all the students who took part in our 2017 studentcam documentary competition. to watch the videos, go to studentcam 2018 starts in september with the theme "the constitution and you." a video illustrating white your provision is important. at u.s. efforts to combat terrorist organizations in the middle east. this is a little more than an hour.
5:50 pm
>> i'm going to say nothing of value. [laughter] thank you. all right, well, thank you, everyone, and welcome to i'm delighted that we have a packed house in particular because it is august, and while some of you are more free than you would be otherwise, which is great, some of you who would otherwise be here are not here because you are traveling. this is really a wonderful turnout for what promises to be a very timely event. let me start by giving a couple words of introduction and the requisite thank-yous. first of all, thank you to senator john hoeven for sponsoring the room, for his continued interest in our work on radical islam. there is a lot of offices that are involved with us on this work.
5:51 pm
we really appreciate being able to, in addition to our in-house work that we do in terms of to beations and events, able to come on to the hill and be able to present the findings that we have, and also the findings of our friends. a couple words about the american foreign policy counsel. i'm the senior vice president at afpc. we do a lot of work in a number of geographical areas and topic areas, including transactional threats and radical islam. this is one component of what we do. -- our program on islamic extremism and counterterrorism is actually broader than is represented here. this is one component of what we do. we do periodic briefings, lunch-and-learns, if you will, on topics related to radical islam, where we talk about a different angle of a very
5:52 pm
complex topic underserved right -- currently. right now everybody talks about the islamic state. they talk less about al-qaeda. talk even less about other groups that sort of don't fall into that broad category. we also publish a twice-monthly e-bulletin called "the global islamism monitor." if you're interested, there's a sign-up sheet outside, free of charge, and sort of brings you that type of information every two weeks on extremist islamic ideology, trends in ideology, but also trends in terms of movements, what's happening with boko haram in nigeria, the expansion of the islamic state in the philippines, things like that that may be outside of your purviews. also a multimedia project. -- we also publish a print and digital multimedia project.
5:53 pm
about a month from now, we'll have the 2017 edition, which will be hitting the newsstands. you can already access all the chapters online at it is the first comprehensive study of islamism as a global phenomenon -- as a political phenomenon globally. our aspiration is to have it truly global where it covers all regions where it exists. it's still impressive, even though it's not completely global. the idea is to take a look, sort of both geographically and topically, across various regions and activities across global movements ranging from the islamic state to al-qaeda, the taliban, and also look at where these groups are active, where the threat is increasing, decreasing, and most importantly, particularly for policymakers here in congress, why it's increasing, why it's decreasing, what can this tell us about whether counterterrorism policy that we're pursuing, the counterterrorism policies that other governments are pursuing,
5:54 pm
are on the right track, wrong track, what can be done better? in various ways, we try hard to inform the debate about islamic extremism. so i'm delighted to be able to sort of -- to have asked, to have my offer accepted, to have my friend katie zimmerman come brief us on her new report. katherine zimmerman is a research fellow at the american enterprise institute, and she is the research manager for the critical threats project. she covers the broader salafi jihadi movement as well as related trends in africa. she is in particular an expert on yemen, the activities of al-qaeda in north africa.
5:55 pm
she's also, as i know from personal experience, wonderful to travel with. we've had the opportunity to sort of do a little bit of field work together. so i can tell you, in all modesty, that katie is the best of the best to talk to us about the broad sweep of the global islamist movement, how the groups interface with one another, and what u.s. policymakers should be thinking about as they move -- sort of try to navigate this topic. i'm going to cede the floor to katie now. we'll let her get her -- what we will do is we will let her give her presentation. and we'll have times for questions and answers. just one sort of preliminary request -- if you ask a question, ask a question. and also identify where you're from, sort of what organization or what office you're from, to help us contextualize the question. with that, let me turn it over to katie. >> thank you, ilon. and the american foreign policy
5:56 pm
counsel for hosting this. i'm excited to talk about this. and why we face an enormous strategic risk in our fight in it. t is critical today -- the fight against isis culminates in syria. we just heard that isis has lost significant amounts of terrain in iraq. also in syria, that we are at 40% of raqqa has been recovered, and we are entering the final stage against the islamic state. we've heard this before, that we're in the final stage of this fight against the islamic state, against al-qaeda in iraq, in afghanistan, yemen. and yet we still face a massive threat from these groups. part of the reason we're facing that threat is we've misdefined and misunderstood what the enemy itself is. we've defined the enemy to be
5:57 pm
various groups that have pointed their guns at us. we have only gone after those groups that have chosen to shoot the gun, which means that as over time we've looked at this, there are groups choosing not to start shooting us. al qaedald say that has chosen that today, which is why we are defining it as a long-term threat, something to deal with this at the end of this problem. but i think that putting off that fight puts us in a position where it's harder, much more difficult, and the united states is in greater danger. the challenge, though, is even we go after al-qaeda, go after the islamic state across the world, we are still going to face a threat. that's because these groups draw strongly on an ideology. they are both competing to be the vanguard for that ideological movement. and it is the movement itself which is the enemy we must fight.
5:58 pm
now, that's challenging for policymakers. how do you fight a movement? there is nothing tangible about it except for its ideology. you can't hit a ideology with a kinetic action. they come back and say, there's nothing to strike. there's not a leadership cell. there is not a network to disrupt. there's not terrain to take back from a movement. and so i would say over the past 15, even longer, years, we have defined the enemy as groups, as networks, as individuals. we've confined ourselves by our policy definitions, such that we can actually go after an enemy that we've defined and use the policy tools that we've built to go after that enemy. when you think about that, then, we aren't actually fighting the salafi jihadi movement writ large. i would say it is much stronger today than it's ever been. it's escalated in strength over the past five years in an exponential fashion.
5:59 pm
it is not going to be set back by the defeat of isis. it has the momentum and will continue to have that. so briefly looking at what this movement is, it's not all of islam, it's not all of sunni islam. there are sunni who are secular, sunni who practice, very devout, but present us with no threat. there is a salafi sect within a trend line within islam, and not all salafis are dangerous to us. salafis believe they should return to the days of muhammad, but not all pursue it in a threatening manner to us. salafism is largely accepted within islam. there are some who choose to take no action. they simply practice devoutly
6:00 pm
and sit to the side. there are political salafists using political means to pursue this end state. even though the end state is contrary to what we would see as our own interest in the world, the fact they've existed for decades, not actually gained majority support in any of the countries where they exist, not they have not been widely accepted by what we're calling mainstream muslims today means they are a minority group who exist within the political sphere and who have only gained power in one instance in egypt where the only opposition, the only -- the only counter to the mubarak regime was the muslim brotherhood and there was not a massive uprising when the muslim brotherhood fell in egypt because there was not massive support for what the muslim brotherhood was representing on the fwrund. the part of the movement that becomes problematic for us is
6:01 pm
the part that pursues its end state with violence. this is the gee haw dee part. the salafi injury haw dees, -- jihatdis, who believe that that fight is required on all practicing muslims so this is going to be a global insurgency they are calling to. granded jihadism has been around, act -- granted jihadism has been around, has been activated since the soviet war, but hasn't been the threat for decades because it has been rejecteding marginalized and society has basically imprisoned those who believe in it. so why, then, to we have a problem today with the movement? why, then is the ideological movement so strong?
6:02 pm
it's strong because over the course of its existence it has actually sought one singular objective, which is to transform muslim society. it has focused on the people. it has used terrorism to cause the united states to retreat from muslim lands. it has used terrorism to weaken government. it has used terrorism to generate a sectarian war inside of iraq that creates conditions that enable the people to reach out to it. but during all that time what you see in the leadership discussions are what the popular support base wants. how do we get into the minds of the people. how do we convince them that this is our way. and they haven't done a good job of convincing them but the requirements facing most muslims on the ground today have driven them to look for support. so the conditions on the ground, the sunni inside of syria that are facing brutal conditions,
6:03 pm
there are populations inside yemen that require assistance to fight what they see as an enemy a threat to their own survival. you can look in somalia, lib ark elsewhere, afghanistan in particular, where when these fwrupes, communities have faced threats, where they've had -- where they have not had access to base exservices, where they require water or diesel fuel the groups that are providing it that are right there in the sidelines are al qaeda and isis. that's how these groups are moving into the population. they are also providing defense. so they are fighting alongside the sunni inside sir yasm they're fighting along the sunni in the civil war. they are fighting alongside one the falks in the civil war. they are building that relationship. and over time, they are changing how the society on the ground functions.
6:04 pm
because through the use of force, by coming in with the military forts al qaeda brings, it's been able to secure the system of justice. so we sasha rhea courts beginning to appear as the governing system on the ground inside of syria. syria, a secular state, with a revolution that started as a secular uprising, now has significant portions of opposition controlled territory under sharia based governance. and that is because al qaeda was able to transform that revolution. it is looking to do the same thing in yemen. it is looking to do the same thing inside so mall yasm it's done part of that inside afghanistan. it's doing it in mali. that's why we're seeing this group strengthening writ large. it's not the fact that people are actively looking for the ideology. they're accepting and tolerant of the ideology because of other requirementers in protection -- protection of their livelihoods and their very lives. the united states is also somewhat fall intoon al qaeda's
6:05 pm
trap. isis came onto the scene, it conducted brutal mass executions inside of iraq and syria, it declared itself a caliphate, the islamic state and became the number one enemy for the united states. and under that, al qaeda was able to operate under a policy radar where it was able to actually focus on its core objective, which was to win the hearts and minds of the people and it has done so, and is doing so in parts of yemen. we can keep going through this. it's not attacking the united states directly. it has not conducted a directed attack against the united states since we have conducted the war against isis. that is a decision. it is not because al qaeda does not have the capabilities. al qaeda's bombmaker, ibrahim al siri, known for the underwear
6:06 pm
bomb, the printer cartridge bomb, the master mind behind the laptop bomb they're trying to recreate. he's alive and training others. there's no reason to believe that al qaeda does not pursue the capability to attack us. the question is when. and yet the way that we're fighting these groups is like going after the enemy. we're going after the groups. we're going after the leadership on the ground. and that has created this huge divergence. so as al qaeda is focusing on delivering protection to the people, this is playing very true inside syria. it's also playing now inside yemen. the united states has taken action against the leaders of al qaeda. and what the people see is that they've asked for support from the united states. we have said no. they've asked for support and al qaeda says yes. al qaeda moves in. an then the united states delivers bombs. and that is why there is some
6:07 pm
support now on the ground for al qaeda because it's the only group that has fought in their defense. it is actively transforming what is happening on the ground. and it is a problem for the united states that we're not fighting government to government but we're fighting it with guns. it's a problem for the united states that we are only focused on the leadership cells because al qaeda has regenerated leadership. i'm sure we'll kill baghdad di, f he's -- baghdadi if he's not already dead. there's an idea that if you can knock one off the line another will rise in its place. the core power of the ideology, why understanding the ideology is so important but fighting it actually doesn't get us anywhere is that the ideology provides he theo military doctrine that
6:08 pm
enables these groups persist and it's why if we defeat isis derek feet al qaeda, we'll still have a group rise up because the ideology persists and the condition that says support for the ideology persists. we've also managed to align ourselves with bad partners. we've convinced ourselveses that by, with, and through is the only way and the best way. and in some cases it is. but in other cases it's actually creating problems on the ground. it's one of the reasons why i look at, as we watch the fight against isis particularly inside of syria, we've created a de facto alliance. with the very enemies of the sunni, the very enemies of the population within which al qaeda is recruiting. we've aligned ourselves with the assad regime work russia, with iran against isis. and we are empowering to seize ground inside syria, to
6:09 pm
strengthen itself against isis. but in not recognizing it's strengthened itself in the con thoveks syrian civil war. while we talk about a political resolution@syrian conflict, we are allowing military conditions to shape what that political resolution will look like. and it won't look like the resolution that we advocated back in 2012. guarantee that. and the sunnis see us abandoning them. so we need to be very cognizant of how we're fighting this war, how we are operating on the ground what partners we're choosing, what partners we're not choosing, and also how the enemy is spreading. because delivery of basic goods and services is something we can do we're not designed to do it. usaid doesn't work in insecure environment, it works behind the front lines, not in front of it. we're not designed to do that militarily either. we haven't resourced our state department properly to understand what the conflict is
6:10 pm
and who the actors are and what the demands are. but we could. ands that question not of making -- of nation building, because i don't think the united states should be spending its resources everywhere, but leadership. recognizing that the conditions on the ground have got ton a point where there needs to be a political resolution that leads to a legitimate and responsive governance system. that is of course aligned with our own interests. and the united states could lead others in this fight. to deliver the governance, to recognize the role that the conditions are playing in driving support for the injury haw dee movement particularly for -- for the gee haw dee movement particularly for -- for the jihaddi movement. i think the united states is the
6:11 pm
only one capable of leading the fight. i'll leave it there and open to questions. ilon: thank you, katie, that was terrific. a lot of food for thought and i'll use my prerogative as moderator to sort of ask the first question and then we can open it up. we have a mike that can sort of, just raise your hand if you want to ask a question we'll have somebody come around with a icrophone. my question goes back to scope, the need to define the adversary more broadly in order to understand what's possible and what's not possible. during the campaign season last year and into his administration, president trump talked -- has talked a great deal about radical islamic terrorism. with not that much emphasis on the ideology that underpins it. at the risk of being a lit
6:12 pm
patrol vocktive, how would you redefine that terminology to more, sort of, comprehensively encompass what you're talking about? because as you said, it's not just groups, it's also sort of the thought process that go into support for this. katie: that's a great question. the administration defined it as radical islamic terrorism to encompass the shia side, which the salafi movement is unique to the sunni side. we need to split our definition buzz they fight differently and they are different manifestations of the enemy. salafi jihadism is something that has come to our shores, it disease not have a direct state sponsor. it's something that's within sunni, has been rejecked by nearly every major sunni institution writ large. whereas the shia threat, the other half of the radical islamic threat is a little bit
6:13 pm
exported by iran ss part of the export of the iranian islamic revolution and the support that iran gives to his billion la and other groups -- to his bella and other groups is -- to hezbollah and other groups is different. within islam there are two different ways the threat is coming to our shores and align our policy and strategy that way rather than trying to cluster into this idea of radical islam is the problem and it's one of the reasons i push back very hard when people talk to me about islam itself being a problem because it's not all of islam. it's very distinct, definable, small minority parts, but they are growing in strength because of the conditions on the ground. ilon: why don't we do a kipple of questions, one back there and one over here. >> i am with the pakistani -- my
6:14 pm
question is about the salafi movement not getting much external help. how do you know they are not etting from saudi billionaires there are many in iraq so this fight has been in progress for the last 1rks400 or 1,500 years. why should america get involved and give its precious blood and not precious dollars because we have enough dollars and we can afford to mess around but these people don't respect human life so is it a good idea for america to stay out of the mess and let them fight with each other like they've been doing from the 1400's at least? thanks. katie: i think the u.s. needs to get involved because it is presenting a threat for the
6:15 pm
united states. i also dismiss the idea that this fight has been ongoing in violent terms if that long because frankly it hasn't. ideologysalafi jihaddi we can start to see it mobilize for the afghan soviet jihad and -- the idea was that he would export this back to the arab world, it was the start of the grand fight. if you look at the 1990's, al qaeda failed miserably. you can look at the palestinian-israeli fight. it is something that actually didn't mobilize support across the world for the palestinian cause. nothing has mobilized people except for what is happening today. and i think that the change is dramatic enough that we need to recognize that it's the conditions. . 's not just salfi jihadism the breakdown of the state
6:16 pm
system, the fact that we have six failed states at least within the muslim world, somalia, libya, iraq, yemen. weak state, tunisia, egypt is getting weaker, these are all leaning against the pillars, the stable states that we had to fight. so algeria, kenya, ethiopia, saudi arabia being a pillar, jordan always at risk of falling and enormous pressure right now thravepls reason beyond just the salafi gee haw dee threat to get involved and -- salafi jihadi threat to get involved. there's going to be fallout for ecades to come, i think. >> i am a former diplomat and an intelligence analyst. small correction -- the first salafist government in recent times was not egypt, it was arly 1990's algeria.
6:17 pm
the question that bothers me is the elephant in the room, which is there are literally millions of muslims who believe it is ok to spread your religion by whatever means necessary, and there is no plan whatsoever by muslims or non-muslims to attack the problem, that particular problem. so my question is about three tools that could be used and why they are not being used. why are american diplomats not allowed to quote the koran? hy are they not allowed to emarche the mosques? and why aren't we having a giant campaign in the o.i.c. to demand that the o.i.c. clean house? that the o.i.c. take the lead against this cancer, rather than the westerners? atie: it's a great question.
6:18 pm
i'd refer you to the state department for guidance for american diplomats. i think we have been too reticent to be involved in ideology because we attribute it to attacking a religion and we should be echoing the -- we should be echoing the criticism that comes from the muslim world against this religion because it's not as though we are denigrating a mainstream form. the idea of having a muslim leader is one that we have propagated, and the challenge has been that there is not a united front. the states themselves, as they try to take action, are increasing thent ro by on the ground and actually -- the entropy on the ground and actually feeding the chaos that is driving support for the salafi jihadi movement, i would say. and yes, they can stand and talk against this extremist group but
6:19 pm
until they change -- until there is actual change in what they do, it is going to persist. so saudi arabia is not a state sponsor but sue saudis do sponsor salafi jihadi ideologues and that is a problem that saudi arabia must deal with. in the last few months there's a pushback for funding against political islam but particularly the extremist, the violent brands of salafi jihad and we're not. i find it more problematic that our diplomats are not in country. our embassy for yemen is in saudi arabia for security reasons but it's understaffed. -- diplomats for the yemeni they're in kuwait and other arias. they're not meeting with -- the
6:20 pm
same with the libyan embassy, they're not meeting with libyans on the ground. when we talk about the political solution, we don't know the asks, we don't know the demands, we don't know the situation, we don't-ask, don't-tell know the actors. we have chosen not to get leverage over the situation. that's first problem we need to solve with our diplomats, not what they're allowed to say about the koran. ilon: other questions? >> hi, i am from congressman pierce's office. you touched on the tribalism that influences so many of these roups. could you tackle that in the largest geopolitical sense that any of these failed states should not have been states at all, that it was a process? you can start with the first world war or start with the 18th
6:21 pm
century, whichever, but they were creations of larger powers for various reasons. and should we be looking in some instances at trying to restart the clock on determining what should be a state and what should not be a state? you do not have to start with iraq. pick any country you want where there's a problem. but in general, should this be a larger part of our strategic thinking on how to try and help the situation where what they are fighting for is their local interests? they're not really fighting for religion a, b, c, or d. katie: it's a great question. i don't think we should redraw state boundaries. even though they did come from a very european, western drawing of the map we see on the ground
6:22 pm
that people today identify by their nationality and the idea of the nation state is very foreign but the idea of being syrian or yemeni or egyptian is actually something, an identity hat people latch onto. so you can look at the iraqi-syrian border. it is literally a line in the sand. yet, there are tribes that sit on both sides of the border, and they identify as iraqi or syrian, not first by their tribe. i think that is a signal to us that, as problematic as the state system has been in certain areas, it actually is something that can persevere. the challenges and the reason why we're seeing local conflicts coming through, is that we and others have supported governments that are not legitimate. we have supported authoritarian dictators who have consolidated power and have marginalized large groups of people in pursuit of their own interests.
6:23 pm
and we are at risk of doing that again today as we try to stabilize the region. looking at libya with a report that the general, who is the strong man, the leader of the strongest force inside of libya, he cannot secure the entire country. the way he is doing it is marginalizing people and driving support for al qaeda and isoins the ground, particularly because he's anti-islamist, which means any islamist, political or not is aligned against him and hat's attracting civil war and he's not doing what we need to him thoim do, secure the sovereign state of libya from al qaeda, which is something gaddafi never did either because al qaeda has been using the libyan state in the desert for at least a decade. what i am looking at is the fact that we have ignored the policies of some of our state
6:24 pm
partnerships that have exacerbated a lot of the local conflicts, and we continue to do so. we have ignored the fact that in yemen, we had former president saleh as our partner, and he onsolidated power. when the power -- the new president came to power hurricanes mandate was to go after al qaeda. yet the reason al qaeda was spreading inside yemen was because of the grievances. the fwree advances are hard they touch on sensitive state infrastructure and power networks. every time he had a choice between going after al qaeda or going after the hard problem , he put the budget to the military which meant that the actual problem, egrievance the governance challenges, went unaddressed. and so the paradigm shift we need to be coming at is that, yes, there's a military component to defeating al qaeda and isis. we do need to be taking back the
6:25 pm
terrain but we also need to be making sure that the governance problems and what comes after the takeback of terrain is something that's sustainable and he jate mat to the people. ilon: so let me again abuse my moderator's prerogative. so walking through the relative decline of isis and relative rise of al qaeda, this battlefield this terrain is shifting pretty significantly. if you can chalk up, up until this point, the islamic state success as very simply everyone loves a winner, if they look like they're win, if they look like they're expanding territory, very naturally groups will gravitate toward their cause. and that's what's happened. you have 34 different affiliates from boe co-ha ram in nigeria to the sinai that have joined forces with the islamic state.
6:26 pm
with the exception of islamic state affiliates in syria, every one of these group sass pre-existing entity, right? boko haram in nigeria have a infrastructure and leadership, divided leadership now, that ghdati and his ideas about the caliphate. as isis declines, and we're making notable gains, the united states and co-legislation partners have making gains in trimming islamic state finances and trimming the area under islamic state control, what happens to these other guys? where do you see this heading? i think this is going to be driven in large part by how they think about the ideology but there's going to be a lot of free agents here. katie: yes. this.s the challenge of we can defeat a group and the network it built will realign. it was attracted both by the
6:27 pm
fact that isis had risen to the global stage, that isis had brought the idea of a caliphate which is very resonant within those who believe in this and i have been told that the non-isis recognized leader of boko haram, he recognizes al-baghdati as the caliph and it's resonant with him. there's a religious ideology behind this. it's not just resource, though of course the fact that isis was one of the richest affiliates to come up meant lot of groups rapidly admered to isis and the branding where isis was able to take a stabbing in a tanzanian cave and make ate global event where everyone knew that a soldier of the caliphate stabbed someone in a cave in tanzania. we didn't have that fra al qaeda. there's a global stage that isis is offering. i think the next year will show whether isis is going to realign
6:28 pm
itself to actually add power to the branch, add power to its branch in the philippines, to its branch in nigeria, to reconstitute inside libya, to build in the sinai and elsewhere and whether it will exist beyond the collapse of the core inside iraq and syria. but the real challenge is that the threat that these groups pose remains because the groups themselves are not being contested directly by the united states and the partners that we have used have not been effective, they've made the problem worsing or they don't have the will to carry out the fight to the point where it culminates in a sustainable manner. the issue that i think that we're seeing is that al qaeda will be able to reconstitute itself as the global vanguard force as it was, challenged politically by isis, tried to contest that. we actually see al qaeda's leadership, they're not paying attention to what's happening now within the islamic state.
6:29 pm
they're -- they see their role as sanctioned by allah and they have this divine mandate to do what they're doing. but the problem is it's not just the realignment of these groups. they are going to bring back the tactics that isis has taught them. so isis has actually delivered capabilities to groups that al qaeda was courting, hadn't developed a robust relationship with. but now isis sent in bombmakers, sent in leadership, sent in the ility to organize as small franchises that can conduct coordinated attacks that know how to target the scenes within populations to generate the uprisings that we have seen and that is going to have some knock-on effects for us that we haven't planned for. >> so i work at afpc, and you
6:30 pm
were saying that the u.s. government might be served by investing in leadership and support more than specific military action. so i was wondering if you saw that as the united states redefining how it thinks about humanitarian aid or something else? katie: it's across the board. we talk about having a whole of government approach to this problem and we really have not had a whole of government approach because the rest of the whole, besides the military is not operating in the terrain where it needs to be operating. and that's a problem for us. i talk about not relying on military -- of course there is a role for the military when we are looking to secure terrain. in order to put our diplomats on the ground, they should be afforded the protection of the u.s. military. but the problem is using only the military to fight the groups. the leadership needs to come
6:31 pm
from developing a global, comprehensive strategy that recognizes the salafi jihadi movement as the enemy, recognizes that there are networks on the ground, that salafi jihadi, whether it is isis or al qaeda, actually a singular network or a network that will cohere as isis weakens and al qaeda strengthens, vice versa, and goes after the vulnerabilities that these groups have and how they are operating, which is usually not a military targeting. the vulnerabilities of breaking the ties that the salafi jihadi network has been able to establish with the local populations, the support of delivering to local communities, whether it is defense, water, school, or justice. we can counter that, and we can help our partners counter that. but we have not set the framework for them to do so. we have only set a military framework, so that is why think we need to change our entire
6:32 pm
approach to the problem. >> hi, just one point here. we spend billions of dollars in afghanistan and iraq building schools, roads, hospitals, utility systems, what appear -- water purification, etc., etc. so we have not just done a military approach. we have done a military and humanitarian approach, which seems to be wasted. maybe you can comment on that. katie: it has been wasted a lot, i think it was misdirected when it started. the idea not to do nation building, not to recreate the world in the image of the united states but to remove the rievances. if the grievances that the government has not delivered a school and al qaeda has delivered a school -- i can give you a case study at the village evel -- we should be
6:33 pm
programming such that we compel the government of the state to deliver the school or to provide a substate actor with the ability to provide an education that is different from a madrasa-based education. this is not giving every afghan a cell phone. it is reducing the grievances, reducing the governance problems that are driving it. to do so and a stable fashion, it is the idea that one of the reasons why our aid in afghanistan was wasted is that we were not recognizing that we were building things that the afghans did not want or need, that they had fundamental other asks on the table. this comes back to understanding local context. if we do not understand with the locals need, we do not have a grass-roots concept of what is on the ground, the grassroots concept that al qaeda has generated because it is on the ground, we will be putting in something they do not really ant.
6:34 pm
we'll put in a school and what they really want is a sewage system. that is what is very bespoke, very targeted assistance that we need to learn how to do, not just become better at. >> hello, my question is, you know, you talked about how saudi arabia does not sponsor terrorism as a country, but a lot of saudis do. people in qatar do, in u.a.e. they do. my question is, these countries, are they turning a blind eye to their citizens or are they indirectly happy their citizens are doing what they cannot do themselves? katie: i think it's a mix. i would say it's a mix because certain interests, certain national level interests are fulfilled by the strengthening of groups, so the fact that saudi citizens were sending money to the syrian opposition was good for saudi arabia because it actually fed support to an opposition group aligned
6:35 pm
against iran. the problem is that saudi arabia, isis is an enemy for saudi arabia. al qaeda is a long-term enemy, although there seems to be a tacit idea from al qaeda that if it doesn't attack the kingdom directly, the kingdom will not attack it directly. saudi arabia is in a different position though, because the house of saud draws some he yit whabi doctrine. so there should be pressure on saudi arabia as it goes through these reforms, as we are looking a at the rise of the new regime in saudi arabia under the crown prince, to start addressing the saudi arabia, that as a partner,
6:36 pm
presents with the united states. wish and not give them a blind pass for what they are doing it we need to apply equal pressure on it to change, as the saudis apply pressure on the qataris to change. ilon: just for ease of traffic, the back first and then move up here. >> i work in the private sector but have an interest in this subject. i came in late, so you might have discussed this. how do you make the argument to the country when we're in an environment with stretched resources, an environment where the country basically elected a president who campaigned on shutting off the border, specially people from that part of the country you are talking about, and they do not want to spend money on overseas efforts and want to focus resources on america it what is your argument to that group? katie: my first argument is that our resource constraints are self-made. we spend a lot of money on domestic issues, on welfare, etc., and we spend very little of that budget on the defense and our external operations.
6:37 pm
>> that is what people want. katie: as someone who reaps the rewards of having those benefits, of course. but it takes leadership to ctually allocate it correctly. the other side of this is i think that the investments we make today in starting to stabilize and shape some of the world -- we cannot reset the clock and cannot bring it back to what it was in 2010 or even 2011, but we can shape it going forward. i think that investment today is going to be much less expensive than the military investment that we will face if the world order starts to collapse the way that it is, because our enemies are the only ones gaining at this point. russia has grown much stronger. putin has been an opportunist across the middle east. iran has been empowered.
6:38 pm
the iranian state is incredibly empowered with hezbollah inside of the assad regime, the fact that there are regular iranian military officers and units deployed to syria in a way they have never been deployed before. it is learning tactics from the russian military and building a force in the region. that is something we are looking at. of course, the substate actors, al qaeda and isis, are empowered by the conflicts going on. as americans, we face this problem historically, looking at world war ii. there was a problem over there. we didn't want to nst in it. it took u.s. presidential leadership to draw it into that problem and address it. i think it's going to take u.s. presidential leadership to recognize the scope of this problem and start addressing it. >> i represent the public
6:39 pm
council and you mentioned that a large part of the muslim world does not have to do anything with those organizations, but this large part stays relevant they do not take any action towards the extremist to stop hem, condemned them, so we mention ideology, but the book -- the koran itself is ideology. the book itself, it motivates people to kill, to raid, to take a woman as spoil. so don't you see that this is something we need to deal with to reform islam, to do something with something that's being created 1,400 years back? and we keep saying it's an ideology. isis, al qaeda and others, they
6:40 pm
are implementing the law exactly as it is written in the books, xactly as interpreted by their doctrines, by their scientists, so we need to look at this problem from different perspective, not only we need to deal with isis and al qaeda militarily. for example, there is a movement that has been built over 200 schools and they are trying to spread islam in a different way, not by the horse or weapon of something -- not by the force or weapon of something, so how can we deal with this problem largely? thank you. katie: well, we can deal with the problem by setting the conditions so that people aren't looking for a violent solution. and the idea that this is -- that sharia, that al qaeda and isis are enforcing is the sharia
6:41 pm
is wrong. there are different interpretations of the koran that are legitimate. those operateations are mainstream. and the sharia that al qaeda and isis are enforcing is hard to contest because of lines within the koran that call out humankind for not being able to interpret precisely what allah's intent was because if you do so you are actually taking that divine authority unto yourself. the real question to ask is why is that the problem? we have radical conservative christians who pursue a very similar line of effort. they, too, are minority and we don't look at christianity as a problem. we don't look at judaism as a problem. all these mainstream -- not mainstream. all the main religions have justification for the use of violence within them. but all of them, including
6:42 pm
islam, those individuals who believe that violence is justified have been marginalized and minority over the years. their challenge today is ensuring that conditions are such that the popular base doesn't expand, that the base of support we see today which is not along ideological lines, but is a i long the idea if i permit al qaeda to use my territory they won't attack may, they may provide me with food or water or assistance. that is why al qaeda, that is why that minority group is becoming stronger. so i think that this is, yes a contest within islam to a degree, but it is manifesting itself in secular terms in conditions that state-to-state engagement can actually address. ilon: let's go to a question
6:43 pm
here and then i have one to wrap it up. >> hi, when you said that there is radical christians that use a religion from a violence, can you give an example? it sounds like you would directly comparing the fact that there are some percentage of christians embracing the same ind of ideology. we know the horrific things this part of islam is doing. thank you. katie: you can rook at christians who went to africa to convert africans and did so through violence. we can look at some of the terrorist attack here's in the united states that are from radical right-wing christian groups yet we don't brand them the same way. part of it is because i think we understand christianity here and islam seems foreign. i think this idea that it is all of the religion, it is not true because part of it is justified the religion and the root of the problem is within the salafi
6:44 pm
jihadi doctrine but the strength of the groups hasn't grown because of the ideology, it's grown because of changes on the ground. ilon: part of my job is to make sure the trains run on time. if you guys would like to stay and chat with myself or katie after, i'm sure she'd be glad to do so. let this be the last question. less than a year after the start of the iraq war in 2003, osama bin laden issued a missive to his lieutenants in which he talked about recognizing that the media war was more than half of the fight in terms of hearts and minds, in terms of understanding how to spread the appeal of his organization's ideology, al qaeda's ideology. you can make the case that the lane network never really did such a good job doing that. they were in social media terms a dinosaur in terms of being able to communicate their message.
6:45 pm
doesn't mean they weren't popular but their successor or their spawn in many way the islamic state has been much, much bet for the terms of communicating their message, in terms of communicating not only horrific images we tend to see on television of imlations, of jordanian pilots or of the stoning of adulterers or whoever. but they have had a very large and mostly unexemployered positive message that's been communicated through youtube, through twitter, to disenfranchised muslims in places like europe and africa about the need to join with them to build a rightfully guided caliphate. we did not tackle this seriously. in the last administration. we now have the opportunity, we are now, you pardon the phrase, kicking the tires on figuring out how to do countermessaging under the trump administration.
6:46 pm
if you had the opportunity, what would your advice be? how would you incorporate a narrative about the broader movement into the messaging efforts that the administration is trying to put together? katie: i think that we need to be very cognizant of the strategy isis is using against us right now and what isis has talked about for the past three years is eliminating the gray space. isis wants to eliminate the idea that you can be a muslim and stand by and watch. al qaeda never did that. because al qaeda, this goes back to some small differences between al qaeda and isis' ideology and how the two groups believe thems to be. isis believes itself to be the state which means it must have the strait infrastructure and be the source of authority and must actually subsume and coerce the population on the ground to recognize its authority. al qaeda was, is, the small, covert vanguard and its vision
6:47 pm
was always to empower and facilitate the local movements. but come back to what isis is doing, it is trying, particularly inside of europe, to create a sentiment where there's distrust among muslims and non-muslims, where muslims have to choose whether they're going to identify as a muslim or not and i think the fact that we're seeing attacks on mosques in response to isis directed and inspired attacks is a very worrisome sign, especially as it's coming other here. the couldn't messaging is, last lot that the obama admgs could have done in terms of countermessaging. mosul amic state held up as the capital of the caliphate. life in mosul was there. the government was nothing like what they had experienced. they had been living thunder government for three years. we took back mosul and destroyed
6:48 pm
city we should have had an aid convoy coming in to rebuild the city right after the fall of mosul to deliver to the people what the islamic state had taken away from them. we're looking at countermessage, the resonance, i think, here today, in terms of join the islamic state, be an instant member of a global community, defend muslims worldwide, do what the united states is not doing for your people. we missed the concept that there is a community that allah has united under his faith that he sees as a unified block that every muslim must work to protect. and the fact that it is under attack writ large as a community inside of syria, suffering gross human rights violations with little more than a condemnation from the international community if that, the fact that it is disrupted inside of yemen and
6:49 pm
elsewhere, that we are looking for the contest of what the future of the sunni uma is worldwide is not clear to our politicians and there are -- the reason why we're seeing individuals radicalizing, one of the reasons is that they are given a call. a call to defend. and they are given an action to take. isis has pushed it down such that you can take an action, you can go out in the street and stab somebody and tweet it in he name of isis and the isis massive virtual community will take it up this virtual caliphate that isis has built will take it up and make you a martyr. and then instant membership within the community is something that made isis incredibly resonant and it's something that al qaeda never was. al qaeda didn't want you to operate under its name without its authority. if you conducted an attack that isolated it from the population. if you killed a civilian the backlash we've seen against isis
6:50 pm
in terms of its brutality, in terms of its targeting, in terms of its treatment of individuals, al qaeda has tried to protect itself by not associating with that type of violence, recognizing that al qaeda will redefine who it is fighting based on the situation. but i think that the point of the message actually needs to be that the united states stands for something. we're not anti-isis. we stand for legitimate govepbance. we stand for the protection of human rights. we are against genocide. we are for the protection of the people. and that is the message we need to use because we can denigrate the ideology all we want, until we stand for something there's nothing to rally people to our cause. ilon: that's, i think arrange excellent place to stop. katie, thank you for what was an enormously rich discussion about a topic that needs a great deal
6:51 pm
more elouis dation here in congress and sort of discussion in the public sphere. please, join me in thanking katie. [applause] for those of you that are interested, katie's report on this topic, on the salafi jihadi movement, she was kind enough to bring mea copy, apparently they're in short supply, you can get it on the website at for those of you interested in following our work, the american foreign policy council's work on radical islam, sign up on the sheets outside and we're happy to share with you both our original publications and also our future events. so with that, thank you very much. meeting is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
6:52 pm
>> live coverage of the 2017 conference thursday and friday on c-span. thursday at 10:30 a.m. eastern, daily kos hosts a q and a about election this is year plus a look at the 2018 mid term landscape. on friday at 1:00 p.m. eastern a discussion on standing up for working families and embracing progressive values. at 8:30 p.m. eastern a look at how to win back progressive power through organizing. then at 4:00 p.m. eastern,
6:53 pm
developing vision statements for the type of society progress is want to see. join us for live coverage of the netroots nation 2017 conference on c-span. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern, judges, journalists and former law clerks review this past supreme court term looking at the effect of justice gorsuch and predicting what might lie ahead for the high court. here's a look. >> i have no doubt that if justice kennedy or justice ginsberg or justice breyer is president trump there would be another conservative vote and row vs. wade would be overruled. maybe we can have a discussion about john roberts, i don't think anybody has a doubt about thomas or alito and now gorsuch.
6:54 pm
i challenge anyone to find anything in john roberts' entire history as a justice on the supreme court, as a justice on the d.c. circuit that leads one to believe he might be a vote to reaffirm row vs. wade. i don't think in an area where justices care deeply that precedence is going to matter. >> that supreme court review hosted -- hosted by the university of california irvine. that airs tonight at 8:00 eastern here on c-span. defense secretary mattis said novert korea's pursuit of a nuclear arsenal is taking the regime down a path that will end with the death of of its people. "the washington times" writes that the former four-star general said the size and scope of the arsenal in conventional and nuclear capabilities will leave north korea, quote, grossly overmatched,


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on