The ISIS threat in our midst and a plan for victory.
Below are the video and transcript to Sebastian Gorka's speech at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2016 Restoration Weekend. The event was held November 10th-13th in Palm Beach, FL.
Sebastian Gorka: Thank you so much. I'm accused by many people of being the most serious man on television. Today it might be a little bit different. I'm in a little bit of a different mood, but I'm going to start with something a tad naughty, if you want to indulge me. We are happy, right? We are happy. But I'm going to show a picture I'm not meant to show usually. But here we go anyway. We can win now. I'm here to talk about defeating Jihad. That's the title of my book, and I'll start with one very simple explanation of why I wrote that book. I wrote that book because I have the honor, the inestimable honor, to work with our military, with our special forces, our marines, the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and I'm angry because for 15 years we have been losing this war. We have the best of the best, and they have not been allowed to win. And I'm going to talk to you today about what it will take to win.
Before I do that, I want to tell you a story. When I was asked to write a book – "Defeating Jihad" is my first book – I thought, "Well, this is easy." I eat, drink and sleep this stuff. My wife, Katie, is an expert on Jihad as well. Our pillow talk is the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. Don't worry, it's okay. So, I thought I'm just going to sit down. I'm going to dive right in. I'm going to write about what I do for our war fighters, what I teach them in the class, how to understand the enemy, the A-Z of national security and counterterrorism. When I told my wife, she said, "Are you crazy? I mean don't you want to sell books or we just want to sell them to wonks? You just want to national security experts? I said, "No, I'd like some people to read it." So, she gave me some very sage advice, and this is to all you budding authors out there: If you want the people to read your book, especially Americans, you must have a good story. You have to connect. You may be the smartest guy or gal out there, multiple PhDs, been there, seen it, got the T-shirt, but if you cannot connect with the reader, it's just a book. So, I did something different. The introductory chapter to my book seemingly has nothing to do with counterterrorism, but it's a story that is the only thing everybody who's read the book wants to talk to me about. So bear with me while I share with you a story.
Imagine a 15-year-old young man. It's 1945, and he is walking through the rubble of his beloved city where he was born and raised, Budapest, the capitol of Hungary. In the last 5 years, he has witnessed the horrors of World War II himself as a young boy. Now he's walking through a city in which every bridge over the Danube has been blown. People don't realize the siege of Budapest was the longest siege in World War II, longer than Stalingrad. Out of every five buildings in that beautiful city three have been bombed into dust. So he stood there looking at the apocalyptic vision, but he had hope. Why did he have hope? Because he heard on the wire that the great men have brought peace in a city called Yalta, and at Yalta those great men had signed a document, and that document not only would stop the fighting. It would permit for the rebuilding of Europe. And for his country and a country where the Soviet troops were now occupying, the Yalta treaty guaranteed those nations like Hungary free and democratic elections. They would be allowed to choose their path to independence after the cessation of hostilities. So the young man had hope, but that hope was of course dashed.
In the next three years as he grew to maturity, he witnessed the Soviets and he witnessed the puppets of the Soviets, the Hungarian communists, swallow up that country as they did with all the countries behind what would be the Iron Curtain. If you resisted the communists, you would be intimidated. If you persisted to want freedom and independence, you would be beaten up, and if you still carried on, you would be arrested, imprisoned, or simply murdered by the secret police. The author had been betrayed. Hungary had been betrayed. Millions had been betrayed. So what did this young man decide to do? He decided to resist at the ripe old age of 18, but not with a gun, not with a bomb, but covertly, subtly. He started school, started college, and he identified around him a handful of like-minded Christian patriots that wanted to resist the communists, and he created an underground resistance movement that would collect sensitive information about what exactly the Soviets were doing in Hungary, the troop movements, how they were gobbling up strategic industries. And they'd collect that information, and they'd surreptitiously send it out to the West, to free a government that could use it to help the Hungarians. And they did, for several months, using literally like a John le Carré novel, using invisible ink on otherwise very anodyne letters to the West. They sent their intelligence, and the intelligence landed at an intelligence service of one of the great nations, the United Kingdom. An MI6 became the final destination for those reports, so some good could be done. The UK would help us, right? Because they're the mother of democracies. Little did they know. Little did they know. Those young men were supplying intelligence data to MI6, and at the end of the reporting line was none other than Kim Philby.
Kim Philby, if you know your Cold War history, was one of the five Cambridge apostles, the deadliest traitors to Western civilization during the Cold War, men recruited at Cambridge and Oxford by the KGB to work their way into the highest echelons of British government and betray the West. So what did Filby do as he did with numerous patriots across the Iron Curtain region? He collected intelligence, and once he could identify everybody in the group, what did he do? He blew them all in to the KGB and the Hungarian communists. As a result, this young man at the age of now 20 was arrested by the secret police, tortured, and given a life sentence for being a patriot and a lover of freedom. What does this have to do with anything about the threat to America today? Everything, and it's in the book because that young man, that 15-year-old boy, standing in the ruins of Budapest, was my father, Paul Gorka.
My father spent 6 years in a communist prison, two years in solitary. Not two months, two years. Two years in a prison coal mine where each prisoner – hold on to your seats – without machinery or explosives was required by the communist wardens to break ten tons of anthracite off the coal face every day. But, a few years later, in the cold, cold autumn of 1956, something happened that was monumental. Not as monumental as Wednesday morning, but monumental. The group of young Hungarian students and manual laborers, believe it or not -- quite a coalition, think about Wednesday. Yeah? Think about the blue-collar rural vote. Some students and some manual laborers decided to have a demonstration in Budapest, the silent demonstration. That silent demonstration devolved into the first freedom fight against communism, the October revolution of 1956, 60 years ago this year. As the result of that revolution, my father was liberated from prison by a revolutionary commander who had captured a Soviet tank. He escaped to the West with the daughter of one of his fellow prison mates, the 17-year-old girl called Susan, of whom his prison mate had said to my father in jail, "If you ever get out of this prison alive, please take my daughter to the West," and my father, who thought he was going to die in prison, said to him, "Yeah, sure, whatever, I'll take your daughter out to the West." Well, now, he was free, so he had to keep his word and so he did. They escaped under a train across the minefields to Austria, to a refugee camp, and eventually to the United Kingdom, and that is how I am here today. Born in the UK, raised to Hungarian parents, but now a proud American. So, why do I tell you the story? The only thing people want to talk about in my book. Because of the following:
When those two planes flew into those skyscrapers 15 years ago on that beautifully blue sky Tuesday morning, I looked at that event somewhat differently I think from my fellow Americans. Why? Because, yes, it was Jihadi terrorism, absolutely Jihadi terrorism, but more importantly that event was linked to communism. It was linked to fascism. Why? Because Al-Qaeda, ISIS, all of these groups are all totalitarians. They don't worship Karl Marx and the working class. They don't worship an Aryan nation in a 1,000-year reich, but they are totalitarians because they will brook no compromise. Either you surrender to them or they will kill you. And for me, that event was the rekindling of totalitarian threats to America, and it was a reinforcement of what the great Ronald Reagan said so perfectly when he told us, "Remember the loss of freedom is always but one generation away." I grew up, thanks to my parents, knowing in my blood, that liberty is as fragile as it is precious, and we are once again in a situation where we face a deadly foe who will not be negotiated with, and that foe is what I like to call the global Jihadi movement. So, let's have a look at what we all need to know as Americans at what it's going to take for the President we have elected to defeat our new totalitarian foe.
I'm going to share with you very quickly the conclusions of a report my wife and I did. My wife and I have a company called the Threat Knowledge Group. It supports our military and intelligence community and law enforcement, and we ran a two-year program for the Green Berets for the commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. As a result of that project, we publish this analysis of ISIS. I have signup sheets here if anybody wants the original report. It is unclassified and we would be delighted to email you a copy, but let me just very briefly tell you why ISIS is much more dangerous than Al-Qaeda ever was. Very simply based upon four metrics that are indisputable.
No. ISIS isn't just a terrorist group like Al-Qaeda. It is a trans-regional insurgency. That's a technical phrase, but let me unpack it. The difference between a terrorist group and an insurgency is a terrorist is just a bunch of guys and gals hiding out somewhere. When they come out of hiding, they kill somebody, blow something up, and then what do they do is they go back into hiding. This is the Weather Underground. Yes, our friends Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn. This is the IRA. This is ETA. This is Baader-Meinhof. That's the ISIS. ISIS doesn't hide in safe houses. ISIS is an insurgency. An insurgency is marked by one metric. They have so many fighters that they operate in daylight, and they can capture territory, and they can hold it to include Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq. ISIS today holds territory in Iraq, Syria, Libya, even Nigeria. Boko Haram is now a full affiliate of ISIS. Recently -- I'm not disclosing anything; it's a leak to the Washington Post -- when President Obama had a big powwow at the Pentagon 3 months ago, the National Counterterrorism Center briefed him on the extent of ISIS in the world today, and the map they used was leaked. You can Google it. NCTC, the highest intelligence organ in the U.S. dealing with counterterrorism, stated to the President of the United States, ISIS has today, and I quote, "18 fully operational affiliates around the world." Not sympathizers. Fully operational partner organizations. Why is this an issue? Two years earlier when the State Department gave the same briefing, it was seven. ISIS has gone from seven to 18 operational affiliates under the presidency of Obama in the last 2 years. That's his agency telling him.
Second, it is the richest threat group of its kind in modern history. If we look at non-state actors -- I'm not talking about the Soviet Union or Hitler's Third Reich -- if we look at organizations, nobody comes close to ISIS. The unclassified U.S. government estimates are that ISIS makes between $2 million and $4 million every 24 hours. Right? Illicit oil sales, racketeering, hostage taking. They even have their own IRS. Okay. Not as bad as Obama's, but they have their own IRS. So, between $2 million and $4 million every day. Let's get a grip on that. What does that amount of money mean? Well let's relativize it. If you read the 9/11 Commission report you will find that the original 9/11 attacks against America by Al-Qaeda cost less than $500,000.00. The whole operation from safe houses, student Visas, flight schools; the whole thing, $480,000.00. ISIS makes that in 6 hours. Not a JV team.
Third, perhaps the most impressive of all in just quantitative analysis is how many people they have recruited. Stunning. ISIS in its current form has only been around for a few years, but ISIS in that short period has recruited more than 85,000 Jihadists. Not sympathizers, actual Jihadi fighters, 85,000. What's even more impressive, of the 85,000, 36,000 aren't even Iraqis or Syrians. They're not from the war zone. They've been recruited from outside, and the scariest of all, of the 36,000 that are foreigners at least 6,000 are Westerners, Americans, Brits, Germans, people on the Visa waiver program of the U.S. State Department, who have freedom of movement. Incredibly impressive; however, the last one in yellow is the most important of all, and unfortunately it's the one we least discuss even inside the intelligence community, and it is the following:
On June 29, 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, after his troops, his terrorists, had captured the second biggest city in Iraq, walked into the Grand Mosque of Mosul, climbed the steps of the pulpit, gave a sermon, and in that sermon, Abu Bakr declared the caliphate is now reborn. The Islamic Empire has been reestablished, and I am your new Caliph. I am the theocratic emperor of all Muslims. Now, why is this important? Because as everybody here knows, especially history buffs, the Caliphate isn't some crazy idea dreamed up in the febrile mind of some Jihadi in a cave somewhere. The Empire of Islam was a real entity for over 1,000 years, established in Mecca, then headquartered in Damascus, at the height of its power run out of Baghdad, and I like to remind people, at the height of its power consider this: The Islamic Empire, the Caliphate, stretched in territory from Spain to India. It was larger than the Roman Empire ever was, a real entity. But not only that, less than a 100 years ago at the beginning of the 20th century, what happened? There was still the Caliphate. It wasn't run by Arabs out of the Middle East, and we didn't call it the Caliphate. We called it the Ottoman Empire, but the Ottoman Empire was the latest iteration of the Islamic theocratic empire.
But what happened to the Ottomans? Well in 1914, they put their money on the wrong horse, and when 1918 rolled around, they were in trouble. They were on the losing side of World War I. And to prevent themselves being cut up into little pieces like the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, what did they do? A very handsome, charismatic Ottoman officer called Mustafa Kemal, who we now know as Atatürk, decided to secularize his nation. He became the first president of the Turkish Republic, said, "We are all Muslims, but Islam can have nothing to do with politics. Therefore, I am separating Islam and government." And how did he do this? In 1924, over his own signature, he dissolved the Caliphate formally. Anybody out there a fan of Monty Python? That was a sign of a civilized mind. Best Monty Python skit, the Dead Parrot. The Caliphate went the way of the parrot in that famous skit. It ceased to be. The little old man with the white beard, who was the caliph, was given his pink slip. He was fired. Why am I talking about this? Who cares? We just won an election. Right? Who cares? Everybody in this room should care. Why? For the next 90 years, Muslims who disagreed with Atatürk created organizations across the world from Asian to the Levant to do what? Bring the Caliphate back starting with the Muslim Brotherhood. But they all the way through to Al-Qaeda every single one of the failed. Hundreds of Jihadi organizations established and failed for the next century.
But then what happens? June 29, 2014, ISIS doesn't talk about bringing back the Caliphate. It just does it. And one more reason to understand the relevance of this history. Look at what Omar Mateen did, the Orlando murderer. We now know, the Attorney General tried to censor it, but we now know halfway through the largest terrorist attack in America since September 11, Omar Mateen went to the restroom in the nightclub, put down his rifle, picked up his cell phone and dialed 911, not to call ambulances to the scene but to do what? To tell the dispatcher four times – we have the audio now, you can listen to it – to tell the world what? I am a Jihadi. I do what I do for the Islamic State. I do what I do for the new caliph of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It's not ancient history nor is it simply something happening 8,000 miles away in Mesopotamia. It is happening here on the streets of Orlando, on the streets of Boston, on the streets of San Bernardino. That's why ISIS is an existential threat to everything you hold dear and everything that Mr. Trump's victory represents.
So, let me bring it all back home. Let me talk briefly about what ISIS is doing in America. This is a covered report we recently wrote upon. What is actually happening in the United States that can be linked to ISIS, and we wrote this without a client; we had no sponsor, but we were motivated because we were getting some very strange signals. The White House was telling us publicly, "Not a problem, ISIS is fine, not an issue." But our friends, especially inside the FBI, were saying we have a problem, and as a result, we sat down and for 3 months we collected all the unclassified information on what ISIS is doing in American, and here are the facts. Before I talk about our report, let me give you some corroborating evidence from Chapel Hill. Every year Chapel Hill writes a very politically correct report – you can tell by the title, "Muslim American Involvement in Violent Extremism." Right? We're not going to use the word "Jihad." But it's based upon unequivocal statistics, so it's useful because it's basically a summation of every Jihadi port in America that's happened in the last 12 months. This is their last report, and I give you just Figure 1. Have a look at that chart. It is a bar graph of every terrorist Jihadi plot in America in the last 15 years. Do you see the problem? The graph is going in the wrong direction. They're doing more, not less. And interestingly, look at the two inordinate spikes. First one, '09 huge peak. What happened in '09? I wonder. And, look at last year. This is everything you need to know. 2015 saw the highest incidents of Jihadi plots in the United States since 9/11. Despite 2015 being the year when both the Commander-in-Chief and Secretary Kerry said the following three days before San Bernardino, and I quote directly. The President and his chief diplomats said, "ISIS is contained. We are winning." That was 72 hours before the San Bernardino attack which, since then, has been eclipsed completely by Orlando.
Okay, let's look at our report. Here are the facts of the matter. We have mapped every ISIS plot in America since the Caliphate was declared two-and-a-half years ago. With the recent arrests after New Jersey and New York there have been 124 people arrested in America as ISIS terrorists. Not 24, not 34; 134. And the bad news is they're everywhere. This isn't concentrated in the Somali population of Minnesota. This is from Texas to California, from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. Yes it's practically everywhere. And here is the very disturbing news and this is what Mr. Trump will have to deal with. If you break down what they were doing when we caught them or killed them, this is the breakdown. About half of them are what the FBI calls "travelers," a delightful euphemism. Sounds like they're going on holiday to Paris, right? "Travelers." These are U.S. subjects that have sworn allegiance to ISIS, but want to leave America to fight Jihad in the Middle East. Yes, they're planning to go to Syria, Iraq, what have you, so they want to get out. Then we have about 20 percent that are the middle management terrorists. The talent spotters, the recruiters, the people who bring the Jihadi in, vet them and then buy them their plane ticket to the Middle East, which leaves a shocking proportion, 33.3 percent, exactly a third, who are individuals who likewise have sworn allegiance to the new emperor Abu Bakr, but have decided they are not going anywhere. They have decided the best way to serve the new Caliphate and the new emperor is to kill infidels here in America. As the result of that very high percentage, we closed our report with the following conclusion. The likelihood of a mass casualty Paris-style attack in America is not a question of if. It is a question of when. And we published that one week before San Bernardino. So that's the bad news. What's the good news? There is a way to win and that's what my book Defeating Jihad is about. A very simple set of ideas.
No. 1: no more political correctness. Gone. The idea that the administration can censor the threat, the idea that the Attorney General can have the words "Jihad" removed from transcripts of the Orlando shooter is over. In 2011, the White House issued an unclassified memorandum after a request from CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. That memo the White House wrote was sent to the then-Attorney General the chief law enforcement officer of America, and the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the most senior military officer, and that memo, which you can find on my web site, stated the following. From this day forward, all training in the United States, whether of the military or law enforcement, will have no mention of the religion of Islam and words like "Jihad" are prohibited. That is your federal government. Well that has to stop, and we all know one thing about Donald Trump, don't we? He doesn't like political correctness. We cannot defeat our enemy unless we understand how religion informs his operations and defines our strategic objectives. Speak truth to the threat because you cannot heal a disease if you're not allowed to diagnose it nor can you defeat an enemy if you are curtailed on what you are allowed to say about them factually.
Second, please don't misunderstand me. Some people do and it causes issues. We are not at war with Islam. That is a fallacious and dangerous concept. Why? No. 1, do you remember the video of the fighter pilot in the cage burnt alive? Yes. What religion was he? Was he an Episcopalian? No. He was a Muslim. In fact, if you run the numbers, the majority of victims of Jihadis in the world today are in fact Muslims. Yeah. I mean, they've decimated Christian, Yazidis, Jews, yes, but by sheer numbers and proportions they are far more likely to kill you if you're a Muslim who disagrees with them than anybody else. So we have to do what? We have to empower those Muslims who want to be our friends to help defeat them. The Jordanians, the Egyptians, those countries who for the last seven-and-a-half years have been betrayed by this administration. It is not tenable to have white skin or black skin or yellow-skinned Americans be the face of victory against the Jihadists. We want it to be fellow Muslims. We want it to be the King of Jordan. We want it to be President Sisi. That's when you get victory. When the Muslims destroy the Jihadis.
Lastly, look, I'll be honest with you. I am a child of the Cold War. I grew up under the Cold War. It formed me. I miss it immensely. It was much easier. It was much easier, much easier. We can win this war the same way we won the Cold War. That's the ultimate victory, and as I like to inform my young students and officers for whom 1989 might as well be the sacking of Troy; I like to remind them that 27 years ago this week, November 9 in Berlin, when we America won the cold war, can anybody tell me how many bullets were fired across Checkpoint Charlie? It's a very round number. Right. Zero. None. Not one bullet was shot from an M16 or an AK47. Not one. Not one bomb left a bomb bay of an aircraft. But hang on. We won. So how did we win? We won thusly. The Great Gipper didn't just bankrupt the Soviet Union financially. Much more importantly he bankrupted their ideology. He destroyed communism morally, spiritually. He showed communism and Marxism for the hollow decrepit death cult that it is. And as a result on that cold November 9 it wasn't U.S. GIs with pick axes that took down the Berlin wall. It was the East Germans on the other side who said this is enough. This is bogus. This communism stuff is rubbish and with hand tools they took down a wall which, if you had crossed a few weeks earlier, you would have been shot. That's how we won. We de-legitimized the enemy's narrative, their ideology, their world view and lo and behold that is exactly what we have to do again today. That is when ultimate victory begins. Yes. Don't get me wrong. Don't get me wrong. The kinetic part of this war killing terrorists. I am down with killing terrorists. Okay. I'm very cool with it. But body bags are not a good metric of success. They weren't during that little tete-a-tete in South Asian called the Vietnam War and they're not much of a better metric today. This war should only be fought about 25 percent in the physical domain. Ultimate victory will happen where? In the mental and spiritual when the enemy no longer believes their own ideology and therefore loses the will to fight us just as happened with the Soviet Union.
So to translate that into practical terms, President Trump needs to create a strategic level counterpropaganda campaign just like President Reagan did primarily in the black sphere but also in the white sphere. We need things like the U.S. information agency again and we will need to work through our proxies. We need to help the Jordanians, the Egyptians and Moratis just the same way we helped the dissidents of the Cold War. I mean, we smuggled fax machines into Poland. Yes? I mean that was as important as anything else that we did during the Cold War and then that is how we can win.
If you want any more details then it's all in Defeating Jihad, which is a primer on the threat to America, what you need to know about our enemy and then my plan for how to defeat them. Okay. I'll be glad to take any of your questions if you wish to ask them. Thank you.
If you wish to ask them informally you have my email up there. Also my twitter handle. I'm very active on social media. My wife says I'm a bit too active but there you go. And also if you want anything I do for public consumption it's available at my web site thegorkerbriefing.com or my media my analysis and then everything we do for boys and girls in uniform is on our web site thethreatknowledge.org site and then lastly my wife runs a 501C3 that monitors the evolution of Jihadi ideology. That's the Council on Global Securities so you may want to mark down those web sites. Okay first question please.
[Response to audience member question:]
Okay so this is a bit of a technical question. I don't want to get into a big discourse here on the technical issues. "Attack theorism" is the best technical label for what the Jihadis do. It's a philosophy of Islam. It comes from an individual called Ibn Taymiyyah, a scholar about a 1,000 years ago who basically said, "I can decide if you're not acting like a true Muslim." It's unilateral excommunication and attack theories, like Bin Laden, like Abu Bakr say, "Oh, the King of Jordan. He's clearly not a Muslim, so we can kill him." It's a pillar of their philosophy, but it's explained in more detail in my book. Thank you. Please my friend.
[Response to audience member question:]
Very simply why don't we, why shouldn't we say that? I'll tell you. I'll give it to you from the best source possible and this is General Sisi. The general, General Vallely and myself met with General Sisi before he become president. General Sisi of Egypt is a devout Muslim, a seriously devout Muslim, but when we asked him, "General, why did you do what you did? Why did you take your forces onto the streets to take down a democratically elected government?" And he was very, very simple in his answer. He said, "Because I am an Egyptian before I am a Muslim." It's not the same thing. Not the same thing. There are examples of Muslim states that have functioned in ways that comport with our value system and can function as allies. Look at Turkey. Turkey was the most important NATO nation in Europe and it was a Muslim nation. But why did it function? Because religion was separated from politics. We need to have that secularization happen again and we need to support people like General Sisi. That's my argument.
It's not going to be easy, but it's absolutely possible because really what we're talking about is a brand here. The brand is Jihadism and the issue is the concept of Jihad is far more attractive now than the secular version of Islam that is practiced in our allied and partner nations. The way I explain this in terms of visualization is, imagine if one of you, right now, left this building and went to downtown Miami and walked down the largest boulevard waving a giant swastika banner. Okay. You would not be cool to say the least. Okay. We have to do the same thing for the black flag of Jihad. It is a counter-messaging issue. We have to make it unattractive. Whether or not the end state is transcendentally informed or not is irrelevant. We have to associate that image with failure. Once we have done that we will be winning.
I cannot talk for all American Muslims and nobody in this room can do that. Okay? How do I think some of them deal with this? Many of them say, "Well, I know that, but that's the seventh century. I don't agree with it." But they make a personal decision. Look at the fact that we have Muslims who wear the cloth of the republic who have died for this nation in combat. So what decisions have they made? They've made the decision that I may be a Muslim, but the constitution of the United States usurps those passages in the Koran. The fact that some other Muslims would say he is therefore a heretic. That's another issue. That's another issue. But I think individuals make personal choices. They contextualize the religion and whether they can do that with the permission of somebody else who disagrees with them is another question.